Susan Sto Helit

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Sto Helit Family Motto: NON TIMETUS MESSOR

Fear Not The Reaper

Her Grace, The Duchess of Sto Helit, Lady Susan Death-Sto Helit.

Death's Granddaughter
Susan in her teacher days by Kit Cox
Name Susan Sto Helit
Race [Mostly] Human
Occupation Governess (Hogfather)
Teacher (Thief of Time)
Physical appearance
Parents Mort
Relatives Death (Grandfather)
Lezek (Grandfather)
Marital Status Single, possibly dating Lobsang Ludd/Jeremy Clockson
Books Soul Music
Thief of Time

Susan Sto Helit is the daughter of Mort and Ysabell. Ysabell was the adopted daughter of Death and Mort was, briefly, Death's apprentice. They leave Death's domain and become Duke and Duchess of Sto Helit. Susan is their only child.

Despite her lack of a genetic link with Death, she has inherited certain of his abilities: she can "walk through walls and live outside time and be a little bit immortal." She also has a birthmark of sorts that shows only when she blushes, or when she is angry (these days she is seldom embarrassed and often angry). It takes the form of three faint lines on her cheek, and is a souvenir inherited (as it were) from an event in Mort involving her father and grandfather.

She is attractive, in a skinny way, and upon meeting her one gets an odd feeling that she is older than she looks. She has strange hair. It is pure white with a single black streak, which while initially uncontrollable, now seems to alter itself according to her mood. This could be a tight bun, ponytail, or any other style that seems to fit the occasion. On the occasions that she has covered for her grandfather she has worn a black lace dress in the manner of a healthy yet necronerdic woman wanting to look consumptive.

Her most obvious character trait is being sensible, an attribute carefully cultivated by her parents as a counterbalance to the influence of her grandfather. Initially, this manifested itself as a refusal to admit the supernatural side of the world (beyond basic magic) even existed. Latterly, however, she accepts she is part of the same world as the Hogfather and the Tooth fairy. She just wishes she wasn't. She can be relied upon to keep her head in a crisis, something she tends to view as a character flaw.

She is first introduced as a sixteen year old pupil at the Quirm College for Young Ladies in Soul Music, shortly after the death of her parents (who, unfortunately, Death couldn't spare; his offer to let them live out eternity in his Domain was refused). She was good at any sports which involved the swinging of some sort of stick (hockey, rounders, lacrosse etc) and was academically brilliant, if a little disconcerting to her teachers (she has a way of making herself, if not invisible, then inconspicuous to the vast majority of people who choose not to see what is really there; a definite family attribute). It is interesting to note that her only two friends while at school were a dwarf and a troll, both in some way 'outcasts' of the received school society.

Though Susan was previously infatuated with rocker Imp y Celyn (Soul Music), as of Thief of Time, Susan is rumoured to be in a relationship with Lobsang Ludd, the new anthropomorphic personification of Time.


After graduating - and despite being, technically, the current Duchess of Sto Helit - she began a teaching career, first as a governess, working for Mrs Gaiter in Ankh-Morpork (but not like that; she promised herself that if she ever began dancing on rooftops with chimney sweeps or sliding down banisters she would beat herself to death with her own umbrella) in Hogfather, and then as a private school teacher (in Thief of Time). She proves to be quite good at handling small children, a skill that is attributed to her sensible and practical nature.

This could also be due to her approach to children's problems. When a child complains about a monster in the cupboard or under the bed, most parents would go to great lengths to carefully explain to the child that there is no monster. Susan, on the other hand, simply hands the child a suitable weapon (such as an fireplace poker, broadsword or anything else that's on hand) with which to assault the monster, or goes and does it herself. Monsters from a wide area have come to dread the sturdy fireplace poker she uses for this task, although as word of Susan has quickly spread among the city's resident monsters, she lately has only needed to deal with newcomers.

Her approach in other areas is also unusual. For example, in her role as a governess she has found that her charges' reading progress has been greatly enhanced by using interesting books which are slightly too difficult for them, and which therefore present something of a challenge. Parents may, however, have reservations about her choice of General Tacticus's Campaigns as a reader, since it may be argued that the ability to spell 'disembowelled' is not necessarily needed by children under ten.

As a schoolteacher she is sufficiently successful to have parents clamouring to have their child included in her class. Her approach to history and geography, often subjects which children find rather dull, has particularly captured her class's attention. The occasional need to remove from their children's clothing dried-in bloodstains or ground-in swamp mud is generally seen by parents as more than compensated for by the broad education being received - a child's description of one of the classic battles from Ankh-Morpork's long history, for example, might be sufficiently vivid and detailed to make the parent think that the description could not have been improved upon if the child had actually seen the battle firsthand.

It is worth pointing out that Susan's choice of career has benefited her as well as her students. Her heritage has placed her into frequent contact with elements of a world outside, and often disconcertingly at odds with, the normal and conventional. Dealing with bad spelling and mistakes in toilet training provides a strong grounding in reality. And having Susan as class teacher also does wonders to reform the Jasons of this world, which benefits everyone.

Possible sources

The first Doctor of Doctor Who, played by William Hartnell, was a tall, thin, personage not bound by the usual restrictions of time and space, and was possessed of a nominal granddaughter named Susan. His spaceship, the TARDIS, has different dimensions on the inside to the outside; in Hogfather, Susan says she is used to things different on the inside to the outside: her grandfather's house is like that.

Her hair is an inversion of that of David Edding's Polgara (black with a white streak).


  • The motto of the Sto Helit family is; Non Timetus Messor, which is translated in the article concerning links with the Roundworld heavy rock band Blue Öyster Cult, whose biggest hit record on Roundworld was....
  • After the appointment of Susan's father, Mort, as the new Duke of Sto Helit, the Sto Helit family coat of arms is (due to their ties with Death) a shield with pair of scythes crossed and an hourglass where the scythes cross.
  • Due to her heritage, Susan can arguably be described as a natural Knurd, like Samuel Vimes.
  • Susan's personality and mental setup are not unlike fellow characters like Samuel Vimes and Granny Weatherwax: They are all effectively 'good' characters who nevertheless secretly fear the darkness inside them, and constantly strive to control the darker side of their nature.
  • In the Cosgrove Hall animation of Soul Music, Susan is voiced by Debra Gillet. In the Sky One adaptation of Hogfather she is played by Michelle Dockery.

See also: