Pratchett, Terry: (20) Hogfather

Before Thanksgiving, I was feeling stressed and overly-sensitive; thus, when I grabbed books to take with me, Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather was a natural choice. It’s seasonal, being about the Discworld’s equivalent of Christmas, and the better Discworld books are always comfort reads for me.

This was the only book I read over Thanksgiving, so it was a good choice. I really like the principal character of this book, Susan (Death’s adopted grand-daughter), and moments like “Hi! I’m the inner babysitter!” make me want to cheer. I also like the commentary on the Christmas season, belief, and childhood.

On re-reading, I do think the plot has one incident too many; or, rather, while the last bit in the snow serves thematic purposes, it feels tacked-on. Pratchett’s plots have improved vastly over the course of the Discworld books (of which this is the 20th), but I do think they’re his weakest area. It’s a minor point, however, and Hogfather remains great comfort reading.

5 Comments

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  1. I adore Susan.
    My favorite bit:
    “YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.”
    “So we can believe the big ones?”
    “YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.”

  2. Elaine–yes, exactly, that.

  3. I think Pratchett’s portrayal of the Hogfather and his origins is probably the pinnacle of “humanist writing sympathetic to religion”, at least among things I’ve seen. I found it quite moving, in a way that (say) Small Gods was not for me.

  4. David, in what way was _Small Gods_ not sympathetic to you? I love the book, and I believe Pratchett has said that people tend to comment positively on it no matter what their position on the religious spectrum, so now I’m curious.

  5. No no, I didn’t say that Small Gods was UNsympathetic or annoying or anything other than good — just that it didn’t reach me emotionally (in its “humanist take on religion”) the way Hogfather did. (It did reach me emotionally in other ways, with respect to other themes, but that’s not what I was talking about here.)
    Or, to put it differently: to say that Small Gods failed to be “the pinnacle of humanist writing sympathetic to religion” does not say anything uncomplimentary about Small Gods. Failure to be the best example ever of something is not generally considered ‘bad’ on an absolute scale.

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