Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

Hogfather USA cover Hogfather(1996)
A Novel of Discworld

US HarperPrism paperback - 354 pages (left)

UK Corgi paperback - 445 pages
cover art by Josh Kirby (right)
Hogfather UK cover

From the back cover of US paperback:
       It's that most wonderful time of the year, Hogwatchnight, when the Hogfather himself dons his red suit and climbs in his sleigh pulled by --- of course! --- eight (really four - webmistress) hogs, bringing gifts to all the boys and girls of Discworld.  But this year someone else is riding the sleigh.  Death.  He's had to stand in for the missing fat man --- otherwise the sun won't shine tomorrow . . . .
       It's up to Discworld's intellectual elite --- with the help of a motley collection of unusual cohorts -- to come up with a plan to save the universe.  And they better hurry . . . .
       Yes, there's a "new" Hogfather in town.
       HO. HO. HO.

From the back cover of UK paperback:
       Where is the big jolly fat man?  Why is Death creeping down chimneys and trying to say Ho Ho Ho?  The darkest night of the year is getting a lot darker . . .
       Susan the gothic governess has got to sort it out by morning, otherwise there won't be a morning.  Ever again . . .

From the UK hardback:
       It's the night before Hogswatch.  And it's too quiet.
       There's snow, there're robins, there're trees covered with decorations, but there's a notable lack of the big fat man who delivers the toys . . .
       Susan the governess has got to find him before morning, otherwise the sun won't rise, and unfortunetly her only helpers are a raven with an eyeball fixation, the Death of Rats and an oh god of hangovers.
       Worse still, someone is coming down the chimney.  This time he's carrying a sack instead of a scythe, but there's something regrettably familiar . . .
       HO. HO. HO.
       It's true what they say.
       'You'd better watch out . . .'

Read for group discussion on July 12, 2000 (For Christmas in July?!)

Amy's Summary :  Terry Pratchett - Hogfather

Discworld's cheerless Auditors hire the Assassin's Guild to "inhume" the Hogfather, who at Hogswatch brings gifts to good boys and girls in his sleigh drawn by four large boars.  Mister Teatime, an eccentric killer with a funny eye, is assigned the unusual job.  He gets hoodlums Banjo, Medium Dave, Chickenwire, Peachy, and Catseye to assist him.

In the Hogfather's absence, Death in steps to do the Hogfather's rounds. Death and his assistant Albert stuff stockings, track chimney soot on carpets, and ask children what they want at the Maul - HO HO HO.

Susan Sto-Helit - governess, wielder of the poker, and Death's granddaughter - investigates the disappearance of the Hogfather along with a raven and Death of Rats.

Meanwhile at Unseen University Archchancellor Ridcully, Ponder Stibbons, the Dean, the Bursar, the Chair of Infinite Studies, Hex, and others are meeting anthropomorphic personifications such as the Verruca Gnome, the Oh God of Hangovers, the Eater of Socks, and the Cheerful Fairy.

summary written by

How we each rated this book
Dan 9 Amy 8 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri 8 Barb 9
Aaron 8 Cynthia 8
Kerry 7 Jackie -

Aaron's Commentary  Terry Pratchett - Hogfather

Death standing in for Santa Claus is an inspired comic idea, and Pratchett executes it nicely.  This book is consistently funny and at times hilarious.  My favorite scene is where Death takes over for a department store Santa.  The children take it all in stride, while the bewildered store manager tries to convince the police that Santa's an impostor.

Despite the absurd situations, however, there is much more to this book than just slapstick humor.  Pratchett blends in his great wit and a wry writing style.  I loved lines like the description of a group of carolers, "If you could have taken the lid off the scene, there would have been chocolates inside."  He also works in satire, for example when a self-satisfied King tries to show how charitable he is by demanding that a poor man accept gifts from the King that he doesn't really want.

Pratchett manages to make Death an interesting and sympathetic character, completely putting to shame Piers Anthony's On a Pale Horse, which much less successfully attempted to present a sympathetic Death.

Finally, Pratchett's concluding message, that believing in things like Santa and the Tooth Fairy early in life prepares one to believe in elusive notions like justice later on, is nice without being overly sentimental.

What do you think? Your comments are welcome. Please send them to

Our book group has also read the following books by Terry Pratchett:
-- Guards! Guards!  in July 1995
-- Good Omens (written with Neil Gaiman), in May 1996
-- Small Gods   in March 1999
-- The Fifth Elephant   in January 2002
-- The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents   in July 2003
-- The Truth   in June 2004
-- The Wee Free Men   in March 2007

Terry Pratchett (1948-    ) is a English writer. His humorous, loosely-connected Discworld fantasy books are bestsellers in the UK.

1990 British Science Fiction Association Award for Pyramids
Carnegie Medal for The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

Pratchett's Discworld books include characters such as the inept wizard Rincewind, witch Granny Weatherwax, the City Guard or Night Watch, and Death.

Discworld series books
The Colour of Magic (1983)
The Light Fantastic (1986)
Equal Rites (1987)
Mort (1987)
Sourcery (1988)
Wyrd Sisters (1988)
Pyramids (1989)
Guards! Guards! (1989)
Eric (with illustrator Josh Kirby) (1990)
Moving Pictures (1990)
Reaper Man (1991)
Witches Abroad (1991)
Small Gods (1992)
Lords and Ladies (1992)
Men at Arms (1993)
Soul Music (1994)
Interesting Times (1994)
Maskerade (1995)
Feet of Clay (1996)
Hogfather (1998)
Jingo (1998)
Last Continent (1999)
Carpe Jugulum (1999)
The Fifth Elephant (2000)
The Truth (2000)
The Thief of Time (2001)
Night Watch (2002)
Monstrous Regiment (2003)
Going Postal (2004)
Thud! (2005)
Making Money (2007)
Nation (2008)

Discworld young adult books
The Tiffany Aching Adventures
The Wee Free Men (2003)
A Hat Full of Sky (2004)
Wintersmith (2006)

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents (2001)

Discworld related books Illustrated by Paul Kidby
The Pratchett Portfolio (1996)
Nanny Ogg's Cookbook (1999, with Stephen Briggs and Tina Hannan)
Gurps Discworld: Adventures on the Back of the Turtle (1998, by Phil Masters for Steve Jackson Games)
Death's Domain : A Discworld Mapp (1999)
Discworld's Unseen University Diary 1998 (with Stephen Briggs, 1997)
Discworld's Ankh-Morpork City Watch Diary 1999 (with Stephen Briggs, 1998)
Discworld Assassin's Guild Yearbook and Diary 2000 (with Stephen Briggs, 1999)
Discworld Fools' Guild Yearbook and Diary 2001 (with Stephen Briggs, 2000)
Discworld Thieves' Guild Yearbook and Diary 2002 (with Stephen Briggs, 2001)
The Last Hero: A Discworld Fable (2001).

Discworld related books with Stephen Briggs
The Streets of Ankh Morpork (1993)
The Discworld Companion (1994, 1997)
The Discworld Mapp (1995)
A Tourist Guide to Lancre (1998)
The New Discworld Companion (2003)

Discworld science books with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen
The Science of Discworld (1999)
The Science of Discworld II: The Globe (2002)
The Science of Discworld II: Darwin's Watch (2005)

Other Discworld spinoff books
Mort: A Discworld Big Comic (with Graham Higgins, 1994)
The Unseen University Challenge by David Langford (1996)
A Discworld Quizbook - The Wyrdest Link by David Langford (2002)
Where's My Cow? (illustrated by Melvyn Grant, children's picture book (2005)
The Unseen University Cut Out Book (with Alan Batley and Bernard Pearson, 2006)

Other books
Good Omens (written with Neil Gaiman, 1990) is subtitled The Nice and Accurate Prophesies of Agnes Nutter. It's a fantasy about the end of the world.

The YA Johnny Maxwell tilogy is Only You Can Save Mankind (1992), Johnny and the Dead (1993), and Johnny and the Bomb (1996)

The Nomes trliogy or the Bromeliad children's SF series is Truckers (1989), Diggers (1990), and Wings (1990).

Standalone works are his first novel The Carpet People (1971) a children's fantasy; The Dark Side of the Sun (1976) which is SF; Strata (1981) a SF parody; and The Unadulterated Cat (with Gray Jolliffe, 1990).

Our book club's page for Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
Our book club's page for The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
Our book club's page for The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Pratchett
Our book club's page for The Truth by Terry Pratchett
Our book club's page for The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Fantastic Reviews: Aaron's book review of The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett - Wikipedia
Discworld - Wikipedia
L-Space Web: About Terry Pratchett
Discworld Monthly - Online newsletter about Terry Pratchett & his works
Terry Pratchett and the Discworld
Discworld MUD - multi-user game based on the Discworld books
January magazine - Profile | Terry Pratchett
GURPS Discworld - RolePlaying Game
The Discworld Emporium

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This page was last updated October 22, 2008