book review: hogfather

Hogfather is a Discworld novel about Xmas. But more importantly to me the first time I read it 13 or so years ago, it’s about belief. For me that makes it one of my favourite Discworld novels (beside Small Gods). I remember it being very important to me when I was still in my X-Files stage of life, where the Mulder/Scully dynamic between skepticism and faith was what I lived for in my fiction. This Xmas, reading the book again, I could read it a bit more as a straight-up novel, not a culmination of philosophy.

In the story the Hogfather (like Santa Claus, but with four pigs flying his sleigh) has disappeared and Death has taken over the role for Hogswatch Eve. Death isn’t a very convincing Hogfather and he manipulates his granddaughter Susan into figuring out what’s happened to the real Hogfather and put things right.

I’d forgotten huge chunks of the plot (though I remembered the Tooth Fairy being important somehow) but the bits about belief and the need to believe in little lies like the Hogfather as practice for believing in big lies like justice stuck with me. But it felt like there was a lot of padding to the story. I guess my estimation of it went down a little bit on this rereading but it remains one of my favourite Xmas stories (along with the original The Nightmare Before Christmas).

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