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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
A New Discworld
Humorous fantasist Terry Pratchett returns to his beloved and bestselling Discworld, a flat land of untamed imagination where all manner of oddities and absurdities take place. Jingo, the previous novel in the series, Pratchett made full use of his dry wit to take a ludicrous look at the topic of war. Now, in his own inimitable fashion, the author turns his mighty talents to satirizing the Santa Claus myth in Hogfather, where he shows us the ridiculous extent that some will go to in order to destroy, and preserve, the season of giving.
When a bizarre race known only as the Auditors (of reality) decide they want the Hogfather -- Discworld's version of Santa Claus -- rubbed out, they approach the Assassin's Guild, who soon put one of their strangest agents on the task of killing what has always been believed to be a myth. Mr. Teatime is extremely adept at his profession, and the fact that he's completely out of his mind seems only to enhance his already formidable capabilities. Although we soon learn that the Hogfather is only an "anthropomorphic personality," he, like the Tooth Fairy and Death itself, is indeed quite real.
Death, who's still highly intrigued with humanity, decides to replace the Hogfather, doing his best to spread a little cheer. With a fake beard on his fleshless skull, he takes to the sleigh and the four giant hogs on Hogwatch night to hand out toys to all the good Discworld boys and girls. Soon his granddaughter, Susan Sto-Helit, becomes enmeshed in Death's attempt to take over this job, so different from the one he's used todoing. As a governess who's tried her very best to turn her back on the exploits of her grandpa Death, she's constantly at war with the bogeymen that creep into the children's dreams, and eventually she realizes that only she can help put the Hogfather back in his rightful position.
Hogfather, is quite possibly Pratchett's strongest Discworld novel to date, a witty and powerful blending of humor, satire, and often genuinely innovative fantasy. Death has developed over the course of the series to be one of the most whimsical of all characters, as we watch his often fumbling attempts to deal with humanity on a more personal level. Several of these scenes are both poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, with Death trying to connect to children but not fully realizing that when a little girl wishes for a sword, he shouldn't hand her a four-foot-long scimitar. Ably assisted by his sidekick, Albert the pixie, Death becomes a kind of everyman hero trying to keep the spirit of the holiday season alive.
Also put to excellent use are the author's trademark footnotes, which lend a distinctive quality to the novel that's not unlike having a close friend muttering quips beneath his breath throughout the narrative. For Pratchett fans, it's never too soon for another delightful Discworld novel, and for those readers who haven't yet encountered his droll jesting and banter, you'll also have a terrific time with the diverting and scintillating Hogfather. One can take Pratchett's work as being either a pointed social satire or simply a madcap romp full of some of the most entertaining characters you're likely to stumble upon. Either way, the reader is in for a wonderfully gratifying treat.
—Tom Piccirilli, barnesandnoble.com
— Tom Piccirilli,is the author of the critically acclaimed supernatural novel Pentacle, as well as the dark suspense mysteries Shards and The Dead Past. His short fiction has appeared in many anthologies, including Hot Blood: Fear the Fever.