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Susan Sto Helit

By Edited May 30, 2015 0 1

Susan Death Full

Who is Susan Sto Helit? Susan Sto-Helit, or Susan Death, is one of the characters from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. She appears in Soul Music, Hogfather, and Thief of Time - and her parents' story is told in Mort. She initially had black hair, with a single white streak, which was completely unruly (and apparently alive). As an adult, in the later books, she has white hair with a black streak - which tends to reflect her mood, and can curl itself neatly into a bun.
She's a formidable and practical young lady, who has little patience for nonsense and sees things as they are. Her grandfather is Death (and apparently there are magical genetics at work, because despite only being her adoptive grandfather, she's inherited plenty).

Death, on the Discworld, is an anthromorphic personification - that is, he's a skeleton with glowing blue eyes and a skeletal horse called Binky, who keeps trying to develop a personality and understand humanity. He turns up, even if only for a one-liner, in every Discworld book. Early on, he decides to try taking on an apprentice, Mort. He passes on to Susan, through his adopted daughter, various traits such as the voice, perfect memory (including forwards), although most of this is suppressed for sanity's sake) and "walk through walls and live outside time and be a little bit immortal."

Her Parents

Mort and Ysabell are the (experimental) apprentice and adopted daughter of Death. Typically, they fall in love and get married. They raise Susan to be very no-nonsense and have no truck with fairytale and superstition, in order to counter the mystical grandfather side of the family. It... sort of works. The problem arises when most of the fairytales turn out to be real, leading to a complicated adjustment in Susan's world-view. She's a very sensible girl, who tends to keep her head in a crisis and inherits some interesting traits and abilities from her Grandfather. She is technically the Duchess of Sto Helit, but hasn't bothered to go there in the books. She also inherited the three white lines on her cheek, from where her grandfather slapped her father in Mort.

Her Story (the Books)

Susan Sto Helit Close Up

Susan is introduced as a young girl in Soul Music, growing up in boarding school (the Quirm College for Young Ladies) after her parents died in a carriage accident. Death decides to go on holiday and try and learn how to forget. She gets called on by the metaphysics of the universe to take over for Death (and has to come to terms with that!) and gets caught up in the story of Imp Y Celyn (who looks a bit elvish around the ears), the Discworld's first rock and roll star. He's supposed to die, but the music takes him over, causing a great deal of trouble!

In Hogfather (now a film), a rather unusual assassin, Mr. Teatime (that's Te-ah-tim-eh), sets out to kill the Hogfather (the Discworld version of Father Christmas - a lot closer to the original myths, with his pigs and beans!). Death takes over his role in an attempt to keep the belief alive, and Susan gets dragged in to try and fix things. Her Grandfather sends her to the Tooth Fairy's home, which is built on children's beliefs, and is a place where death (and therefore Death) cannot exist. Here, she's about 21 years old, a governor for two children, and beats up the bogey men with a poker.

In Thief of Time, it's not so much Susan's story - more that she is dragged into the tale of Lobsang Ludd, son of Time, in a fight against the Auditors of Reality (who hate messy things like life - and were also responsible for hiring Mr. Teatime in Hogfather)

Further information and Image Credits
More information about Susan can be found on Wikipedia and the L-Space Wiki. On the artwork - painting in progress by Flynn the Cat (me); referenced from Michelle Dockery as Susan in the recent Hogfather film.


Jul 14, 2010 7:28pm
Interesting indeed, Thanks!
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