Review of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather (Spoiler free)

I’ve been threatening/planning to reread Terry Pratchett’s comic fantasy classic series of Discworld and at last apathy has been overcome. So grab hold of the giant flying turtle, do not call the passenger next to you a monkey and, please sir, stow that suitcase away in the overhead compartment (no I don’t care if it has legs).

So ignore the throbbing pain in your shins we’re mixing metaphors and hopping aboard the Discworld express as it winds it’s way down from the Sto plains to Ankh-Morpork.

Due to some temporal confusion our first stop is not ‘The Colour of Magic’ but is in fact the ‘Hogfather’. Lets do a plot synopsis..

Hogfather – The Plot

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Hogswatch i.e. Saturnalia. Right at this moment the Hogfather should be abseiling his way down chimneys delivering presents to excited children.

There is a slight snafu though the Hogfather is not anywhere to be found and in his place DEATH has taken it upon himself to deliver presents to the world’s children, one computer and a Librarian Orangutan that you definitely shouldn’t call a monkey.

DEATH‘s granddaughter Susan De’Ath finds this, understandably, slightly troublingly and sets about to investigate. Her sleuthing takes her to a collapsing castle of bones, the Unseen University and a place where the sky doesn’t meet the ground. Along the way she meets the Oh god of Hanggovers, the Veruca Gnome, Cheefulness Fairy and a maniac assassin who looks at the world as if through a cracked mirror…

Review

The first thing I want to say is if you haven’t read any other Discworld books don’t be put off by the plot synopsis or the fact that this is the 20th in the series. To enjoy this book you don’t have to have read any of Pratchett’s other works.

The second thing I want to say is that this book is funny. There are large sections of this book with the wizard’s and Bloody Stupid Johnson, DEATH , the Ankh-Morpork Beggars and assorted others that are laugh out loud funny. The book is worth picking just for the jokes alone. It is certainly funnier than almost any sitcom, romcom or standup routine.

Thirdly, this book has a great plot, a great heroine and a brilliant villain. The plot so this book is brilliantly clever playing around with ideas of faith, ritual, tradition and well ideas. These concepts really appeal to me.

The heroine Susan De’Ath is kickass clever using a poker to beat up monsters like the boogeyman and Mister Teatime (pronounced Teh-ah-tim-eh)  is one of the most chillingly creepy villains I have ever come across. All great stories need a memorable villain and Mister Teatime is probably Pratchett’s best.

Unsurprisingly, the author puts it better than I ever could so here is a couple of quotes about Mister Teatime. The first from Head of the Assassins Guild Lord Downey

“We took pity on him because he lost both parents at an early age. I think, on reflection, that we should have wondered a bit more about that.”

The second “Mister Teatime had a truly brilliant, but it was brilliant like a fractured mirror, all marvelous facets and rainbows but, ultimately, also something that was broken.”

And the third upon being told some heroes have arrived on the scene to stop him ” ‘Well?’ said Teatime. ‘Just… do away with them.’ …..

Chickenwire coughed. ‘Don’t you want to find out why they’re here, sir?

‘Good heavens, no. Why should I want to do that?”

Finally, Pratchett’s writing is sublime. Without using lots of language he is able to create a vivid picture of the world and its characters. Each scene is allows the reader to inhabit the Discworld and the characters by grounding even the most fantastical stuff in human experience.

All of the Discworld books are worth a read but Hogfather is is Magnum Opus. It truly is a holiday and literary classic. So get in the holiday season early this year with Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather.

My top five Christmas Stories

Its that time of year again; saturnalia. With this in mind I this in mind I thought I’d give you a list of my top five Christmas books, films and or characters. So without any further ado….

Five – Evil Robot Santa from Futurama.

Blasting through the steel reinforced windows of the awclarehugh blog command centre is the evil santa from Futurama. Every time I catch one of these episodes it is laugh out loud funny. Here’s hoping he doesn’t pay me a visit after only placing him at five.

Four – Home Alone 1 & 2

Duck Joe Peschi! Duck!

Ouch! He didn’t duck.

At times there is nothing like some cartoonish violence to make one’s heart feel warm and snuggly. I could watch Home Alone 1 & 2 time and time again. I’m watching these films to see actors get hurt by blowtorches, nails and BB guns. Wow, when you put it like that I sound like a bit of a physco.

Oh well, can’t do anything about that now. For your amusment and interest I’d like to direct you to these two links. You’ll never look at Kevin McCallaster in the same way again :-

1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTo6yvJ5SCM

2) http://theweek.com/article/index/238037/diagnosing-the-home-alone-burglars-injuries-a-professional-weighs-in

Three : Die Hard

Possibly the best action movie ever made. So good it keeps me liking Bruce Willis after Die Hard: A Good day to die hard, Red, Red 2 and the other countless awful films that Bruce Willis seems to be making at the moment. Seriously Bruce read the scripts before you accept!

Best of all it takes place during Christmas so its a Christmas film. So blasting its way in a three with Hans Gruber’s missing detonators is Die Hard.

Two : Its a Wonderful Life

A really heart warming story. That is watchable no matter how many times you have seen it before. Plus its interesting to see how the economic message of a 1947 film can still be so relevant today.

Merry Christmas You old building & loan!!

One : The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett has written some really good books but for my money this is  his best. Its funny, it has a great plot and it has great ideas.

I mean Death has to become Santa because, a manically insane assassin has killed Father Christmas. This is the best/ most absurd high concept premise ever and it has great characters like Susan D’eath, Death of rats, Death himself, the wizards, Mister Teatime, the eater of socks and the god of hangovers. It is simply brilliant.

Best. Christmas. Story. Ever!