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Hogfather: A Discworld Novel    by Terry Pratchett order for
by Terry Pratchett
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 1999 (1996)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Terry Pratchett has satirized most aspects of modern society - from banking, government, the postal system and the halls of academe to moviemaking, soccer, war and even death - in his brilliant Discworld series, so it's no surprise that he also took on Santa Claus and Christmas in Hogfather. Having inexplicably missed it when it first came out, I recently chuckled over my son's copy.

It all begins when the Unseen University Archchancellor demands a bathroom of his own in time for Hogswatchnight. Next the head of the Assassin's Guild is approached by mysterious Auditors to delete the Fat Man. He gives the job to Mister Teatime, who has never failed. When the Hogfather becomes suddenly 'severely reduced', Death (who's always been fascinated by humans) steps in to do the job, with hilarious results.

Death's over-educated granddaughter, Susan Sto-Helit, works as a governess, efficiently dealing with monsters with a poker. Of her early training she comments, 'Getting an education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.' Death deliberately reveals his new role to her, knowing that she will investigate ... and the game is on.

What follows is a rare romp through Discworld that takes Susan and her rat and raven cohorts to the Castle of Bones. There she meets Bilious, the young oh God of Hangovers and they quest together to find the Tooth Fairy while the wizards consult a thinking machine called Hex. After Susan saves the day, her grandad reminds her that 'YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT AREN'T TRUE. HOW ELSE CAN THEY BECOME?' Happy Hogswatch!

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