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Author: Terry Pratchett
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
It is Hogwatch Night and the Hogfather is flying across the world in his red suit and white beard and 4 jolly boars delivering gifts to all the children. However, this Hogwatch Night the Hogfather is looking a little different. He’s a bit bony in the face, he has to stuff a pillow up the suit to give him that jolly fat look and his ho ho ho’s are more like HO, HO, HO! Yes, Death has taken over being the Hogfather for the night.
Now, where did this all start? The Auditors. Of Reality. They hired the Assassin’s Guild to kill the Hogfather. The head of the Guild, thinking it an impossible job, assigns it to Mr Teatime, an assassin who has been causing problems lately with how much he’s been killing. He’s got no style, you know? So the HAG (Head of the Assassins Guild) gives the job to Teatime. Either he’ll succeed and the Guild will get a cavern of gold or Teatime will fail and they can let him go and be done with him. Teatime has thought about just this kind of situation and he has answers.
And that is why Death is pretending to be the Hogfather. He can’t interfere with the Auditors directly but he sets his granddaughter Susan on the case. She tracks down Teatime, who has used the power of the Tooth Fairy make children NOT believe in the Hogfather. She and the newly created god of Hangovers, with the help from a tooth fairy helper, take down the insane assassin.
It is revealed that if the Hogfather doesn’t exist, the sun won’t rise. This will destroy all life on Discworld and THAT is the final goal of the Auditors. Life is messy and doesn’t really fit into neat check boxes, so they want to get rid of it. All of it.
Can Death, Susan and sundry others Save the Most Magical Night of the Year? Of course! Not even Pratchett was so full of bilious hatred and vitriol against Christmas that he’d write otherwise. But he gets his revenge on the readers by getting all metaphysical for at least 3 solid pages. What a rotter.
My goodness, it has been a bloody decade since I last read this! Still 5stars, still a favorite and still just as good as last time.
This time around I concentrated on the character of Teatime. And you know what? He takes up a VERY small portion of the book even while being a main villain and the killer of the Hogfather. It is like he casts a huge shadow over the whole book while only being a skinny little twig. He has such presence though that I “remembered” him having a much larger role. I think it does say something for Pratchett’s skill that he can make a such a small used character be so big. Of course, him facing down Death himself right at the end does show he had some pretty big cojones.
Death gets a great bit of action and I just laughed and laughed. When Corporal Nobbs, the most venal member of the Watch, gets a super duper assault crossbow from the big red sack and he goes nutso with excitement, I just about died. It also made me remember H.P’s review of the lamest Robin Hood movie ever, complete with “assault crossbows”. Maybe it would have been a good movie if Knobby Nobbs had showed up, hahahahaa. Anyway, I did a lot of laughing.
Susan plays a huge part but unlike Teatime she was so exasperated all the time that she couldn’t be “normal” that it wore a little thin. We get it, she doesn’t want to be Death’s granddaughter. Honey, get over it. You don’t really get to pick your relatives. She started out funny with beating the crap out of monsters under the bed with a poker but became almost grating by the end.
The Unseen Academy and the Wizards are involved, as is HEX the thinking machine. HEX going insane and taking digital frog pills to cure itself was just about the highlight for me.
The only downside to this book was the few pages of metaphysics that Pratchett throws in. All crap about Justice and Mercy and Hope being nothing but lies. Then he took it do a bad place where you can’t believe those things if you don’t believe other lies, like the Tooth Fairy. What a hopeless and utterly futile way to live. He just couldn’t resist allowing his bitter hatred against God, or even the idea of God to peek on through. Thankfully, it wasn’t enough to spoil the whole book. However, I tend to think I’ll have to wait another decade before I try this again.