I have mentioned my ambivalent feelings regarding Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series before, and that I still enjoy them, if not quite as enthusiastically as most. Reaper Man, the eleventh volume, is the book in the series I have enjoyed the most so far. I suspect that this is due to two reasons… well, one reason I suspect, with the other I am quite certain.
The first one is that Reaper Man does not have any clear satiric aim – I know that Pratchett is often praised precisely for this satirical impetus and that many consider this to be what raises his novel above the common crowd, but for my part, I am suspecting that he is at his best when he writes just for the fun of it. Sure, there are some (okay, quite a few) satirical asides in this novel, but the satire is just a side effect and not the prime mover and in consequence does no subjugate the plot but lets it run its merry and often quite bizarre course. And for this reader at least the resulting novel is considerably more fun than one that makes heavy-handed attempts at being relevant and often only ends up flogging a dead horse in the process. You could, if you really wanted, pobably read some kind of parable into this, but thankfully you don’t have to, and the novel reads significantly better without it.
The second reason why I liked this best among the Discworld books so far is of course because its protagonist is everyone’s favourite character, namely Death, who is arguably Pratchett’s greatest creation. He is pensioned off his job here, becomes mortal in consequence, and decides to spend his remainin time to explore what exactly that means, whereupon a lot of hilarity ensues, some very bizarrre situations evolve and even a few truly touching moments happen.