Book Review: The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

This is the fourth book I have read by Terry Pratchett, and probably the one I am most familiar with. In 2006, there was a miniseries called Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather, starring Michelle Dockery (from Downton Abbey), Marc Warren, David Jason, and other fabulous British actors. I loved the miniseries, and have watched it multiple times since its release.

Basically, I have no excuse for why it took me so long to read this book, but I finally did!

Release: 1996

Synopsis: In the fanciful Discworld, Hogswatch is in full swing and children wait for the Hogfather to visit them and leave presents in their stockings. However, this year something is wrong. Death himself is dressing up as the Hogfather and delivering presents. People are turning up dead by falling right out of the sky. It is up to Death’s granddaughter Susan to unravel the mystery before the world itself unravels.

Review (Spoilers Ahead!)

This book, like all of Terry Pratchett’s books, is completely nonsensical. The plot makes no sense, many questions are left unanswered, and no one is sure who is who or what is what. But that, of course, is the brilliance of Pratchett. I loved this book, both for the unique humor and the intriguing world. The story is more about the quest and the unique individuals we meet along the way and less of a cohesive, understandable plot.

Even by the end, a lot of basic plot points are left up in the air. How exactly did Teatime try to kill the Hogfather? Who exactly are the Auditors?

I don’t think the emphasis of any of Pratchett’s stories is supposed to be about the plot. They are instead supposed to be about the characters and their journey in trying to understand the world better. I saw this theme throughout the other books I’ve read in this series. If any of you guys are ardent Pratchett fans and have read more of his books, I’d love to know what your opinion is on his style and themes.

The characters are, by far, the best part of this book. Susan is understandable, grounded, and yet quirky. I like her mostly because she brings sense to the nonsensical world. She is logical while also open-minded to understanding the magical side of Discworld. In fact, I think she is my favorite protagonist is the Discworld series (at least, of the books I’ve read). Not only is she Death’s granddaughter, giving her ties to the mystical parts of the world, but she is also trying to live a normal life as a nanny to two ordinary children, giving us a glimpse into the more human elements of the world. In a sense, she is a go-between for us, the readers.

Death himself is a personal favorite character of mine, and he is especially hilarious in this book. Most of the books only feature a rare glimpse of him, but in this one he is much more front and center. And the idea of Death disguising himself as this world’s Santa Clause (a.k.a., the Hogfather) is hilarious.

Teatime makes a great villain, mostly because he brings a sense of reason to the silly assassins he hires. He is a psychopath, with no empathy and yet surprisingly interesting to watch. It is a pity he is killed off at the end of this book, as I think his character would make a compelling villain in later books (if you do know of a book where he returns, I’d love to know about it).

There are a significant amount of scenes which add absolutely nothing to the plot, but these in themselves are amusing, so I am apt to forgive them. This goes back to what I said earlier about the journey being more important than the end goal.

Let me state that this book is not for everyone. You have to have a specific sort of humor and a liking for absurd fanciful notions to truly enjoy it. There are surprisingly deep examinations of philosophical ideals scattered in between the tooth fairies and wizards which fascinate me. Most humorous novels I read are just that, but Pratchett presents a slightly deeper understanding of the world.

As you might be able to guess, I would highly recommend this book and the miniseries made about it. Just a brief word on adaptations, now that I have read the book I can safely say that the miniseries is one of the best examples of good adaptations I have seen in a long time. And Marc Warren plays a brilliant Teatime.

Have you read this book? Or anything else by Pratchett? What are your feelings for his writing style? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more madness and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

14 thoughts on “Book Review: The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

  1. Teatime tried to kill the Hogfather by removing belief in him. Since belief is what keeps gods in the Discworld going, removing belief weakened him until he reverted to earlier forms. _Small Gods_ explains what might have happened.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. It hints at that in the book, but it never fully explained it enough to satisfy my logical brain. Perhaps because it is more in the philosophy realm of what ifs and less in the realm of logical reasoning.

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  2. Great review, great book! There’s a certain snobbery attached to reading Terry Pratchett, mainly from people who have never actually read one of his books. I don’t think Pratchett’s tales are fluff and nonsense; they are world building, plot twisting, character revealing novels on a very human scale. Pratchett did Hitchcock-like cameos in the filming of his work, and on the subject of Mr Teatime (pronounced “Teh-ah-tim-eh,”) I don’t think he ever appears again. I love Moving Pictures and Soul Music although they are not classed as his best but it’s the sheer inventiveness which gets me every time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved Soul Music! It was the first book I read by Pratchett. I have not read Moving Pictures, though. Thanks for the recommendation. And I agree. Pratchett’s stories are not fluffy and surprisingly deep. I am sad that Teatime does not appear again. He makes a great villain!

      Liked by 1 person

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