The Last Continent
|Cameos||The Last Hero|
Albert (full name: Alberto Malich the Wise) is Death's servant. He has been living in Death's Domain for the last two thousand years, but because time does not progress there, he has not aged. Alberto Malich was once a seriously powerful wizard and founded Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork. It is not stated whether he used the title Archchancellor. When he realised that Death was on his tail, and not having got go to where he was without making extremely powerful enemies on the other side, he decided that he was better off as an undying servant than a dead anything. His first idea was to perform a magic spell which would grant him an endless life. His idea, so Mort learned from Igneous Cutwell, was to perform the Rite of AshkEnte backwards, to keep Death away. Instead the spell propelled Albert directly to Death's front door. Albert decided to stay there when he found out that his life-timer was almost empty with only a few days left (91 days, 3 hours, 5 minutes according to Mort, though more recent developments have reduced his remaining life to something less than a minute). "Life is a habit which is hard to break."
Despite this his life is still filling up a book of life, or rather a whole shelf in The Stack.
Surprisingly, even Death needs a servant, not for himself, of course, but for his estate and granddaughter Susan Sto Helit. Without Albert, the stables would be full of horse droppings and Susan would never have had the opportunity to try Albert's famous fried eggs (not to mention his unique fried porridge).
When Death was covering for the Hogfather, Albert joined in the festivities too, dressing as a vile sort of elf. This brings to him recollections of his childhood, where you got sausages and black puddings in your sock, if you were lucky. But there was always a pink sugar piglet in the toe. Alas, the naughty ones got a sack of bones.
Albert was originally a powerful mage, who authored the book, "The Book of Magic of Alberto Malich the Mage," which was thereafter purchased (and bookmarked with bacon, or, for the more disturbing pages, clamped shut) by Igneous Cutwell. As the founder of UU, Albert uses up some of his precious remaining life to return there in Mort, scaring the wits out of most of the faculty. The faculty had perhaps good reason to find themselves in fear of Albert, given the hijinks that had taken place regarding his statue, which stood in the main hall and was the subject of many an undergraduate prank.
As a character, Albert is a filthy grinning old man who likes nothing more than making artery-clanging breakfasts and smoking his noisome rollups.
Albert is pretty damn' crusty, and is not easily impressed by anything - especially Mort. And he despairs of Death ever interfering in the affairs of humans and something good coming of it. Witness his attempts to suppress the urges of his master in Hogfather, for example.
Albert's full name, "Alberto Malich", puns on Albertus Magnus ("the Magician", Saint Thomas Aquinas' teacher) and "lich" (or a wizard with a necromantically extended lifespan). Albertus Magnus makes a particularly apt referent for Albert, as he was a widely celebrated and notable alchemist, philosopher, and chemist, whose experiments provided the foundation for later scientific advances. After his death, his great learning and mastery of a diverse field of subjects led to Magnus' postmortem title "Doctor Universalis" and a wide variety of legends sprang up in regards to his magical exploits.
Terry is also on record as having selected Albert's name due in part to its somewhat antiquated ring.