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Hogfather (Discworld) Mass Market Paperback – September 8, 1999
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What could more genuinely embody the spirit of Christmas (or Hogswatch, on the Discworld) than a Terry Pratchett book about the holiday season? Every secular Christmas tradition is included. But as this is the 21st Discworld novel, there are some unusual twists.
This year the Auditors, who want people to stop believing in things that aren't real, have hired an assassin to eliminate the Hogfather. (You know him: red robe, white beard, says, "Ho, ho, ho!") Their evil plot will destroy the Discworld unless someone covers for him. So someone does. Well, at least Death tries. He wears the costume and rides the sleigh drawn by four jolly pigs: Gouger, Tusker, Rooter, and Snouter. He even comes down chimneys. But as fans of other Pratchett stories about Death (Mort, Reaper Man, and Soul Music) know, he takes things literally. He gives children whatever they wish for and appears in person at Crumley's in The Maul.
Fans will welcome back Susan, Death of Rats (the Grim Squeaker), Albert, and the wizardly faculty of Unseen University, and revel in new personalities like Bilious, the "oh god of Hangovers." But you needn't have read Pratchett before to laugh uproariously and think seriously about the meanings of Christmas. --Nona Vero --This text refers to the Digital edition.
From Publishers Weekly
The master of humorous fantasy delivers one of his strongest, most conventional books yet. Discworld's equivalent of Santa Claus, the Hogfather (who flies in a sleigh drawn by four gigantic pigs), has been spirited away by a repulsive assassin, Mr. Teatime, acting on behalf of the Auditors who rule the universe and who would prefer that it exhibited no life. Since faith is essential to life, destroying belief in the Hogfather would be a major blow to humanity. It falls to a marvelously depicted Death and his granddaughter Susan to solve the mystery of the disappeared Hogfather, and meanwhile to fill in for him. On the way to the pair's victory, readers encounter children both naughty and nice; gourmet banquets made of old boots and mud; lesser and greater criminals; an overworked and undertrained tooth fairy named Violet; and Bilious, the god of hangovers, among other imaginative concepts. The tone of much of the book is darker than usual for Pratchett?for whom "humorous" has never been synonymous with "silly"?and his satire, too, is more edged than usual. (One scene deftly skewers the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas.") Pratchett has now moved beyond the limits of humorous fantasy, and should be recognized as one of the more significant contemporary English-language satirists. U.K. rights: Victor Gollanz, The Cassell Group; trans., first serial, dramatic, audio rights: Ralph Vicinanza.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Digital edition.
Top customer reviews
I'm saying Christmas, because that's the holiday that I'm used to around Solstice, but there are no references to Christianity, only discworld gods and Father Christmas.
I don't know much about the "meta" or overall mythology, if you will, of Discworld. I do know what little I have read and has been revealed to me via the novel and little tidbits I picked up online. Essentially, in the Discworld, there is what some have referred to as a "fantasy kitchen sink" situation, or a world where "all myths are true". One of these is the "Hogfather", who seems to be designed upon the Santa Claus/Odin connection roots of real life. The religious roots of him as a bishop are not really mentioned in the book. Though, to be fair, (this is just my opinion), one of the forms the Hogfather takes alludes to this, possibly.
Referencing the idea in many fantasy books that someone's biological matter (hair, nails, so on) can be used to control them or cast magic on them, the villain hired by the ultimate bad guys manages to actually come up with a plan to destroy a god, in this case, the Hogfather.
Sensing that something is wrong with the world on the night of Hogswatch Eve (the Discworld analogue of Christmas Eve) Death (yes, <i>that</i> Death) takes it upon himself to stop this plot and enlists (through some subtle manipulation) his adopted grand-daughter Susan. Despite being the child of the adopted daughter, she somehow inherits powers from him. I don't know the background books well enough yet, so I admit this is confusing.
The question is whether the villains can succeed in ridding the world of annoying belief in the form of the Hogfather, or if Susan and Death can keep that belief alive. It will be one hell of an interesting, and hilarious, journey.
This is one of the most entertaining and funny books I have read in a long time. Terry Pratchett is a master of both situational comedy and turning words to funny effect. He's not as good as PG Wodehouse, but who is? And the characters were incredibly engaging. Granted, it helped I saw the tv adaptation first, and imagined the characters looking like they do there. Even so, I think they were masterfully done. Teatime was chilling and creepy, Death was funny and kind of melancholic in how he can't do more to help others, and Susan was a badass female character that was cool despite being annoying in her angsting about being "normal".
Sometimes Pratchett could be a bit annoying in his commentary and so forth. He was a tad preachy, but this didn't occur except for about three scenes, and only one of those was beyond the pale. The other two were sensible in their questioning of different social and moral assumptions we make of others, and of how we do "good" for the wrong reasons at times.
I could do without the veiled notion that belief is made up for our sakes and not absolute, but if this is the maximum that Pratchett attacks religion, I can certainly take it.
A very funny and brilliant read, and one I heartily recommend.
Death as the Hogfather: WELL AMAZON CUSTOMER, HAVE YOU BEEN NAUGHTY OR NICE? HO. HO. HO.
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