The delivery man turned, and looked, and saw. At first he couldn’t find the words, couldn’t find anything, and then the habits of a working lifetime took over and he said, ‘Message for you, Sir.’
‘Yes, sir.’ He wished he still had a throat. He could have swallowed, if he still had a throat. ‘No package, I’m afraid, Mister… uh, Sir. It’s a message.’
DELIVER IT, THEN.
‘It’s this, sir. Ahem. Come and see.‘
FINALLY. There was a grin on its face, but then, given the face, there couldn’t have been anything else.
THANK YOU, it continued. I MUST COMMEND YOUR DEVOTION TO DUTY.
‘Sir?’ the late delivery man was falling through a grey mist, and all he could see were two spots of blue, that might have been eyes, and might been distant stars.
DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death, JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.
— p. 188.
Death is one of the apocalyptic horsepersons along with War, Famine and Pollution, and is also known as Azrael. He has the grinning, skeletal appearance of the traditional image of the Grim Reaper, and his voice is “a dark echo from the night places, a cold slab of sound, grey, and dead” (261). Extremely tall, when wishing to conceal his identity he wears a long black coat and hides his terrifying features behind a motorcycle helmet (257).
Omnipresent and always working, Death has not had to use his time creatively like the other horsepersons. Even when at last journeying to Armageddon in Lower Tadfield, Death pauses along the way to deal with the deaths of the bikers who foolishly followed them (292). Though seemingly fond of playing Trivial Pursuit (257-261), Death is perhaps the most serious of the horsepersons, and seems to take charge from the moment they are assembled, addressed as “lord” by Famine (261). He stands apart from the others, with War noting that Death “was never exactly one of the lads” (330).
More focused than the rest of them, he is able to discern R. P. Tyler‘s rambling directions to Lower Tadfield when the other horsepersons are not (319) and seems to possess a perfect memory, explaining his tremendous ability at Trivial Pursuit. He considers the horsepersons to be above Satan himself, declaring that Armageddon is “A JOB FOR THE PROFESSIONALS” (327). However, some modern technology seems beyond him as he expresses confusion over LED lights in the nuclear power plant, although he is able to stop klaxons screeching by “absentmindedly snapp[ing] his fingers” (330).
When the horsepersons finally become their full selves in order to carry out their great task, Death is the only one who remains unchanged (338) and in contrast to the others he seems “positively homely” to Adam (341). After the Them manage to defeat the other horsepersons, Death unfurls “wings of night, wings that were shapes cut through the matter of creation into the darkness underneath” and reveals himself as “the angel of Death”. Unable to proceed without War, Famine and Pollution, he vanishes away unchanged (344).
Fans of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels will recognise many of Death’s characteristics, as he appears there in similar form. However, in the world of Good Omens, Death is a much darker character, appropriate for his role as the leader of the four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse.