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Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

Hogfather (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Terry Pratchett

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7,84487426 (4.07)307
Authors:Terry Pratchett
Info:Corgi Adult (1997), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fantasy, Humour, Discworld

Work details

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett (1996)

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    mjcj: If you love Pratchett, you will love this.

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» See also 307 mentions

English (84)  Polish (1)  Hungarian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (87)
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Discussed on the A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast, episode 25.

  ScottDDanielson | Oct 23, 2015 |
Hogfather is the twentieth book in the Discworld series, and the fourth following Death. However, I think it’s one you can probably pick up even if you’ve read none of the others.

In Hogfather, Pratchett satirizes the commercial and secular phenomena of Christmas – namely Santa Claus, who’s Discworld equivalent is the Hogfather, a merry gift giver who arrives on the longest night of the year.

Unfortunately, the Auditors of reality are out to destroy the Hogfather as part of their war on the messiness of life. To the rescue comes Discworld’s Death, who must keep the Hogfather’s place open by dressing up in a fake beard and delivering presents to children everywhere. Meanwhile, his granddaughter Susan must go to the source of the matter and defeat the assassin Teatime hired by the auditors.

Hogfather is undoubtedly the best Christmas themed book I’ve ever read. It’s hilarious and insightful, and like all the best Discworld books, it has a lot going on beneath the surface.

“In fact the Guild, he liked to think, practiced the ultimate democracy. You didn’t need intelligence, social position, beauty or charm to hire it. You just needed money which, unlike the other stuff, was available to everyone. Except for the poor, of course, but there was no helping some people.”

In this case, I noticed some commentary on how the idea of Christmas does not meet up with the reality, especially for families without the money for the huge expensive gifts. For a book nominally about Christmas, there was actually a number of times Terry Pratchett addressed class and economic inequality.


“That’s about the size of it, master. A good god line, that. Don’t give ’em too much and tell ’em to be happy with it. Jam tomorrow, see.”


The other important idea running throughout Hogfather was how the ability to believe and fantasize is what makes us human. There’s a particularly powerful segment near the end that spells out the value of stories and fantasy, but I’ll leave that for you to discover on your own.

“I’m just saying man is naturally a mythopoeic creature.”
“What’s that mean?” said the Senior Wrangler.
“Means we make things up as we go along,” said the Dean, not looking up.”

The technical elements are all excellent. As always, Pratchett succeeds in creating a cast of likable and quirky characters that nevertheless have a sense of weight and reality to them. Death and Susan are both favorites of mine, Death for his desire to understand humanity and Susan for her insistence on logic and good sense.

Hogfather has a bunch of different threads and plots winding throughout it, from Death to Susan to the wizards at the Unseen University to one off scenes that illustrate a piece of the larger story. Despite this, Hogfather never feels fractured or haphazard and ties together wonderfully. It’s much more cohesive than some of the early Discworld novels.

I recommend Hogfather to.. well, practically everyone. Even if you’re not familiar with Christmas or the ideas surrounding it, there’s enough else going on to make Hogfather well worth reading.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
1 vote pwaites | Jun 12, 2015 |
I actually liked thinking about some of the ideas in this one. For example: "The world is so full of sharp bends that if (parents) didn't put a few twists in you, you wouldn't stand a chance of fitting in." And: "Humans need fantasy to human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.... You have to start out learning the little lies [eg Tooth Fairies, as practice for the big ones like}... Justice. Mercy. Duty. That sort of thing.... {You have}... the most amazing talent."

(Better if you read the whole passage, p. 336 my edition. Better still if you read the whole book.) ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
  JosieRivers | Dec 28, 2014 |
It was the night before Hogswatch. All through the house... one creature stirred. It was the mouse.

Who would want to hurt the Hogfather? One of Discworld's most beloved icons! And yet the worst has happened. It has left a whole lot of belief lying around and the world is starting to unravel at an alarming rate. Drastic measures must be taken. It's up to Death and his granddaughter Susan to figure this mess out.

Hogfather is the 20th Discworld book and the 4th in the Death series. It's Christmas, Discworld style. In true Pratchett form it is also about a lot more than just the holiday times. This book explores the nature of belief and what it is to believe. Belief is part of what makes us human. It is not a story about needing to believe because it's the holidays but more how humans choose to believe to make sense of the world, how that belief is woven into the fabric of our existence. How it allows us to define abstract concepts like justice, mercy, duty. Some of the conversations between Death and Susan at the end of the book are pretty deep.

That said, the book is hilarious! Daft old wizards, the thinking machine Hex, the Tooth Fairy, Death, Death of Rats, Susan - such an awesome cast of characters! Death filling in for the Hogfather is both fascinating and laugh out loud funny. Susan has become another of my favorite Discworld characters. And she sure wields a mean poker. ( )
  Narilka | Dec 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 84 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Terry Pratchettprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
De Muth, RogerCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ittekot, VenugopalanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirby, JoshCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Planer, NigelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the guerilla bookshop
manager know to friends as
'ppint' for asking me, many years
ago, the question Susan asks in
this book. I'm surprised more
people haven't asked it . . .

And to too many absent friends.
First words
Everything starts somewhere, though many physicists disagree.
She'd become a governess. It was one of the few jobs a known lady could do.
And she'd taken to it well. She'd sworn that if she did indeed ever find herself dancing on rooftops with chimney sweeps she'd beat herself to death with her own umbrella.
Time stopped.

But duration continued.
Sometimes, somewhere, somehow, the numbers on the clock did not count.

Between every rational moment were a billion irrational ones.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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References to this work on external resources.

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Book description

Where is the big jolly fat man? Why is Death creeping down chimneys and trying to say Ho Ho Ho? The darkest night of the year is getting a lot darker…

Susan the gothic governess has got to sort it out by morning, otherwise there won’t be a morning. Ever again…

The 20th Discworld novel is a festive feast of darkness and Death (but with jolly robins and tinsel too).

As they say: 'You’d better watch out…
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061059056, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:02 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

As a first step in destroying humanity, evil men in Discworld try to undermine belief in Hogfather by abducting him. The plot is ruined by Death who takes Hogfather's place in his sleigh drawn by pigs. Part parody of Christmas, part meditation on the role of faith.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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