Ho, ho, ho! Finally time for the first of many Christmas reviews. I’ll be completely honest. This was the first ever book I reviewed, about a year ago, for my AS English Course and the Student Paper. Now I’m the editor… Funny how things work out… Anywho, this is my review of The Hogfather, Terry Pratchett’s satirical look at Christmas.
Where do I begin? Well, usually, I would mention the plot, but today I feel the urge to tell you about the setting first.
It is set in the twin-city of Ankh-Morpork at the Discworld equivalent of Christmas, known as Hogswatch. Everyone is happy in anticipation for the next day, during which everyone will receive their gifts…
Ok. That’s the setting. Now for the plot.
Some Auditors head over to the Assassins guild, to hire an assassin to kill The Hogfather (the Discworld equivalent of Santa). They hire Mr Teatime (pronounce Te-ah-tim-eh), who’s unique sense of insane brilliance makes him unique for killing anthropomorphic personifications. Teatime appears to succeed and as such, the Hogfather disappears. Death, another anthropomorphic personification, decides to take his place in an attempt to help, donning the typical Santa costume. He, however, comically takes the children’s wishes too literally.
Death’s grand-daughter, Susan, decides to try to find out what has happened to the Hogfather, so travels to his home, where she finds the Oh-God of Hangovers, named Bilious. They both escape the collapsing building, which is falling apart as a result of a lack of faith in the Hogfather. (Yeah, because what you imagine is real in the Discworld!) In order to remove Bilious’ hangover, Susan takes him to the Unseen University, where they learn that there is an excess of belief on the Disc, causing the creation of Bilious, the Veruca Gnome and the Sock-Eater.
Susan and Bilious then travel to the Tooth Fairies castle, where they find Teatime using the teeth to control people’s beliefs. If they don’t believe in the Hogfather, he cannot exist. Susan ‘kills’ Teatime, clears up the teeth and then saves the Hogfather from the Auditors, who have taken the form of dogs. They fall off a cliff and the Hogfather returns to his rightful place.
Susan returns home, to find Death there. They have a discussion, interrupted by Teatime. They have another discussion, during which Teatime reveals that he has Death’s Sword, capable to cutting anything or anyone, including Death himself. He plans to use it to kill Death and become known as the best assassin to have ever lived, but before he can, Susan grabs a poker and throws it through Death, into Teatime. The latter dies, whilst the former asks how Susan knew it wouldn’t kill him as well. Susan replies with, ‘It only kills monsters’…
It’s very in-depth isn’t it? I mean, blimey. A religiously satirical parody of Christmas, in which Jesus isn’t even mentioned. Talk about playing your cards right… Take it away Brucey!
Anywho, what do I think? Well, I’ll be honest. I found the plot a little weak at times, as though it were being, oh I don’t know… Written with the purpose of distracting me from something else. It’s like there’s a huge flaw in the plot that I haven’t seen and I just can’t put my finger on… I do, however, highly rate the plot, despite this. If I can’t work out what it is, I can’t judge it on it and as such, it’s brilliant. It’s an unfair rule, but a rule nonetheless.
So, what about the characters? Well, I like Death. He’s accidentally comical, yet brilliant as well (plus he was voiced by Christopher Lee in the TV adaptation…) He’s innocent, yet the most guilty of all. You assume that he’s this emotionless entity, but then he decides to spare a dying match-girls life, as way of a present. He takes to his new role brilliantly.
Well, how about the rest? Teatime is displayed as a mad-man extremely well and Nobby the Night Watch Guard is innocently stupid. The way in which Death manipulates him is spectacular and always makes me chuckle. Now, I hate to have favourites, honest, but here’s my favourite character. Quoth. Quoth the Raven. NEVERMORE! Nah, but yeah. It’s a reference to Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’. I must say, there’s an awfully large number of references in here. I mean, there’s Christmas, excessive drinking, pop-culture anthorpomorphs and of course, as my personal favourite, you have the idea of Death. I know he’s an anthropomorph, but still. He is unique!
I’m blissfully aware that my time is short, so here’s a quick run down on the rest of the book. I like the setting. Ankh-Morpork is a brilliant city, despite it’s tourist information stating otherwise, and it compliments this story brilliantly.
I’m a big fan of Pratchett’s and I highly recommend you reading this and any of his books, as each is written with care and attention to detail, continuity and most of all, hilarity. There’s always a laugh and as such, he has become one of my favourite writers. Ever.
Not the best book I’ve ever read but CERTAINLY not the worst.