Hogfather


Hogfather

infobox Discworld|id=20th novel – 4th Death story
characters=Death Susan Sto Helit
locations=Death's Domain
motifs=Christmas, children's stories, the power of belief
year=1996
publisher=Victor Gollancz
ISBNH=ISBN 0-575-06403-X
ISBNP=ISBN 0-552-14542-4
awards=
notes=Came 137th in the Big Read
Film=To be Shown For the First Time On SkyOne
FilmPrt1=Sun 17 Dec, 8.05pm
FilmPrt2=Mon 18 Dec, 8pm

"Hogfather" is the 20th "Discworld" novel by Terry Pratchett.

The Hogfather is also a character in the book, representing something akin to Father Christmas. He grants children's wishes on Hogswatchnight (32nd of December) and brings them presents. He also features in other "Discworld" novels.

The book is about the nature of belief, in particular that people need to believe in small things there is no evidence for, such as Hogfathers and Tooth Fairies, in order to believe in larger things, such as Justice and Hope. As Pratchett says elsewhere, fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind; it doesn't take you anywhere, but it tones up muscles that might.

Plot summary

In the novel, the Auditors strike again by deciding to eliminate the Hogfather because he does not fit into their view of the universe. They meet with Lord Downey, head of the Assassin's Guild, and commission the services of Mr. Teatime (pronounced teh-ah-tim-eh), whose particular brand of insane genius makes him an ideal candidate for the assassination of the Hogfather and other anthropomorphic personifications. Death decides to take over for the Hogfather in order to make people continue to believe in him, wearing a long red cloak and a beard, but things start to become complicated because he is taking the children's wishes too literally. Pratchett also references The Little Match Girl, with Death questioning accepted folklore and his own principles and rescuing the girl instead of letting her die. Albert throws snowballs at some affronted angels who had come to take her to heaven; Death points out that they could have come before instead of after she died and Albert agrees that the fable doesn't work so well when he comes to think of it.

Meanwhile, his granddaughter Susan must find out what's happened to the real Hogfather. She visits his Castle of Bones only to find the hung-over Bilious, the "Oh God of Hangovers" (So-called because "when humans experience him, they clutch their heads and say "oh god") whom she rescues before the castle collapses due to the lack of belief. In an attempt to cure Bilious, Susan visits the Unseen University, where it is discovered that several of these small gods and beings are being created. The University's thinking machine, Hex, explains that there is 'spare belief' in the world - due to the absence of the Hogfather - which is being used to create them. Susan and Bilious then travel to the land of the Tooth Fairy where they discover that Jonathan Teatime has 'killed' the Hogfather by collecting millions of children's teeth and using them to control the children, forcing them to stop believing in the Hogfather. Upon throwing the Assassin off the tower and apparently killing him, Susan clears the teeth away and brings back the Hogfather by rescuing him from the Auditors, who have taken the forms of dogs. They cannot return to their original state and so cannot stop themselves falling off a cliff.

Afterwards, Teatime tracks Susan to the Gaiters' nursery, but is killed by Susan using the nursery poker, which passes through Death because "it only kills monsters".

TV adaptation

A two-part TV series of "Hogfather" was screened on the 17 December and 18 December 2006 (8:00 p.m.) on Sky One in the UK, with Ian Richardson as the voice of Death and David Jason playing Death's manservant Albert. Marc Warren played Mr. Teatime. Tony Robinson played the shop keeper Vernon Crumley. Rhodri Meilir played Bilious. Terry Pratchett himself had a brief cameo as the toy-maker.

The U.S. debut was on 25 November, 2007 on ION Television, the Australian on 23 December and the 24 December, 2007on Channel Seven, and the German on 25 December, 2007 on ProSieben.

Minor creatures

This book introduced a number of minor characters that were the result of the upset balance of belief, none of which have so far been used in any other book. However, some of them played a fairly important part in the plot, such as Bilious the oh God of Hangovers, and the Cheerful Fairy. Others that occurred in the book and had a more prominent role in the movie adaptation are the Verruca Gnome and the Sock Eater.

External links

* [http://www.lspace.org/books/apf/hogfather.html Annotations for "Hogfather"]
* [http://www.lspace.org/books/pqf/hogfather.html Quotes from "Hogfather"]
* [http://www.lspace.org/books/synopses/hogfather.html Synopsis of "Hogfather"]

! colspan="3" | Reading order guide
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