Hogfather (Discworld Series #20)

Hogfather (Discworld Series #20)

by Terry Pratchett

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062276285
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/28/2014
Series: Discworld Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 29,724
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.94(d)

About the Author

Sir Terry Pratchett was the internationally bestselling author of more than thirty books, including his phenomenally successful Discworld series. His young adult novel, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal, and Where's My Cow?, his Discworld book for “readers of all ages,” was a New York Times bestseller. His novels have sold more than seventy five million (give or take a few million) copies worldwide. Named an Officer of the British Empire “for services to literature,” Pratchett lived in England. He died in 2015 at the age of sixty-six.

Hometown:

Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

Date of Birth:

April 28, 1948

Place of Birth:

Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England

Education:

Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree.

But people have always been dimly aware of the problem with the start of things. They wonder aloud how the snowplow driver gets to work, or how the makers of dictionaries look up the spelling of the words. Yet there is the constant desire to find some point in the twisting, knotting, raveling nets of space-time on which a metaphorical finger can be put to indicate that here, here, is the point where it all began ...

Something began when the Guild of Assassins enrolled Mister Teatime, who saw things differently from other people, and one of the ways that he saw things differently from other people was in seeing other people as things (later, Lord Downey of the Guild said, "We took pity on him because he'd lost both parents at an early age. I think that, on reflection, we should have wondered a bit more about that").

But it was much earlier even than that when most people forgot that the very oldest stories are, sooner or later, about blood. Later on they took the blood out to make the stories more acceptable to children, or at least to the people who had to read them to children rather than the children themselves (who, on the whole, are quite keen on blood provided it's being shed by the deserving*), and then wondered where the stories went.

And earlier still when something in the darkness of the deepest caves and gloomiest forests thought: what are they, these creatures? I will observe them ...

* That is to say, those who deserve to shed blood. Or possibly not. You never quite know with some kids.

And much, much earlierthan that, when the Discworld was formed, drifting onward through space atop four elephants on the shell of the giant turtle, Great A'Tuin.

Possibly, as it moves, it gets tangled like a blind man in a cobwebbed house in those highly specialized little space-time strands that try to breed in every history they encounter, stretching them and breaking them and tugging them into new shapes.

Or possibly not, of course. The philosopher Didactylos has summed up an alternative hypothesis as "Things just happen. What the hell."

The senior wizards of Unseen University stood and looked at the door.

There was no doubt that whoever had shut it wanted it to stay shut. Dozens of nails secured it to the door frame. Planks had been nailed right across. And finally it had, up until this morning, been hidden by a bookcase that had been put in front of it.

"And there's the sign, Ridcully," said the Dean. "You have read it, I assume. You know? The sign which says 'Do not, under any circumstances, open this door'?"

"Of course I've read it," said Ridcully. "Why d'yer think I want it opened?"

"Er ... why?" said the Lecturer in Recent Runes.

"To see why they wanted it shut, of course."*

* This exchange contains almost all you need to know about human civilization. At least, those bits of it that are now under the sea, fenced off or still smoking.

He gestured to Modo, the University's gardener and odd-job dwarf, who was standing by with a crowbar.

"Go to it, lad."

The gardener saluted. "Right you are, sir."

Against a background of splintering timber, Ridcully went on: "It says on the plans that this was a bathroom. There's nothing frightening about a bathroom, for gods' sake. I want a bathroom. I'm fed up with sluicing down with you fellows. It's unhygienic. You can catch stuff. My father told me that. Where you get lots of people bathing together, the Verruca Gnome is running around with his little sack."

"Is that like the Tooth Fairy?" said the Dean sarcastically.

"I'm in charge here and I want a bathroom of my own," said Ridcully firmly. "And that's all there is to it, all right? I want a bathroom in time for Hogswatchnight, understand?"

And that's a problem with beginnings, of course. Sometimes, when you're dealing with occult realms that have quite a different attitude to time, you get the effect a little way before the cause.

From somewhere on the edge of hearing came a glingleglingleglingle noise, like little silver bells.

At about the same time as the Archchancellor was laying down the law, Susan Sto-Helit was sitting up in bed, reading by candlelight.

Frost patterns curled across the windows.

She enjoyed these early evenings. Once she had put the children to bed she was more or less left to herself. Mrs. Gaiter was pathetically scared of giving her any instructions even though she paid Susan's wages.

Not that the wages were important, of course. What was important was that she was being her Own Person and holding down a Real Job. And being a governess was a real job. The only tricky bit had been the embarrassment when her employer found out that she was a duchess, because in Mrs. Gaiter's book, which was a rather short book with big handwriting, the upper crust wasn't supposed to work. It was supposed to loaf around. It was all Susan could do to stop her curtseying when they met.

A flicker made her turn her head.

The candle flame was streaming out horizontally, as though in a howling wind.

She looked up. The curtains billowed away from the window, which flung itself open with a clatter.

But there was no wind.

At least, no wind in this world.

Images formed in her mind. A red ball ... The sharp smell of snow ... And then they were gone, and instead there were ...

"Teeth?" said Susan, aloud. "Teeth, again?"

She blinked. When she opened her eyes the window was, as she knew it would be, firmly shut. The curtain hung demurely. The candle flame was innocently upright. Oh, no, not again. Not after all this time. Everything had been going so well —

What People are Saying About This

Piers Anthony

Terry Pratchett is fast, funny and going places. Try him.

A. S. Byatt

Discworld is more complicated and satisfactory than Oz. Truly original. Pratchett creates a brilliant excess of delectable detail!

Interviews


Before the live bn.com chat, Terry Pratchett agreed to answer some of our questions:

Q:  Your work is praised for its outlandish humor and sharp-witted satire. What are some of the things that influence your outlook? What do you think makes effective satire?

A:  Well, I don't think my humor is outlandish. I'd say it's quite logical; it just applies logic in places where we've hitherto not employed it! Just about everything influences me, but I suppose the basic driving force is a desire to slap the world on the face and say, "Will you just shut up and be sensible for five minutes?"

I think satire succeeds best when it slides in quietly, like some magician who can remove your underwear without your knowing. I'm not certain that hatred drives good satire, despite what is often said.

Q:  If you were given a round-trip plane ticket to any destination, where would you go, and why?

A:  Oh, Australia. Probably to Alice Springs, so that I could hire a 4x4 and drive to Ayers Rock again. I don't know why, but the Red Centre always seems like home to me -- I go there a lot.

Q:  Please recommend three of your favorite books.

A:  The Specialist by Charles "Chic" Sale. It's the musings of an old-time privy builder, and for quiet, memorable humor, it can't be beaten. I think it was originally published in the U.S.

Then there's The Evolution Man by the late Roy Lewis (it's been published all over the place under various titles, like Once Upon an Ice Age and What We Did to Father -- I don't know if it is currently in print). It is probably the best, and certainly the funniest, SF book ever written. It makes you think, too.

I'll cheat with the last one and pick the entire Flashman series, by George MacDonald Fraser. They're funny, thrilling, and well researched too.

Q:  Which book would you give as a gift this year?

A:  Although it's not a recent publication, I'm planning to give a copy of Carl Sagan's Contact to someone whose interest was triggered by the movie.

Customer Reviews

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Hogfather (Discworld Series) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 113 reviews.
ravenwood0001 on LibraryThing 27 days ago
The subject of Hogfather is Christmas. Except on Discworld, it's called Hogswatch, the jolly old fat man is the Hogfather, and he rides around in a sleigh pulled by four large boars named Gouger, Rooter, Tusker and Snouter. Like Santa Claus, the Hogfather goes about climbing down chimneys and leaving presents for children. But this year, things are a little different. The Hogfather seems to have gone on a diet because he's nothing but skin and bones--well, actually, just bones. It seems the Hogfather has died and Death has stepped in to take over. The Death of Rats is busy warning Susan Sto-Helit what Death is up to when he drops down her chimney. Susan is a governess with a few special talents. You see, Susan is Death's granddaughter. The daughter of Death's adopted daughter and her husband, Death's former apprentice. Susan demands an explanation and Death reveals that the Hogfather is dead. When Susan demands to know why he is doing this, he refuses to answer and tells her it is not her business. So when Susan begins her investigation. She's joined by the Death of Rats, an annoying talking raven, and the God of Hangovers. Also on the case, though they don't know it, are the intellectual elite of the Unseen University. The wizards, led by Archchancellor Ridcully, are working on the problem of mysteriously appearing gods. Gods are popping out of thin air--the God of Indigestion, the Eater of Socks, the Cheerful Fairy and the Wisdom Tooth Goblin, to name just a few.
polarbear123 on LibraryThing 27 days ago
Death is always good value but I always prefer it when he is a bit part player on Pratchett novel. So It's Sir Terry's take on Christmas. I suppose he had to get to that topic eventually. For the most part the lampooning is done well, however I just felt that this particularly discworld novel was a little light on story.
love2laf on LibraryThing 27 days ago
One of the rare cases where the book & the movie are both stellar. Weird to read the Discworld Christmas-style book in June, but still so very, very, very good. Death, his granddaughter Susan, Teatime (pronounced Teh-ah-tim-eh), and many more great characters. Best scene of all, is in the Maul, and the pigs that go wee.
DRFP on LibraryThing 27 days ago
I actually thought this was a little disappointing. Pratchett's writing and humour were still decent (though not his best) but the plotting seemed loose even for a Discworld novel. Not to mention it felt like there was a very good novel trying to get out but weighed down by too much extraneous fluff. The plotline about the gods is good and ripe for Pratchett's usual satire. However adding on the Christmas / Hogswatch element seemed, to me, to add another layer to the story that it didn't need. Also, Teatime and the Auditors, although the driving force of this novel, felt rather unnecessary. I believe Pratchett could have written a very similar novel without them and then the story would be a lot more pointed and focused.So although Hogfather isn't bad, it doesn't sit amongst the really good Discworld novels in my rankings.
lecari on LibraryThing 27 days ago
This is the book that got me reading the others in the Death mini series - or rather, the TV movie adaptation of this book, was. And I have to say that after reading this I was certainly not disappointed. I thought the TV movie was very faithful to the book.This is just as good as the others in the series - Death takes on the role of the Hogfather, the Discworld version of Father Christmas. Once again there is Susan, now an adult, and the wizards (who are as crazy as always). I loved the scenes with the Oh God of Hangovers, and the pen eating monster! And Death, as always. "You didn't really leave a pony in their kitchen did you master?" "of course not Albert. That would be unhygienic. It's in the bedroom."Definitely worth reading - you don't have to have read the others for this one to make sense, although it does help if you have familiarity with the Discworld beforehand (as with any of them!).
angharad on LibraryThing 27 days ago
One of my favourite Discworld books. tole_lege says why.
Aldrea_Alien on LibraryThing 27 days ago
HO. HO. HO.I¿ve watched The Hogfather so many times. It¿s practically becoming a Christmas tradition for me. Naturally, I¿ve been both aching and dreading to read the book. I just knew I¿d end up comparing them to each other.So I was pleasantly surprised that they hadn¿t altered the story too much for TV. Of course, there are extra scenes/characters that didn¿t make it onto the screen, which makes the book more enjoyable.Mr Teatime is well ... he¿s weird in the movie. In the book, he¿s downright creepy. Even with knowing what¿s going to happen in the end, I¿m just waiting for him to jump out and do something unexpected. Death is as enjoyable as ever. Though his inability to get the mixed ideals behind Hogswatch is a bittersweet thing, I¿m sure he instilled a heavy dose of belief while out and about as the Hogfather. At least, a heavy dose of something. ^_^ Belief is an important factor in this book nevertheless.And then there¿s Susan ... I wasn¿t sure about this character the last time I¿d a book with her in it (Soul Music). But she¿s much better in this. A good person to have in dealing with Oh Gods, childish old wizards and an insane assassin bent on taking over the world with teeth.
joenba7 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Being a big fan of Terry Pratchett's "Mort", I was very pleased to see that Death had a fun role to play in this book. As the title and image on the book gives away, it's about Christmas, and how something unexpected can turn into a quite enjoyable ride - For Death at least. There were many funny moments in the book, but all in all I found it difficult to keep up with the main story, as there were so many other things in between. An enjoyable book for the most part, but not what I would consider to be some of Terry Pratchett's better reads.
majkia on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I adore Death. Fun read for Solstice.
dknippling on LibraryThing 3 months ago
We have the UK version with the Josh Kirby cover, which is just fantastic. If all you've ever seen are the US covers--check out the Kirby covers. They're hilarious. Unfortunately he died in 2001. I was going to say this is one of the earlier books in the series--but it's #20. Seriously? Wow.No Christmas tradition will go unskewered in this Discworld book, but you may have to do a few mental adjustments: they're UK traditions, so the correlation isn't 100% for US readers. A pure delight that I read yearly in the season. Happy Hogswatch! ...Hm, I should make some cards.
NogDog on LibraryThing 3 months ago
An enjoyable read for the holiday season. I can't say it's Pratchett's best, but that still leaves it head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. I think the Death/Susan story arc seems a bit too contrived to me at times (I know, that sounds paradoxical when talking about fantasy), keeping what would otherwise be 5-star books from quite achieving their potential.
lycomayflower on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The husbeast says this is his favorite Pratchett, and I can see why. The story is imaginative and funny and the satiric look at Christmas is sharp and telling without ever leaving a bah humbug-y taste behind. It has a lot to say about both the modern celebration of Christmas and the human impulse to create gods, monsters, and fairy-folk. Good stuff.
Zommbie1 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I have a great fondness for the Discworld novels in general and for novels about Death in particular. This novel was a re-read for me but it has been many years. It didn¿t disappoint this second time around either. Pratchett manages to paint a picture of a world that is profoundly different from the one we in habit but at the same time the world is exactly the same. He pokes fun at those traditions that everyone in the western world will recognize even if they themselves do not take part in them. Take for example this quote:¿Death looked at the sacks.It was a strange but demonstrable fact that the sacks of toys carried by the Hogfather, no matter what they really contained, always appeared to have sticking out of the top a teddy bear, a toy soldier in the kind of colourful uniform that would stand out in a disco, a drum and a red-and-white candy cane. The actual contents always turned out to be something a bit garish and costing $5.99¿ (pg84)I guess that I am not the only person who looks at the pictures of Santa with a certain amount of scepticism. Not to mention the fact that as the daughter and sister of computer nerds I loved all the sections with Hex (the machine the student wizards at the UU are building). I especially liked this exchange:¿I don¿t actually think¿, he said gloomily, `that I want to tell the Archchancellor that this machine stops working if we take its fluffy teddy bear away. I just don¿t think I want to live in that kind of world.¿ `Er,¿ said Mad Drongo, `you could always, you know, sort of say it needs to work with the FTB enabled¿?¿ `You think that¿s better?¿ said Ponder, reluctantly. It wasn¿t as if it was even a very realistic interpretation of a bear.`You mean, better than ¿fluffy teddy bear¿?¿Ponder nodded. `It¿s better,¿ he said¿ (pg441)He makes astute observations on what it means to be human and what we humans expect out of life. The book contains all the usual suspects, including the senior wizards at the Unseen University, who, as per usual, manage to make the situation worse while thinking that they are making it better. Apart from Death the main character of this book is his granddaughter Susan. Susan tries very hard to be a perfectly normal human, thankyouverymuch, but this is somewhat hard when your hair¿s default position is a prim bun, you see imaginary monsters and you can do the voice. Susan ends up being the heroine of this book after her grandfather expressly tells her to not get involved. As with most of Pratchett¿s books you don¿t really have to have read any of them before to understand what is going on, but it certainly helps.
edstan76 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This is my third or fourth venture into Discworld. And like the others it is a delightful treat. This is not serious at all. You don't need to read the other books to get this or understand whats going on. A nice "beach read" or something to read when you don't want to think. In this the Hogfather goes missing on Hogswatch eve. DEATH decides to fill in for him, because someone has to. DEATH realizes that people need to believe in the Hogfather for him to come back. Susan a governess of two children has always been different, when she just wants to live a normal life. She see's boggey men, and beats them up with a fire poker, so the kids will go to sleep. But Susan realizes that something is going on. She comes across the "Oh God" god of hangovers, who has just poped into being. Susan then figures out that DEATH is filling in for Hogfather and decides to search of Hogfather, to see why he's gone missing. At the Unseen University, the wizards determine that things are popping into existence because there is a vacuum of belief out there. They find a sock eater troll. A cheerful fairy. A verocus gnome (sp?). And a gnome that makes people go bald. They try and figure out for them selves what is going on with the fantasy belief system, like Hogfather, or the Tooth Fairy. Just a nice light hearted read. As I am new to the Discworld series, others have more information. But for me these are feel good, humorous novels that take place in a land that would be fun to visit. Don't worry about chronology, or the order of things. Once in a while there are a lot of characters that are difficult to keep track of. But thats all part of the book. Pratchett is good about reminding you of who's who when you come back to a story line.If your looking for something fun then this is a sure read!
DNWilliams on LibraryThing 3 months ago
After having reread Hogfather, in honor of the holiday season, I'm struck anew at Terry Pratchett's talent as a writer. There were a great many things that I missed on my first read through and I took my time with the second reading and enjoyed it even more. Pratchett can blend humor and satire and social commentary that makes you rethink how you view the world and your place in it. Just when the story becomes too serious Pratchett drops in an amusing scene or interaction that is laugh out loud funny. Hogfather lends an interesting look at how belief shapes our lives. Does belief in something make it real? Or does reality shape our beliefs? Just when you think that Pratchett is just a humorous writer, you sit back and think about what you've read and can't help but marvel at his ability to make a reader consider society and beliefs and their place in the world.
ironicqueery on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This Discworld novel involves Death, his granddaughter Susan, and the Wizards. They are working to save the Hogfather - which is equal to our Santa Claus. A decent book for Terry Pratchett standards, but I don't think this book quite has the humor some of his other books do. I think he spends more time fleshing out his message - which is generally that we make up a lot of lies to survive, and that is a good thing, for the most part. The other message that seems to be a big part of the book deals with social/economic inequality and how/if it can be fixed. Despite being message heavy and lacking the humor that usually softens Pratchett's themes, this was still a very enjoyable read, and worth spending some time with.
EverydayMiracles on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The Hogfather, by Terry PratchettThe Hogfather, by Terry Pratchett, was the first of the Discworld novels that I read. It was this book that fused me (seemingly irreversibly) to the character of Death and his granddaughter, Susan. The Hogfather made me fall head-over-heels in love with the Discworld and with Terry Pratchett's always humorous and sometimes poignant characters.I'm far from having read all of the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, but I have read several of his books. Re-reading The Hogfather this past Christmas (2009) made it very clear to me that beginning with this book was a mistake: I missed a great deal of the humor and "tone" of the Discworld novels. That being said, it is also one of my favorites among Pratchett's Discworld series. So much so, in fact, that I try to read it every November/December!The Hogfather impressed me largely because at the time that I first read this book, I was a lover of horror fiction (and only horror fiction). As a child I devoured Stephen King novels (and had them confiscated by well-meaning teachers) and for this reason I developed a deep and abiding passion for anything that genuinely scared me.In several places The Hogfather literally made me shiver. The book is laced throughout with philosophical truths that make the reader want to look more deeply into the history of religious culture throughout the world (but particularly in Europe).The Hogfather explores several different and varied concepts of belief and the way that belief functions. The book is philosophical, often (very) frightening, and as always with Pratchett, incredibly entertaining.In this book you will be reintroduced to such characters as Susan (Death's Granddaughter), Death, and the Wizards of the Unseen University. You will get to know Teatime, a frightening member of the Assassin's Guild (with a capital A thank you very much!). You will meet the "oh god" of hangovers and the verruca gnome.The Hogfather will take you on a journey literally to the ends of the Discworld as Susan struggles to save The Hogfather (the Discworld's version of Father Christmas) from an "untimely" end at the hands of a band of assassins. You will be enchanted, entertained, and pulled through an intellectual and philosophical obstacle course.Discworld purists have heard (and read) all of this before. Those who are new to the Discworld will enjoy this book, but may miss some of the "inside" jokes or references to other characters.In my opinion, The Hogfather is one of Pratchett's best!
irrhapsodi on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Love Death, and loved the spin on Christmas. However, this was one Discworld novel that I didn't love to itty-bitty bits. It got too serious too fast, IIRC...
literarychick2 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I read this every Christmas. Then I go into the mall and watch the kiddies line up for Santa. Terry Pratchett has an exquisite ability to capture humanity in all its expressions.
391 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Hogfather is a book that takes the Discworld to a deeply philosophical place. The final scene with Death and Susan is fantastic, brilliant, and all sorts of other exclamatory adjectives.
AnnieHidalgo on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Terry Pratchett does Christmas. Pratchett, like Tolkien, is interested in the origins of things, and here he prods a little at the origins of our mythical figures, Santa and the Tooth Fairy and their ilk. Susan Death is along for the ride, as is Death himself, both some of my very favorite Pratchett characters. There is a part where it strongly reminds me of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Death does a good Jack Skellington. Great book. It has a BBC movie version, too, in case you're a huge Pratchett fan like me, and don't know.
Turrean on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Hogfather is generally reckoned to be one of Pratchett's "lesser" works. But every time I read it, I'm more and more impressed with this book. It's tightly plotted--apparently casual comments turn out to immensely important, such as the conversation about the amenities provided by the fancy bathroom at Unseen University. Characters like Susan and her grandfather--like the reader--learn a little bit more about the human condition. Lots of Christmas traditions are given classic Pratchett satiric treatment, it's true, but at the conclusion, readers are as thoughtful about, say, the history of Santa Claus as they are amused by Pratchett's send-up. Every time I read a Pratchett novel, I'm reminded more and more of Dickens. (Actually, since I read all of Pratchett's oeuvre first...every time I read a Dickens novel, I'm reminded more and more of Pratchett.)
rincewind1986 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The hogfather is such a wonderfully developed character you are completely drawn into this wonderful story. It isnt as funny as some of Terry Pratchetts other work but it is just as good. Death however lends some great comic relief in this darker than usual novel.
jayne_charles on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Discworld's take on Christmas. Some good jokes; I liked the scenes in the grotto - very funny! Lost track of it somewhat towards the end.
Shrike58 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I found myself reading this particular novel for my book group's holiday gathering, and if there's a particular problem it's that unless you're up to speed with the "Discworld" universe you're probably not going to get maximum enjoyment that you could. On the other hand, Sir Terrence gives you a fine cinematic climax and who doesn't enjoy the worst elements of the holidays being satirized at this time of year?