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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twas the night before Hogswatch
when all through the planet
Not a creature was stirring, except Susan Sto-Helit

Terry Pratchett's Discworld series has been marked by a series of hilarious (and thoughtful) parodies of life on our own planet. Pratchett takes a look at our own practices and customs and then filters them through the prism of a parallel universe known as Discworld. He has...
Published on May 30, 2005 by Leonard Fleisig

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Keen observations with a story wrapped around them
This is a book about Hogswatch and the Hogfather, which are the Discworld equivalents of Christmas and Santa Claus. There is a crisis brewing, when it is discovered that the Hogfather is missing in action as Hogswatch is quickly approaching. Death fills in while an assortment of characters try to unravel the mystery of the whereabouts of Hogfather. The trail leads through...
Published on November 17, 2010 by Tactitles


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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twas the night before Hogswatch, May 30, 2005
By 
Leonard Fleisig "Len" (Virginia Beach, Virginia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Hogfather (Discworld) (Mass Market Paperback)
when all through the planet
Not a creature was stirring, except Susan Sto-Helit

Terry Pratchett's Discworld series has been marked by a series of hilarious (and thoughtful) parodies of life on our own planet. Pratchett takes a look at our own practices and customs and then filters them through the prism of a parallel universe known as Discworld. He has done this to great effect with the newspaper business (The Truth), Hollywood (Moving Pictures), rock and roll (Soul Music), and religion (Small Gods). The hilarious differences between the `real' and Discworld versions always provide the reader with hours of amusement and insight. Pratchett's treatment of the Santa Claus legend in Hogfather is no different.

Hogfather, Discworld's Santa is missing. He has been kidnapped by Teatime one of the most vicious villains created by Pratchett. Generally, the `bad guys' in Discworld have a number of amusing or redeeming qualities that help the reader see them as quirky, if bad. Teatime has no redeeming qualities. To that extent he seemed more similar to the villains of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (Croup and Vandemaar) than to the lovable rogues from the Guild of Assassins.

Well, DEATH comes to the rescue and decides to take on Hogfather's role as gift giver on Hogswatch Night, Discworld's Christmas. DEATH is accompanied on this task by the ever faithful and ever grumbling Albert. The passages in which Pratchett has DEATH making his rounds led by his team of boars shouting "on Tusker, on Snooter, on Gouger and Router" were hilarious.

Susan Sto-Helit, DEATH's granddaughter, was not at all pleased by this development. Prodded by the Death of Rats and his translator sidekick, the Raven, Susan is soon reluctantly involved in her Grand-dad's attempts to fill in the gaps caused by Hogfather's disappearance. It becomes apparent that the disappearance is all part of a grand plot by the scheming Auditors who, like all masters of evil have grand plans to end the universe as we know it.

As always, Pratchett keeps the story galloping along at a rip-roaring pace. Susan meets troubles in a manner reminiscent of the Perils of Pauline. Eventually we are faced with the climactic confrontation between DEATH and Teatime. Pratchett always seems to find a clever way to bring his books to satisfactory conclusion.

One of the best parts of the book, for me, was Pratchett's portrayal of DEATH's apparent fondness for mortals despite the fact that his sole (soul?) purpose in life (death?) was to facilitate the earthly end of all our lives. Pratchett's ability to imbue DEATH with such human characteristics without taking away from the other aspects of his immortal character is deeply moving to me.

All in all this was a very satisfying chapter in the Discworld series. Given the night before Hogswatch feel of the book it is fitting to conclude this review as it began:

DEATH sprang to his sleigh, to his Boars gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard DEATH exclaim, `ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Hogswatch to all, and to all a good-night!"
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who's that skeleton in the red and white?, November 15, 2002
By 
David Roy (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hogfather (Discworld) (Mass Market Paperback)
Hogfather, the twentieth Discworld adventure written by Terry Pratchett, is a wonderful tale about the power of belief and what it can bring to humanity. I found myself laughing out loud constantly while reading this book, which is always a good sign, and definitely a step up from Sourcery. It was very pleasurable to be enjoying Pratchett again. It was also very nice to have a good Death book again, after the small bump that was Soul Music
Can anybody not like the idea of a skeletal Death, all decked out in a red and white costume with false beard and false belly, trying to go down chimneys and bring presents to all the good little boys and girls of the world? The idea itself is enough to get me laughing, but Pratchett's implementation of it has to be seen to be believed. Pratchett pulls out all the stops in this one, with laughs as simple as Death trying to figure out how to open a door to let Albert into the house, and as complicated as philosophical discussions about human belief and how it orders the universe (in a way that the Auditors don't like, of course). Death continues to marvel at the ability of humanity to "be untruthful" by "telling the universe it is other than it is." This powerful belief creates beings like the Hogfather, the Tooth Fairy, the Boogeyman (the original!), that sort of thing. That's what makes Death such a wonderful character: his ability to learn, to adapt, and to see both the strengths and weaknesses of humanity, as well as his fascination with how humans do things.
Susan, his granddaughter, just wants to be normal again. It's been two years since Soul Music, and she doesn't want to go back to that life. But while Death can take the Hogfather's place, he can't physically intervene in the events that are occuring, so Susan must. She goes on a journey that takes her to where the Hogfather usually lives, and to the realm of the Tooth Fairy, where Teatime is using the magic of the teeth to erase the belief in the Hogfather. Susan is much more interesting in this book then in Soul Music, mainly because it doesn't take her as long to start getting in on the action. Previously, the entire first part of the book was spent with "recruiting" her to what needed to be done. In Hogfather, it happens much more quickly, which makes the beginning of the book a lot more interesting. The beginning also contains a little bit of foreshadowing. She is governess of two children, whose previous governess constantly reminded them that certain monsters would get them if they did something, and now Susan has to fight them off they are created by the children's belief. I found this very effective, and a good prelude to the philosophical aspect of the story.
The wizards are their usual selves, bumbling along making you wonder how they ever get through life, as well as wondering how they'd ever survive if they weren't in the insular confines of the University. Pratchett does flesh them out a bit, giving them even more personality then they had before. The Archchancellor is remarkably on top of things at times, while at other times he's as dense as a brick. He has the ability to pick up what is happening a lot quicker than you would think. The Bursar is his usual excitable self, downing Dried Frog Pills to make life bearable. I found it hilarious when they would make monsters and fairies appear by speaking aloud their wonderment at various aspects of life. "Supposing some idiot says there must be a god of indigestion, eh?" As usual, Pratchett uses the wizards for two things: to illustrate the effect of what is going on in the story, and as yet another source of comedy. That's why I find the wizards fascinating and very useful to the plot. While on first view their story is completely separate (though they do interact with both Susan and Death), it actually has a lot to do with the what's going on.
Pratchett's talent for wonderful characters continues with everybody else in the book. Teatime's a very creepy person. He's one of the few people who could figure out how to kill somebody like the Hogfather. He's ruthless, willing to kill on a whim, and very determined to get the job done. Then there's the oh god, the God of Hangovers, who is constantly sick and feeling horrible because he take personifies all the effects of drinking. He's miserable, but he plays the faithful companion to Susan on her mission. He's new to the world, but he's willing to learn.
Those are just a few of the great characters, but there are many more. Pratchett's writing is at the top of his form, with hardly a misstep. Susan is still slightly dull, but other than that, everything's a winner. He moves effortlessly from slapstick comedy to serious discussions of the nature of the universe and then back again. His descriptions are both humorous and yet true to life. While you can read the book just for the humour value, it's Pratchett's comments on the nature of belief and how we humans make the world up as we go along that really makes this book a standout. Whether or not you agree with him, the points are interestingly made, but they don't detract from the fun of the book at all. The book is a must read for any Pratchett fan, and it would make a wonderful introduction to the series to a newcomer, as none of the previous Death books are needed to understand this one.
Death is back. Oh how I've missed him.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My First Trip to Discworld, January 13, 2005
This review is from: Hogfather (Discworld) (Mass Market Paperback)
"Hogfather" is the first Terry Pratchett book that I read, based on a strong and enthusiastic recommendation. I am sorry I did not discover Pratchett earlier. His writing is filled with laugh-out-loud moments and peppered with sharp insights into the ways humans function. He has created a marvelously warped, but awfully familiar universe with his Discworld. "Hogfather" is largely a satire about Christmas and the way that we celebrate it; but it is more importantly about the beliefs that shape who we are and the strength those beliefs have over us.

The basis for "Hogfather" is that the Hogfather has been "killed" and Death must take over the reins in order to ensure that the sun will rise the next morning, as well as to try to bring back the Hogfather. As he crisscrosses the world on Hogswatch Eve, he is startled by the lack of belief that he encounters in his interactions with humans. Surely something is wrong in the universe if humans don't belief in the Hogfather and it is Death's task, along with others, to try to set things right.

The novel includes a wide cast of characters who are believable and add to the rich tapestry of Pratchett's yarn. We are allowed to see the story from various vantage points as we discover what is the cause behind this lack of belief. We laugh out loud at the escapades of the Oh-God of Hangovers and the other various 'gods' who have strangely gained entrance into Discworld. Yet the best storyline involves Susan Sto-

Helit; as Death's grand-daughter, she would like nothing more than to live a normal life as a governess, but inevitably finds herself wrapped up in the plot to save the Hogfather and restore order to Discworld.

Pratchett is a highly entertaining author. He balances the wit and humor of his story with sharp (and sometimes biting) observations about life. I look forward to more trips into Discworld.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dark Side of PTerry, January 27, 2001
This review is from: Hogfather (Discworld) (Mass Market Paperback)
At year's end on the Discworld, the Hogfather flies his sleigh packed with toys through the night. Visiting every home with children, he leaves gifts for the kiddies in stockings hung on the mantle or under the Hogswatch tree. There usually is a snack on the table for him: a glass of "sherre" and some pork fries, with turnips for the hogs. The sleigh, you see, is drawn by four immense boars, not reindeer led by one with an inflamed nose. This year, however, the Hogfather has disappeared and a substitute has taken his role.

"The Discworld is a world, and a mirror of worlds". The world it reflects is ours. Many literary commentators disparage fantasy as "escapist", suitable only for the young or others dodging reality. Pratchett, on the other hand, smacks you in the gob with reality. Yet he manages do achieve this with a level of wit and learning no other fantasy writer can hope to emulate. There is some magic on Discworld, but Pratchett's talent lies in characterisation, not make-believe. Most of his figures are human, but humans create characters in their own minds. On Discworld, these are manifested as "anthropomorphic personifications". We are familiar with some: there is a God of Wine, for example. Yet, for some reason, we don't have a God of Hangovers - an oversight in the logic of our mythology. Where we have "Santa Claus", on Discworld the Hogfather is the "jolly elf" bringing happiness to children.

Still, there is one personification we are loathe to consider - Death. On Discworld, Death doesn't kill, but merely takes the life essence when Fate so decrees. Death may spend a moment with the snuffing of a tube-worm at the ocean's depths, but his real interest is humans. He doesn't understand them, although he strives to do so. Circumstances led him to become a grandfather once - sort of a grandfather. That little girl, Susan Sto Helit, also strives: to be a Normal Person in the Real World. Grandfather's concern for humans, however, forces Susan to ease out of the Real World in a reluctant quest to learn why the Hogfather isn't doing his rounds. And why her grandfather has assumed his role.

On the Discworld, most businesses are combined into Guilds. There's the Guild of Astrologers, Thieves' Guild and the ladies of The Guild of Seamstresses ["hem! hem!"]. There is also an association of elite gentlemen, The Assassins' Guild, which "inhumes" victims for clients for a fee. Lord Downey, Head of the Assassins has been approached by a "client" offering a large fee to inhume the Hogfather. He passes the task to Mister Teatime [pronounced Teh-ah tim-eh - "Nobody gets it right, Sir", he mourns.] who has already considered the problem "on my own time, Sir!", he insists. For Mister Teatime has indeed seen the benefits of "bringing the Hogfather to an end". It involves kidnapping the Tooth Fairy and how to control the minds of children.

Death, who has a vested interest in children because they will become adults he can study, has an assistant. Albert Malich was a wizard the Unseen University, where young wizards trained. As a human, Albert acts as a resource in Death's pursuit of understanding humans. Humans are too illogical, too individual, too unpredictable for reasoned analysis. Death doesn't wish to change them, but he yearns to understand them. Others in the universe, particularly the Auditors, find human behaviour irrational, but worse, chaotic. Their aim is Order in the universe - and Mister Teatime is engaged in fulfilling that desire. It's part of the contract.

Pratchett's development of this story is one of his finest accomplishments. The twentieth Discworld story - in a collection now exceeding three dozen, he has woven his characters into something grand and universal. Although now over a decade old, the book retains wide appeal for many reasons. There is something here for everybody, including Pratchett's use of science in unexpected, but not inappropriate, places. Pratchett's writing is captivating, not only because his command of language is peerless, but because he engages your attention in surprising and challenging ways. In three dozen books, he has never repeated himself or let a major figure become boring. Those that reappear in successive volumes grow and develop fresh attributes. Not the least of those being Death himself. Speaking, as he does in THE VOICE, he remains both entertaining and worthy of ungrudging respect, exhibiting very "human" qualities. For all his supposed prowess, Death must manipulate a human to bring this book to its conclusion. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hogfather - Another Masterpiece from Terry P, February 17, 2005
By 
not4prophet (North Carolina) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hogfather (Discworld) (Mass Market Paperback)
It won't take any Pratchett fan very long to realize that our man Terry is trying something subtlely different in "Hogfather". For sure this book is slow to get off the ground. Much space at the beginning gets spent on Susan, along with the Raven and the Death of Rats, sequences that many fans may find lacking in traditional Pratchett humor. Elsewhere Death is filling in for the jolly Hogfather, who has died of a sort, and makes the mistake of giving some youngsters what they want rather than what their parents think they should want. The biggest laughs in the book come when the wizards show up, and join the search for the Hogfather together wtih an ant-powered mechanical computer named "Hex". And when a wayward comment brings in a board-game toting Cheerful Fairy determined to lighten the mood, I guarantee you enough side-splitting laughter to make up for any dull passages at the start.

But beneath all this, there is more. Pratchett has always snuck tinges of philosophy into his books. In "Small Gods" we learned that Gods only wield power so long as people believe in them. In "Pyramids" an unfortunate accident forced an entire kingdom to face its beliefs manifested in physical reality. In "Witches Abroad" we learned that fiction shapes people rather than the other way around. But in "Hogfather" he pushes the envelope further, asserting that all reality is make-believe, and all make-believe is reality, and furthermore that this is a good thing. It's a daring statement and a daring approach to life, one that will make small-minded folks sneer, and imaginative ones, at the very least, stretch their minds to a new place.

Terry Pratchett is brave. Not just a master of wit and a keen observer of human nature, he takes on everybody's most cherished institutions and sees how they were shaped by belief rather than reality. It's a thought that frightens us because it's like realizing that your house is built on quicksand. If the beliefs start to change, then the house can collapse. But the point of "Hogfather", the real point, is that we should be joyful at realizing how powerful our beliefs are, because once we reach that realization we are free from the tyranny of gods and of moral absolutes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HO. HO. HO., February 14, 2005
By 
Myra "Ignolopi" (Salt Lake City, Utah, USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Hogfather (Discworld) (Mass Market Paperback)
The Hogfather is, of course, Father Christmas - except that he drives in a sleigh pulled by pigs, and gets sherry and turnips as snacks.

But someone has hired the Assassins Guild to `get rid of' this certain somebody, and they get on the job.

While the Hogfather faces the peril of being un-believed in (which is how a god `dies', though just as soon they can come back to `life'), Death takes up the reigns, puts on a fake wig, stuffs some pillows under his coat, and becomes the substitute Hogfather. Eating the sherry and turnips (or leaving the turnips and letting his assistant Albert drink the sherry), leaving toys in the stockings, and making sure there are plenty of coal-prints on the carpet, Death hopes to keep the belief of the Hogfather alive.

Meanwhile, Mr. Teatime (that's `teh-ah-tim-eh' to you), the hired Assassin, has hired a few thugs to help him with his work. They are having a hard time getting used to this odd, one-eyed (one glass eye), eccentric assassin.

And Susan - the daughter of Death's adopted daughter and his former apprentice (thus Death's granddaughter) - knows something's wrong; when Death instead of the Hogfather comes in and fills the kid's stockings. She is trying to lead a `normal' life as a governess; though when your hair rearranges itself, you can walk through walls, can see bogeymen, and talk in capital letters like Death, it's hard to be normal.

So Susan, along with the 'oh god' of Hangovers (who she runs into), goes to find out what has happened to the Hogfather - and see if she can return Hogwatch to what it was before, with the correct Hogfather.

Along with 'Interesting Times', and 'Small Gods', this makes it to the top 5 of all the Discworld novels.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A darkly, beautiful story with an important message!, June 8, 2001
By 
JJM Peters (Nijmegen, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hogfather (Discworld) (Mass Market Paperback)
Who would've thought, after reading the first few books of Terry Pratchett that this writer would one day produce a book with such depth as this one? Okay, as always it's all wrapped up in a high speed, intricate story with several sub-plots, but that makes the ultimate message Pratchett delivers only more convincing.
So, what's the story all about? As always, the Discworld is in perilous danger, or at least civilization on it is. The "Auditors" (of reality, not money) want to eliminate mankind. Since these beings like everything to be orderly, precise and regular, it's not hard to imagine mankind is a thorn in the eye to them. The way they plan to wipe mankind of the disc is by murdering the Hogfather (Discworlds equivalent of Santaclaus), a job assigned to the less than sane assassin Teatime. DEATH, the only one who understands the danger mankind is in, can't help himself and interferes by impersonating the Hogfather. Meanwhile his granddaughter Susan sets out to stop Teatime (with a little dubious help from the Oh-God of Hangovers). Of course, in the end all's well, but not before Pratchett makes a very keen observation of what defines humanity. Believing in certain 'lies' (like the existence of a Hogfather) is, according to Death (the only truly impartial observer) what makes us human.
I've read the book three times now and I'm still surprised how well Pratchett builds his story and every time I marvel at the insights he shows in what humans are like. It's a very special book, with something for everybody and I really recommend it not only to Pratchett fans.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, December 26, 1999
This review is from: Hogfather (Discworld) (Mass Market Paperback)
Terry Pratchett is one of the only authors alive today who can still get away with writting an entire novel to make a single point. This is the first Discworld novel I read (but not the first Terry Pratchett novel)--my friend happened to have it with him when we were discussing books--and it has inspired me to read the rest of the collection. Some might say that the 21st novel is not the best place to start, but it seemed to work for me. I've read it twice, because Terry Pratchett is one of those authors where you have to. The first time, you read through it fast just to see how he ends it, and then you read through it again to find all the little things that you missed the first time because you read through it too fast. I recommend this book to anyone who's bored with the carbon copy, cookie-cutter novels that flood todays market, because this is definetely not one of them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy Hogswatch!, July 11, 2009
This review is from: Hogfather (Discworld) (Mass Market Paperback)
The first time that I read one of Pratchett's novels I was a bit confused. His writing style is so drastically different from most novelists I've read - something I've learned to appreciate. He doesn't use chapter breaks, tends to have several, if not dozens of characters active in each book, and even includes foot notes...some of which can be drastically long.

And he's hilarious. Pratchett writes satire with such flair that it's staggering and brilliant in his execution. Sometimes, while I'm reading, I can't help but wonder if he didn't just aimlessly picked up his pen and decided to give it a go that day and oh look, it happened to work out. The truth is he is brilliant, although I get the sense he'd never admit it. Not only do his plot lines connect in ways the reader would never suspect but while creating this great story he interweaves some amazing characters at the same time. Each character stands on their own, even the supposed "flat" characters and I'm always left with the intense feeling that he could write a book on each of them, if he hasn't already.

Hogfather is a perfect example of this. Parodying our belief in Santa Clause, (or any other fictional being, such as the Tooth Fairy and Bogeymen) the Disc World has their own holiday icon - the Hogfather. But this year he's missing and something is terrible amiss.

So while the Hogfather is MIA, someone has to take up the reigns (literally and figuratively) and make it a jolly Hogswatch night. Who better the reigns than one of Pratchett's beloved characters, Death? Death is so literal, so innocent, so perfect of a character that it is incredibly hard not to love him. (Read Reaper Man for more!) The way he interacts with humans is always amusing and when he's out of his element, it's even more enjoyable.

Throughout the novel hilarity and sometimes a great sense of fear go hand-in-hand. Susan is clever, determined and quite dry. Teatime makes you hope and pray you never meet anyone like him and Death, bless him, does his best to continue the belief in the Hogfather. The very interesting thing about this is how clever the storyline becomes. It's not just about believing in the Hogfather, but why do we believe in the entities we do believe in? Where are their origins from and what would happen if one day, we stopped? The conclusion (Pratchett doesn't really give conclusions, more of allusions to...) is very well done and thought out. I can honestly say, his writing is completely new and unique each time, unlike many stories that feel recycled time and time again....but that's another post.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Would rate six or more stars, if I could, December 7, 1999
This review is from: Hogfather (Discworld) (Mass Market Paperback)
Probably the best book Pratchett has ever written (but then, I would give »Lords and Ladies« a bad credit). To give some arguments: The plot is great because of a) the characters, led by Susan, Death (going HO, HO, HO), the Death of Rats (going HEEK, HEEK, HEEK), Ridcully the Brown and the Oh God of Hangovers; b) the villain, which is Mr. Jonathan Teatime, who has a mind like a mirror crack'd: Lots of brilliant and beautiful facettes, but nevertheless something that's broken; and c)the plot itself, which is a thrilling whodunit, because though you know who had it done and who did it, you don't know How or, even more important, WHY. The resolution ... I won't tell you, but it's brilliant (like Mr. Teatime's brain?). Read this book. Read it again. At least each year when christmas is drawing near. Then think about the sun, and blood in the snow, and an assassin with a eyeball of glass ...
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Hogfather (Discworld)
Hogfather (Discworld) by Terry Pratchett (Mass Market Paperback - October 30, 2007)
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