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Saturday, December 24, 2016

An Appropriate Yuletide Reread: Hogfather

I love Terry Pratchett's books! It doesn't seem to matter what the occasion is, he wrote a book for it. This one, of course, is for Christmas. It has a lot of fun with Christmas issues, such as department store Santas and commercialism. It also does things with "Good King Wenceslas", showing him as an arrogant wealthy man trying to do "charity" for the peasant so he can get that wam, fuzzy feeling. This, of course, infuriates Death, who is filling in for the vanished Hogfather. 

In case you haven't read this, it's set at the Discworld's version of Christmas, Hogswatch. It's really connected with the agricultural year, the time when pigs are slaughtered for winter food. That's why the Hogfather  drives a sleigh  pulled by huge pigs instead of reindeer, and it's no glittery tinsel-covered contraption either and the hogs are real ones, apart from being able to fly. They do their business on the carpet of a department store. But for the Discworld people it's the time to go home, visit your parents, exchange gifts and cards and get into huge arguments with your family. Yep. Christmas all right. 

When the real Hogfather disappears. due to having a contract out on him by the Auditors of reality, Death takes over the round and it's up to his granddaughter Susan to find the real Hogfather.

This is the second Susan Sto Helit novel, the first being Soul Music, one of my favourite Discworld books, Pratchett's tribute to rock and roll. In that one she was a schoolgirl, who had to take over Death's round when he disappeared. In this one, she's a governess. The final Susan novel was Thief Of Time, in which she was a teacher, who got involved with the son of Time, the Auditors again, still trying to stop the world so they can get on with their filing, and the History Monks. 

I'm a fan of Susan. Because of her background, she's able to do things no normal governess could do, such as bashing up the monsters under the bed with a poker and stopping time. She gives her charges hard books to read, as a result of which the boy can now use words like "disembowelled" after reading a military history. 

It's a very funny book, with lots of laugh-out-loud, especially with Death trying to be Santa Claus, his companion Albert drinking all the sherry and eating all the pork pies left out for the Hogfather,  and there was one particular scene that poked fun at Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl. I wished that the original fairytale had ended that way.

I think it was the best of the TV adaptations too. The others were just not as good, even though Terry Pratchett made a cameo appearance in them all. 

Anyway, hope you've all had a great Hogswatch - I went to the beach but it's been 37' most of the day and is still hot!

Somehow it's just not been a traditional Christmas card scene in Melbourne. 

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