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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dark Side of Terry, 13 Dec. 2004
This review is from: Hogfather: Discworld: The Death Collection (Discworld Novels) (Hardcover)
The release of this book evoked some distress among Terry Pratchett fans. Expecting another City Watch or Rincewind book, this one took most by surprise. Initial reactions were muted praise at best. Over time, more readers came to understand that this book introduced a new aspect of PTerry's thinking and writing. After a string of hilarious fantasies featuring Rincewind or the Wyrd Sisters, he presented here an unexpected dark side.

The story itself is almost simplistic, although classic Pratchett. The Auditors, who elsewhere attempted to give Death the sack, have decided that Hogswatch Night is a source of cosmic disorder. Contracting with the Assassin's Guild to have the Hogfather "brought to an end", they unleash a disturbing series of events. And cause Pratchett to introduce the first truly evil character in the Discworld series.

No-one likes the Patrician. But his job isn't designed for popularity contests. Ipslore cheats death to have revenge on his fellow wizards, but overzealous parents are no novelty. Mister Teatime [pronounced "Teh-ah-tim-eh"], however, is a real departure from Pratchett villains. He is consummately evil, cleverly choosing the most vulnerable segment of society in his attempt to control all the Discworld. This is the first truly repulsive character Pratchett's created. Reading Hogfather makes you wonder: is there a real-life model for this character, or has PTerry created him wholly? If the first, we must find and destroy him/her. If the latter, there's a terribly dark place in Pratchett's psyche and we have to wonder what else is in there.

The irony of Death substituting for the missing Hogfather is pure Pterry. Death's ongoing struggle to understand humans is vividly presented in this novel. He replaces a department store Hogfather in one of the most hilarious scenes in Discworld literature. Pratchett also responds to the rising tide of feminists by raising Susan Sto-Helit from near obscurity. She is destined to become a leading figure in the Discworld series. Her raven associate is almost as cynical as Gaspode the Communicating Canine. Pratchett uses these characters to demolish the more fervently held myths we hold dear. With a finesse other writers must envy, Pratchett uses the Discworld to mirror our own - the motto he's given us often. From a hesitant acceptance of this book as "another Discworld novel", Hogfather has become one of the leading examples of Pratchett's expressive talent. It's worthy of a second read. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada
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