HOGFATHER

by Terry Pratchett

Gollancz

0-575-06403-X

285pp/15.99/November 1996

Hogfather
Cover by Josh Kirby

Reviewed by Steven H Silver


According to Discworld tradition, the Hogfather visits every house on the Disc on Hogswatchnight, delivering toys to children, in return for which the children leave out glasses of sherry for the Hogfather and pork pies. When the Hogfather vanishes, his role is taken over by the most unlikely of anthropomorphic manifestations as Death steps into the breach.

Generally, Pratchett's attacks on Christmas is right on. Too closely on target, in fact. Hogswatchnight and Christmas share the resemblence known as identity. Hogfather would have been more enjoyable if Pratchett had done more than simply renamed Santa Claus and magically changed his reindeer into pigs. Attacking the commercialization of the holidays is an easy target and has been done frequently in the past. It would have been nice to see Pratchett do something different with such obvious material.

This being Pratchett, there is more to the novel than just the Hogfather. in fact, the book opens with an unknown figure hiring the Ankh-Morpork Assassin's Guild to end an unnamed figure, although it quickly become apparent the victim is the Hogfather. Mr. Downey, the Chief of the Assassin's Guild, accepts the contract and gives it to the psychotic assassin, Mr. Teatime (pronounced Teh-ah-tim-eh) who has used his spare time to figure out how to kill anthropomophic manifestations, including Death.

However, Pratchett ignores Mr. Teatime and his cohorts, as well as the shadowy consortium which hired him, for large stretches of the book. When he does return to them, their activities and motives are nover particularly clear. They seem to be stumbling through their crimes without paying attention to the plot.

Hogfather does not rank among the higher echelons on the Discworld chronicles. Although it may be better, or at least more polished, than such early works as The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, it lacks the constant humor of those books. This is the twentieth book in the series, which would normally indicate that the author should give up, however, Pratchett proved he still can write a good Discworld novel with the nineteenth book in the series, Feet of Clay, so it is too soon, way too soon, I hope, to presume that Discworld should come to an end.


Review of Terry Pratchett's Feet of Clay


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