“Hogfather” by Terry Pratchett – a mid-winter festival which is threatened by the disappearance of its mythic figure

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books are sort of like our world but with the addition of magic and a few other things (turtles, dwarves, gods, witches, wizards and such). They really are worth reading although don’t start from the first book as they get better as they go along. They are all linked in one way or another by recurring characters as well as the setting. Hogfather features Death and Susan, his granddaughter (sort of) who is one of my favourite characters in the series.

Imagine that, instead of Christmas celebrations, there was another festival celebrating the Hogfather who is a large boar although with many similarities to our own Santa. Imagine too that the Hogfather has disappeared and that his place has been temporarily taken by Death. Then imagine that Susan is called from her sensible job as a governess to try and put things right before the disappearance of the Hogfather changes reality.

Susan is gloriously sensible and not afraid to see reality for what it is. She knows that there are real monsters under the bed and she understands that the superstitions we hold to are important to our sense of reality. She sets out to sort things out and in following the story we do run into a few favourite characters from past books – although I think you could read this as a stand-alone it is better if you have read Mort and Guards, Guards at least.

As the book progresses you cannot help but start to look at our own Christmas celebrations and the myths we make to explain aspects of life and what they say about our society and culture – this is, of course, what the author intends and he does it very well. I am currently rereading my collection of these books and Hogfather is a highlight – you can see my review of Jingo here.

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