Not long ago, I realised that fantasy was my favourite genre of books. Of all the books that had stood out the most to me, I realised that a large number of them had been fantasy – Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, Twilight (Don’t start), Lord of the Rings. I wanted to delve deeper into the world of fantasy and thought the best place to start would be with the best known fantasy author ever, Terry Pratchett.
But which book to start with? I was familiar with Discworld, but unsure where I should take the plunge. As it turns out, I already had taken a paddle in the pools of the world when I watched Sky’s adaptation of the book a few years ago. Being familiar with the story, I decided Hogfather was the best place to start in my journey into Discworld.
The Hogfather is the equivalent of our Santa Claus. children write to him and he beings them presents on Hogswatchnight. The only difference is that his sleigh is pulled by boars instead of reindeer. The Auditors, a recurring villian in the series, which are godlike beings, wish to get rid of the Hogfather. They employ assassin to kill him, Mr Teatime (pronounced Te-Ah-Tim-Eh), who is the only person able to kill ‘anthropomorphic personifications’ as the Hogfather is essentially a god.
To make sure people still believe in the Hogfather, Death decided to become the Hogfather, donning the read coat, a false beard and a cushion for a belly. Death has a granddaughter, Susan. She’s a governess for one of the families in Ankh Morpok with special abilities. She can stop time, see monsters that others cannot like the bogeyman, and her hair styles itself.
Susan and the God of Hangovers, created by the spare belief left from killing the Hogfather, travel to the land of the Tooth Fairy to find out what happened to the Hogfather.
Hopefully I’ve not spoiled everything for you. Time for the actual reviewing bit…
I can definitely see why Pratchett is the best fantasy writer. I liked the nonsensical way it was written without being too nonsensical. The little asides throughout the book I thought really brought you in to the story that little bit more. Like you were knowing something that no one else did.
I can’t speak of it as part of a series but it’s good as a stand alone book. When reading a random book in a series there can sometimes be over reliance on the fact that the reader has actually read the other books. You sometimes get thrown in the deep end of a world, doggy paddling along with the story trying to catch up. Fortunately there was none of that and I felt like I was being guided by the hand into a world, of which I could let go of said hand whenever I wanted and not before.
I feel like I’ve only had a snapshot of Discworld, and there’s so much I want to know more about. I want to know more about Death and Susan and the Unseen University. They’re in the book, but you only get enough information that’s relevant to the story. But I feel like if I read more, or even if I didn’t, Hogfather would still be an excellent book.
I liked that Susan, despite being Death’s granddaughter, tried really hard to be ‘normal’ only to have everything else fighting against her being normal in any way. It’s almost like the battle that most people fight with society, the struggle to be normal. We have to be adults, save money, pay bills. But all you really want to do is stuff your face with sweets and stay up all night watching Disney movies (or at least I do anyway). I want to be the kind of responsible and sensible person that when given £10 goes ‘I’ll spend this on some food shopping, maybe get something nice and healthy for dinner or I can put it in the bank for later’. However, every childish urge takes over and I go into the nearest shop and come out with mounds of sweets and spend the rest of the night on a sugar high. Definitely not the most nutritious of dinners.
The image of Death all dressed up in the red coat and false beard, trying to get his ‘Ho, Ho, Ho.’ right is one that will always amuse me.
So will I be reading the other Discworld books? Most definitely.