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VINE VOICEon 23 September 2006
"Hogfather" is the twentieth book in Terry Pratchett's hugely popular Discworld series and was first published in 1996. He has gone on to win the Carnegie Medal for "The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents" and was awarded the OBE in 1998.

"Hogfather" is sometimes known as the third book in "The Death Trilogy". Like the trilogy's first two instalments ("Mort" and "Reaper Man") it gives Death - tall guy, somewhat underfed, carries a scythe, big grin - more than just a brief cameo. Like "Reaper Man", it's the Auditors who are causing problems. The Auditors are in charge of the universe : they see that atoms spin, that gravity works and that things move in curves. However, they hate life - especially humans (too many irregularities). In "Reaper Man", they wanted to force Death into retirement. This time, they want the Hogfather - Discworld's version of Father Christmas - `removed' from office (or grotto, perhaps). To this end, they've hired the disturbed (and disturbing) Mister Teatime from the Guild of Assassins to make sure he stays `removed'. Luckily, Death has discovered what's going on : with Hogswatch Night looming, the Grim Reaper dons a false beard, strategically places a cushion and takes control of the sleigh.

Death shares the spotlight, though : his new duties cause some problems for his grand-daughter, Susan Sto-Helit. Susan is working as a governess in Ankh-Morpork and, as part of her job, she regularly beats up the bogeyman with her trusty poker. In her free time, she occasionally drops into Biers for a drink ("Sometimes you want to go...where nobody knows your name"). It's in the pub that She's warned about her grandfather's strange behaviour by the Death of Rats and his eyeball-obsessed sidekick, Quoth the Raven. Initially, she isn't at all pleased to see the pair, but she has no choice but to get involved. The last time Death neglected his Duty, Susan was expected to take over...

Despite his profession, Death is one of the funniest characters the Discworld has to offer, and Hogfather sees Pratchett on top form. Quoth and Death of Rats are a welcome addition - they're a great double act. It may be a slight advantage to have read at least one from "Mort", "Reaper Man" or "Soul Music" before this (all are very funny) - however, even if you haven't you'll still find "Hogfather" hilarious. Highly recommended.
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on 8 February 2007
This was definitely one of my favourite Discworld books. I first started to read it at someone else's house - then I was heartbroken when I had to go and hadn't quite finished it.
Why? Firstly because I love any Discworld volume in which Death features as a central character, but also because it features my favourite character, his granddaughter Susan Sto-Helit.
So what happens in it? Well someone, or something, wants to kill the Hogfather (fat bearded man, wears red, says ho ho ho a lot, etc.) For this purpose, the assassin Teatime is employed.
Teatime is a character who appears quite amicable at first - right up until the point where he pulls out a knife and kills you stone dead. And he's also a mastermind - so his plan involves taking control over children to stop them believing in the Hogfather, accompanied by his gang of thugs.
With this plan underway, who is going to stand in for the Hogfather?
Susan is currently working as a governess, a job which largely involves beating up the under-bed monsters with her trusty poker. Apart from these minor irregularities, she is leading a relatively 'normal' life, until suddenly, to put it in her words, 'the old circus comes to town', and now Susan's got to don a black robe, leave her job and go out to determine exactly what is going on . . .
One of my favourite parts of this book was possibly the idea of personified forces coming into existence as creatures, such as the Hair Loss Fairy, the Eater Of Socks and, of course, the Oh God Of Hangovers ('Well, if there's a god of wine . . .')who accompanies Susan on her quest. I like the Unseen university scenes - which are usually responsible for providing the comedy. I also liked the demonstration of Susan's fearlessness when pitted against a being that can personify itself as your worst nightmare - 'Good grief, you're scraping the bottom of the barrel, aren't you?' and the subtle appropriateness of the villain who's 'in touch with his inner child' confronted by a governess, and the irony of who becomes the Tooth Fairy's replacement. I particularly liked the end (but I don't mean to give the wrong idea, I mean that I liked the whole book but particularly liked the end). And, as usual, the plot gives the implication that Death is Not So Bad After All, and would rather prefer being the Hogfather (with his manservant Albert by way of being the Hogfather's Little Helper, naturally).
Oh yes, and there's a film adaption, which I watched when it was first on. Good, I liked it, all things taken into consideration.
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HALL OF FAMEon 13 December 2004
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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on 25 December 2016
This was the perfect book to cuddle up to this Christmas, full of humour, weird creatures and honest truths about the meaning of Hogswatch . . . I mean Christmas.
Pratchett has managed to create a genuine treasure of a Christmas story in a parable Universe staring the Hogfather, well Death as the Hogfather. Teatime is on a mission to Assassinate the Hogfather, Susan is on a mission to find out what is happening and Death is simply being in someone elses shoes for the day.
I loved Death in this, it was nice that children were happy to see him for once and that he and Albert got to go on a unique adventure, even if it was needed to save the world. Susan is a badass and will do everything in her power to protect children, even if that includes facing up to who she really is.
This novel was full of humour and I was constantly chuckling aloud at some of the lines in the book, particularly about the sword toy! I enjoyed that while being funny it also discussed the meaning of Christmas and Death did not understand why the poor got nothing at Christmas and the rich get everything.
This book reminded me of how much I love Prachett’s writing style and I hope to read another of his Discworld series soon.
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on 26 March 2016
I bought this to make into a gift, it only has 4 star because I sadly did not read it (I'm sure it is my dad tells me so) so it did what I needed from it hard covered small book. Love the cover page art work, quick delivery.
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on 3 January 2003
One of the longest Discworld novels Terry has written makes for an incredibly hilarious read, thanks to the inclusion of some brilliant new characters and multiple stories that are read almost simultaneously: The wizards and their discovery of some strange beings that inexplicably come into being ('Sock Eaters', 'The oh God of Hangovers', and possibly the funniest being the 'Verucca Gnome'), Susan and her quest to solve the whole mystery and Death and Albert. The book really makes you think philosophically which is more interesting than it sounds! I don't want to give too much of the fantastic plot away (because I can't be bothered), but it is classic Pratchett.
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We may have Christmas but of course things are different on the Discworld where it is Hogswatch and a certain fat man in red brings presents, known as the Hogfather. This which was the twentieth novel in the series does in places touch on things that have been mentioned or have cropped up in some of the previous novels, so if you have read them you may have a slightly stronger grasp on a few subjects.

Here the Auditors, something far worse from outside this world than ever thought up by H P Lovecraft, have a task for the Guild of Assassins – assassinate the Hogfather. Is it even feasible let alone possible? One thing is for sure Mr Teatime is certain he can do it; after all he has spent many a time working out how to kill different people. But if the Hogfather was to be removed, who would carry on this grand old Hogswatch tradition?

Death finds that he will have to be the Hogfather until matters can be sorted out; after all he knows how important such a thing is for humans, mainly children. But will the Discworld ever be the same again? This is definitely a fun tale that does raise certain points such as the commercialism of Christmas, social inequality, the great philosophical and theological question on faith and whether things can become what they are thought to be due to this, and belief itself.

With Susan Sto-Helit, Death’s granddaughter also roped in it is a race against time to save Hogswatch from being altered for all time. This book also raises the difference between fantasy and reality as we see Susan deal with her two charges’ beliefs in monsters.

I haven’t read this for a while so it was great coming back to it, and as I picked this for the local book group hopefully there will be more than enough to discuss about this story. Always a fun read, as with all the other Discworld books this does throw some weight as it addresses and looks at issues that we are all aware of but don’t really ever take time to ponder over.
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on 18 December 2013
This is an excellent Terry Pratchett Discworld novel. It is witty, lively, funny but also very deep, clever and thought provoking. This is definitely a good read.

Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels are marvellous. Just give the first two a miss (The colour of Magic and The light fantastic) as they are wobbly, and whatever you do don't read the last one (Raising steam) ; Raising Steam (clearly not written by TP!) is appallingly poor and would put you off the author, which would be a shame as his books are masterpieces!
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on 19 February 2017
I don't think you can get more festive than a book about a skeleton visiting children's homes and leaving presents. How about a plot to kill the Hogfather to satisfy the cosmic auditors? Confused? Don't worry it's just another Discworld novel by the king of fantasy, Terry P.

If you haven't read any Discworld novels, I urge you to start at the beginning with The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, then immediately delve into the Death novels (Mort, Reaper Man and Soul Music) which are my favourite (apart from the Tiffany Aching novels). Can you tell I'm a bit of a fan?

So, you're probably still reading this review because you want to actually know what the story is about. Well, it involves mysterious beings commissioning an assassin to get rid of the Hogfather himself (Discworld's version of Santa, if you haven't guessed already). This means that someone has to step in to keep the world on an even keel, so who better than Death himself.

Death is not known for his jolliness or his easy way with children, so his faithful 'elf' Albert gives him a pillow and teaches him 'Ho Ho Ho'. Death's granddaughter, Susan (a fearsome nanny), finds out what he's up to and decides to save the Hogfather in order to keep Death to his day job.

Terry Pratchett's novels are hilarious, a wonderful blend of observational comedy, political satire and good old innuendoes. He makes me laugh out loud. I think this novel is one of his best.
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on 25 July 2002
Terry Pratchett, the genius of writing, has done it again. If you've read Discworld before then you will know exactly what I mean. If you haven't, then why not?
This is one of the best Discworld books, in my humble (Mr. Windling phrase in 'The Truth') opinion, along with most of the Watch books. Nobody can dislike Death, and his well-meaning attempts to make the world a better place. Not much Gaspode (a dog who talks) but never mind. Although Susan is not the best character, a little cardboard, at least the Grim Squeaker and the Raven are back again from another brilliant story, Soul Music.
One of the best things about this story is that, although it is suitable for children and adults, Terry Pratchett makes a big point of helping us to understand that many children are not as stupid as adults credit them for. I, being thirteen, fully agree with this.
Read this book. If you haven't got it, order it now. Christmas will never be the same again...
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