Hogfather: (Discworld Novel 20) (Discworld series)

By Terry Pratchett

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
abril
I have now read four Diskworld books and I'm still waiting to see what it is the people love so much about this series. Each book is cute enough, but Mort and also Equal Rites seems almost more like children's books to me (the first two I actually enjoyed more). I know people like to compare Pratchett to Douglas Adams, but really, rather than being a fantasy world Adams, he seems more like an English Piers Anthony. Blasphemy to some, I know, though Anthony has his moments.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
shar kanan
This is complex and quickly paced. A wonderful development of the human characters dealing with the characters which humanity has given to DEATH, the minor characters of the tooth fairy, cakewalk duck, etc. A good treatise on the power of belief and institutions.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
minmin
I'm a huge Pratchett fan and had some high hopes for this book. I know that some of his stories, especially his newer works, tend to be gimmicky. But, Hogfather felt like a rushed book to sell for a quick holiday buck. It certainly had its moments, but didn't have the depth and intrigue from his usual Discworld work.
The Carpet People :: (Discworld Novel 10) (Discworld series) - Moving Pictures :: (Discworld Novel 17) (Discworld series) - Interesting Times :: (Discworld Novel 32) (Discworld series) - A Hat Full of Sky :: (Discworld Novel 22) (Discworld series) - The Last Continent
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
mike lawson
I'm a big fan of Pratchett, but this one was way too hard to follow. No idea why Death appears to be covering for Santa Claus. Editor should have clamped down and demanded more explanations of why the story was happening the way it was.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
aaron post
Mort, a name you won't be likely to forget to mention even if everyone else in this book does. Terry Pratchett once again offers another amazing read, with his usual dose of highly quotable prose and the only person to effectively capture in written form things I've seen in cartoons. Yet that said, this being my 4th Disc World book, it stands apart from the others I've read so far and is the first book of his where in the end I got misty eyed.

Pratchett has a knack for word smithing and concepts of the highest caliber, but in this book, he really pushes things conceptually planting countless seeds of "what if" and "can you imagine?"

So far all of his books are fantastically written, but here I feel as if we're tapping into different deeper layers within the Disc World. Resolutions aren't as easy as usual and it is definitely proven that God is not in the machine... (you'll get it when you read).

I can't recommend Pratchett highly enough. As a wordsmith, I honestly think he's one of the best if not the best I've read even if other stories strike deeper, but in Mort, he married story telling with his amazing craft. The premise is simple enough, what happens when Death needs an apprentice... why would Death need an apprentice... who would think that Death keeps so many people company... and who would think that a book with Death as a main character would be so much about life?

I certainly didn't. But I've made peace with never trying to guess where Terry is going. You just go along for the ride and let him do what he does best, which is to show you how much magic there is within words and how much life there is within Death.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
samantha sheehy
It's time for Mort to get an apprenticeship. Things don't look too good when no one picks him at the apprenticeship fair, but just before the stroke of midnight a most unlikely master picks him out. Death. You know, black robes, scythe, skeletal features? Yep. It turns out Death has been feeling like he's been missing out on life. So he trains Mort in the basics, and then decides to take a holiday. Mort's job should be easy, but when he decides to take mercy on someone who should have died he just may have created a problem. First off, the rescuee, Princess Keli is having problems getting people to acknowledge her existence, reality is rebelling against the new status, and history has created a bubble to set things right. Mort has to figure out how to fix things without killing Keli. Oh, and someone may need to rescue Death from his holiday.

So within all the myriad of Discworld tomes are sub-series. I've read all the Night Watch books and loved them. Then I read Thief of Time, liked it, and decided I should go back and start at the beginning of the Death sub-series. This is the start of that. Evidently Death gets better with age. This one has moments to make you smile, and as Pratchett's humor goes is on the cleanest end of the spectrum, but it wasn't as laugh-out-loud hilarious as Thief of Time. Definitely had moments (Death's drinking binge and the way Mort disconcerts people by walking through walls are classic), but I'm expecting this series to get better as it goes. Fun but not the comic genius I know Pratchett can pull off when truly inspired.

Notes on content: A small handful of minor swear words. No blatant sexual content. There's some super vague nods to things but some readers could read those and be totally oblivious. Death's pursuit of a fun time leads him to try drinking but it doesn't work.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
brad wilkerson
Hogfather is good, but I don't think it's one of Pratchett's best. It is his take on Christmas and the nature of belief, as the Hogfather (the Discworld equivalent of Father Christmas) mysteriously disappears and Death takes his place dispensing good cheer and delivering presents. Sinister events unfold as we slowly learn what is going on and Susan Sto Helit (in fine form, as always) takes a hand.

There is plenty of fun here with the Wizards, anthropomorphic personifications, Death as always not quite Getting It and so on, and also Pratchett's typically thoughtful insights into the nature and importance of belief, but for me it doesn't quite have the gripping narrative drive and laugh-out-loud moments of his very best. That means that it's still very good, just not quite as brilliant as some. Still recommended, but if you're looking for somewhere to start I'd recommend Mort, Going Postal or Feet of Clay, for example, before Hogfather.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jewell anderson
When someone first recommended that I read Terry Pratchett, I confess, I was reluctant. I had never really heard of comedic fantasy, but I knew that my type of humor tended to be more the tongue-in-cheek, situational humor rather than the slapstick humor my friends prefer. But hey, I’m willing to try anything—well, almost anything—at least once. Boy am I glad I did.

The book opens with us meeting our young protagonist, Mort, in the midst of a highly relatable endeavor: job hunting. Or, more specifically, looking for an apprenticeship. Problem is that Mort doesn’t appear to be particularly good at anything. Some of us can relate. He ends up as the only youth to not be offered an apprenticeship, which comes as no surprise to the reader, as he’s described by his father as a boy who “couldn’t find his arse with both hands.” Or that’s the case, at least, until the very last minute when HE arrives.

Among the roar of hooves booming on the cobblestone, this hooded figure appears, black cloak billowing around him, the air taking on a heavy, greasy feel, and silence conquering the square. Such an impressive display—except for the ice. Yes, that’s right, our first real impression of Death is him falling on his bum. Turns out Death has a few deliciously human traits about him.

Mort is offered, and accepts, the position as Death’s apprentice—no dying required. But being Death isn’t as easy as it sounds (does it really sound easy?), as Mort finds out. There’s lots of ropes to learn, lots of rules, and you might as well just check your emotions at the door. Won’t be needing those pesky little things. Too bad that third one doesn’t come so naturally, and when Mort finds himself caught between his new job and his emotions, he soon realizes there’s a consequence to not following the rules. As reality starts to unravel, Mort’s left scrambling to set things right.

And where is Death in all this? Why, trying to find out exactly what it means to be human, of course. Reaping is a tiring and, quite understandably, a thankless profession. Death just wants to know what makes humans tick. So he partakes in the things that bring them pleasure: fishing, drinking, dancing. After all, his capable apprentice is picking up his slack on the job, so what could possibly go wrong?

The Pros:

- An intense delve into a world unlike our own that’s replete with its own culture and history. It’s pretty clear that Pratchett has put a lot of time and thoughtfulness into the world he’s created, but the way that it unfolds is natural and easy to follow. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by information or lost in an unfamiliar realm.

- You don’t have to have read the other books to read this one. This is the fourth book in the Discworld series, true, but it’s the first in the Death trilogy, and reading the three previous books isn’t required for this to make sense. I started here, and I had no difficulty following things and felt myself thoroughly engrossed in the world.

- A unique and witty portrayal of a rather eccentric and quirky cast of characters. It’s not just Death, who does sign so gloriously in this I have to say, but all of the others, as well. Everyone has their own motives and stories that tie together, and each has their own varied personality and backstories which are interwoven. There’s a certain life to them and richness to their character that makes reading particularly engrossing.

- Compelling character arcs. I think this is what shined the most for me. It’s not just about Mort apprenticing as Death, though that’s interesting enough. It’s the transformation he takes, both physically and emotionally. He goes from a weak, ne’er-do-right child to someone who’s more confident, self-assured, and who fully takes on the persona of Death himself, while still retaining some of the more charming quirks of his character that made him loveable in the first place. The same thing with Death. He’s not just the harvester of souls. But at who-knows-how-old, he’s having a midlife crisis, if you will. He’s suffering a philosophical conundrum, an existential crisis. Plus, it’s hard to hate getting to see the things we as humans take for granted as cultural norms from the eyes of a very confused immortal being trying to make sense of it all. (Hint: Humans don’t make sense.)

- Humor! Lots and lots of humor. I was wary of the humor, but it’s woven so beautifully into the story. Some of it’s sarcastic, some of it’s situational, some of it’s akin to slapstick, but the most important thing is it doesn’t detract from the story. At its core, despite the humor, the story is really about self-discovery in a lot of ways, and I never felt like that got derailed by the humor.

- Fun, little nuggets that tie in the whole series. Like I’ve said, this is the first book I’ve read by Pratchett, but I do know that the characters are reoccurring, so I paid attention as I read. There’s a very good likelihood that these characters will show up again in other books. For example, there’s mention of Rincewind the Wizard, whom I know gets his own series later on. I actually enjoyed knowing this, since it makes me appreciate the mention more, and I’m actually excited to see whom else might make later appearances.

The Cons:

- The plot is very character driven. It’s almost entirely character driven. If you’re looking for something that’s fast-paced with a lot of action, this isn’t for you. The whole premise of the story is based on character arcs and the situations they make for themselves. My husband loves high fantasy, but this plot was just too slow for him. Admittedly, it progresses at a slow pace, and I can see where some would find that frustrating.

- Spoiler alert: it ends. I KNOW! That horrid feeling churning in your gut right now and rising in your throat? Yup, I felt that, too. I nearly threw the book across the room (forgive me; I know not what I do). But alas, the book does come to a close at some point, and I just wasn’t ready to let go of the characters.

Conclusion (aka TL;DR)

I would highly recommend this book. Terry Pratchett weaves a marvelous, complex world that just springs off the page, grabs you by the collar, and drags you along for the ride whether you want to go or not. The characters are well developed and all funny and interesting in their own right. The plot tied in a lot of smaller sub arcs, so things were kept fresh and everything unraveled slowly, constantly mounting fresh information about the plot and the characters that always kept me guessing. All in all, definitely worth the read.

Great for people who enjoy humor and fantasy, quirky and strange characters, witty banter, and intricate worlds. Maybe not so great for people who want a fast plot packed with action, are looking for a light read, or shy away from a somewhat antiquated style of writing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mark farley
It's really advanced philosophy quite cleverly disguised as fiction, as are most of his books. The Hogfather has gone missing, so DEATH steps in to cover for him. DEATH always has good intentions, but anything beyond his regular job seems to get twisted a bit out of shape. Since DEATH and DEATH OF RATS are two of my favorite characters, I really enjoyed this one.

One of the philosophical questions is the nature of gods and belief, and how gods change over time, how they become different as our beliefs shape them. Until we stop believing, at which point the sun may stop coming up. I love what DEATH says about that, that there would be just a ball of burning gas in the sky, but that the sun would not come up. Interesting thought.

I recommend this book, as well as everything else that Sir Terry has ever written.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chase blackwood
The snow is falling, the nights are longer, and the Disc is getting ready for the most wonderful time of the year only for the most important man of the hour to disappear. Terry Pratchett satirizes Christmas in his 20th Discworld novel “Hogfather”, featuring Death and his granddaughter Susan attempting to save the entire holiday and the Disc’s sense of belief.

Most of the Disc is getting ready to celebrate the end of the year on Hogswatchnight when the Hogfather comes to give presents to those that have been good throughout the year, mostly kids but some adults would like some stuff as well. However, the Auditors of the Universe want the ‘fat man’ dead and hire an Assassin to do the job who then attacks the Tooth Fairy. How can the Hogfather survive? Only Death himself can fill in for the ‘fat man’ and tricks his granddaughter Susan Sto Helit in figuring out what happened to the Hogfather especially as new deities start popping up in his absence.

The TV miniseries adaptation of “Hogfather” was what made me want to read the entire Discworld series in the first place, so finally getting to read this book has been both an exciting and somewhat hesitant moment because I didn’t know if the actual book would meet my expectations. Happily I was more than happy with the book and think it’s one of the best books of the series because of story, characterization, and satire. There is nothing more I can say because I would just be repeating myself.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
emily tofte
Fourth in the overall Discworld series and first in the DEATH subseries revolving around Death himself.

My Take
I can't decide if Pratchett's primary purpose is poking fun at Death and the different ways we expect it to occur or if he's poking at people's expectations, how they see what they want or expect to see. Or both…

The start is too funny as a frustrated father tries to figure out the best possible future for his inept son. It's that section about Mort's vagueness, his cheerfulness that his father complains of. A sweet and parental confusion that turns eager as Lezek brainstorms with his brother. The relief as they conspire to shift the problem onto someone else. The guilt as they justify the idea. Yep, it's a parody of parents frustrated with their own children. Reading Mort would probably be a great release for parents suffering through their own offspring's antics, LMAO.

Mort's reactions will make you chuckle as he chases off thieves in Ankh-Morpork. His confusion about the "proper way to talk" when he's on the job was another crack-up. That bit when Mort asks for the afternoon off, and Death's response that pokes at one of the favorite excuses used by humanity: my grandmother's funeral, lol. I can't remember, but I'm wondering "if the check is in the mail" hmmm…

Poor Mort. Death has plans and hopes in mind for Ysabell. Plans that throw Mort for a loop as he considers those confrontational interactions with Ysabell — he did employ his own unconscious defense in that stable scene. I particularly enjoyed Mort's inner thinking about how many more barrowfulls it'll take to finish the job.
"Then there was the puzzle of why the sun came out during the day, instead of at night when the light would come in useful."
I do have to wonder if Death sent Mort to the princess to give him the chance to save her. He can't have been that stupid about what Mort would do. Perhaps Death took that precognitive statement into account at the end…?

"And official thieves were rare in the Ramtops, where people weren't rich enough to afford them."

I like the idea of biographies that write themselves. I suspect Death's bios would need quite a bit of editing, though. I really don't want to read every detail. The nail. Oh, man, she locked up her house and then hung the key on a nail by the door. Well, at least she wouldn't lose it, lol. I do hope Goodie Hamstring's ability to change is true. I know my neighbors and I see ourselves exactly the same way *she said with a prim sniff*

"'It's written in Old,' he said. 'Before they invented spelling.'"

I think I know why our parents didn't want us reading "inappropriate" books. Gives one all sorts of odd ideas as Ysabell, in her expert role, expounds.

Nor is Mort the only core character having problems. Poor Death. He's trying to find a job and getting quite depressed about his job skills. A poke at our economy, perhaps? Albert's in trouble…I'd say it's too much time in Death's realm where he had too much, perhaps, autonomy? As much fun as it would be to "watch" the wizards getting healthy and returning to the original Unseen U concepts, I'm afraid he signed his own death warrant with those demands. Especially the one about the circus!

Hee-hee, no one is invulnerable to Pratchett's wit as I laughed at the play on words of Ankh-Morpork being represented by a carbuncle on a world model in Death's study. Then there's the Empire as the Grand Vizier and the emperor trade oily compliments…the way it must have looked when Albert strode out of the rising cloud of marble dust…the Pyramids of Tsort with that opportunity to poke fun at Egyptian funereal rites while the priest at Sto Lat seems to be beyond his sell-by date. The fun Pratchett has at the bar with all those bits of leftover fruit salad and paper umbrellas followed by that on-the-job injury suffered by all who serve up beer and mixed drinks — bartender's ear — will make you wish for Death's constitution, but not his, um, frame.

"'I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU,' he said, 'BUT I COULD MURDER A CURRY.'"

It's an exploration of death: postponing it versus exploring it.

The Story
He's bored. There must be more to life than death. Maybe if he takes on an apprentice, he'll have the time to discover what people do in life. What they enjoy and why.

Mind you, I think Death is having a mid-life crisis…

The Characters
Mort, a.k.a., Mortimer or Boy, is the youngest son and an embarrassment. Lezek is his father. Hamesh is his uncle. His family distills wine from reannual grapes.

Death is the Grim Reaper, Father Time, the being who collects those who have died. Ysabell is his adopted daughter. Albert is the chief cook and bottle washer, and in truth, he's a wizard who ran away. Binky is Death's horse. No, he's not one of those skeletal types…Death hates having to wire bits back on all the time. The Stack is where Death keeps biographies more than 500 years old.

The city of Sto Lat is…
…ruled over by King Olerve the Bastard, the collection job that truly begins the story, or rather his daughter's imminent demise. Princess Keli is his daughter, expected to be Her Supreme Majesty, Queen Kelirehenna I.
"ROYALTY ARE ALWAYS A PROBLEM. THEY TEND TO WANT TO HANG ON. YOUR AVERAGE PEASANT, NOW HE CAN'T WAIT."
Duke Sto Helit is a nasty enemy fated to unite kingdoms. Igneous Cutwell is a DM (Unseen), Marster of the Infinit, Illuminartus, Wyzard to Princes, and Gardian of the Sacred Portalls and now the Royal Recognizer. And totally without any concept of how to spell. Mrs. Nugent is his housekeeper and neighbor. She's less competent than he is!

Ankh-Morpork is…
…the biggest, smelliest, most food-friendly city in the Discworld.
"You couldn't help noting with every breath that thousands of other people were very close to you and nearly all of them had armpits."
Alberto Malich founded Unseen University 2,000 years ago. Rincewind , the current assistant librarian, makes an appearance. The head librarian was turned into an orangutang, quite convenient, really.

Terpsic Mims is a fisherman whose primary interest is in escaping Mrs. Terpsic Mims, Gwladys to them that knows her. Lord Rodley of Quirm, the heir to the Quirm estates, must explain dancing and fun. Cripple Wa's floating crap game and Hummok M'guk's "skill" explore the laws of Chance. The Mended Drum is doing a roaring business as Death explores drunk. Liona Keeble is a job broker. It's Harga's House of Ribs that bring fulfillment.

Goodie Hamstring is a witch, and we all know that they know the time of their death. The Abbot of the Listeners, one of the oldest of the Disc's religious sects, is getting tired of the old out-and-in routine. Nine Turning Mirrors is the Grand Vizier in the Empire which is ruled by a clever boy Sun Emperor. The Pyramids of Tsort provides an opportunity to poke more fun.

The Discworld is its own planet, a flat-bottomed convex disc riding "on the back of four giant elephants who stand on the shell of the enormous star turtle Great A'Tuin". Reannuals are plants that grow backwards in time. Cori Celesti is the home of the gods. The Rite of AshkEnte summons and binds Death.

The Cover and Title
The cover is a bright fuchsia with a narrow, black, vertical band on the left side with grayed-out fuchsia scythes falling inside it. The main image is a shadow of a scythe over which an hourglass is imposed, sand (and time) spilling from it, as life runs out. The author's name and title are in a deep yellow.

The title is the focus of this story as well as a pun on the core character, for Mort is both Mortimer and the Latin for Death.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
shay fan
Mort was chosen by my book club, so it’s not a book I would have picked. Not that I don’t enjoy comedic fantasy, I just have so many other books I would rather read first.

I really tried to keep an open mind though, since I know Terry Pratchett has a large following. Unfortunately this book was just okay, nothing I can rave about.

The overall theme was Death takes a holiday, which has been done numerous times before. I didn’t feel as if this story added anything unique to the genre. I do love cats though, and so does Death, so that was a positive.

The main character, Mort, was my least favorite, and I would say a boring character. Perhaps though, Pratchett was going for that. The reason I thought that was because whenever anyone talked to Mort, they called him boy or lad. And Mort would always correct them. Even to the other characters in the book, he wasn’t worth the time to get to know his name.

There are two ways to read this book; fast and just go along with the story, or slow and really think about the word play, writing style and world events/politics that were happening during the same time the book was written.

I started reading the book fast, but when I did slow down there was some word play that was quite enjoyable. One of the characters was talking about the princess and the pea, and another character thought they meant pee.

There were a couple of moments that surprised me. One being Death’s cook and when we find out more about him. And the romance that blooms between Mort and Death’s daughter. It just sort of, BAM, happened.

The word play and surprises just aren’t enough to make me want to start reading more about Disc World. Perhaps if I talked with those who love Pratchett’s writing, I could be swayed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ragsman
I was utterly charmed by this tale about Death taking an apprentice, and the chaos that follows when human empathy collides with the inexorable march of fate.

Soft hearted, but relentlessly pragmatic about his job, Death desperately needs a holiday. But Mort, his stand-in, makes a hopeless mess of things, threatening the very fabric of reality. In Terry Pratchett's hands, the Death of the Discworld was a sympathetic and fascinating character. Feared, misunderstood and utterly lonely, Death only wants to understand the joys of the lives he takes. My favorite scenes included Death getting drunk and pouring out his sorrows to a bartender, and finding happiness working as the Disc's most efficient short-order cook (time means nothing to him).

Mort himself is loveably inept and too much of a dreamer for his own good. Throw in some of the best of Pratchett's wry asides, a humorous romance and scenes that had me laughing out loud, and I thoroughly enjoyed every hour I spent with this story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
aiman
As someone who has been a fan of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series for close to twenty years I was absolutely devastated when he passed away last week. I have read and reread the earlier Discworld books so many times over the years but unfortunately I hadn't kept up with the more recent releases. I guess that's probably something to be glad about now because it means I still have a few new Discworld adventures ahead of me. Anyway, I've been telling myself for ages that I would do a series reread and review all of the books on my blog but although I've read a few of the books I've never managed to complete the task. After hearing the news I just had to dig out one of my old books to read though and since Death has always been one of my favourite Discworld characters I decided to start with his mini series and pick up Mort. I couldn't think of a more appropriate book to read right now and I have to say it cheered me up no end imagining the conversations that Terry Pratchett is now hopefully having with one of his most popular characters.

Although Death had played a minor role in several of the earlier books Mort is the first story where he is one of the main characters and it was here that we really start to get to know him better and understand what his life is like. He is such a fascinating character and I love reading his observations about humanity and life in general. Death doesn't look at things in the way that most of us do but he's an incredibly witty character and so much fun to read about. He also has a special fondness for cats so I'd love him for that if nothing else!

Death has decided it's time for him to take on an apprentice and Mort is the lucky guy who lands the job. Unfortunately things don't quite go to plan when Mort accidentally thwarts fate because he doesn't want to see a young girl die. Mort may have given Keli a temporary reprieve but when it's your time, it's your time and the world is determined to set things right. Mort has set a whole chain of events in motion and it's now up to him to figure out how to resolve things.

Mort contains all the crazy hijinks you'd expect from the Discworld but it is also a coming of age story as we get to see the kind of man that Mort will grow into and it gives a rather poignant look at Death both as a character and as an inevitable event in everyone's lives. I found the last couple of paragraphs particularly heart wrenching in the circumstances so I just have to end this review with them:

'Goodbye,' Mort said, and was surprised to find a lump in his throat. 'It's such an unpleasant word, isn't it?'
QUITE SO. Death grinned because, as has so often been remarked, he didn't have much option. But possibly he meant it, this time.
I PREFER AU REVOIR, he said.

RIP Sir Terry! The world is already a darker place without you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jodilyn owen
Is it fair that I've lived this long and have only just read a book by Terry Pratchett? No, it's not. He should be required reading for citizenship on Earth.

His writing style is effortless yet beautiful. It reads like poetry. Condensed and full.

His humor is timeless and perfect and I sincerely believe that the only way to confront the terror of living is with the sort of tongue-in-cheek humor that fills this story. I will never forget the imagery of some fisherman accidentally sailing off the edge of the world, because it's tragic yet wickedly funny.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jake knapp
I have been a fan of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series for over 15 years now but I have to admit I've fallen a little behind with the more recent books. I've actually been promising myself for a few years now that I'll reread the series again from the beginning and catch up but for some unknown reason I never quite seem to get around to it. I decided it's time to bite the bullet but rather than read the books in order I used Christmas as an excuse to read Hogfather. This book is a perfect festive read, Death has always been one of my favourite characters in the series and seeing him dress up as the Hogfather (the Discworld equivalent of Father Christmas) is absolutely hilarious.

The Auditors are causing trouble again, they may be in charge of keeping the universe running smoothly but they think it would be much better if there were no humans around messing things up. This time they've decided to target the Hogfather and they've hired the assassin Mister Teatime (make sure you pronounce that correctly unless you want to upset him - it's Teh-ah-tim-eh NOT Tea-time!) to take him out of the equation. How exactly do you go about killing someone who can't die though? Teatime has a plan and Death is the only person who has noticed what is going on and is trying to put a stop to it. He's going to need help though and the best person for the job is obviously his granddaughter Susan who is used to dealing with all kinds of monsters using her trusty poker.

Hogfather is a hilarious read, obviously Death is the star of the show (he always is to me!) but we also get to visit with the wizards at the Unseen University, catch up with Susan, and spend time with the Death of Rats. With the Hogfather out of the equation (although Death is doing his best to fill in for him) the excess belief is causing all sorts of new creatures to pop up including the Verruca Gnome and the Oh God of Hangovers which makes for a lot of amusing moments. Death has always struggled to understand humans but this leads to some fantastic moments of insight. As with all of Terry Pratchett's stories we get an insightful look into the human psyche and you have to laugh at our way of thinking sometimes. Terry Pratchett obviously sees the world through a very interesting lens and I'd love to be able to take a trip inside his mind. This reread has left me more determined than ever to complete my Discworld catch up, so hopefully 2015 will be the year I finally make some serious headway.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jacque
The midwinter holiday on Discworld is Hogswatch rather than Christmas, and the Hogfather is the Discworld's counterpart of Santa Claus. He climbs down chimneys, gives presents, says, "HO-HO-HO," and drives a sleigh pulled by four flying pigs. Many children of the Disc believe in him, which is why he exists. (This is a fundamental characteristic of the magical system in Terry Pratchett's Discworld books.) Belief causes the thing believed in to exist, and when belief stops, that existence stops. Teatime, an assassin retained to do away with the Hogfather, plans to exploit this metaphysical law to accomplish his assigned task, but first he must break into the Tooth Fairy's castle and get control of the teeth stored there. With them, he can influence the belief of their former owners through sympathetic magic. (That's something of a spoiler, but if you haven't read this yet, you may be thankful for it.)

Hogfather was the first Discworld book I ever read. This was back in 1999, I think. It could have been 2000. I'm not sure. I didn't buy it. The book was given to me, not so much as a gift, but as a case of, "Here, I'm not going to read this again, but you might like it since I know you like the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

A few months later, I decided to give it a try. I didn't know what to make of the book at first. It wasn't like anything I had ever read before. I recall thinking when I was about halfway in that I wasn't sure I liked it. It was obviously fantasy, but it wasn't like the epic fantasy stepchildren of Lord of the Rings or the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, which dominated the fantasy genre at the time. Those stories seemed to make a concerted effort to portray their fantasy settings as `real' places, and they were chocked full of dragons, evil warlords and their minions, and powerful magic. Their plots often boiled down to simple, and often bloody, contests between `good' and `evil'. The reader didn't have to think much for most of these. They offered an entertaining escape from reality, but not much else. The plots were often a bit like sporting events in which one side is `good' primarily because it's from your hometown (although there's a good chance none of the players are). In some, the biggest difference between the protagonist and antagonist was the point of view that dominated the story.

In any case, that was the kind of fantasy novel I was used to. Hogfather is none of the above. It's not even like the Hitchhiker's Guide, but the person who gave me the book was right in one regard. If you like the Hitchhiker's Guide, there is a good chance you will like Discworld. Both are satirical, funny, incredibly clever, and mind-bending.

But, back to what I was saying. Halfway through my first reading of Hogfather, I was confused. This book was far more complex than the fantasy stories with which I was familiar. The setting was comprehensible but bizarre. I mean--really--a flat world carried on the back of four elephants standing on a turtle? Come on! The plot confused me, and there were subplots and multiple points of view presented by an omniscient narrator. There were even footnotes! This wasn't like watching a sporting event or a cartoon. I had to pay attention. This book was trying to make me (*gasp*) think! To be honest, I wasn't sure I was up to the challenge.

Then, about halfway through, I got it. I can't recall exactly what scene or phrase caused my epiphany, but I finally caught a glimpse of what this story was doing, and it floored me. The author wasn't trying to draw me into the story to the point of total immersion. The setting was absurd because I wasn't supposed to believe it was possible. The story was fiction, and I wasn't being encouraged to suspend disbelief to the point where I felt for a moment that it wasn't. There's a kind of honesty to that that I still find refreshing. Yes, the story is set on a fantasy world starring a counterpart of Santa Claus and an anthropomorphic personification of Death, complete with black cloak and scythe, but it's not ABOUT them. It's about us!

But at the same time, this ridiculous setting was rich and textured. It was unbelievably believable. And the characters, although they seemed exaggerated caricatures at first, had surprising depth and personality. I recall thinking that this Terry Pratchett fellow must be some kind of genius.

I've read all forty or so Discworld books since, all them at least three times, and I still think this is true.

Hogfather, like many of the Discworld books, is far more than it appears at first glance. Here are a few things I noticed:
* It is, of course, a parody of the Santa legend.
* It's a cultural satire about our traditions and philosophies.
* It's a not-so-thinly veiled criticism of holiday commercialism.
* It's a morality tale about duty and the importance of family ties.
* It's a philosophical statement on the nature of humanity.
* It contrasts rational and irrational ways of thinking.
* It provides a brief comment on emergent artificial intelligence.
* It's a fantasy story that pokes fun at fantasy, while, at the same time, explaining why fantasy is both meaningful and necessary.
* Oh yeah, and it's funny.

If you have not read any Discworld books yet, you should. Actually, my advice is to read them all and then to reread them. (I find that Discworld stories are often even more enjoyable the second time.) Before sitting down to write this post, I reread Hogfather for what was at least the sixth time. The Discworld books are incomparable. My only problem with them is that after reading the Discworld stories, all other fantasy stories tend to pale by comparison.

When reading Hogfather, one key point to remember is that time is not necessarily linear where Death (the Discworld character) is concerned. It can be frozen, and causality can work in reverse. The future can change events in the past or cause them not to happen at all.

Hogfather, however, is not the Discworld book I would recommend to newcomers to the Disc. Yes, it was my first, and each book can stand on its own, but Hogfather is a tough go without the background provided by some of the others. I hesitate to recommend any particular Discworld book to start with. I've seen some forums in which people can become quite heated about this, believe it or not. I highly recommend all of them, but I will say again that Hogfather probably shouldn't be your first.

If you're familiar with Discworld, but have not yet read Hogfather, I suggest doing so now. It's a great book for the holidays. If have read Hogfather before, it's a great one to reread for the Holidays. You'll be glad you did.

HAPPY HOGSWATCH, EVERYONE! HO-HO-HO!

~*~

P.S. Hogfather became a made-for-TV movie in 2006, and is now available on DVD. I have a copy, and I'll be rewatching it sometime soon.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lakshmi
I had heard that Mort was where the Discworld series hit its stride, so I had somewhat high expectations that were unfortunately not fulfilled. Don't get me wrong, I still liked it. There are some great moments but the plot was very uneven (most notably the ending, but also the romance between Mort and Ysabell, which seemed to come out of nowhere). Mort is better than Equal Rites (the previous installment in the Discworld series), but it is an incremental improvement not the great leap I was hoping for.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kaylee knytych
I'm slowly working my way through this series and it's very recommendable. The humor style makes me chuckle often, the characters are interesting, and the plots are fun.

I do need to take it slowly though, there isn't a sentence that doesn't contain dry satirical humor in this series so far and burnout can hit quite hard. It's the old cliche, if everythings funny nothing is.

All that said I wish we had spent more time with Mort during his conversion. It's an interesting subject that was partialy glossed over. I was also hoping for more text spent on when Mort and his teacher were actually working. It just feels like tons of potential fun was missed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jessica piazza
Death takes on an apprentice then takes some time off vacation that results in some interesting events on the Disc in the fourth book of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. The idea of having the Disc's Grim Reaper as a major character who is interested in experiencing the "fleshy" side of things could have turned into disaster if not handled right, but Pratchett just uses it to create more laughs and hilarious situations for not only Death but his apprentice Mort, daughter Ysabell, and servant Albert. The mistakes of Mort as he tries to properly fulfill the role of his boss and his resulting continual screw ups in trying to fix his mistakes without informing Death while dealing with two other living occupants of Death's timeless domain.

Ever since watching the miniseries based on Hogfather, I have been waiting to read a Discworld book in which Death was the central character and I wasn't disappointed. After finishing this book I can't wait to see what else Pratchett has up his sleeve for Discworld.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nick ertz
It's Hogswatchnight, the most magical night of the year, but the Hogfather, who is usually out on his sleigh delivering gifts to everyone, is missing. The Assassins' Guild has been acting fishy, and a small group led by a man who is psychotic even by Assassins' Guild standards, is definitely up to something.

The longer the Hogfather is missing, the more the balance of magic and faith and belief in the world gets out of whack. Strange things are happening, and few understand the ramifications of dispatching the Hogfather.

Death, with his strange fondness for humanity, has a clear grasp of the danger of a world without a Hogfather. He is one of those who sees the motivation as well as the end result of doing away with the Hogfather, and he is determined that Hogswatchnight will go on as planned.... even if he has to become the Hogfather himself.

Thus begins a wildly amusing tale of Death trying to act the way he thinks the Hogfather acts, much to the exasperation of his faithful servant and chief elf. Death's granddaughter, Susan, is also exasperated and angry that she is somehow being dragged into this situation when all she wanted to do was pretend to be a normal nanny who often battles monsters that spring from the imaginations of her charges. The wizards of Unseen University are hot on the trail of whatever imbalance is causing much distress in their locked compound as they try to enjoy the holiday.

Together this assorted group of folks must figure out where the Hogfather is and how to bring him back in time to save the humanity of the world from total destruction.

The characters in this story are fantastic. I loved the way they interacted with each other, and I especially enjoyed the way that Death approaches the world around him. The book amused me all the way through.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rita heikens
This is the fourth book in the Discworld series, and the first of the "Death" Saga. It follows the character Death (who is, in fact, the personification of death, and quite resembles the Grim Reaper) and the young man he chooses as his apprentice, Mort.

I nearly died laughing while reading this book. And I have to say, although I did enjoy the first three books in the Discworld series, this was the first one that I thought was truly hilarious. The satire was on point, the descriptions of Ankh-Morpork were deliciously (or perhaps disgustingly) ripe, and the characters thoroughly enjoyable. It wasn't just funny, though; it had some excellent character development, some surprising twists, and explored deeper themes about what it means to be the person dealing out death without actually deciding who dies.

One of the lines repeated several times in the book is that "There is no justice. There is only [death]." The main plot of the story is a deconstruction of all that this implies, about good or innocent people dying while their murderers go on living, and whether the personification of Death has any real choice in the matter of who lives and who dies. After all, it's not so much that Death chooses - everyone's lives on the Discworld are measured by the sand in their hourglasses. Death's job is just to gather the souls once their sand runs out. Because of this, there is also a strong theme of the battle between personal choice and destiny.

Bottom line, I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in any of the above themes, and who wouldn't mind a good dose of humor along the way. It isn't really necessary to read the first three Discworld books in order to understand this one, as it is the first installment in the Death Saga, but reading the others will give some added depth to the world this story is set in.

Review of the Kindle version: I did come across a few typos and formatting errors, mostly when the font switched to Death's special font. There is a table of contents, but there are No. Chapters. It's simply the design of the book; you have the section "Begin Reading," which contains the entirety of the story, and after is the author bio, a list of books by Terry Practchett, the copyright page, and a publisher bio. While at first I was gobsmacked by the utter lack of chapters, the story is divided by scene, and it's a very fast read, so I didn't notice the lack of chapters so much. Also, I can't seem to remember if other Discworld books are similarly formatted, so it might just be a Discworld thing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alejandra maria
This was my first Discworld book, recommended to me by GamerMom. If you haven't read Pratchett's series, and you like satirical humor, you need to check out this universe. And Hofather is a wonderful gateway book.

One of the nice things about Discworld is that you can jump in anywhere. Yes, there's a lot of characters that are in several books, with complicated backstories, methods, and motives. But it's not necessary to start anywhere in particular. Pratchett does a great job of letting the story bring out the characters, and you might not know WHY Susan is forced to enter the picture at first, you will understand it completely as you go along.

Now for Hogfather: A skewed and slanted take on Christmas, this focuses more on the pagan traditions that predate and provide a foundation for the current implementation Christmas. The Hogfather (yes, Santa), has gone missing, and Death (the personification) has stepped in to cover for him. If that sounds odd, it's not even the tip of the iceberg.

Look for a wonderful set of winding stories including the Tooth Fairy, the OhGod of Hangovers, wizards, and I guarantee you'll never see the world Teatime in the same way again.

Whether you're into Christmas as it is or not, this book treats the holiday evenly, focusing mostly on the gift-giving and how different classes give and receive. Enjoy Albert as the best elf since Legolas (ok, maybe not), and expect to buy more Discworld books quickly after putting this one to bed. Sugarplums and all.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
samadacus
I've been loving the Discworld novels, reading them thus far in publication order. I really feel that Pratchett is starting to hit his stride with this one.

What happens when Death seeks an apprentice? It may be that only Pratchett would think to ask, and even more likely that only he would come up with an answer that makes me and my 13 year old both laugh aloud (though not necessarily at the same bits. It may be best not to know sometimes). If The Color of Magic: A Discworld Novel (Discworld Novels) reminded me a lot of Douglas Adams, with Rincewind about as much in control of his destiny as Arthur Dent, Mort is more intentional and funnier, even while it has a darkish theme (though less dark than you might expect with Death as a main character). Without spoiling anything, there is a scene where Death, tired of his job, is interviewing with a head-hunter for placement in a new line of work. Discussion of his work experience is absurd, outrageous, and hilarious.

Despite his best efforts, however, the book is not really about Death. The title character, Mort, becomes Death's apprentice by chance and default, but is not content just to be blown by the winds of fate. Mort struggles from the beginning to take control of his destiny, and if he screws it up big time (nearly destroying the world, or possibly the universe, in the process), he does it with a reasonable idea of the outcome he wants. And when fate seems to be overcoming his desires, he pulls out an impressive amount of will-power to remain his own man.

Mort's love-life is perhaps the least convincing aspect of the story, yet even that feels to me surprisingly real--he's a teen, with limited ideas about what love should look like. I won't say more on that subject lest I offer a spoiler. (Note to self: ask teen sons what they thought of the romance. If they noticed it.) I gave the book four stars because I save five for perfection, and I think Pratchett will get there. But I'd make it 4.5 if I could. Recommended for readers who like humor, from about age 12 up.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jamie steele brannon
In his satire of Christmas, Terry Pratchett writes with enough naïvety to humor a child and enough off-color jokes to make any adult chuckle. Though I believe the story could have benefited from a narrower scope of storytelling, the mayhem is actually an important aspect of the plot. In the Discworld Universe, I believe Death is the most interesting character. While "Hogfather" is centered on DEATH, there are not enough great DEATH moments in this book to justify 5 stars.

Tbe basic premise for the plot is the Hogfather is "dead". Wanting to preserve the natural order of the universe, Death must take over the yearly duty and attempt to restore the Hogfather. On the Hogswatch Eve tour of duty, DEATH is startled by the lack of belief that he encounters in his interactions with humans. Think of Miracle on 34th Street with a DEATH as Santa and hogs instead of reindeer. Death takes it upon himself to restore belief and goes to some outrageous lengths to do so.

Mixed into the plot is the return of DEATH's granddaughter Susan who is a little disturbed by the new chief operating officer of the holiday. Various gods and wizards, as is the tradition of Discworld novels, also bring their brands of chaos to the story. Whether unlocking mysterious new restrooms or conquering hangovers, the jokes are distributed generously.

In the Pratchett catalog, this is known as one of the best. While Pratchett's brand of humor is not for everybody, certainly everybody needs at least a little mayhem in their lives.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
robinne lee
This was my first Terry Pratchett novel so I was unsure what to expect. I will say that the magnificent world that he creates is easy to fall into and understand, even though it is extremely quirky and strange. The characters are all very developed and the story itself is intricate but easy to understand. Towards the end of the book things get crazy and a bit confusing, though at the end all is explained. I feel like this was a good novel to start with if you are new to his work like I was.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cassie s
The cosmic auditors are back, but instead of going after Death they are going after the Hogfather, the jolly fat man who gives children toys on Hogswatchday. They hire the Ankh-Morpork assassin's guild to do the Hogfather in, and the assassin's guild farms the task out to Jonathan Teatime, a creepy assassin with a glass eye who is casual in his killing and has just the sort of warped mind that could actually figure out how to off a mythical figure like the Hogfather. Teatime picks up some thugs, and off the go to wreak hell on the Hogfather.

Well, the Hogfather is not killed but is much reduced, and his place is vacant, and Death decides to step in and do his job. Death in a red Santa suit is a scary thought, but he gets into the spirit of the thing (ho, ho, ho) and is ably assisted by Albert, who fills him in on the finer points of the job. At the same time Death's granddaughter becomes curious about what happened to the Hogfather. Joined by her associates, the raven and the Grim Squeaker, she tracks Teatime and his henchmen and puts a crimp in their plans. In the end Teatime has taken Death's own sword and thinks to do Death in, but Susan saves the day. Through it all the wizards of Unseen University have bit parts and do their thing, mucking about and making a muddle, and the god of hangovers helps Susan in her tasks.

This book is funnier than the last one in the Death series, *Soul Music*, and often had me laughing out loud. I find Pratchett's work to be uneven; some books really have me going, and some are merely average. This was one of the better books. Death playing Hogfather is full of funny possibilities, and Pratchett riffs on these ably as the night of Hogswatch wears on. Death does not like the way things are and rails against the death of a match girl and the unfairness of poor children getting nothing for Hogswatch. He tries to make solutions to these problems, annoying Albert greatly but also doing something about the social injustices of the Discworld. Death is as always a very sympathetic character, and the fact that he doesn't quite *get* humanity just points out how human he ultimately really is. A good book, a fun book, and one that I can recommend.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mollie
Hogfather (now a major television drama series), is Discworld no. 20 and a continuation of this mind-blowing otherworldly creation that Pratchett is famous for. This brilliant novel is a festive feast of darkness and death (but with jolly robins and tinsel too!), complete with the energy of `the Hitch-hiker's guide to the galaxy' and the inventiveness of `Alice in Wonderland'. Full of intelligent wit and a truly original grim and comic grasp of the nature of things, Pratchett's work continues to not disappoint.

Synopsis ~

Where is the jolly fat man? Why is death creeping down chimneys and trying to say ho, ho, ho? The darkest night of the year is getting a lot darker...Susan the gothic governess has got to sort it out by morning; otherwise there won't be a morning, ever again...

Intensely dramatic and nail-bitingly gripping this exciting story was one that caused the hairs on the back of my arms to stand-up. The dynamic build-up to a climatic crescendo was written so perfectly that it causes you to instinctively shuffle to the edge of your seat and unconsciously turn the pages quicker. Terry Pratchett's satirical outlook and dry humor is unequalled with any other writer, and it is this uniquely identifiable style that makes his work reach out to such a diverse readership. Colorful and clever, this is a tale with a suspenseful sinister backdrop and darkly delicious detail which makes the unfolding events seem so `real'.

Utterly compelling and convincing this highly readable story is another triumphant success by truly accomplished author, whose creative imagination and vision is second to none.

I would highly recommend this as an astonishingly fabulous read, together with the television drama series which certainly does it credit.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
steven kay
Mort is the story of a gangly young man who becomes Death's apprentice. If you are familiar with Discworld, you may know Death - tall guy, boney, wears a black cloak, often seen with a scythe and in the company of a white horse named Binky. He is the anthropomorphic personification of the ultimate and final reality - and he likes kittens.

In this story, Death apparently wants an apprentice for two reasons. One is that he has an adopted daughter, Ysabell, whom he thinks could use some company. The backstory for this is vague, but it seems that Death either took pity on her or was simply curious after he `collected' her parents. It's hard to tell with him sometimes. He has a wonderfully odd way of looking at things.

The other reason to have an apprentice is that he wants a break from the `duty.' This turns out less well than Death might have hoped. On his first solo mission to free souls from their mortal anchors, Mort does something wrong. He saves a young princess from the knife of the assassin fated to kill her, and this disrupts the interrelated web of causality and creates a cosmic paradox. The world thinks she's dead, but because of Mort's intervention, she's not, at least not from a biological perspective. This leads to complications.

Like many of Pratchett's books, Mort is full of clever wordplay and philosophical humor. For example, at one point Mort says, "I've heard about boredom, but I've never had a chance to try it." This cracks me up because it's dryly funny in the context of the story, but it also philosophically insightful, or at least I found it so. This book is filled with such little Easter eggs, little bits of prose that provoke a smile in passing but can be opened to find even more inside them.

This, in my opinion, is one of the best of Pratchett's books, the worst of which are some of the most enjoyable stories I've ever read. I highly recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
yianni
Mort is about Death, and Death's apprentice, Mortimer (Mort for short). The plot is pretty simple: Death takes an apprentice and teaches him the ropes and lets him go out on missions to gather the souls of the dead. Mort does pretty well but falls for a princess whose soul he is supposed to harvest, and instead of collecting her soul Mort kills the assassin who was supposed to kill her, and thus saves her life and interferes with destiny. Destiny will repair itself in about a week's time by killing the princess anyway and reasserting events with Mort's little bungle edited out, and the race is on for Mort to try to find a way to save the princess for good while not admitting to Death what he did.

In the meantime, Death has been feeling down lately and is looking for a change. He tries line dancing, and gambling, and getting drunk, and can't see the point in any of these activities. Finally he becomes a short-order cook, which makes him happy. He abdicates his duties as Death, leaving Mort and his allies to figure out the full scope of Death's responsibilities in a big hurry and then to carry them out. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on the princess, who is about to die a second time. Can Mort find a way to save the princess for good, while fulfilling his responsibilities as Death's apprentice and honoring his allies and friends?

I enjoyed this book right up to the end, which is rushed and doesn't do a very good job of sorting out the book's love triangle. Things just suddenly tie themselves up and come to a hasty resolution, which feels forced and unnatural. There are a lot of chuckles in this book, so it's worth it as a read, but this is a minor Pratchett work that is barely worth reading.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
dympna byrne
While another reviewer panned this book because it resembled Monty Python, I guess it's probably exactly that aspect that appeals to me.

I am working my way through the Discworld series and enjoying the humor. In some ways, it's not really the actual storyline that matters; it is simply a hoot to see how the author approaches life and wordplay.

Pratchett is an exceptionally funny author, and if you’re not watching…er…reading carefully, you’ll miss some subtleties such as the Princess who peed through twelve mattresses (chapters later, Mort said he didn't think that sounded right).

I enjoyed the scenes of Death as a short-order cook, as a catlover, trying to learn what it means to have fun and also getting drunk. Death talking in ALL CAPITALS set quite a tone as did the scritching in the living books stretching back to cavemen.

Personally, I was not enamored of the character Mort, but will be interested to see how the Death series evolves.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
greg crites
By far one of the best in the (25+ book) series. It's not the funniest and it isn't the zaniest, but it shows Discworld and Pratchett mixing humor and insight in beautiful ways.

The book cam be summed-up in its four most powerful words: "Old gods, new jobs."

We've heard about the Hogfather throughout the series--he's a Santa-like character who comes and visits during midwinter for children to appreciate. Someone wants him dead and Death gets involved trying to keep things together.

Along the way we get the expected Death behavior--equal parts sardonic observation and broad slapstick--and the wonderful interactions of our Usual Gang of Suspects, but the story builds to a reminder that our civilised rituals come from somewhere. And that the figures we see today used to be very different. Anyone messing with the happy, present-bringing Hogfather should remember the dark midwinter rituals that created him.

Death has been around a while. He knows what's happening. As always in Discworld, watch Death. He isn't the fool he pretends to be.

Discworld always has a lot to say about human nature. Hogfather is one of the few that focus on the "what we believe" aspect, as opposed to "what we do" Small Gods and the less-effective Pyramids are the other two in the "gods trilogy"; Night Watch joins their company now.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ethan
I confess immediately that I am addicted to Pratchett and greatly enjoyed almost all of the Discworld novels - and here is what I consider his second best (number 1 in my book being "Small gods"). And Pratchett's second best is still a great masterpiece.

The story is quite simple - on the Discworld there is no Christmas, but instead there is the (almost identical) Hogwatch Night. So the local Santa Claus is of course called the Hogfather. And this year there is a major problem - the Hogfather is missing and there is an urgent need for a remplacement, a back up, an interim, whatever, but the Hogwatch Night must go on! Children are waiting for their toys and a merry "ho, ho, ho".

Now, in order to replace the Hogfather, the candidate must have some important qualities. He must be a supernatural being. He must have the ability to be in many places in the same time. He must be able to travel instantly from one point to another. He must have a long experience in supernatural work necessary to keep the world in order. And the most important - he must have a 100% success in his previous line od duty. So, what do you think, who will get the job? Well, I am certain you have already guessed...

The very idea of replacing the Hogfather (Santa Claus) by... well, the guy who replaces him, was already a great idea. But it gets better. The author actually managed to keep this idea under good control, avoiding all the traps and producing an incredible amount of smart gags, funny jokes and delicious one liners, when in the same time always keeping the good taste and never allowing himself even one vulgarity. Great achievement!

But after all, most of Pratchett books are like that. So, what makes this one a masterpiece? For me it is the "haute cuisine" moment. Now, Pratchett always claimed that "cuisine" and food are two different things - and in this book he proves his point, describing the best and the most expensive restaurant in Ankh Morpork struggling to serve dinner to customers without any real food! Some knowledge of French will be required to appreciate this fragment of the book (or at least a French English dictionary) but otherwise this is probably the most intelligent and funniest (the most tasty) gag in all Pratchett's works until now.

To conclude, this work is a treasure - go get it! There is no excuse - you have to read it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nashellej
I was picking at the edges of the Discworld-verse, reluctant and wondering if I should make the time and monetary investment involved in exploring this vast world that for some reason I hadn't explored as of yet.

The books are not in a helpful serial order, so there is some intimidation and confusion on where to break into the world. I looked up (and was pointed to) a handy chart that is available on the internet with a simple [Enter your favorite search engine here] search.

There are several arcs that happen, and they weave through each other and touch tangential so it feels like there's no one riht way in (there be dragons that one way though).

So, you see, the character of Death gets to star in one arc. Since Discworld is a lot like our world only different, Death is a familiar archetype twisted. He has all our trappings, but also has a servant, an adopted daughter, and in this book he takes on an apprentice: the titular Mort.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is one of those books that I have had trouble finding since graduate school sucked the fun out of fiction -- it is engaging and lively enough that I turn off my critical capacity and I just enjoy the ride. Here I didn't think about the author's intentions or look at the decisions he made about the plot and the characters. I just laughed; I kept turning pages.

Ultimately, the best review I can give this book, and that of my experience of the Discworld so far follows: I was half-way through this book when I bought the next two books in the "Death" story-arc. I'm worried though. If I finish those too soon, there's no way I can get the next ones until after the weekend. It is Thursday already.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
soroush majd
I've watched The Hogfather so many times. It's practically becoming a Christmas tradition for me. Naturally, I've been both aching and dreading to read the book. I just knew I'd end up comparing them to each other.
So I was pleasantly surprised that they hadn't altered the story too much for TV. Of course, there are extra scenes/characters that didn't make it onto the screen, which makes the book more enjoyable.
Mr Teatime is well ... he's weird in the movie. In the book, he's downright creepy. Even with knowing what's going to happen in the end, I'm just waiting for him to jump out and do something unexpected.
Death is as enjoyable as ever. Though his inability to get the mixed ideals behind Hogswatch is a bittersweet thing, I'm sure he instilled a heavy dose of belief while out and about as the Hogfather. At least, a heavy dose of something. ^_^ Belief is an important factor in this book nevertheless.
And then there's Susan ... I wasn't sure about this character the last time I'd a book with her in it (Soul Music). But she's much better in this. A good person to have in dealing with Oh Gods, childish old wizards and an insane assassin bent on taking over the world with teeth.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
pam mastin
I've been avoiding the work of Terry Pratchett for several years. I don't know why. Maybe it's because, when I learned about him, my first thoughts were "I already read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Maybe my thoughts strained against the idea that fantasy should be treated with humor and a light touch. I'll probably never know, but, as of today, I'm no longer unfamiliar with Terry Pratchett. I read (on the recommendation of fark.com--don't ask) Pratchett's fourth novel: a book called Mort. The book takes place in the fantasy land called Discworld, which rides on the back of four elephants, who of course stand on the back of the great turtle A'Tuin. The entire land is surrounded by a waterfall that pours forever into space.

The hero of the story is an all-elbows teenaged redhead named Mortimer, or "Mort" as he often reminds acquaintances. His father believes him to be likeable, but generally worthless, so he takes him to the marketplace to begin an apprenticeship to anyone who will have him. His new master, it turns out, is Death, in all his dark-cloaked, skeleton-faced scythe-wielding badness. Death, it turns out, has need of a vacation as much as an apprentice. Death is lonely and friendless; apart from his adopted daughter and aged servant Albert, he has no interaction with anyone except when it is time for them to die. Much too soon, Death hands the reins over to the young lad.

As in all apprentice stories, there are rules about these things: you can't muck about with fate. When it's time for someone to go, it's time for them to go. To do anything else could cause a rift in space/time. Also, as in all apprentice stories, the lad almost immediately takes a liking to a princess and (maybe inadvertently?) ends the life of her assassin instead of her. Meanwhile, where Death (WHO ALWAYS SPEAKS IN ALL CAPS!) tries a series of experiments with the things humans find pleasurable: first tying fishing flies, then sampling dozens of alcoholic beverages, quizzing a celebrant about the concept of "fun," and finally becoming a short-order cook at a local pub. Death's interview with the employment agent provided one of the funniest scenes of the book, and the gem of a line: "It would seem that you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever... Have you thought of going into teaching?"

Pratchet doesn't often let his comedy get in the way of telling the story. From chapter to chapter, I never was sure what I'd read next. Pratchett occasionally allows his narrator to break through the Fourth Wall: at one point, making reference to ancient literature like Shakespeare, or ancient lore (St George and the Dragon, for example). Often Death speaks of modern science or science-fiction ideas, which befuddle the decidedly-medieval populace of Discworld. Sometimes you get the feeling the author is trying too hard to land a laugh. We read incidental rambles like this one: "He reasoned like this: you can't have more than one king, and tradition demands that there is no gap between kings, so when a king dies the succession must therefore pass to the heir instantaneously. Presumably, he said, there must be some elementary particles -- kingons, or possibly queons -- that do this job, but of course succession sometimes fails if, in mid-flight, they strike an anti-particle, or republicon. His ambitious plans to use his discovery to send messages, involving the careful torturing of a small king in order to modulate the signal, were never fully expanded because, at that point, the bar closed" and they occur slightly too often for my taste. Sometimes he also goes for the easy laugh: "Sodomy non sapiens," said Albert under his breath. "What does that mean?" "I'm buggered if I know." As I said, though, none of this manages to detract from the story. I found myself grinning throughout the novel. Pratchett has considerable facility with similes. Early in the book, Mort is described as having "the same talent for horticulture as you'd find in a dead starfish," with a "body that is only marginally under its owner's control--it seemed to have been made out of knees." And thus it begins. The line is not an auspicious one as Adams calling the people of earth a race "who still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea" Still, I found Pratchett's cadence for humor, and it wasn't overdone or didn't detract from the story. In that by itself, my fears were never realized. I enjoyed the novel, and would read a few more of the many, many Discworld books he's written.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
deema
I have to say I liked this book of the Discworld series. Although technically the fourth book in the series, this could be read as a stand-alone quite easily. The only thing you really need to know about Discworld is that its a disc shaped world, held up by four elephants who in turn are on the back of a giant turtle, and it's a magical world.

Mort is kind of hopeless. All lanky limbs and awkward he definitely can't go into the family business, all his hopes as an apprentice are quickly dashed when the job market doesn't yield a prospective employer for him. Then, when all hope is lost, and the clock chimes midnight, Death comes for him. But its ok, really, Death just wants to take him on as an apprentice (although I'm not sure why). He gets to travel back with Death to his home where he meets his man servant Albert (who is more than meets the eye), his daughter Ysabell (very stubborn and willful and who Albert WILL NOT be set up with if he has his way), and of course learns a little more about Death himself.

With all his training comes great responsibility however. When he's not mucking out the stalls for Death's horse he is learning how to be there for important deaths. The training goes so well that Death decides to take a vacation and Mort will be in charge. This doesn't go so well though as Mort doesn't carry through on the death of beautiful princess Keli and throws the whole world askew. With death enjoying himself in the kitchen, he has to figure out a way to restore balance to Discworld.

The characters in this book, with the exception of Death, are only so-so in this book. I didn't really enjoy any of them. More detail would have been greatly appreciated and would have helped develop them better. Ysabell was annoying and Mort was just awkward. Death on the other hand, was fantastic. He was very stoic but also had a unique way of approaching the world that made him absolutely hilarious.

Pratchett's writing was much better in this novel. I found parts funnier than in the other's of his I read and the story came together cohesively. Then he spoiled it with the ending. I don't want to give much away but it was such a cheap way of finishing the story I just couldn't like it. It almost ruined the rest of the book for me.

I look forward to the next book in this series and hope they keep improving. It seems that there is a reason why movies have been made and a large fan base formed for this series, and I'm finally starting to see it.

Mort
Copyright 1987
236 pages

Review by M. Reynard 2011
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
handian
The Auditors, strange beings that find life gets far too much in the way of the running of the universe, hire an assassin to kill the Hogfather (the Discworld equivalent of Santa). Death, realising there will be more serious consequences to the Hogfather's disappearance than empty stockings on Hogswatch morning, steps into the Fat Man's role. Meanwhile, Death's grand-daughter, Susan, takes a break from trying to act "normal" in order to find out what has happened to the real Hogfather.

The book is full of interesting characters and has a layered plot that kept me reading. Death is the stand-out character for me, equal parts clueless and canny, but the Wizards are also fun to read. There's also a fair bit of Discworld's "anthropomorphic personification" (the idea that imagining a creature brings it into existence), which is echoed in Neil Gaiman's American Gods - nothing to do with the book, but something I thought was interesting and I'd love to know if it was an inspiration to Gaiman.

All in all, this is an alternative Christmas tale that is both funny and clever, I really enjoyed reading this book.

Note: I also posted this review to Goodreads.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
behemothing
This is an early Discworld novel, which I read in Kindle format. The Kindle format isn't the best for the Discworld series because too often the footnotes, the side comments that contain so much of the humor, don't show up. The notes seem to be there, but the asterisks are missing. That makes the difference between laugh out loud brilliance and simple good natured writing.

At the same time, this is one of the Discworld novels that isn't focused on Ank Morpork, Sam Vimes, and the Watch. That's clearly a matter of individual taste -- and I find that the novels with the city focus tend to be the funniest. At least this one features DEATH (I'm not emphasizing, DEATH always speaks that way) and his horse Binky. It has a great deal of charm, and if the character development seems to happen too quickly, it's still fun to read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
becky bonfield
Mort by Terry Pratchett
Signet, 1987
181 pages
Discworld; Comedy; Fantasy
4/5 stars

Source: Library

Summary: Mort has been chosen as an apprentice to Death. As Mort tries to tamp down his human side (which keeps insisting on fairness), Death tries to experience the life of a human. Neither is quite successful and Death and Mort end up dueling. But all ends well in Discworld!

Thoughts: This is actually the fourth Discworld novel to be published. I'm more familiar with Pratchett's later work so it was interesting to read a book from the start of the series. I was super excited about this because Death is my favorite character in Discworld (well tied with Moist von Lipwig). He is an anthropomorphic personification and he is so much better in these books than in other books which have also used Death as a character. In this book, he takes Mort on as an apprentice. Mort is introduced to the mysterious Albert and to Death's daughter Ysabell. On one of his first solo jobs, Mort accidentally doesn't kill a princess which sets in motion the main plot.

Meanwhile Death is off trying to experience happiness through gambling, drinking, and other human activities. He also has a fondness for cats, which endears him even more to me; you know, people can be so mean to cats sometimes and it just breaks my heart.

You can kind of tell that it's an early book because it's so narrowly focused; I feel like the later books I've read tie together more strings and are just generally more ambitious. That doesn't make this a bad book; it's just one of the differences I noticed.

Overall: A good entry in the Discworld series; recommended for fans of Death.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lauralee
Mort, the child of a farmer, did not really show any aspiration to follow in the footsteps of his father. His problem was not that he didn't have the will, but more that he kept thinking too long before doing anything. Giving up all hope to ever achieve anything useful, his father sent him to a local hiring fair in the hope to land him an apprenticeship. But even that did almost turn out to be a disaster. Almost. Luckily just before the market was about to close, a rather peculiar entity showed up and addressed him in CAPITALS. To the other people this person looked like an undertaker, but Mort saw right through it... literally.

This fourth book of the popular Discworld series was elected as one of the most beloved books in the BBC's 2003 Big Read contest. And that is arguably due to the character of Dead. It's the first of the Death series, although Death himself already appeared briefly in the previous books, and elaborates on the fantastic world of Death also known as Death's Domain. It also introduces some strange concepts like the `reannual plants', plants you have to sow one year after you harvest them. It's these kind of crazy idea's that make Mort such a wonderful gem of a book. Nevertheless, the actual story tends to get pushed a bit to the background, which sometimes leads to a quite difficult to comprehend story arc. Luckily the denouement gets first price in shedding some light on this chaotic story. At least that is what I thought... or maybe it was not and I got completely transcendental too. Who's talking there in capitals?
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mzola17
To people who have never read a Discworld novel, I always recommend they skip the first three novels (The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Equal Rites)and start with Mort. Pratchett writes the Discworld novels as a series of threads with a small collection of one-off novels. The novels are not written in chronological order. He may do a sequel to one novel and then some time later do a sequel to an earlier novel.

Mort starts what I call the Death thread and my daughter calls the Susan thread, Susan (Death's Granddaughter) being her favorite character. It continues with Reaper Man, Soul Music, Hogfather, and Thief of Time. Although the events of these novels interact with the events in his other Discworld novels, (Thief of Time, for instance sets up the events in Night Watch) it is not necessary to have read the others to enjoy these. Nor (I stress this) is it necessary, or even desirable, to read the novels in published order.

Why skip the first three published novels? In my opinion, Pratchett started out writing mediocre parody of other fantasy authors, (Fritz Leiber, Anne McCaffrey, Robert E. Howard, among others) but then, something really clicked with Mort - starting out as a parody of Death Takes a Holiday, it takes an abrupt turn and becomes something truly original and compelling -- funny, sad, silly, and truly suspenseful. The Discworld novels after Mort, with only a couple exceptions, got better and better until Pratchett reached his peak with Night Watch, a novel which transcends fantasy and becomes Literature.

If you must know what happens in the first two novels, see the movie The Colour of Magic released early 2008 on British television, which covers both books. The movie is better than the books. :-)

Mort -- Highly recommended, and the start of a journey you will enjoy immensely.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
larry rosen
Much like every book I have read by Pratchett, I enjoyed every page and ever word of this one. The plot here on these reviews had been done to death (no pun intended), so I will be brief in that aspect. Death, one of my favorite Pratchett characters, decides to take some time off and selects an apprentice, an unlikely lad that cannot find employment anywhere else, to take over his duties. So begins the career of Mort, the chosen one.

This work is filled with the usual plethora of characters, most new, but some old favorites. Again we are reading an author who's imagination is almost limitless and humor is quirky, to say the least. Some of the ideas put forth in this work are rather mind-bending and I certainly could not say for certain that I understood all that happened, but that is a part of the charm of reading this author's books. The mixture of fantasy and reality skate along a thin line and the satire is both blatant and hidden; to the point of being down right sneaky. At times you come across paragraphs such as:

"Harga's House of Ribs down by the docks is probably not numbered among the city's leading eateries, catering as it does for the type of beefy clientele that prefers quantity and breaks up the tables if it doesn't get it. The don't go in for the fancy of exotic, but stick to conventional foods like flightless bird embryos, minced organs in intestine skins, slices of hog flesh and burnt ground grass seeds dipped in animal fats: or, as it is known in their patois, egg, soss and bacon and fried slice."

This paragraph is obvious, although I found it quite funny when I read it. You have to pay very close attention to the one liner though, which the author slips in here and there and must be read in the context of the paragraph or page they are written on. It is like finding little treasures hidden here and there. Another review used one of my favorite examples of the short, double take statements that Pratchett uses. Albert, one of the characters, mutters under his breath "s*odomy non sapiens" and Mort asks him what that means. Albert's answer is so typically Pratchett, "Buggered if I know." This is one of many, many delightful little gems.

One of the biggest draw to these books is the wonderful mixture of silly geography, science, magic and Godly whims that rule Disc World. Many of the situations make no sense at all; yet at the very same time can be perfectly logical, if looked at from a certain angle. The author is a master of this. The author is a Master Story Teller, and I feel that this is what makes the big difference and sets Pratchett apart from so many other authors in this genre. Now these books and this author may not be for everyone. I truly feel you have to have a sort of odd outlook on life to receive the full benefit of these reads. Everyone should try at least one or two of these books though, just of find where you stand in the scheme of things.

This is a good read; one of many this author has produced.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
elinor laforge
Young Mort is unsuited to follow in his father's footsteps, so it put up to apprentice in another trade. Unexpectedly, Death himself decides to train up Mort as a neophyte Grim Reaper so he can have a few days off. After all, what could go wrong? Well, as it turns out...

Mort was the point that a lot of people started taking more notice of the Discworld series. Smaller in scale than the first three books, Mort features Death as a main character and some thoughts and meditations on the nature of death and what may (or may not) come after. This is Pratchett in a more thoughtful mood, but he doesn't neglect the comedy. There are quite a few funny moments and passages, and we meet some more soon-to-be-iconic Discworld characters like Albert as well. But it's the serious thinking about life and the place of people within it that makes Mort stand out a little bit more than some of the other early books. Pratchett is also quite disciplined here, with a focused and tight plot that doesn't ramble like some of his other novels (which is sometimes entertaining, sometimes not), and this works quite well.

Mort is also interesting as the Discworld book that has been optioned several times as a big-budget Hollywood movie, but Hollywood has so far been unable to make it as they decided they wanted to remove Death from the book as his presence would be too much of a downer for American audiences to handle. Unsurprisingly and possibly thankfully, the film has never been made.

Mort (***½) is a step-up in quality from the first three books, with Pratchett stretching his author's muscles and discovering some new and interesting tools in his writing box. The next phase of the Discworld series, a more solidly entertaining and interesting series of works leading up to the series' first undisputed classics, begins here.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tuyet
I'm currently reading/rereading the entire run of Discworld books, in order. I previously had read about a third of all the books, but nowhere close to any order. Death probably appears in more books than any other character in the series, and plays a major role in five of the titles in the series, this being the first. This is the first one where we learn much about Death, where he lives, what rules governs his vocation, and his associates (like Albert). And, we learn the delightful name of Death's fearful steed: Binky.

Like all of Pratchett's books, I find myself less interested in the plot of this novel than in the way it builds up a little bit of the Discworld universe. I like out each book allows you to explore a little bit more of Discworld, of having the characters you know from one book interact with characters from another book, of learning a bit more about the mythology of the books. I can recall hundreds of little details about characters, ideas, places, species, guilds, and the like, but I am not sure I can remember more than one or two plots or any of the books. Pratchett is hardly the only writer of whom something like this holds true. Pretty famously Raymond Chandler is not regarded as very good at plot. You don't read FAREWELL MY LOVELY or THE GOODBYE LOOK in order to find out "what happens next." You read Chandler for his extraordinary characters, the amazingly seedy Los Angeles he describes, and his absolutely astonishing prose. Interestingly, I think the main reason we read Pratchett is for his delightfully odd characters, the way he describes the Discworld, and his hysterically funny prose. I don't think calling him the Raymond Chandler of comic fantasy would really help anyone understand his work, but they do share some similarities and virtues.

I'm not sure how long it will take me to read all the books in the series. I'm reading several books in between each Discworld book, so it may take me well over a year. So far I'm only reading a couple of Pratchett's books a month. But in a way this is a great thing. For the next year and a half I'll be able to visit Pratchett's nutty creation again and again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lies
Twas the night before Hogwatch, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring... because the only person stirring was Death in a Hogsfather costume.

With the possible exception of Tim Burton, only Terry Pratchett could come up with such a deliciously warped idea and actually make it work. "Hogfather" follows Pratchett's tradition of gutsplitting fantasy-satires, and manages to mingle plenty of unsentimental observations about human nature with a feel-good message -- not an easy thing to do, especially in a Christmas-related book.

On the night before Hogswatch, the Auditors enlist the Assassins' Guild for a very special job: "delete" the Hogfather (think a tusked Santa Claus). For this, Lord Downey calls on the psychotically childlike Mr. Teatime -- and soon Death finds that the Hogfather has vanished. So he takes on the Hogfather's duties for the night, much to the disgust of his granddaughter Susan, who is trying hard to have a normal life.

But realizing that something is very seriously wrong with the world, Susan begins investigating terrible reasons that the Hogfather has vanished: belief in him has somehow vanished from the world, courtesy of Mr. Teatime, a locksmith, a wizard and a little gang of thieves. And the wizards discover that strange creatures are coming into existence, such as the Verruca Gnome and the Eater of Socks (not to mention Bilious, the Oh God of Hangovers).

Now Susan must somehow find a way to bring back the Hogfather -- or else despite all Death's best efforts (AND WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR HOGSWATCH, SMALL HUMAN?) the world will lose much more than a jolly fat anthropomorphic personification.

"Hogfather" is quite recognizably a classic Discworld novel, with in-jokes, cameos by much-beloved characters, and a deeply weird sense of humor ("And who is Archchancellor of this University, may I ask? Is it Mrs Whitlow? I don't think so! Is it me? Why, how amazing, I do believe it is!"). And while the four main subplots seem scattered and sometimes unclear, as the book goes on they intertwine tightly and suddenly become very relevant to one another.

And since this is based on a Pratchett book, we're graced with some cynical views on humanity and the nature of belief -- and occasionally touching moments, like Death rescuing a little match girl. There's even a bittersweet edge near the end when Susan confronts the core of the Tooth Fairy's castle, and finds something very unexpected there.

But along the way, we're treated to plenty of hilarious dialogue (AND HAVE YOU BEEN A GOOD BO ... A GOOD DWA ... A GOOD GNO ... A GOOD INDIVIDUAL? the "Hogfather" asks Nobby), oddball characters and in-jokes (Bloody Stupid Johnson's bathroom). Barely a scene goes by without something to laugh at, whether it's Teatime's hysterically sick behavior or Death's attempts at yuletide jollity (including a list of things to do at each house, ending with a halfhearted HO HO HO).

The brilliant comedy hits a high note when Death invades a shopping mall's Grotto so he can have the children tell him what they want ("AND BE GOOD. THIS IS PART OF THE ARRANGEMENT. THEN WE HAVE A CONTRACT."), much to the dismay of the store owner.

Susan is not an entirely endearing heroine -- despite being efficient, strong and matter-of-fact, she's kind of chilly. But Death is always a lovable character, with his patchy understanding of human beings and his kindly personality... except to the Auditors ("When he spoke next, avalanches fell in the mountains. HAVE YOU BEEN NAUGHTY... OR NICE?"). The polite psycho Mr. Teatime makes an excellent villain, and Pratchett provides eccentric characters ranging from a hungover deity to the sweet, mentally-challenged Banjo.

"The Hogfather" is a Christmas story with a Discworld edge -- meaning it's funny and unique, but also riddled with deeper messages and sharp satire. Have you been naughty or nice?
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
penelly
In the fictional Discworld, which is carried by four elephants atop a giant turtle floating through space, what we would consider Christmas is known as Hogwatch. The jolly, bearded fat man in the red suit we would associate with Santa Claus is known as the Hogfather and drives a team of four boars instead of eight reindeer. This year, though, something has gone amiss--mainly the Hogfather himself--and so if the Hogfather looks as if he's lost a lot of weight it's because Death is standing in for him.

The plot itself for "Hogfather" sounds like one of those cheesy Christmas specials we used to see more of on television like "The Flintstones Save Christmas" or "Ernest Saves Christmas" or even "The Santa Clause" where some ordinary klutz has to fill in for Santa and bring toys and cheer to the good little boys and girls. But things are never that simple or straightforward in the Discworld. While the Grim Reaper is filling the Hogfather's boots, his "granddaughter" Susan goes in search of the Hogfather, which ultimately involves assassins and The Tooth Fairy. Meanwhile, at Unseen University, the school for wizards, strange things are happening like gods and fairies appearing out of thin air. (It makes slightly more sense when you read the book.)

The story centers not so much on "saving Christmas, er, Hogwatch" as on the nature of belief and how it changes over time. In particular is the concept of old gods serving new purposes. If you look back through history you can compare the roles of old gods like Zeus or Odin with the Christian God (or Jesus) or Hindu gods, and so forth. No matter the society or the religion humans have always had a need for belief in something, even if it's something ridiculous like a jolly fat man and a team of flying hogs.

There's a good moral as well in the story of Death learning to be Santa, er, Hogfather in that Christmas, er, Hogwatch doesn't always mean getting everything you want. Even as children a little disappointment is necessary to help us mature into adults. (You've seen what happens to people who get everything they want growing up with the Paris Hiltons of the world.)

So really what could have in lesser hands been rendered into a cheap, sappy Christmas special has been given far more meaning by Mr. Pratchett. Not to mention the book is hilarious and a breeze to read. Some of the things near the end were a little confusing, but overall this was a great read for the holidays.

I bought the British miniseries of this off the the store Black Friday sale; I hear the miniseries sticks pretty close to the book, which would be a good thing. Once it arrives I'll have to find out.

That is all.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tracy
I'm so happy to finally understand some of those pop culture references! In this book we get to learn a bit about the character of Death and more about the magic or science of Discworld. Even though Pratchett doesn't spend a lot of time describing the cities and locations, you get a real sense of area and how the characters feel about their quality of life. That's not something you get with many other writers and I think it's absolutely fabulous.

I listened to the audio version and I really love listening to Nigel Planer. He's got a real sense of the comedy and characters. I especially love his characterization of Death, in this book and in the first two.

Another adventure on Discworld.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary alfiero
Excuse the caps in the title, but the quote comes from Death himself, and as many of you know, the guy always speaks that way. It is really great to have a book in which one of the main characters is Death, my favorite one in Discworld. Death's sarcasm is one of the reasons why I like this series so much. But the old man is getting tired, and has decided to get an apprentice to alleviate some of the burden that rests on his shoulders.

Mort is a youngster that does not show much promise for any profession, so when Death shows up and offers him an apprenticeship, he is happy to take him up on it, and off he goes. Mort is a little thick at the beginning, but soon he shapes up. There is one thing that he does not tolerate, and that is people calling him boy, lad or any other way that is not his name, and he keeps reminding others of this fact. During his commission, he will have to take care of things when Death goes on vacation, and try to figure out the messes he creates by altering reality. Meanwhile Death is living the good life and there is the risk of him deciding not to come back. Imagine the repercussions!

Once again, Pratchett delivers a wonderful product in the Discworld series. Many of you already know the basics: flat world, shaped as pizza, standing on four elephants on top of a turtle, abyss at the horizon, many gods, etc. The parallelisms with our own world are merely coincidences, or aren't they? Anyway, the humor in this installment reaches an all time high, and the author showcases his talent for using different techniques to make us laugh out loud. Satire, pun, tongue-in-cheek, you name it, it is all here. Fans of the series will have a great time, and those that are new to it, what are you waiting for? You can start here, or go back to The Colour of Magic and read the books in order, either way you will have a blast.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sapphire
Terry Pratchett's Discworld does for Fantasy what Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy did for science fiction--firmly sets a story within a genre, stereotypes intact, then goes to town. Mort is the fourth book in the series, but stands on its own pretty well. Rincewind and the Unseen University make a minor appearance, and Death has appeared in the previous books, but other than that its pretty self-contained. Although the rules governing how Death operates don't really jive with what happened in The Colour Of Mag--*Slap!* Don't think about it! Death comes to all men in their time, but when he comes to Mort its to offer him a job as his apprentice. Soon Mort is handling the collection of souls, and Death takes a much-needed break....The problem is, when the time came for Sto Lat's Princess Keli to be assassinated, Mort found himself altering reality by saving her from the assassin. Now reality is trying to reassert itself, Mort is in over his head, and Death is nowhere to be found......
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tony pallone
I've decided he's too good and too prolific for me to write a brand new review every single time I read one of his books. Discworld currently has 34 titles and every one of them will probably knock your socks off. His mind bubbles and flashes like a boiling pot of electric eels, and I simply can't get enough of his writing.

A reviewer has compared him to Geoffrey Chaucer. He reminds me more of Douglas Adams, or perhaps S Morgenstern. Great company, isn't it? He's an extremely skillful and imaginative writer, damn funny, clever and observant to boot. He's also very easy to read. A master of characterization, and if there's anything else you like about reading that I didn't mention here, assume I simply forgot. He's awesome.

Another reviewer mentioned Jonathan Swift and PG Wodehouse. Why such hallowed company? Because Pratchett belongs there! Truly, I'm enjoying my quest to read every book in the series. You should do the same, and begin your quest at the library because he's got to be there. He's awesome!

Yet another reviewer said Jerome K Jerome meets Lord of the Rings. Yeah, that works too.

Why do we, as reviewers, compare authors to other authors? Because it's easier than thinking. In the case of Terry Pratchett, it's probably because we'd otherwise wind up quoting the guy. He's so unique that we just don't know how else to cope with his greatness. Even this paragraph sounds like foamy drool raving, doesn't it? That's how all readers react to Pratchett. Reviewers simply don't have the good sense to keep it to themselves.

I could call his writing fantasy, but I could likewise call what Douglas Adams wrote science fiction. In both cases, I wouldn't be wrong, but I'd be neglecting so much and just totally missing the point. A rare few authors transcend a genre to such a degree that you know they're shouting out, loud and proud, a big fat "Bite me!"

I love Terry Pratchett's writing, and I completely understand why some folks refer to him as their favorite author. Or favourite, I should say, since we're being British. He's one of those authors that makes you want to grab whoever's in hearing range and start reading passages aloud. I'm simply thrilled that there's such an extremely talented and prolific author who's been working for years without me being aware of him. Now I have much catching up to do, and I will love it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
yemma
It won't take any Pratchett fan very long to realize that our man Terry is trying something subtlely different in "Hogfather". For sure this book is slow to get off the ground. Much space at the beginning gets spent on Susan, along with the Raven and the Death of Rats, sequences that many fans may find lacking in traditional Pratchett humor. Elsewhere Death is filling in for the jolly Hogfather, who has died of a sort, and makes the mistake of giving some youngsters what they want rather than what their parents think they should want. The biggest laughs in the book come when the wizards show up, and join the search for the Hogfather together wtih an ant-powered mechanical computer named "Hex". And when a wayward comment brings in a board-game toting Cheerful Fairy determined to lighten the mood, I guarantee you enough side-splitting laughter to make up for any dull passages at the start.

But beneath all this, there is more. Pratchett has always snuck tinges of philosophy into his books. In "Small Gods" we learned that Gods only wield power so long as people believe in them. In "Pyramids" an unfortunate accident forced an entire kingdom to face its beliefs manifested in physical reality. In "Witches Abroad" we learned that fiction shapes people rather than the other way around. But in "Hogfather" he pushes the envelope further, asserting that all reality is make-believe, and all make-believe is reality, and furthermore that this is a good thing. It's a daring statement and a daring approach to life, one that will make small-minded folks sneer, and imaginative ones, at the very least, stretch their minds to a new place.

Terry Pratchett is brave. Not just a master of wit and a keen observer of human nature, he takes on everybody's most cherished institutions and sees how they were shaped by belief rather than reality. It's a thought that frightens us because it's like realizing that your house is built on quicksand. If the beliefs start to change, then the house can collapse. But the point of "Hogfather", the real point, is that we should be joyful at realizing how powerful our beliefs are, because once we reach that realization we are free from the tyranny of gods and of moral absolutes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jenny reading envy
"Mort" is the fourth book in Terry Pratchett's hugely popular Discworld series. He has gone on to win the Carnegie Medal for "The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents" and was awarded the OBE in 1998.

Death - tall guy, somewhat underfed, big grin, carries a scythe - appears in more Discworld books than any other character. However, "Mort" is the first where his appearance in anything other than a very brief cameo - though, admittedly, he remains one of the book's support characters. The book's hero is Mort, the youngest son of a farming family living on the Ramtops. He doesn't quite have the look of a typical hero : although tall and overly-helpful, he's also red-haired, freckled and largely built from knees. His family specialises in distilling wine from reannual grapes - you plant the seed this year and harvest the grape last year. (With the wine, you tend to get the hangover the morning before and need to drink quite a lot to get over it). Mort's lack of talent in the agricultural field (boom boom !), however, is causing some concern for his father. Hoping someone will hire him as an apprentice, Lezek takes his son to the hiring fair at Sheepridge on Hogswatch Night. Although Mort is the last one hired, he is probably the most aptly named apprentice - given that his new boss is Death himself.

Despite Mort's initial discomfort with the position - he doesn't have to be dead himself and the bones look is entirely optional - he decides to accept the position. Death also makes it clear he doesn't do the killing himself - that's up to assassins and soldiers, for example - he just takes over when people die. (He has, however, been known to murder a curry). Life (if that's what you call it) with Death is very strange. His home is designed, unsurprisingly, in varying shades of dark and is much bigger on the inside than on the outside. He also has a daughter called Ysabell and a butler called Albert - both human and not just skeletons - and a horse called Binky. All are also very much alive. The problems start when Mort starts shadowing his new boss at work - specifically, when they are due to escort King Olerv of Sto-Lat into the afterlife. The King has just been assassinated by his ambitious cousin the Duke of Sto-Helit. Unfortunately, Princess Keli is next on the Duke's hitlist and Mort's youthful hormones aren't too happy about this. As soon as Mort starts interfering, other questions start coming to mind - like where does Death get a daughter and why does he need an apprentice ?

Despite his profession, Death is one of the funniest characters on the Discworld. Although it's the first book to give him a starring role, it may prove a slight advantage to have read one or two of the other books. (Rincewind is a particular hobby of Death's so "The Colour of Magic" and "The Light Fantastic may be worth looking into). Very highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rebecca o flanagan
"Hogfather" is the twentieth book in Terry Pratchett's hugely popular Discworld series and was first published in 1996. He has gone on to win the Carnegie Medal for "The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents" and was awarded the OBE in 1998.

"Hogfather" is sometimes known as the third book in "The Death Trilogy". Like the trilogy's first two instalments ("Mort" and "Reaper Man") it gives Death - tall guy, somewhat underfed, carries a scythe, big grin - more than just a brief cameo. Like "Reaper Man", it's the Auditors who are causing problems. The Auditors are in charge of the universe : they see that atoms spin, that gravity works and that things move in curves. However, they hate life - especially humans (too many irregularities). In "Reaper Man", they wanted to force Death into retirement. This time, they want the Hogfather - Discworld's version of Father Christmas - `removed' from office (or grotto, perhaps). To this end, they've hired the disturbed (and disturbing) Mister Teatime from the Guild of Assassins to make sure he stays `removed'. Luckily, Death has discovered what's going on : with Hogswatch Night looming, the Grim Reaper dons a false beard, strategically places a cushion and takes control of the sleigh.

Death shares the spotlight, though : his new duties cause some problems for his grand-daughter, Susan Sto-Helit. Susan is working as a governess in Ankh-Morpork and, as part of her job, she regularly beats up the bogeyman with her trusty poker. In her free time, she occasionally drops into Biers for a drink ("Sometimes you want to go...where nobody knows your name"). It's in the pub that She's warned about her grandfather's strange behaviour by the Death of Rats and his eyeball-obsessed sidekick, Quoth the Raven. Initially, she isn't at all pleased to see the pair, but she has no choice but to get involved. The last time Death neglected his Duty, Susan was expected to take over...

Despite his profession, Death is one of the funniest characters the Discworld has to offer, and Hogfather sees Pratchett on top form. Quoth and Death of Rats are a welcome addition - they're a great double act. It may be a slight advantage to have read at least one from "Mort", "Reaper Man" or "Soul Music" before this (all are very funny) - however, even if you haven't you'll still find "Hogfather" hilarious. Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
biniberg
I've decided he's too good and too prolific for me to write a brand new review every single time I read one of his books. Discworld currently has 34 titles and every one of them will probably knock your socks off. His mind bubbles and flashes like a boiling pot of electric eels, and I simply can't get enough of his writing.

A reviewer has compared him to Geoffrey Chaucer. He reminds me more of Douglas Adams, or perhaps S Morgenstern. Great company, isn't it? He's an extremely skillful and imaginative writer, damn funny, clever and observant to boot. He's also very easy to read. A master of characterization, and if there's anything else you like about reading that I didn't mention here, assume I simply forgot. He's awesome.

Another reviewer mentioned Jonathan Swift and PG Wodehouse. Why such hallowed company? Because Pratchett belongs there! Truly, I'm enjoying my quest to read every book in the series. You should do the same, and begin your quest at the library because he's got to be there. He's awesome!

Yet another reviewer said Jerome K Jerome meets Lord of the Rings. Yeah, that works too.

Why do we, as reviewers, compare authors to other authors? Because it's easier than thinking. In the case of Terry Pratchett, it's probably because we'd otherwise wind up quoting the guy. He's so unique that we just don't know how else to cope with his greatness. Even this paragraph sounds like foamy drool raving, doesn't it? That's how all readers react to Pratchett. Reviewers simply don't have the good sense to keep it to themselves.

I could call his writing fantasy, but I could likewise call what Douglas Adams wrote science fiction. In both cases, I wouldn't be wrong, but I'd be neglecting so much and just totally missing the point. A rare few authors transcend a genre to such a degree that you know they're shouting out, loud and proud, a big fat "Bite me!"

I love Terry Pratchett's writing, and I completely understand why some folks refer to him as their favorite author. Or favourite, I should say, since we're being British. He's one of those authors that makes you want to grab whoever's in hearing range and start reading passages aloud. I'm simply thrilled that there's such an extremely talented and prolific author who's been working for years without me being aware of him. Now I have much catching up to do, and I will love it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kisha
If you are a fan of Terry Pratchett, you'll like this adaptation of 'Mort'. If you haven't heard of him & want to get into the Discworld series, this is a good place to start for the most part.

The comic faithfully reproduces Pratchett's tale of Death & Love in nicely colored pictures. The story follows the titular character of Mort as he tries to find an apprenticeship, only to be apprenticed by Death himself. From there the story takes a comic turn as Mort has to deal with Death's unruly daughter as well as the nasty side of Death- that people actually have to die.

I actually had to special order this one from the UK as it isn't available in the US yet & found it well worth the money paid for it. The humor in the book is rather dry at points, but that's the type of humor that Pratchett is well loved for. At the risk of sounding like a Pratchett purist, I had no real complaints with this comic. The only bit of caution I'd give to potential buyers is that if you live in the US you may want to shop around first before plunking down a great deal of money on this comic (the price right now is $80). It's a good comic, but it's not that good. I'd also recommend that if you aren't really that big of a fan of Pratchett that you may want to give this a skip. It was fun to read but I enjoyed the book far more.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dani meier
Terry Pratchett has become one of the most popular authors alive today and his popularity is richly deserved. But not even with his fertile mind could he ever have envisaged the heights to which his Discworld series would rise. This book first published in 1987 is the third of the Discworld novels and the author is really getting into his stride in the series that broke all records and continues to do so with new books being regularly published.

Pratchett's wit and imagination are second to none. Who else would have or could have thought of the Discworld, a world of mystery and magic sitting on the back of four elephants, who in turn are standing on the back of the great turtle A'tuin the whole lot journeying through an eternal void. Are you with the plot so far?

Mort is the fourth book in the Discworld series and encompasses Terry Pratchett's thoughts on death. Surely death is a very serious and not least, final event. Can death be funny? Well, when it gets the Pratchett treatment you may well laugh yourself to death.

Mort is like many teenagers, spotty and growing out of his clothes too quickly. His parents had always said get yourself a trade son, and you won't go far wrong. So Mort does just that, as apprentice to Death himself. The problem is that although he is willing enough, well reasonably willing, he is not very good at his job and bungles more than one fatal visitation.

Having said that taking on an apprentice and delegating a lot of his work has changed Death's `life' completely, if you see what I mean. Drinking and gambling are just two of the human traits that begin to interest Death. He even begins to look into why fun is fun. It could only happen on the Discworld and if you miss it, you will be sorry . . .
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
leo marta lay
Mort is apprenticed to Death at a job fair, because frankly he's so klutzy no one else wants him, not even his farmer father.

Now Death has a voice like "lead slabs dropped on granite" and He strides toward Mort, "black cloak billowing and feet making little clicking sounds on the cobbles."

Unfortunately He spoils His entrance by slipping on a patch of ice, and collapsing at His would-be apprentice's feet.

For some reason, Mort is not afraid of Death. He thinks He's weird and fascinating. Plus his father has told him that some hard-working apprentices inherit their master's business. Ummm...

Maybe not if your Master is immortal.

Mort is soon sent out on his own to 'release' dying souls from their bodies, and (this is the best part) he gets to ride Death's big white horse, Binky. He gallops to his first location, a small cottage, and finds a bundle of hay by the door with an attached note: "FOR THEE HORS."

Someone is expecting him.

"Mort" is full of strange and hilarious encounters between the world's most naïve apprentice and his sometimes unwilling customers. And just when he's beginning to get the swing of things, i.e. his sythe, he meets Princess Keli who is about to be assassinated in her own royal bedroom.

Mort saves her life--a huge no-no on the list of things Death's apprentice should never do. He and Princess Keli have got to work on her not-really-dead-but-not-really-alive predicament together, even if it means that Mort will have to fight a life-or-Death duel with his master.

Luckily, Death's daughter, Ysabell (Disworld's first goth, although a bit chubby for the part) has taken a liking to Mort. With Binky, Ysabell, and Albert (Death's valet) on his side, will Mort have a chance against the Destroyer of Worlds?

WHAT DO YOU THINK? HA HA HA HA HA!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
vivian
Pratchett thus introduces a new character to the Discworld cast. The utterance reflects the marred midnight entrance of this newcomer when he slips on an ice patch. He is an "anthropomorphic personification" - a traditionally spiritual figure in [almost] human form. The outburst is in all CAPITALS because that's how important he is on the Discworld - he's Death. We've met him briefly in earlier books, but this one brings his personality to view, and reinforces Pratchett's stature as an imaginative writer.
Death's job is not to kill, that role belongs to Fate. Death simply harvests the results of Fate's decisions. No Pratchett character, however, is ever "simply" anything. Death is far more sensitive than legend would have us believe. He "GETS REALLY UPSET" at the drowning of kittens, while rejecting any thought of "fairness" - there is no fairness, "THERE'S ONLY ME" he declares. While apparently contradictory, these comments reflect the complicated events surrounding the job.
Since the role is complex, Death has decided to take on an apprentice to help sort things out. Mortimer, or Mort, isn't as simple as he first appears, either. Mort, still seeking fairness, is sent out on his first solo. His first "take" will keep you smiling, if not guffawing. Mort's human origins [we don't know Death's] are a pitfall for an apprentice. He fails at completing an assignment, with unforeseen results. What would the cascade of events be if someone who was supposed to die, didn't? Pratchett examines this delicate issue in very human terms - challenging us to examine our traditional values. He provides a laugh at every step along the way - either in how the characters react to the situation or just through his descriptive powers. No matter - the underlying question remains there for us to cope with.
Many mainstream critics push Pratchett into a niche, trying to minimalize his value. "Humorous fantacist" is the usual insulting label, one that both misses the mark and reflects the reviewer's superficial reading. His readers, even if only subliminally, recognize there is more in his work. Unlike genre "fantasy" writers, Pratchett doesn't offer a means of escaping reality. Instead, he thrusts it before your eyes, forcing you to consider how you mean to confront it. He manages this without the harsh approach of philosophers or pedants, keeping you smiling as you reflect on his offering. But reflect you will. If you don't, go back and read him again. You've missed something.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kerstin
I tossed this one back in my TBR pile after my son read it to give me an excuse to re-read. I hadn't forgotten how much I enjoyed this first Death book, and hadn't really forgotten the details either, but it was wonderfully fun revisiting it.

The basic premise, for anyone who hasn't read the Discworld books, is that Death takes an apprentice, Mort. This is where we learn of the theory behind Death's job, and his affection for kittens, as well as his curiosity about and inability to understand humans, particularly that emotion stuff.

Mort, unsurprisingly, makes a bit of a mess of things, and his attempts to fix it just make things worse. There's some interesting (and hilarious, of course--nobody missed the memo on that, right? Terry Pratchett = very, very funny unless otherwise indicated) theory about destiny and what happens when you mess with it, and also about the nature of history.

Mort's one of the earlier Discworld books, and it shows, because it's not nearly as complex as later ones, but it's got the serious bones overlaid with fantasy and humor that's common to the whole series.

It's also a very good introduction to the series, better, I think, than the first, Rincewind books. It's short, uncomplicated, and doesn't draw on knowledge or events from previous books. And did I mention it's funny? I'm incapable of reading a Pratchett book if there's anyone within shouting distance without reading lines aloud to them.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
renee bowser
The first time that I read one of Pratchett's novels I was a bit confused. His writing style is so drastically different from most novelists I've read - something I've learned to appreciate. He doesn't use chapter breaks, tends to have several, if not dozens of characters active in each book, and even includes foot notes...some of which can be drastically long.

And he's hilarious. Pratchett writes satire with such flair that it's staggering and brilliant in his execution. Sometimes, while I'm reading, I can't help but wonder if he didn't just aimlessly picked up his pen and decided to give it a go that day and oh look, it happened to work out. The truth is he is brilliant, although I get the sense he'd never admit it. Not only do his plot lines connect in ways the reader would never suspect but while creating this great story he interweaves some amazing characters at the same time. Each character stands on their own, even the supposed "flat" characters and I'm always left with the intense feeling that he could write a book on each of them, if he hasn't already.

Hogfather is a perfect example of this. Parodying our belief in Santa Clause, (or any other fictional being, such as the Tooth Fairy and Bogeymen) the Disc World has their own holiday icon - the Hogfather. But this year he's missing and something is terrible amiss.

So while the Hogfather is MIA, someone has to take up the reigns (literally and figuratively) and make it a jolly Hogswatch night. Who better the reigns than one of Pratchett's beloved characters, Death? Death is so literal, so innocent, so perfect of a character that it is incredibly hard not to love him. (Read Reaper Man for more!) The way he interacts with humans is always amusing and when he's out of his element, it's even more enjoyable.

Throughout the novel hilarity and sometimes a great sense of fear go hand-in-hand. Susan is clever, determined and quite dry. Teatime makes you hope and pray you never meet anyone like him and Death, bless him, does his best to continue the belief in the Hogfather. The very interesting thing about this is how clever the storyline becomes. It's not just about believing in the Hogfather, but why do we believe in the entities we do believe in? Where are their origins from and what would happen if one day, we stopped? The conclusion (Pratchett doesn't really give conclusions, more of allusions to...) is very well done and thought out. I can honestly say, his writing is completely new and unique each time, unlike many stories that feel recycled time and time again....but that's another post.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
megan lynch
"Mort" is Terry Pratchett's first truly great novel. The gimmick, of course, is that Death is a main character in this book. Growing tired of his job, he takes on a young boy named Mort as an apprentice. The arrangement isn't perfect, however, as Mort still experiences emotions that are entirely foreign to Death. This leads Death on a quest to gain understanding of the human concept of fun, while Mort runs into certain problems during his first attempt at the job. The situations looks to be spiraling out of control, but everything comes together in an absolutely brilliant climax.
Like many folks, I've spent years listening to friends and critics hail Pratchett's genius nonstop. I finally bowed to peer pressure and dove into his body of work, starting with "The Color of Magic", "The Light Fantastic", and "Equal Rites". Now those are all fine books with lots of big laughs, but they didn't quite justify the endless claims of Pratchett being one of the great fantasy authors of all time. "Mort" does. The first two Discworld novels were straight-up farce, and "Equal Rites" seemed a bit uncomfortable with its serious themes. "Mort", however, shifts solidly into character-driven humor. The jokes come not entirely from ludicrous diversions, but rather from watching the personalities in the story bounce off each other. And through it all, Pratchett never forgets the subject matter that he's dealing with. He makes good use of the concept of Death.
With that said, "Mort" is just plain hilarious. I've remarked before how Pratchett has an almost unique gift for choosing words and sentences for maximum effect. In this respect, he just gets better and better with each book. One example from "Mort" that sticks out in my mind is a scene where Mort encounters three thugs in the streets of Ankh-Morpork. First, the author is aware of and plays with formula fantasy conventions. But more importantly, the way that he cuts between different perspectives while telling the story and constructs each sentence with care brings out maximum comic effect. It's so brilliant, I could read twenty more of these novels. Matter of fact, I think I will.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brian ayres
The Hogfather is, of course, Father Christmas - except that he drives in a sleigh pulled by pigs, and gets sherry and turnips as snacks.

But someone has hired the Assassins Guild to `get rid of' this certain somebody, and they get on the job.

While the Hogfather faces the peril of being un-believed in (which is how a god `dies', though just as soon they can come back to `life'), Death takes up the reigns, puts on a fake wig, stuffs some pillows under his coat, and becomes the substitute Hogfather. Eating the sherry and turnips (or leaving the turnips and letting his assistant Albert drink the sherry), leaving toys in the stockings, and making sure there are plenty of coal-prints on the carpet, Death hopes to keep the belief of the Hogfather alive.

Meanwhile, Mr. Teatime (that's `teh-ah-tim-eh' to you), the hired Assassin, has hired a few thugs to help him with his work. They are having a hard time getting used to this odd, one-eyed (one glass eye), eccentric assassin.

And Susan - the daughter of Death's adopted daughter and his former apprentice (thus Death's granddaughter) - knows something's wrong; when Death instead of the Hogfather comes in and fills the kid's stockings. She is trying to lead a `normal' life as a governess; though when your hair rearranges itself, you can walk through walls, can see bogeymen, and talk in capital letters like Death, it's hard to be normal.

So Susan, along with the 'oh god' of Hangovers (who she runs into), goes to find out what has happened to the Hogfather - and see if she can return Hogwatch to what it was before, with the correct Hogfather.

Along with 'Interesting Times', and 'Small Gods', this makes it to the top 5 of all the Discworld novels.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tim jaeger
There are so many "best" books in the Discworld series. Some are best because of their humour. Some are best because of their message. Some are best of their concept/idea (Reaper Man, The Truth). Some are best because of their sheer ridculousness. Some are best because of their cleverness (Feet of Clay) Some are best for their darkness (Thief of Time). This is probably one of the best for a mixture of several of these, the main two being its humour and idea.
It may not exactly be THE best (in my mind that one will always be The Truth) but it is probably in the top five. Death has always been my favourite character, and to see him have his own ook (and for the first time) is quite an event, and very enjoyable. His comments always contain such dry, unintended wit on his part, and the irony often brought to the fore with the use of his character can be hialrious. (I particularly liked the scene where he was telling somebody that "the affairs of men are not decided by chance". And as this man disagreed, he challenged him to throw a dice. "What if I win?" says the man. "THEN YOU'VE WON" says Death. "What if i loose?" "THEN YOU'LL WISH YOU'D WON". Comes death's reply.)
Mort is a great character, who i would have loved to see more of in future books. His developing relationship with Ysabell is at times touching.
There are so many wonderful elements of this book. The romance. Death loose trying to be human. The revelations concerning Alberts past. The explanations as to the mechanics of history. The way Pterry shows to us the Realm of Death. Among many other things.
This is a series of books that no reader (of whatever genre. i myself detest most schi-fi/fantasy, and much prefer crime/thriller. But this series has grown to become one of my favourites of all time) should ever pass by. There is such a rich casket of wonders presented to you in all 26 (so far) of his Discworld novels. And this is one of the real gems, along with The Truth, Soul Music, Reaper Man, Men At Arms, Carpe Jugulum, and Feet of Clay.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
xanthe
Anything this man wrote is worth buying. I have paperbacks, Kindle, and audio. I do prefer The Watch arc, but DEATH and Susan are very good also. After those two groups, I hesitate to attempt to put preferences on any of his writings. The choice of narrators was a well thought item. Nigel Planer and Stephen Briggs are the best. The worst thing is that there won't be any more from Mr. Pritchett.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
moira
The hours are long, the people you meet on the job tend to make you feel unwelcome, the amount of travel required for the job is mind-boggling, and the requisite decor is monotonous. Such is the life--- ummm, such is the routine of Death, the anthropomorphic personification of the end of life. An assistant would ease two of the shortcomings of the job and mitigate a third (sorry, even an assistant is no help with the decor issues), so Death takes on an apprentice.

Death's horse is pale, but is also named Binky. Death likes cats. Death is the only character to appear in every Discworld book. Most enjoyable is how Death alternates between passionless competence in his domain, and mild neurosis regarding his self image and relationships. Anyone, even Death, who thinks that an adolescent girl is easier to deal with than a younger child deserves what he gets, so Death has adopted a teenage girl. And boy does Death create work for himself by taking on Mort as an apprentice to aid him and be a companion for his adopted adolescent daughter, Ysabell.

Hilarity ensues as Mort becomes romantically involved with a young woman who was one of his scheduled tasks, and we learn more about Death's servant Albert.

Pratchett begins to hit his stride in this book, although some later volumes backslide a little. This volume shows the deftness and brilliance Pratchett is capable of in a well-flowing story. Very enjoyable, but provides those twists on perpective that make Pratchett so much fun.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
georgie
I know this is one of the most popular and highly-regarded of Pratchett's Discworld novels, but I can't decide whether that's despite or because of the fact that the plot is so difficult to get a handle on in the first two-thirds of the book. The Hogfather is more or equivalent to our Father Christmas, but with more explicit ties to Paleolithic religious beliefs. And the four huge hogs that pull his sleigh through the skies on Hogswatch Night are a far cry from Donder and Blitzen. But this year, the Hogfather is strangely missing and Death decides to takes his place, temporarily, in order to uphold people's belief in him. Why is the not-so-jolly figure in red missing? Well, that comes back to the felonious plans of Mr. Teatime, a extremely bent assassin whom even the Guild of Assassins aren't thrilled about. The other major player is Death's adopted granddaughter, Susan -- a genuine duchess working as a governess -- who has special powers that will come in very handy. Plus, there are the wizards of Unseen University, a thinking semi-machine called Hex, the Death of Rats, Medium Dave Lilywhite and his brother, Banjo, and a raven with a fixation on eyeballs. As always, there are some truly hilarious scenes, such as Death/Hogfather at the mall, giving children (and Corporal Nobby Nobbs) what they actually want for Hogswatch. Not one of Pratchett's best, but even his less successful efforts are way ahead of most writers' best.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kolya matteo
Book 4 of the Discworld series.
After hearing so many great things about Discworld and having read the first three novels in the series, I was not quite as impressed as I had hoped to be with this series. When I starting reading Mort, this all changed. Having only read four Discworld books, Mort is by far the best of the first four books.
The focus of the Discworld series shifts to different characters in each book. This time the focus is on a young man named Mort (hence the title). Mort is an awkward young man with no interest in the family craft. His father decides to hire Mort out as an apprentice. So, Mort stands in the village square as all the other young men are chosen, but Mort is left standing. He waits until midnight (the end of the choosing) and just as the bell tolls midnight, a rider appears. Mort is chosen to be an apprentice. Death himself takes Mort as an apprentice. Death is a major recurring character throughout the series, and HE ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS.
Mort begins to learn the craft of the Reaper, but Mort manages to cause a major problem in reality when someone who is supposed to die does not die (Mort's fault, naturally). This is the most interesting of the first 4 Discworld novels, and since the series doesn't appear to follow any sort of important chronology (for the most part), Mort may be one of the better books to begin the series with. While I've been working my way through the series, I haven't had a lot of interest in each subsequent book....until now. Mort has me interested in reading more Discworld novels.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chase parnell
At this point, I think I've read about two-thirds of the Discworld books, so take that into account when I make this next statement: Hogfather is probably the funniest of any of the Discworld books I've read. The disappearance of Discworld's version of Santa Claus leads Death to take over the reins, and the resulting madness is hilarious, horrifying, and absolutely brilliant. (A long sequence involving the replacement of a mall Hogfather had me laughing uncontrollably.) But as usual, what really makes Pratchett's work so magical is not just the way he exerts a masterful control over his plot - really, any other author would lose control of all this madness, but Pratchett juggles it all perfectly - but the way that he spins it into something more profound and meaningful. Only in Discworld could a story about retiring Tooth Fairies, a profoundly disturbed Assassin, a Death with a fake beard and belly, and a Hangover God turn into a complex and thoughtful meditation on the nature of humanity and the importance of our dreams and fantasies. Hogfather is in the upper-tier of Discworld books, and given the high quality of the rest of the series, that's high praise indeed. A thoughtful, hilarious, moving, unsettling joy to read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kimberly moynahan
In The HOGFATHER, Pratchett takes on the commercialization of Christmas, but also remembers it true meaning in this funny and intriguing addition to the DISCWORLD mythos. I've never found the Death themed books to be my favorites, but in this one as Death takes on the role of the Hogfather (Father Christmas) and looks at the events of the holiday with his own, shall we say, novel approach to the nature of giving; I found myself really enjoying the character for the first time. In the earlier books, Death's search for a better understanding of human nature have felt like Pratchett's takes on other stories from books and films, but this one was something very different. Just imagining Death's attempts to portray the spirit of Christmas or Hogswatch, if you prefer, were laugh out loud funny. Add to this Death's granddaughter's Susan's valiant effort(with the hilarious assistance of the God of Hangovers) to set things right against Mr. Tea-Time's(Pronounced teah-time, if you please) machinations to bring about the Death of the Hogfather...well, you can see this one's pretty manic and finds Pratchett in fine form..
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
taha safari
I read this back in November and didn't even mind a really long commuter train delay. My neighbors may have, although most of them seemed to smile as I snickered, giggled and guffawed my way through it. When I went home for Christmas, I pressed it on my mother, and, when she complained that her eyes hurt too much for the tiny print, I read parts of it aloud. Fortunately, my mother shares my sense of humor.
I think this is the funniest of Pratchett's books. To be sure, someone else can disagree, and that's not a bad thing. Pratchett's eye for the ridiculous is sharp, but he stays reasonably charitable which makes a nice change. Best of all, Pratchett never forgets that a satire works best if it has a story of its own to hang on. That's a point all too often forgotten by people who think they're writing satire.
Just because I can't resist, I'll hint at my favorite passage: "IT'S NOT MEANT TO BE SAFE." If you haven't already read the book, that's the point where I couldn't stop laughing, and never mind that one lady looked quite ready to summon the security people!
Like Gibbon, Pratchett lives a good deal of his life in his footnotes, acerbic enough to appeal to my somewhat jaundiced view of humanity. He thinks a lot of people are idiots, and it's a good thing the world has got so well padded. For some, it could get even better padded...
Christmas, even crass and commercialized, is a good thing, and Pratchett remembers that. This book is great.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
patrick hennessy
Chronologically, this is the fourth of the Discworld novels. In many ways, however, it may be the best place to begin the series, reading a few more and then later going back and filling in "The Colour of Magic", "The Light Fantastic" and "Equal Rites".
"Mort" is the first of the "Death" sub-series witin the larger Discworld series as a whole (which includes "The Reaper Man", "Soul Music" and "Hogfather"). The Death of the Discworld is an interesting character -- and he is very much a *character*, rather than an event or a Presence, though he is those, too. Death, after eons of being basically, well, Death, has decided he wants to understand the Human Condition. I mean, being an awesome Anthropomorphised Personification, feared by virtually all, is all well and good... but he *still* doesn't understand why people put fruit in their drinks.
In this volume, we are introduced to young Mort, a farmer lad who just isn't suited for farming. Or any other trade anyone can think of. So his father takes him to the Hiring Fair in another town, rather in the manner of a man taking a horse that's only lame if you try to ride it to a Fair where no-one has ever seen it or him. But no-one seems willing to take on Mort, even so. Until the stroke of midnight, when a black-cloaked figure on a big white horse rides up...
And so Mort is apprenticed to Death.
He learns to take The Duty, as Death refers to riding out personally as a courtesy to the more important decedents (witches and wizards know in advance when they will die and they and priests expect a personal visit from Death as a professional courtesy, so to speak; Death also appears personally to Kings and Emperors and such). Eventually, Death trusts Mort to do The Duty on his own for a couple of days while Death takes a brief holiday to learn more about humanity.
Which explains why, when a rather nasty Duke attempts to asassinate his beautiful young cousin, before she can take the throne, Mort tries to change things and takes the Duke, not the Princess.
But history has inertia and elasticity, and soon the imbalance between What Is Supposed To Be and What Actually Is begins to threaten reality.
And Death is off on holiday and things keep on Getting Worse.
This is the volume where Pratchett really begins to hit his stride and bring the Discworld to life -- an actual (albeit Strange) place with real (albeit extreme) characters whose problems are often recogniseable variations on our own. He begins to truly master the dry, sometimes sardonic, tone of narration that makes the goings-on so much more funny... and sometimes, unexpectedly, much more sad and throat-catching.
The little touches -- the telling little bits of description not directly involved in the storyline as such but commenting or pointing out, almost as a tour-guide might, really begin to show up here, Unseen University begins to resemble the institution as portrayed in later books, and Pratchett begins explaining more of the physics, meta- and otherwise, of the Discworld.
The perfect introduction to the Discworld -- then, n my opinion, one should temporarily skip over the next three ("Sourcery", "Wyrd Sisters" and "Pyramids") to read "Guards! Guards", the first of the "Guards" subseries, then hop back to "Wyrd Sisters", which plays merry havoc with Shakespeare (particularly The Scottish Play) for a proper introduction to the "Witches" subseries...
After that, you're on your own.
But they're all rousing good fun and will, at least once per volume, make you think a bit, too...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rachel perry
At year's end on the Discworld, the Hogfather flies his sleigh packed with toys through the night. Visiting every home with children, he leaves gifts for the kiddies in stockings hung on the mantle or under the Hogswatch tree. There usually is a snack on the table for him: a glass of "sherre" and some pork fries, with turnips for the hogs. The sleigh, you see, is drawn by four immense boars, not reindeer led by one with an inflamed nose. This year, however, the Hogfather has disappeared and a substitute has taken his role.

"The Discworld is a world, and a mirror of worlds". The world it reflects is ours. Many literary commentators disparage fantasy as "escapist", suitable only for the young or others dodging reality. Pratchett, on the other hand, smacks you in the gob with reality. Yet he manages do achieve this with a level of wit and learning no other fantasy writer can hope to emulate. There is some magic on Discworld, but Pratchett's talent lies in characterisation, not make-believe. Most of his figures are human, but humans create characters in their own minds. On Discworld, these are manifested as "anthropomorphic personifications". We are familiar with some: there is a God of Wine, for example. Yet, for some reason, we don't have a God of Hangovers - an oversight in the logic of our mythology. Where we have "Santa Claus", on Discworld the Hogfather is the "jolly elf" bringing happiness to children.

Still, there is one personification we are loathe to consider - Death. On Discworld, Death doesn't kill, but merely takes the life essence when Fate so decrees. Death may spend a moment with the snuffing of a tube-worm at the ocean's depths, but his real interest is humans. He doesn't understand them, although he strives to do so. Circumstances led him to become a grandfather once - sort of a grandfather. That little girl, Susan Sto Helit, also strives: to be a Normal Person in the Real World. Grandfather's concern for humans, however, forces Susan to ease out of the Real World in a reluctant quest to learn why the Hogfather isn't doing his rounds. And why her grandfather has assumed his role.

On the Discworld, most businesses are combined into Guilds. There's the Guild of Astrologers, Thieves' Guild and the ladies of The Guild of Seamstresses ["hem! hem!"]. There is also an association of elite gentlemen, The Assassins' Guild, which "inhumes" victims for clients for a fee. Lord Downey, Head of the Assassins has been approached by a "client" offering a large fee to inhume the Hogfather. He passes the task to Mister Teatime [pronounced Teh-ah tim-eh - "Nobody gets it right, Sir", he mourns.] who has already considered the problem "on my own time, Sir!", he insists. For Mister Teatime has indeed seen the benefits of "bringing the Hogfather to an end". It involves kidnapping the Tooth Fairy and how to control the minds of children.

Death, who has a vested interest in children because they will become adults he can study, has an assistant. Albert Malich was a wizard the Unseen University, where young wizards trained. As a human, Albert acts as a resource in Death's pursuit of understanding humans. Humans are too illogical, too individual, too unpredictable for reasoned analysis. Death doesn't wish to change them, but he yearns to understand them. Others in the universe, particularly the Auditors, find human behaviour irrational, but worse, chaotic. Their aim is Order in the universe - and Mister Teatime is engaged in fulfilling that desire. It's part of the contract.

Pratchett's development of this story is one of his finest accomplishments. The twentieth Discworld story - in a collection now exceeding three dozen, he has woven his characters into something grand and universal. Although now over a decade old, the book retains wide appeal for many reasons. There is something here for everybody, including Pratchett's use of science in unexpected, but not inappropriate, places. Pratchett's writing is captivating, not only because his command of language is peerless, but because he engages your attention in surprising and challenging ways. In three dozen books, he has never repeated himself or let a major figure become boring. Those that reappear in successive volumes grow and develop fresh attributes. Not the least of those being Death himself. Speaking, as he does in THE VOICE, he remains both entertaining and worthy of ungrudging respect, exhibiting very "human" qualities. For all his supposed prowess, Death must manipulate a human to bring this book to its conclusion. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ellis
It's Hogswatch eve and the Hogfather is missing. Without someone to deliver presents to children around the world, the sun won't rise, so Death finds himself wearing a red suit and a fake beard, trying his best to fill the void. Meanwhile, his granddaughter, Susan, must figure out why the Hogfather is missing and set things right. Mix in the usual ineptitude of the wizards of Unseen University, and you get another fun adventure in Discworld.

As usual, Pratchett provides a biting satire of our world and traditions. Here he does a lovely job of lampooning the crass commercialism of the modern Christmas celebration, with a delightful scene that has Death playing Hogfather at a shop. But Pratchett also has some serious subtext in here about the power of imagination, both for good and for evil. His idea that childhood fantasies prepare us to believe in more important abstract concepts (such as justice and equality) provide some interesting food for thought, even while the story itself provides a great deal of entertainment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tim buckner
I don't care whether your a garbage man or a CEO (or a really messy CEO who happens to constantly be picking up trash) one of the most difficult problems in life is finding the place were you can feel you belong. Pratchet, in the few of his books I've read (mostly the Night Watch part of Disk world with Carrot and Vimes), has a great knack for illustrating this problem and showing how his characters find ways to overcome it.

In Mort Death is tired of his endless job, ushering the souls of the living into the after life. Not a bad job, it just gets to be boring doing the same thing since the dawn of time. He locates what seems to be a suitable replacement in Mort; a clumsy, self-conscious youth who seems cannot do anything correctly. Death did not know that when he brought Mort on as his apprentice. Queue wackiness. In the aftermath they both realize that their place in life found them without any help.

Once again, Terry Pratchet has shown why he is counted among the best fantasy writers in the business. His wit and intelligence illuminate every page and I would highly recommend this to any fantasy reader who values mirth as much as content.

In addition, there are two great "So you would like to. . ." lists that show the exact chronology of the series that I found most helpful. You may want to look them up to figure out where you would like to start.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jen foster
This book is a bit different than the rest of the discworld series, it starts when the leader of the assassins guild gets contracted (by some mysterious entities) to make the Hogfather "vanish". The Hogfather is Discworld's equivalent of Santa, and Hogwatch is the extremely similar version of Christmas. The next thing we see in the book is Death (yes, Discworld's lovable Grim Reaper) acting instead of the Hogfather, that is, going from house to house to fill up stockings, putting little boys on his lap and saying Ho Ho Ho. The rest of the book kind of reads like a mystery novel: how did this happen? why does Death fill up for the Hogfather? I was very immersed in the book, and couldn't wait till the conclusion.

As usual, the result is very witty and is truly hilarious. Towards the rest of the book it became more serious and philosophical, which added another layer of depth to the book. The same ideas which underly "Hogfather" also appear in "Small Gods", and partially in "Pyramids". The fact that the Discworld series always have such an insight into many aspects of being human has always been one of the factors which makes it much more than just a regular fantasy/humor series (a la Piers Anthony), and that's why "Hogfather" is such a great book.

If you love the Discworld (or even if you just "like" it), this book is really for you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
godfrey
So what happens when the Hogfather dissapears from the Discworld?
Terry Pratchett answers this in this great book that will really make you think about what you belive in.
Visit with your favorite Discworld characters during Hogswatch - and see the reaction when Death (as the Hogfather) visits a department store. Find out how Susan deals with monsters (not the POKER!) and just what to give Hex for christmas.
Hogfather is very fast-paced and takes all the cliches of christmas and puts a spin on them as Death looks at them from his own special point of view.
Terry Pratchett is not only a very funny writer, he also has the knack of making you think - when you don't even realise you are doing it. This book contains very subtle insights - that you will find yourself realising only later how important and profound they actually are. He also pokes a sly dig at the X-Files (if you read carefully and don't miss any footnotes, you will find it).
For those lovers of Hex - the Discworld's only computer - you will be pleased to find he has a large role in this - and we watch as Ridcully and Death become computer literate: in their own individual ways.
I loved this book - and I know that you will as well. It's a great read not just for lovers of Terry Pratchett, but for those who want to re-discover the real meaning of christmas.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
naziur rahman
I read all 37 books in the Discworld universe, plus Nation and Good Omens, and good as they are, this one is the best. It's the perfect blend of Pratchett's nuanced view of the power of belief and institutions for both good and evil, the dual nature of man (described beautifully as "where the falling angel meets the rising ape"), and told all through a hilarious Nightmare-Before-Christmas allegory full of some of the best humor of a man justly famous for being one of the funniest men of the 20th century. Unfortunately, because these ideas are wrapped in comedy, it may be many years before his profound ideas get the serious attention they deserve.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lovro
Mort, the 4th Discworld book by Terry Pratchett, is one of the funniest Discworld books out there. It's a hilarious book that's missing some of the social commentary that permeates his books later in the series. You don't miss it, though, as you continue to laugh out loud at some of the shenanigans. Only a weak ending prevents it from being the best book of the bunch.
Death takes on an apprentice. Mort, the unlucky chosen one, has a bit of trouble settling into his role. It's not very fun to be present when people leave the mortal coil. One time, however, he spies a princess (who can actually see him as well, even though people aren't supposed to be able to) and is very attracted to her. Unfortunately for him, this attraction leads him to try and change the course of destiny, and Mort finds that it's a lot harder to do then it looks. The princess finds out that it's quite hard to live when you're supposed to be dead. Death doesn't seem to notice all of this as he's busy trying to experience humanity. But when he finds out, Mort may wish he hadn't.
I really enjoyed this book. Death has always been my favourite character in Pratchett's books, so I decided to start reading the books that are actually about him. Mort is the first, and I can now see why I've always liked the character. Death has a dry wit about him, but he's always matter-of-fact when he's doing his job. He tries to impart that onto Mort, with limited success. I like the fact that he always speaks in capital letters LIKE THIS, thus giving him a real presence when you read him. It's even better when he's out learning about humanity, sitting in a bar and lamenting about the fact that he has no friends. The dissonance between this very human feeling and his powerful voice is really neat.
The other characters in Mort are also wonderful. There's Ysabell, Death's adopted daughter who he's obviously trying to pair Mort with. She's feisty, never slipping into the stereotypical female role. Albert shines as Death's servant, a man who's not all he appears to be. When things finally let loose with Albert, it's both powerful and funny how it happens. There's Keli, the princess that Mort tries to save. She's a petulant child, even more so when people can't seem to remember that she's not supposed to be living. Finally, there's Cutwell, the wizard that Mort enlists to help him learn to walk through walls and Keli employs to make people remember her. All of these characters are complete and well-rounded, with none of them missing a beat. Their interactions are marvelous and the jokes come out of the characters rather than at the expense of the characters. Heck, even Rincewind, the incompetent wizard from the first books, makes an appearance!
There's more to this book than the characters, though. The plot is simple, but very good. While there's not much commentary in this book, it does make a bit of a statement about how powerful an emotion love can be. It also shows what a curse being human can be, as Death loses himself in the experience. He even lowers himself to become a fry cook at one point, just to see what it's like. No insult intended to fry cooks, but when you're the anthropomorphic projection of an aspect of life, then you have lowered yourself when you start working a kitchen. The plot moves quickly, with little padding. There are no unnecessary characters placed in the book just to make a joke, which is a sin Pratchett starts to commit in later books. When somebody appears, you know they're going to have an impact.
The only bad thing about this book is the ending. It's very arbitrary, and seems to go against the rest of the book. It seems to come out of nowhere, just being used as an excuse to end the book. The final conflict is resolved way too quickly and neatly. It's almost like Pratchett knew how he wanted to end the book, but couldn't figure out how to get there. It makes sense, but only if you reach a bit.
Still, it's well worth the time spent getting to the ending. The jokes are great, Death is wonderful and you'll really love reading about him. I can't wait to read the next Death book and see what happens. This book is a wonderful place to start your Discworld experience, being the start of a subset within the Discworld series. You won't regret it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
frannie mcmillan
There are, I believe, a couple dozen titles now in the Discworld series, but this one -- the fourth -- is still one of the best. Death, who SPEAKS IN ALL CAPITALS, and takes his job seriously, decides nevertheless that he's in need of a break. So he takes on an apprentice, a young farm lad named Mortimer -- Mort for short. On his first solo soul-collecting assignment, Mort discovers he can't allow the teenaged Princess Keli to be assassinated by her uncle the Duke, tries to prevent what is supposed to happen -- what *must* happen -- and, of course, messes thing up. Reality tends to heal itself in the long run, though, and there's no way the kid can stop history from getting back on its proper track. But he's certainly going to try. As one might expect in a Pratchett yarn, things get a bit out of hand after that, especially when Death goes AWOL for a time, trying out human experiences and vices, and when Mort begins taking on more and more of his boss's characteristics. After all, as Mort explains to Death's adopted daughter, Ysabell, DEATH IS WHOEVER DOES DEATH'S JOB. The final confrontation between Mort and Death is a marvelous set-piece. Can Mort win? Can Death lose? Is it even fair? THERE IS NO JUSTICE, as Death is fond of remarking. THERE'S ONLY ME.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kristine g
This is a decent story - pretty good. I admit, judging by the pervious books featuring Death's family (not counting Death himself), I expected to be dissapointed, but I wasn't. This is not on a par with "Men at Arms," but it is still good.
Here we have a lot of variety - Death, the Death of Rats, Death's Grandaughter, secret assassins, the Auditors,...
The plot was interesting. The auditors have a nasty plan - get an assassin to kill the Hogfather, the discworld "Santa Claus." The assassin, Mr. Teatime (pronounce the vowels), tries to do that by getting children to disbelieve, thus negating the spirit of Hogswatch. He tries to do that with help from the world of the tooth fairies. Of course, Death takes it upon himself to play "Hogfather" with Albert in tow. And his granddaughter, pretty good at beating up bogeymen and other monsters, has to stop Teatime and foil the auditors.
Most of this story is good. Sto Helit, never really a milktoast like Magrat in the early Lancre books, becomes a fairly aggressive, take charge character. It was fun to watch her wield the fireplace poker against all foes.
Bilious was somewhat funny, and so was the "manifestation syndrome" of objects seemingly appearing when people mentioned them (like the "sock-eating demon elephant"). But after the first one or two times, it got too old. Enough with these insignificant characters adding to the confusion. Also, I know that wizards rarely make sense, but here they waste way too much time talking about non-consequentials - it becomes a big draggy and boring.
The criminals are funny - especially with the brothers who live by what their mother told them. It was funny to watch nursery-rhyme bogeys chasing grown men around screaming, and, while Teatime was not the best bad guy (although pretty good), it was great to see how Death and family finally dealt with him, and how someone finally pronounces Teatime's name correctly at the end.
All in all, a good book, an improvement for several characters. But Death can usually pep up just about any story - he's just such a memorable character. You would never see Death the same way again.
4 well-earned stars.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
zalvi soriano
"Hogfather" is the first Terry Pratchett book that I read, based on a strong and enthusiastic recommendation. I am sorry I did not discover Pratchett earlier. His writing is filled with laugh-out-loud moments and peppered with sharp insights into the ways humans function. He has created a marvelously warped, but awfully familiar universe with his Discworld. "Hogfather" is largely a satire about Christmas and the way that we celebrate it; but it is more importantly about the beliefs that shape who we are and the strength those beliefs have over us.

The basis for "Hogfather" is that the Hogfather has been "killed" and Death must take over the reins in order to ensure that the sun will rise the next morning, as well as to try to bring back the Hogfather. As he crisscrosses the world on Hogswatch Eve, he is startled by the lack of belief that he encounters in his interactions with humans. Surely something is wrong in the universe if humans don't belief in the Hogfather and it is Death's task, along with others, to try to set things right.

The novel includes a wide cast of characters who are believable and add to the rich tapestry of Pratchett's yarn. We are allowed to see the story from various vantage points as we discover what is the cause behind this lack of belief. We laugh out loud at the escapades of the Oh-God of Hangovers and the other various 'gods' who have strangely gained entrance into Discworld. Yet the best storyline involves Susan Sto-

Helit; as Death's grand-daughter, she would like nothing more than to live a normal life as a governess, but inevitably finds herself wrapped up in the plot to save the Hogfather and restore order to Discworld.

Pratchett is a highly entertaining author. He balances the wit and humor of his story with sharp (and sometimes biting) observations about life. I look forward to more trips into Discworld.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sabra embury
...and it got me totally hooked on Sir Terry. There is not much I can say here about this particular book that has not already been said, so instead I will offer some blatant generalizations. :)

First off, whenever I discover an avid reader who has not yet read any Pratchett, I am jealous. I am jealous because I have read nearly everything he has written, and they get to experience it all for the very first time. His books are wondrous: effortlessly funny, and not at all like some "funny" books whose storyline seems to merely exist as a setup for puns and pratfalls. And not only are they funny, but Terry has a deep insight into human nature, and a unique way of pointing out all those little foibles to which we are all susceptible. He allows us to see ourselves in his characters, and laugh while we are doing so.

A couple of quotes come to mind, and while I do not have them in front of me, this is the gist of them, and I promise I am not mangling them TOO badly. The first is "If Terry Pratchett had started out first, Douglas Adams would not have bothered to set pen to paper." The second is "Terry is like the wisest, kindest, and funniest teacher you can imagine."

I know these are strong claims, but if you are an avid reader, and have not yet read him, pick up a book. Any book. (But try to find the ones with the footnotes. Ironically, it seems some of the books published in the UK do not have them.)

Every avid reader I have "turned on" to Pratchett has either blessed me or cursed me. But, for the same reason. They found that after the first book, they had an insatiable appetite for a new author.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
cari ann
While Pratchett is always funny, and a better plotter than I think many who have written him off as a "comedy" writer give him credit for, you'll need to really like the character of Death to fully enjoy "Mort."
While he appears, albeit briefly, in almost every Discworld novel, the character is, pardon the expression, rather thin. The gags in this book are fairly self-evident, and repeated more than a few times. There isn't the sort of broad-ranging imagination Pratchett's friend Neil Gaiman brings to a similar character in his "Sandman" series, and so once, you've gotten past the basic setup, the story revolves around Death's young apprentice, the mystery of why Death would want an apprentice, and what happens when Things Start To Go Horribly Wrong.
Naturally, there's some nice magical chaos, romantic interest (isn't there always?) and a bit of last minute panic, as well as some broad comedy with the Four Horsemen of the Apocraplyse. Nothing phenomenal here, unless you're a big, big fan of Death. This novel also sets up "Reaper Man" and "Soul Music," although it isn't required reading for either.
As always, Pratchett entertains, but this is one of his lesser works.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
erin pope
Who would've thought, after reading the first few books of Terry Pratchett that this writer would one day produce a book with such depth as this one? Okay, as always it's all wrapped up in a high speed, intricate story with several sub-plots, but that makes the ultimate message Pratchett delivers only more convincing.
So, what's the story all about? As always, the Discworld is in perilous danger, or at least civilization on it is. The "Auditors" (of reality, not money) want to eliminate mankind. Since these beings like everything to be orderly, precise and regular, it's not hard to imagine mankind is a thorn in the eye to them. The way they plan to wipe mankind of the disc is by murdering the Hogfather (Discworlds equivalent of Santaclaus), a job assigned to the less than sane assassin Teatime. DEATH, the only one who understands the danger mankind is in, can't help himself and interferes by impersonating the Hogfather. Meanwhile his granddaughter Susan sets out to stop Teatime (with a little dubious help from the Oh-God of Hangovers). Of course, in the end all's well, but not before Pratchett makes a very keen observation of what defines humanity. Believing in certain 'lies' (like the existence of a Hogfather) is, according to Death (the only truly impartial observer) what makes us human.
I've read the book three times now and I'm still surprised how well Pratchett builds his story and every time I marvel at the insights he shows in what humans are like. It's a very special book, with something for everybody and I really recommend it not only to Pratchett fans.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
claudia wilcox
Literally to Death, not that that's a bad thing. Mortimer, Mort as he's known professionally, becomes apprenticed to the Grim Reaper. The job has a lot going for it: travel, the chance to meet all kinds of people (if only briefly), and flexible hours. In fact, some of the hours are so flexible that they get tied in big ugly knots.

The problem - in Pratchett's books, there's always a problem - comes when Mort's attempt at Grim Reaping collects the wrong soul. Someone who ought to have died didn't, and the conflict of free will vs. predestined determinism breaks into open warfare.

Pratchett's Discworld series sets very high standards. So high that Pratchett himself doesn't always equal his best, but this is good anyway. It's funny, and leaves you laughing so hard that it might take a while to realize that there are some interesting points being made. It may also be a good one for Prathcett novices, since it doesn't extend as many onging plot threads as other books in the series. Both in itself and among other members of the series, it's an enjoyable read. Go for it!

//wiredweird
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joan collins
It is the night before Hogwatch. Everyone on the Discworld is getting in their best shape to swallow down many courses of pure artery congesting meals. The Dean of the Unseen University in particular is now able to lift a twenty-pound turkey on one fork. Of course, not every table is collapsing under the weight of a Hogwatchnight Dinner. Some people, like the Duck Man, have to be jolly with a marinated leather boot dressed with some nice mud sauce. Still the spirit of Hogwatch is alive and kicking... Let me rephrase this: the spirit of Hogwatch is Death and kicking. Because something awful happened to the real Hogfather, Death has decided to replace him. You do not have to be a genius to know that this is not going to be the usual Hogwatchnight.
The twentieth episode of the highly acclaimed Discworld series proves that the inspiration of Terry Pratchett is far from exhausted. As always the sidekicks are clearly competing for the Award for Most Silly Idiot of the Multiverse, whereas the main characters are too occupied to save the Discworld from more harm than it can possibly contain, which is a lot!
One of the many new features is Hex, a thinking engine with a mouse that eats cheese and a clothes wringer serving as a central processing unit. I would never have expected that the Wizards of Unseen University should be able to concoct such a close nephew of our personal computer and in doing so create an entity that is twice as smart as the most brilliant inhabitant of the Discworld - probably an ant that was trod on by Rincewind a few minutes after its birth. When you are knowledgeable to some historical computer lingo, you will undoubtedly have fun discovering some hilarious puns.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
shantal
This fourth book in the Discworld series is the first to achieve truly classic status, in my opinion. Its predecessors were great reads, but Mort is a real riot. The skeleton of the plot has a few cracked bones and seems to be missing whatever connects the setup bone with the conclusion bone, but the humor is more than a saving grace for the awkward ending. Poor Mort is a gangly, clumsy lad seemingly made out of all knees; his father is fond of him but decides to apprentice him to someone else. That someone else turns out to be Death himself (although the father sees him as an undertaker). Mort is whisked off to Death's abode to be trained as Death's apprentice. On his first solo mission, he rips a big hole in the fabric of time by saving a princess from assassination. Death is off trying to experience living, so Mort attempts to make things right with the help of Death's adopted daughter Ysabell (who has been sixteen for thirty five years already), the young wizard Cutwell, the princess, and--with great reluctance--Death's manservant Albert.
This is a riotously funny novel. I can truly say that Death has never been funnier. Being the reaper of souls for untold years does wear a guy down, and Death goes out into the real world to try and discover what life is all about. We find him dancing in a kind of conga line at a party for the Patrician, asking the guy in front of him why dancing around and kicking things over is fun; we see him getting boozed up at a bar and telling his troubles to the bartender, we find him seeking employment and dealing with a normal human customer, and we ultimately find him happily serving as the cook at Harga's House of Ribs. His questions and comments about human life are simple yet complex, and they basically mimic the same kinds of questions we all ask about the purpose of our time on earth. I personally found the funniest scene to be one in which Death takes Mort to a restaurant just after hiring him and tries to figure out why on earth there is a cherry on a stick in his drink--as he keeps returning to this mental conundrum, the scene just gets funnier and funnier.
To some degree, this novel is a bit simplistic compared to later Pratchett writings, but it is a quick, enjoyable read guaranteed to make you laugh out loud at least once. We get a glimpse of some new vistas of the Discworld, and more importantly we gain great understanding and familiarity with Death, his abode, and his way of non-life. The wizard Cutwell is a young, beardless wizard who keeps finding his devotion to wizardry (especially the whole bachelorhood requirement) tested by the beguiling femininity of the princess--his temptation-forced words and actions provide another great source of humor in the book. The cast of important characters if fairly slim in number, but we do meet up with our old friends Rincewind and the librarian momentarily and learn a little more about Unseen University. The ending definitely could have been better, and that is the main weakness of this particular novel. Other Discworld novels will capture your imagination much more forcibly than this one, but few will make you laugh as hard as this one does.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christine kurniawan
[For context's sake, I have been reading the Discworld books in publication order. Hogfather is #20.]

I loved this book. It didn't move quite as quickly as some Discworld books have, and the subject matter wasn't the most riveting from the beginning, but there was an attention to detail that fleshed out the story and kept me very interested. Pratchett stayed a step or two ahead of me for the entirety--there was always an extra level of complexity that I hadn't expected. The character development was (as always) phenomenal, and I found myself enjoying Susan Sto-Helit far more than I had expected. Her introduction in an earlier book was fairly lackluster to me. The concepts that drove the story were brilliant and inventive. Definitely one of my favorite Discworld books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nejaterk
When we mere male mortals reach a certain age we sometimes, aware that we are closer to our future death than our past birth, start to act up. We trade the 1981 Honda Civic in for a Corvette convertible, quit our old job to write a great novel, and have even been known to trade in our wives or significant others for a younger, newer model. It's known on Earth as a mid-life crisis. But on Discworld, and in the hands of the master Terry Pratchett, a banal mid-life crisis is turned into another one of his hilarious and thought filled romps. Through Pratchett's hilariously skewed prism this crisis is not being experienced by a mortal but rather by the harbinger of death, the aptly named DEATH. What we have is a mid-death crisis. Death may, like an ever-rolling stream, bear all its sons away but DEATH seems more than a bit tired of doing all the bearing away.

Terry Pratchett's Mort tells a rather simple tale. DEATH is looking for an apprentice. Young Mortimer, one of life's simple trusting souls is a young man with little career prospects. He is ungainly and spends a bit too much time thinking random thoughts. Mort's dad and relatives find him to be a well-intentioned but generally useless young man. Dad has been told that becoming an apprentice will get Mort off his hands and teach him a trade. So off to town they go for `apprentice day' in the market square. As luck would have it, DEATH arrives and takes Mort on as his apprentice.

Mort develops in the expected Pratchett manner. The relationship between Mort and DEATH, and the chores Mort performs to learn his trade, seem very similar to that in the movie Karate Kid. Shoveling poop is not immediately relevant to learning how to become the messenger of death yet Mort takes to his tasks well. Mort seems to enjoy living at DEATH's house and enjoys the food prepared by Albert, who may not be quite what he seems. He doesn't seem to get along to well with DEATH's daughter, Ysabell but that again may not be quite what it seems.

Within no time DEATH is entrusting Mort with more responsibility while he experiments with drinking, dancing, and a stint as the best short order cook in Ankh-Morpork. Meanwhile, Mort, left to his own devices makes a mess of things in short order. Specifically, Mort falls for the heavenly charms of a Princess and fails to bring her over to the next world. This of course causes no end of confusion as the natural order of things on Discworld has been greatly disturbed.

As with most Discworld books, events proceed at a furious pace followed by a conclusion that, like death itself, is inevitable. For any Pratchett fan, of which I am one, the joy in the journey and not in getting to the conclusion. Along the way we are treated to the usual array of cultural references and little jokes. When Albert mutters "s-odomy non sapiens" under his breath Mort asks what that means to which Albert replies "buggered if I know." When DEATH notes he is closing out a bar, alone, at a quarter to three, Pratchett tracks the lyrics to Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen's "One for My Baby". It is priceless.

Last, this is a stand-alone Discworld book. Although some recurring characters make cameo appearances the reader does not really need to be overly familiar with any of the other Discworld books to enjoy Mort. Mort was a pleasure to read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jane chadwick
This is the story of Death and his young sidekick, Mort. There are lots of nice details about life in Ankh-Morpork as well as various hinterlands. The coming-of-age aspect is nicely done, with Mort proceeding from an inept farmhand to become Death's apprentice and eventually his rival. Like Pratchett's best Discworld novels, there is a light touch of serious philosophical inquiry here about the nature of reality and just what would happen if you really could change history. When Death walks off the job, to wander Ankh-Morpork drinking top-shelf liquor and working as a short-order cook, the results are hilarious. The story is somewhat comparable to Piers Anthony's _On a Pale Horse_, but Anthony suffers by comparison for his lack of real world-building and his insufferable seriousness. The side characters here are great, and include Death's daughter, and his servant Albert, who turns out to be of more importance than he seems. As is unfortunately typical in Discworld books, the ending is a mad scramble to tie up loose ends, but this is still one of the better Discworld novels.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
becky maynard
So you must've heard of Terry Pratchett before somewhere. About his wildly successful Discworld series, his praised, able-to-make-you-laugh-out-loud, humour. So it's finally got you interested, at least to prove everybody wrong about this hack. I mean, can someone British really have a sense of humour?
Then start with this book. Prove us all wrong. It's the fourth in the series but you don't need to read the preceeding novels, nor the ones after. Pick it up, without reading reviews elsewhere as to what it's all about and venture into that mad, magical world like a castaway stranded in seemingly-desolute, uncharted territories, with treasures hidden all over; explore this world on your own; you'd want it to be all yours.
Terry can get to be a silly old man, but he's not dumb. Every Discworld novel makes numerous refrences, a lot of them being historical. Trust me, some things he didn't make up. For example, in the beginning of the novel, Mort's dad takes Mort to the marketplace to try to find a job for him. Mort stands around all day hoping to get hired while people from all over come searching for the best apprentice to hire. This procedure is done something like once a year, although i'm not too sure about that. What I'm sure is that Terry didn't make this up from the back of his head. This used to happen in old England, up until a century ago, i guess. I found that out when i read Thomas Hardy's "Far From The Madding Crowd" a few days ago, so i'm sure this was practiced for some time.
It's a small detail but just goes to show you how much thought Terry puts into his novel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jack bean
I read this almost every year at Christmastime. It is a silly fantasy set in another world where their winter-festival (similar to our Christmas) is threatened by an attack on the Hogfather (Santa Claus); Death must take his place to save Hogswatch (Christmas). It is also a philosophical look at the origin and nature of Gods and Monsters. It is also the most honest yet hopeful assessment of humanity, and what it means to be a "good" person, that I have ever read. It fills me with joy and the Christmas spirit without leaving a cheesy residue.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sean newman
The word on the street is that Pratchett flew out of the gate with this series, hit a downward slide, and then took his time settling back into the Discworld groove. 'Mort', book number four, strikes me as the beginning of the downward slide. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun book, filled with imagination, humour, drama, and rich characters. But it doesn't do much to further this author's reputation.
In terms of narrative, it actually bears a strong resemblance to book #2, 'The Light Fantastic'. In both stories, a supernatural entity slowly moves towards destroying the Discworld (or at least altering it in unimaginable ways). However, the red star from 'Light' is much more menacing than the device Pratchett conjures up here. It's an "interface", representing a thwarted reality, threatening to correct a mistake. My powers of explanation don't do it justice, I know, but Pratchett's do. It's an interesting concoction, but hardly menacing enough to justify the dramatic suspense it's meant to carry. That's really my only complaint here.
The strength of the Discworld series is that Pratchett is a master at taking a simple premise (e.g., What if the wizard charged with saving the world couldn't perform any spells? How would the first female wizard be treated?) and fleshing it out over the length of an enjoyable book. Here, he asks: What would happen if Death took a holiday (an allusion to the movie that inspired 'Meet Joe Black')? Well, we certainly get an answer. And yes, Pratchett's sense of humour is intact. Witness his description of Mort's (Death's apprentice) duties in the horse stables: "Some jobs offer increments. This one offered -- well, quite the reverse." I was knocked backwards when I caught that one! It's the kind of joke that shows Pratchett's verbal dexterity, as well as his complete trust that his audience will be paying attention.
Pratchett's real achievement is his depiction of the afterworld. Death's lair uses the same cliched symbols we've all seen before (hourglasses show how much time everyone has left to live; a library features instantaneously self-updating books representing all individual's life narratives; Death is a skeleton in a black cloak, wielding a menacing scythe). But it compares favourably with Albert Brooks' movie 'Defending Your Life' for its quite ingenious and original (and wonderfully self-referential) rendering of the mechanics of death.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jelisa
Given Pratchett's unswerving ability to lampoon anything and everything, it was only a matter of time before old St. Nick got his share.
Hogfather primarily focuses on two struggles. First, there is Death, who is trying to prevent the Hogfather's demise by keeping the belief in him alive during Hogswatch(the Discworld equivalent of Christmas). This involves him putting on a fake beard and suit, as well as adopting a VERY necessary fake belly, and masquerading as the Hogfather. Second, we have Death's granddaughter, Susan, who is on the trail of the Hogfather's potential assassin, Mr. Teatime. She is joined by The Death of Rats, a talking raven, and Bilious, the "oh god" of Hangovers.
This book, like the best of Pratchett's work, is loaded with humorous scenes. One of my personal favorites is when Death arrives at the Maul (yeah, that is how it's spelled) so that the children can "sit on the Hogfather's lap and tell him what they want". Between Death giving the children, literally, whatever they want/deserve (be it a doll, a real pony, or a giant broadsword) and the children constantly pointing out that Death's pigs have widdled on everything, I rarely stopped laughing.
This is a perfect addition to the Discworld series and one of my personal favorites. Recommended!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kay harding
"Mort" is one of the novels in Pratchett's Discworld series. If you've never read any of the Discworld books let me set the stage for you...
Discword is a flat planet that sits atop 4 huge elephants that ride on the back of a giant turtle that is "swimming" through the universe. The Discworld is run by various gods and consists of wizards, dragons, trolls, heroes, and various other figures that are accounted for in other fantasy novels. What is different about these novels is that they are satire. They are some of the most humorous books that you may ever read.
"Mort" is a story that revolves mainly around the grim reaper of Discworld. In this story, he takes on an apprentice and sets out to "find himself" in the land of the living. He takes on odd jobs and tries to understand human emotion which leads to some hilarious adventures. While he's away from his duties, his apprentice disrupts the time continuem and almost destroys the world in the process. Death must go back and put everything right again.
(...)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ederlin
More than any of his other books, Terry Pratchett may be guilty of literature in Hogfather. And the result is wonderful, perhaps the best of all the Discworld books.
The book has its hilarious moments, as you would expect. Not the least of them a new character, Bilious, the Oh-God of Hangovers. There's even bathroom humor. But while the humor sugar-coats the story, there's a great deal more here. From the opening pages, when Susan Sto Helit, Death's granddaughter, has to deal with a monster in the cellars, to Death's comments on the final pages, this is a book about belief and the power of belief. On the Discworld, of course, the power of belief is transcendant, but like all of the Discworld books, Pratchett uses the fun house mirror of the Disc to teach us a great deal about our own world.
You can read this book with a great deal of pleasure by just relaxing and enjoying the ride. The laughs are all there, the jokes and parody as wonderful as ever. But the second or third of tenth time through, think a bit about what it might mean, and might be happening on a different level.
One of Pratchett's many gifts is be wildly, hysterically funny, while at the same time sliding a knife of hard truth into your ribs. The Hogfather's holiday sled may be pulled by pigs and not reindeer, but the pigs and the reindeer are all powered by the same thing: belief. It's what makes us human. And in Pratchett's skillful hands, that simple truth takes on whole new meanings.
I may not be able to meet Death's challenge and show him, in the whole universe, a single grain of justice, but I can point to some insight and truth. Read this book and see if I'm not right.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ruthanne
While Mort is at an Apprenices' fair, where teenage boys are picked up by tradesmen to be apprenices, he is the only boy who is not chosen. However, when midnight chimes, Death comes and asks the boy to be his apprenrice...

Although Death has featured in discworld novels before, this is the first one wher he is one of the main characters and he is very much developed here.

Death decides to take a vacantion and "live" by visiting cities such as Ankh-Morpork while Mort is left to do his job of visting people when they die. However, Mort falls in love with one of his "clients" - a beautiful princess - and instead of collecting her, he saves her from ebing murdered, thus starting an increasingly-serious chain of events because he has changed the way the world was ment to be by allowing her to live.

This book was very funny and amusing and full of the usual wonderful discworld characters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
angelos
All Mort's father wants for him is an apprenticeship, but everybody passes up on this scrawny boy. Then after all of the other people have left one figure comes out to accept the boy, it is none other than Death.

Hereafter we follow Mort as he explores Death's Domain, meets Death's daughter, and learns the ropes of being Death. Meanwhile Death gets distracted by studying humanity and gradually Mort starts to become death, even SPEAKING IN THE VOICE. It isn't long, however, before things start to go terribly wrong, without Death at the reigns.

I actually read this volume after Reaper Man and Hogfather, so I was quite interested to learn more about Albert and see the roots (literarily speaking) of Death's Domain. I also enjoyed seeing Mort grow and then struggle as only a human would, with the job of being Death and asking many questions that Death never could have.

If you've enjoyed seeing Death at the edges of other Discworld novels then you should definately check out his first starring role. Also, being fairly early in the series it can be a good introduction to the Disc without any real spoilers or prerequisites.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cb stewart
There is a reason for the caps in the subject heading, but you will have to read the book to discover it. The fourth Discworld installment is similar to the others in its wit and humor. Terry Pratchett has a gift for using the pen to create humor. The following is an example of the humor employed in this book, "Mort was interested in lots of things...there was the puzzle of why the sun came out during the day, instead of at night when the light would come in useful. He knew the standard explanation, which somehow didn't seem satisfying." A skilled humorist, it could also be said that the discworld books lack an interesting story. No one combines sci-fi humor and plot better than Douglas Adams, and the discworld books aren't on par with Adams' standard, but the comedy level of this discworld book and the others meet or exceed that of Adams' books.

This story is different from the others in that many new characters are introduced. The main character (death's apprentice) is new. The main character's boss, death, has only made a few short appearances in the past Discworld books. The likable main character from the first two books, Rincewind, makes a short appearance, but the majority of the characters are brand new. These characters, and most of the characters created by Pratchett, are developed well. The imagination can swirl around these characters in a way that makes the reader eager to discover the next page. Summed up, this book is great in its character development and humor but it maybe lacks in the plot development department.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nick donald
Mort is a pretty ordinary awkward teen. A liability on his family's farm, he is sent to seek an apprenticeship elsewhere. Just when Mort thinks he is completely unwanted by anyone, he receives an offer--by Death.

Working for Death actually isn't too bad. Mort simply has to be there when someone's time has run out, to sever their ties to life. In his off time, Mort lives at Death's home with his daughter and his servant.

Death decides that Mort is ready to try the job on his own, while Death spends awhile exploring his own humanity. But when Mort is sent to kill someone he really doesn't want dead, he takes action--an action that has ramifications for his world.

This was a very amusing story, with great characters. It managed to get across some of the important features of Discworld without being overwhelming or confusing. I enjoyed reading this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary baxter
I've started reading the Discworld series from the beginning since they've started reissuing the ones that were out of print. "Mort" is by far the best I've read so far. If they keep getting better as the series progresses, I'm going to have to restrict myself to reading these books at home because of the weird looks I get if I laugh at a book in public. Death is the most hilarious character in the book. Death has decided that he needs an apprentice so that he can look around a bit, do a bit of sightseeing on the Disc. Mort is the only boy in his town that wasn't offered an apprenticeship... until Death came. He gave Mort the offer of a lifetime. Free room and board, a great job, use of the company horse. What more could Mort ask for? But Death starts spending more and more time away and Mort isn't quite ready to start taking over the job full time. This book explores what happens when someone doesn't die that the entire universe expects to die. Like I said, it's one of the *best* of the series so far, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kevin jung
Hogfather, the twentieth Discworld adventure written by Terry Pratchett, is a wonderful tale about the power of belief and what it can bring to humanity. I found myself laughing out loud constantly while reading this book, which is always a good sign, and definitely a step up from Sourcery. It was very pleasurable to be enjoying Pratchett again. It was also very nice to have a good Death book again, after the small bump that was Soul Music
Can anybody not like the idea of a skeletal Death, all decked out in a red and white costume with false beard and false belly, trying to go down chimneys and bring presents to all the good little boys and girls of the world? The idea itself is enough to get me laughing, but Pratchett's implementation of it has to be seen to be believed. Pratchett pulls out all the stops in this one, with laughs as simple as Death trying to figure out how to open a door to let Albert into the house, and as complicated as philosophical discussions about human belief and how it orders the universe (in a way that the Auditors don't like, of course). Death continues to marvel at the ability of humanity to "be untruthful" by "telling the universe it is other than it is." This powerful belief creates beings like the Hogfather, the Tooth Fairy, the Boogeyman (the original!), that sort of thing. That's what makes Death such a wonderful character: his ability to learn, to adapt, and to see both the strengths and weaknesses of humanity, as well as his fascination with how humans do things.
Susan, his granddaughter, just wants to be normal again. It's been two years since Soul Music, and she doesn't want to go back to that life. But while Death can take the Hogfather's place, he can't physically intervene in the events that are occuring, so Susan must. She goes on a journey that takes her to where the Hogfather usually lives, and to the realm of the Tooth Fairy, where Teatime is using the magic of the teeth to erase the belief in the Hogfather. Susan is much more interesting in this book then in Soul Music, mainly because it doesn't take her as long to start getting in on the action. Previously, the entire first part of the book was spent with "recruiting" her to what needed to be done. In Hogfather, it happens much more quickly, which makes the beginning of the book a lot more interesting. The beginning also contains a little bit of foreshadowing. She is governess of two children, whose previous governess constantly reminded them that certain monsters would get them if they did something, and now Susan has to fight them off they are created by the children's belief. I found this very effective, and a good prelude to the philosophical aspect of the story.
The wizards are their usual selves, bumbling along making you wonder how they ever get through life, as well as wondering how they'd ever survive if they weren't in the insular confines of the University. Pratchett does flesh them out a bit, giving them even more personality then they had before. The Archchancellor is remarkably on top of things at times, while at other times he's as dense as a brick. He has the ability to pick up what is happening a lot quicker than you would think. The Bursar is his usual excitable self, downing Dried Frog Pills to make life bearable. I found it hilarious when they would make monsters and fairies appear by speaking aloud their wonderment at various aspects of life. "Supposing some idiot says there must be a god of indigestion, eh?" As usual, Pratchett uses the wizards for two things: to illustrate the effect of what is going on in the story, and as yet another source of comedy. That's why I find the wizards fascinating and very useful to the plot. While on first view their story is completely separate (though they do interact with both Susan and Death), it actually has a lot to do with the what's going on.
Pratchett's talent for wonderful characters continues with everybody else in the book. Teatime's a very creepy person. He's one of the few people who could figure out how to kill somebody like the Hogfather. He's ruthless, willing to kill on a whim, and very determined to get the job done. Then there's the oh god, the God of Hangovers, who is constantly sick and feeling horrible because he take personifies all the effects of drinking. He's miserable, but he plays the faithful companion to Susan on her mission. He's new to the world, but he's willing to learn.
Those are just a few of the great characters, but there are many more. Pratchett's writing is at the top of his form, with hardly a misstep. Susan is still slightly dull, but other than that, everything's a winner. He moves effortlessly from slapstick comedy to serious discussions of the nature of the universe and then back again. His descriptions are both humorous and yet true to life. While you can read the book just for the humour value, it's Pratchett's comments on the nature of belief and how we humans make the world up as we go along that really makes this book a standout. Whether or not you agree with him, the points are interestingly made, but they don't detract from the fun of the book at all. The book is a must read for any Pratchett fan, and it would make a wonderful introduction to the series to a newcomer, as none of the previous Death books are needed to understand this one.
Death is back. Oh how I've missed him.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
diane carter
Ah, the Disk World series. I have to admit that it's been years since I've read any from Mr. Pratchett's Disk World. My motivator for reading Mort was watching Hogfather on TV and I became fascinated watching Death. To scratch my itch, I decided to pick up one of Mr. Pratchett's books where the main character was Death. That being said... Mort tells when a young man is being forced from home and looking for a job; and Death take him as an apprentice. What could possibly happen?!?

This book is great one if you enjoy a different look at our world (as with everything on the Disk World there's a little satire, a little punning, and a little Pratchett). The concept of Death taking an apprentice and seeing what the apprentice can do is an interesting concept. Taking it further is seeing what Death does when he has time off (Death going about with people...). For me this was a five star book. I love the twists in the story. Watching Mort learning Death's ropes (or is that scythe), the interactions in Death's household and the backdrop of a potentially reality ripping event make for a great story. Death was a constant scream for me. I love how direct and simple Death is. I also love the fact that Death wants to have a taste of life. I was prepared to give this one only four stars, but the last 75 pages or so are so great that it kicked the book to five stars! Mr. Pratchett does a great job presenting the characters and describing the environment they're in, making this a very enjoyable book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
burak k k er i
That started out weird, and kept getting weirder until even the characters weren't sure what was going on. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but you do need to be prepared for a book with a very nonsensical, and possibly nonexistent, plot. It does have some good jokes scattered throughout, and parts of it definitely are a bit of a morbid type of humor.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
phoebe ayers
It's Hogswatch night in the Discworld...
Where is the big jolly fat man? Why is Death creeping down chimneys and trying to say Ho Ho Ho? The darkest night of the year is getting a lot darker...
The 20th book in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is hardly a proper introduction to the series, but for old fans it's one of Terry's funniest works. Readers will rejoice in the return of Death's granddaughter, Susan Sto-Helit (first introduced in `Soul Music'), who is naturally accompanied by the Death Of Rats and the Raven - as well as large doses of Death, who is probably the most interesting character in the Discworld universe, and always promises great comical scenes, and also a return of the Auditors from `Reaper Man'. The wizards of Unseen University - Archcancellor Ridcully, Ponder Stibbons, the Dean, the Bursar and the rest - also make a hilarious appearance. As for new characters - `Hogfather' introduces a lovely villain in the eccentric young Assassin Mr. Teatime, and his group of thugs makes for some great comic relief. More comic relief is supplied by Bilious, the (Oh) God of Hangovers.
Some bits of the plot, I must point out - mainly the scenes of Death posing as the Hogfather - are largely inspired, not to say ripped-off, from Tim Burton's `Nightmare Before Christmas'. That didn't bother me too much, though; Terry's terrific writing makes up for it. `Hogfather' is a terrific buy for Pratchett fans, as long as you've read `Mort', `Reaper Man' and `Soul Music'.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
maree
This is my first Terry Pratchett book - and frankly, after reading this book, I'm not sure why I didn't start earlier. But first - "Mort" tells about Mort, a young boy living in the Discworld who is looking for an apprentice position. Fortunately (or not), Death - yes, the grim reaper - is looking for an apprentice and Mort seems like a very good candidate. Mort takes on the offer and starts a rather bizarre existence.. especially since he falls in love with one of his "Clients" and refuses to let her die, thus, challenging the destiny and gods of the Discworld.
As a stranger to discworld I was a bit afraid that I will not understand many of the puns and ideas of this book, but it is *completely* self contained. I did feel there were some references that I wasn't familiar with, but nothing which ruined the fun in the least. Very highly recommended, reading it was a nonstop pleasure.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
renata
As I am a fan and a student of the anthropomorphic personification of Death, my friends had been urging me to read Mort for a good while before I finally got around to doing so. Quite literally, the book remained in my hands from the moment I began reading until the last flush of print. Novels like Mort and On A Pale Horse by Piers Anthony are much more culturally significant than I believe they are credited, for they take the dreaded inevitible of humanity--death--and turn it into something rational, comprehensible, and even downright human. Mort is an affable sort, but Death is a heck of a guy and a colorful character, whether in bones and black cloth or not. The notion of Death seeking a taste of the mortal when so much fiction goes the other way around is very refreshing. Be advised, though, that you should go into reading Mort with the Fantasy Punnster Mindset firmly in place for maximum enjoyment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
beryl eichenberger
I really love Death in Pratchett's books so I was excited to read a book that was focused on him, but I was somewhat disappointed. It still had a lot of funny bits (Death cooks at one point), but I was not super-impressed with this one. It may be one of those expectation things.

Mort strikes me as a somewhat bumbling character, who knows he is not supposed to do something, but then does it anyway. Of course, I guess that is typical of humans in general so he gets a partial pass.

There are these books that write down the stories of humans, and what happens with them is really amusing. I definitely loved each scene with those books. I think the problem is reading too many Pratchetts lately so maybe a couple months break to better appreciate his humor again is in order.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
imen prima
Earlier this year, I have started to re-read Pratchett again, hoping to refresh my memory and to catch-up with some of the newer titles. I have gotten as far as Mort up 'till now (have tons of other stuff to read), and by now everything was as I remembered it do be. First two books of Discworld series are deconstruction of fantasy paradigm, hilarious in it's moments but hardly anything more than that. Third book introduced us with Granny Weatherwax and notion of headology and just for that it stands out from the crowds, but is hardly more than story about equality between genders. Fourth book i.e. Mort, took a grasp on somewhat bigger scale. It took Death as it's main character, provided different viewpoints on matters of life and death from diverse characters, and gave us a few more insights about the exact manner in which Ankh-Morpork functions. Rincewind has sort of a cameo here, faculty staff and Shades have noted appearance, and rest of it is sort of a colorful background for an exercise in metaphysics. Ideas of justice, death, destiny and fairness are all being explored on these pages, as does the notion of power. And now we have a problem.

I remember reading "Reaper man" as a sort of an allegory that contrasted the pastoral picture of an English village with modern-day consumeristic frenzy of big town and it's inhabitants. Now in it, Death as a character has more profound depth than in Mort were it is presented as a mere function - "Destroyer of the worlds" (etc.), ultimate reality who happens to have sense of humor. Now, upon reading "Mort" again, I look differently upon the events and ideas from "Reaper man". Because "Mort" is all about balance, The Way Things Are Supposed To Be, in which anything that disrupts this preordered scheme is instantly judged as a destructive force that should be banished from existence. You can't mess with a higher purpose and the final way, because if you do, all sort of bad things could happen. Now, that is all well and correct if this higher purpose is something to be admired, something we should strive for. But, as Death constantly repeats - "There is no justice, there is just me". And doesn't this sound pretty conservative and totalitarian in the same moment?

If we change the meaning of Death and put a word 'system' instead of it (and as far as it may sound farfetched, the notion of death being the final frontier is the systematic notion) than the entire novel suddenly transforms itself into an apology of the system. Individual cannot mess with it and if he does the entire thing falls apart and we can't have that can we? In the end system can be benevolent but only if he chooses to be so, it cannot be forced or manipulated, and its benevolence is some kind of merciful approach to weaknesses of the individual. This idea is the disturbing one, the idea that advocates status quo and disqualifies any attempt towards any kind of the change. Suprisingly, many of the Discworld novels, chose to make ridicule of that kind of totalitarianism (e.g. Equal rites), and seeing it rise between these pages is troubling thought indeed.

"Mort" is still Discworld in a way - With funny remarks, great observations on ways that make people go, the absurdities of life and it's rule, and everything else that makes the continuing story of Discworld so good - but in the same way it's a strange Discworld, one that I'm not comfortable in, and one that I wouldn't want to be a part of. Maybe this musings are too abstract, but the feeling of dread that overcame me was factual and unsettling. Wonder what lies in store with upcoming books. This new way of looking at stuff seems promising enough. After all, we should always question the ideas we had at some point of our life. I'm questioning "Disworld". Wonder what answer will come out of it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
farshid
So we start off with 1 dead Hogfather (sorta like Santa Claus). So then, there a vacuum of belief, and Death becomes the Hogfather and... okay, so it sounds philosophical... of course it is. One thing Terry Pratchet excels at is putting in nuggets of wisdom and philosophy into his books. If faith is a continual thing made up collectively of everyones faith... what happens when we stop believing? In the Disworld, all manner of wackiness ensues.
I've always liked Pratchett's character of Death. Seeing him as the Hogfather was quite amusing. It's up to his adopted granddaughter to save the day once she runs into the Oh God of Hangovers. The two of them try to stop the nefarious plot of the Auditors (supernatural higher beings) who want the universe to be a bunch of rocks spinning around in circles. They hire an assassin to assassinate the hogfather, and again, all manner of wackiness ensues.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
betsy
DEATH wants to take a break. So who has to take over the task? A lot of souls out there waiting to be processed, y'know?
Easy. Get an apprentice. Experience not important. Horse, scythe and all the curry you'll ever need.
But dont get too involved with your...eer..'clients'. Thats what Mort did, though. Saved someone who was supposed to die just because he thinks she's cute. But the world doesnt like that. When a person who's supposed to die is still walking around, things begin to turn pear-shaped.
So DEATH (no, Im not shouting) needs to sort things out. But where is he? He joined a conga line and is having a jolly time.
This is where the Discworld books start to become laugh out loud funny. The first three books was okay but 'Mort' is the book where Pratchett finally found his funny bone and infects everyone with the laughing disease.
Those who have yet to start the fun ride through the Discworld and the great city of Ankh Morpork should start their journey here.
Enjoy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
osirus
I fondly got to know more about Death in this one. A skeleton figure wearing hooded- robe, and eye sockets filled with blue flames. Oh, he was funny and adorable in some ways. Here, he was like a grandfather whom in his old age suddenly got the urge for a change. He wanted to learn more about human's ordinary life. So, Death hired an apprentice, a boy named Mort. Once he thought Mort could do his work, Death took a holiday.

Death then tried fishing, dancing, gambling, and drink, allegedly four of human life's greatest pleasure. But he failed to grasp the fun in any of it. Finally, after he visited a job broker, he got a new job he could enjoy, cooking. There were so many hilarious moments during his experiencing human's activities and job interviewed. ("It would seem that you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever. Have you thought of going into teaching?" Death's face was a mask of terror. Well, it was always a mask of terror, but this time he meant it to be).

Meanwhile, during his adventure, Mort, Ysabel his daughter and Albert his servant tried crazily to manage the world's balance. Everyday there were sand clocks to set and souls to be ushered into the next world. After sometime, Albert performed a rite to summon Death back. Death was still wearing an apron and holding a small kitten when this summon happened, so he wasn't amused! ("Why did you have to spoil it all?")

But at the end, it ended well. Death was back to doing his job, and Mort deciding to live a mortal life with Ysabel.

When human's behavior, thoughts, emotions, were played through Death's thoughts, it does look absurd. Mr. Pratchett is a genius. He got me thinking more seriously about humanity now, but I still feel satisfied and humored by his writing. A good read and highly entertaining!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jason1002
I was really looking forward to reading this as I loved the character of Death in 'The Light Fantastic', and I wasn't disappointed. Although there was a lot going on towards the end and I found my eyes and brain glazing over a bit, as always with Terry Pratchett books, this exudes pure charm, wittiness and great story-telling. The Princess Keli is a brilliant character, and manages to channel a spoilt teenager and Elizabeth I. Cutwell, the plump wizard instead of the usual thin and bearded, is adorable. Mort himself I found a little annoying and felt his character fluctuated a lot throughout the novel, but I suppose that just marks his growth and ageing. It is sad how Death is so lonely. I hope in later books he gets lucky with the ladies. Haha.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shelley h
when all through the planet
Not a creature was stirring, except Susan Sto-Helit

Terry Pratchett's Discworld series has been marked by a series of hilarious (and thoughtful) parodies of life on our own planet. Pratchett takes a look at our own practices and customs and then filters them through the prism of a parallel universe known as Discworld. He has done this to great effect with the newspaper business (The Truth), Hollywood (Moving Pictures), rock and roll (Soul Music), and religion (Small Gods). The hilarious differences between the `real' and Discworld versions always provide the reader with hours of amusement and insight. Pratchett's treatment of the Santa Claus legend in Hogfather is no different.

Hogfather, Discworld's Santa is missing. He has been kidnapped by Teatime one of the most vicious villains created by Pratchett. Generally, the `bad guys' in Discworld have a number of amusing or redeeming qualities that help the reader see them as quirky, if bad. Teatime has no redeeming qualities. To that extent he seemed more similar to the villains of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (Croup and Vandemaar) than to the lovable rogues from the Guild of Assassins.

Well, DEATH comes to the rescue and decides to take on Hogfather's role as gift giver on Hogswatch Night, Discworld's Christmas. DEATH is accompanied on this task by the ever faithful and ever grumbling Albert. The passages in which Pratchett has DEATH making his rounds led by his team of boars shouting "on Tusker, on Snooter, on Gouger and Router" were hilarious.

Susan Sto-Helit, DEATH's granddaughter, was not at all pleased by this development. Prodded by the Death of Rats and his translator sidekick, the Raven, Susan is soon reluctantly involved in her Grand-dad's attempts to fill in the gaps caused by Hogfather's disappearance. It becomes apparent that the disappearance is all part of a grand plot by the scheming Auditors who, like all masters of evil have grand plans to end the universe as we know it.

As always, Pratchett keeps the story galloping along at a rip-roaring pace. Susan meets troubles in a manner reminiscent of the Perils of Pauline. Eventually we are faced with the climactic confrontation between DEATH and Teatime. Pratchett always seems to find a clever way to bring his books to satisfactory conclusion.

One of the best parts of the book, for me, was Pratchett's portrayal of DEATH's apparent fondness for mortals despite the fact that his sole (soul?) purpose in life (death?) was to facilitate the earthly end of all our lives. Pratchett's ability to imbue DEATH with such human characteristics without taking away from the other aspects of his immortal character is deeply moving to me.

All in all this was a very satisfying chapter in the Discworld series. Given the night before Hogswatch feel of the book it is fitting to conclude this review as it began:

DEATH sprang to his sleigh, to his Boars gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard DEATH exclaim, `ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Hogswatch to all, and to all a good-night!"
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ignacio lpm
Mort is an awkward boy who is trying to understand about the world. He is chosen to be an apprentice by none other than Death. This is amusing considering that a translation of "morte" is death. This is a fairly typical coming-of-age fantasy with quite a bit of humor.
Terry Pratchett sets the bulk of the novel in his Discworld, which is held on the back of a giant turtle. If you have never read any of the Discworld books, don't worry, you will not be lost here. If you are not a fan of Monty Python/British humor, then you might not get all the jokes and puns. Also, you might not understand why so much is spent on cabbage.
The story is solid. Although the journey of Mort towards manhood is not linear, there are no gaps in the narrative. The flow keeps you involved in the story from beginning to end. I would recommend reading this for a laugh.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
erin evans
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
HarperPrism, 1996
292 pages
Discworld; Fantasy; Comedy
4/5 stars

Source: Library

Summary: The Auditors exist as a blob with no distinguishable traits. They hate people for messing up the world and consequently have decided to "kill" the Hogfather (he can't exactly be killed like a human but it's similar). In order to maintain the very fabric of the universe Death assumes the role of the Hogfather and very definitely does not ask his granddaughter Susan to interfere.

Thoughts: I was a little confused about everything going on here. There are basically three threads: Death fulfilling the Hogfather's duties, Susan tracking down what's going on, and occasionally the Auditors would show up for short stretches of the book. Death and Susan each had their own plans and couldn't communicate straightforwardly which caused my confusion. I love Death as I think I've mentioned a lot. Susan was a great character. Having read Mort and knowing about her family, I could appreciate her more.

Quotes:

"If you left off traditions because you didn't know why they started you'd be no better than a foreigner." -footnote on page 115

"It's amazing how good governments are, given their track record in almost every other field, at hushing up things like alien encounters." -footnote on page 155

Lawyer slam! "It's a nicer version of Death Row, with the bonus of now lawyers." -footnote on page 213 (I guess I really enjoy the footnotes!)

Overall: A very funny story although I was a little confused.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
scott mollon
If you aren't prepared to read satire about Christmas, do not read this book. Also, don't read this book if you haven't read two of the earlier books in the Discworld Death series (Mort and Reaper Man) and possibly Soul Music as the story will lose a lot of impact if you are not familiar with the characters. However, if you do want a to read a satire of Christmas and have read the books mentioned above, then you will find Hogfather to be a Terry Pratchett classic. Be prepared to find the assassin Teatime totally repulsive (although you have to admire someone who likes their work) and to cheer the hero Susan. I couldn't help feeling, however, that there were a lot of references to the British way of celebrating Christmas that I didn't get. Nonetheless Hogfather was well worth the read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
slagour ahmed
If you are new to the disc world series this is the best book to start with, since it's so funny and imagenetive that you'll be hooked for ever. You don't need to read the previous books in order to enjoy this one wich offers you a closer look into the professional and personal life ( if you can really call it a life ) of the most funny and wonderfull character in the disc world - DEATH.
All of those who are alredy familiar with the disc world novels need no explaination how can the grim ripper be a funny thing, but to those of you who have yet to enter that world, you'll find out that Death is quite an honest chap, who enjoys the finer things in life like a drink now andthan, gardening and kittens. In order to enjoy this things more freely and with less interruption from his thriving bussiness of ushering souls into happy hunting lands, he hires an apreatnice, a boy called Mort.
Of course Mort makes a fine mess of it all, and as usuall in
pratchett's books it is a most enjoyable and funny catastrophe that threatends to put an end to the world, but the world doesn't end and everyone goes home happy.
Also there is a short guest appearence by Rincewind and the ape librerian we've all learned to love and cherish during the first 3 volumes of disc world novels. funny, funny stuff.
The common criticism concerning pratchett's writing is that he tends to recycle ideas that were at first fresh and wonderfull, but as they mature through his endless books, becomes tedious like a joke that was told too many times.
This book, however, is one of the first he wrote, and there for is guaranteed to make you wear a silly smile of pleasure while it lasts, and , as it was for me, you'll regret it ends so soon.
Soooo - Weather it's a first plunge to the disc world novels or a reading for the " Discoholics" you will absolutely love this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alegra loewenstein
Mort is an awkward young man who bungles everything he attempts. When his father decides to send him off to be an apprentice, he gets only one offer - from the Grim Reaper himself. It seems like a good job to Mort: free room and board and a secure position in a business that will never run out of clientele. He doesn't even need to die to take the job. Soon Mort is doing some of the reaping himself and he even seems to be gaining maturity, self-confidence, and the ability to walk through walls. He falls in love. But can he manage to help Death harvest souls without making a complete mess of things?

This is the fourth in the wildly funny and inventive Discworld series and the first in the Death story line. Although Death made an appearance in the first three books, this time we are provided with a much closer look at Death's domain through details on his daily routine, his likes and dislikes, his household, and his horse. We meet his daughter and his faithful servant. There are hilarious scenes where Death tries out a few mortal pleasures to learn what they are all about. Only Pratchett could depict Death fly-fishing, getting drunk, or participating in a line dance. Above all else, we find out that Death's not such a bad fellow when we get to know him.

Pratchett continues to flesh out the geography, culture, and magic of Discworld. He addresses the self-healing nature of history and the relationship between fate and death. He presents a coronation, a bevy of bumbling wizards, a deadly beverage called scumble, a library of self-writing books of life, and a dangerous section of Ankh-Morpork known as the Shades. There is also a generous helping of wit, puns, and wicked satire. This is a great read!

Eileen Rieback
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tammy jabin
Ages since I've read one, and it got me in and laughing. I think I might prefer his earlier books, perhaps a bit less preachy.

As ever Pratchett delivers some lovely descriptions, characters and events.

I don't quite know why he frequently goes so hard for a suspenseful climax - the rules of the universe are being so constantly bent and toyed with that we all know that whatever is a threat can be overturned in a moment - this one was almost as bad as `it was all a dream', as as an afterthought death mentions having a quiet word with the gods, making, of course, a mockery of all the agonising of the previous few chapters.
But if you stick to the wonderful ideas and descriptions and leave the plot behind, this is a fun read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stephanie feldstein
Hogfather is yet another Discworld novel by English humor and satire writer Terry Pratchett. It is just as addictive and fun as all before and after it. While listening to Death, his unwilling granddaughter and the constantly ill God of Hangovers, the story of the missing Hogfather, a figure similar to Santa Claus, unfolds. The main story is incredibly amusing, but equally engrossing are the stories within the story of minor and rather odd Gods, Death's family discourse, and the existence of bogeymen, beasts and wizards.
This novel appeals to a wide variety of readers. Each person will extract something different from the story. Younger readers will enjoy the humor while older readers will appreciate the upside down philosophy and satire of Discworld. All that is really required to adore Hogfather is a sense of fun and mischief and of course one afternoon to gallivant with Death's granddaughter, the Assassins' Guild and a whole slough of wizards.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
aletha tavares
The dark time of the year is filled with chaos, and so is this book, despite the efforts of the Auditors, nasty little bastards that they are. They want to eliminate the Hogfather and so prevent the sun from coming up, thus stopping the messy, disorganized process of life. (Hint: the whole mystery here centers around belief and the control of it).

A question provides a subtheme throughout the action: "What IS the real meaning of Christmas/Hogswatch?"

The easy answers, like the wishful, naive, simplistic, theme of "Wouldn't it be nice if everyone was nice?" (the Discworld is notoriously pantheistic) are juxtaposed harshly against reality. The commercialism of the merchant ("...but he's GIVING the stuff away!") while down the street The Little Match Girl freezes to death in the cold and snow, only to be rescued by Death as The Hogfather, pointing out that that's how it SHOULDN'T go, is pure Pratchett irony...seemingly gentle, but sharper than a diamond scalpel. Humans can't be bothered, but the Hogfather can give a gift...and a life is a pretty good one.

Another 'real meaning' is explored too, in Albert's voice, bone-real as in "Will there be enough food to get us through the winter after the pigs are slaughtered?"...

This moves even further back to the sacrificial blood on the snow bringing back the sun and renewing the earth after the winter solstice. Old gods do new jobs.

'Charity' also comes in for a scrutiny here ("..not what you want to give them, but what they need to get").

My personal favorite comparison here is Death as the Hogfather, pillow, fake beard, scythe and all, held up against the poor, fat, red-suited guy who has been demoted to going "ho ho ho" and passing out toys. Now Death is a Hogfather with 'NADS...in a manner of speaking.

Pterry has written a story that is impossible to explain without telling it, it has so many layers. The best thing to do is just read it, wait some time, and then read it again. Repeat this many times. You will get or learn something different each time you do so.

HO. HO. HO.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
debby stephens
This was the first Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel that I ever completed. I was rather distracted when I first picked up 'Reaper Man' and never actually managed to get all the way through it.
Having read this entire book cover to cover in the course of one afternoon, I can honestly say that it is among my favourites. I have now read it three times within the past two years, and hope to read it again around next Christmastime.
The Hogfather is the Discworld's version of Father Christmas, a big, jolly fat man who rides through a sleigh on Hogswatch Night, the sleigh being pulled by four giant hogs.
The hero of the story is none other than Death himself, and his granddaughter, Susan. Certainly a very cheery vision for Christmastime!
Those readers who are interested in Terry Pratchett's inimitable style and wonderful stories will love this book for everything that the Discworld means. Those of you who love getting deeper into the philosophical meanings of Pratchett's work will also enjoy this story, with it's deeper hints at the meaning of belief and existance.
Certainly a must-read book for any Discworld fan, the Hogfather is one of the best I've ever read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julia glassman
So far it's my favorite Discworld novel. It has everything, without that many slow parts. Pratchett's powers of description are on wonderful display here as well. Don't start with Mort, start with the Colour of Magic and you'll get more of the jokes.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
heidi agerbo
I've read a good amount of Pratchett's works, and appreciate them all. However, something felt off to me about Hogfather. It's still good, but much of the story didn't stick. I've been reading the Discworld books (more or less) in release order and Hogfather seemed the least cohesive of the bunch. Granted, even with such a plot, there's enough humor/satire/events going on, to keep you entertained.

In short, read this to complete your collection of Pratchett's works, but most of his prior books are better.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
xandri
Death is my favorite character in Terry Pratchett's Discworld fantasy novels, in all his skeletal, inhuman and cat-loving glory. Mort is Death's hapless human apprentice, and his adventures in this novel are, of course, imaginative and hilarious. Highly recommended to anyone (particularly Pratchett fans).
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
randolph
This is my first delve into Terry Pratchett's Discworld. I must say that it was delightful. I wanted to read a Christmas book that wasn't too sappy, and this fit the bill. I don't read much Science Fiction, but I enjoyed this book. It was thoughtful, and had some fun characters. I especially liked the character of Death who was always trying to understand human nature. This book asks the same age old question of many Christmas stories, is it our belief in Santa that makes him exist, and would he cease to exist if we stopped believing? But, it is done in a much more thought-provoking way
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
wyrmia
Terry Pratchett's Discworld series tend to be about the same level of quality because he follows the same formula throughout (at least as far as the first eight books are concerned, which I have read). This one though is slightly better than most. I think the main character Mort should make return appearances in future books and to my knowledge he hasn't.
Basically Mort becomes Death's apprentice. I don't want to say anymore but I have a feeling that this part of the series contributes significantly to Death's ongoing stories as the most recurring character in teh Discworld series. If you want to get into Discworld but, for some reason don't want to start at the very beginning, this is a good sampler.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
amber knowles tortolini
I've only just begun reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld series a month ago. If only one word can be used to describe them it would definitely be 'addictive'. The first two books was a big magical romp through a parody land. There was depth there, to be sure, but it wasn't realized. The third offering, Equal Rites, was alright. Less humorous but it did a lot of good things for the book's universe. This one, however, seems to have taken the best parts of the first three and put them altogether. It's hilarious, addictive, and has a great, interesting story on top of it. I'd suggest this book to anyone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
william hertling
Impossible for me to add anything to the reviews here, but let me just say I ALWAYS laugh whenever I read this. My favourite Pratchett story.

What could be better than Death having to take over for Father Christmas for a while? It's hilarious watching Death try and process his new role and the human attachment to Christmas, and holy crap - even using a different font for his voice makes him funnier.

If you've never read this one, stop putting it off and grab a copy!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
enrico accenti
After reading the first three books, I knew I liked Terry Pratchett. So my brother bought me Mort at a book store. It is the first in the Death subseries of the Discworld series. This one had more Discworld "feel" than Equal Rites. But it is not as good as "The Light Fantastic", my favorite so far. This book is about Death's apprentice, Mort, who takes over while Death finds ways of having Fun. Some of the scenes with Cutwell the wizard are funny, and Rincewind makes a brief appearence. I liked the duel between Death and Mort, and there were many truly funny scenes in Mort. But it was not my favorite. My order, from best to worst, of the ones I read are: 1. Light Fantastic 2. Equal Rites 3. Mort 4. Color of Magic
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
burcu ba datl
Funny and really enjoyable start to a series! This is my first time reading Pratchett and I'm glad I started with this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
michael squitieri
Typical Pratchett genuis. It's not so much his stories--though, who could resist Death taking an apprentice--it's his mastery of the English language and his play with the genre. Every one of his books is pure candy, and Mort is definitely one of his best. It's typical Pratchett: a comedic story of ridiculous proportions with charming characters (like my favorite, Death), but that seems to run head long, incidentally, into a bit of truth. And many, many profound lines that should become idioms of the English language. Grade: A
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chalida
This story is on one level the very funny story of Death (one of Pratchett's many reoccurring characters) having to fill in for the Hogfather as he tries to make people *believe* in Hogswatch (kind of a Christmas except with, well, um, hogs). On another level it is an exploration of the modern commercialized "Christmas", and the ancient myths from which it sprang. Silly and thoughtful, this book is a classic of fantasy. Though it would help to read "Mort", "Reaper Man" and "Soul Music" first, the book can be read on it's own, though it is funnier if you have the background of at least some of the earlier books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jonathan dennis
Possibly the darkest Pratchett novel, with Teatime being, as some sensible person a few reviews down wrote, truly repulsive. But even though parts of the book are black as black can be, others still crack me up, like the scenes with the wizards, or Death's 'jolly' laugh. But I don't rate it as high as some others because although it's a brilliant book, it can be a bit too unsettling. I mean, with the rain lashing against the window, the thunder rolling, the lights flickering etc etc...I think I'd rather stick with the guards than read Hogfather. But the book is still great, well-written and thought-provoking - don't let my cowardice put you off it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andrew anissi
Needing a break from the daily grind, DEATH takes on an apprentice to help him with the field work. He hires the awkward boy Mort (great name!) at a village job fair, and begins teaching him the trade. Mort seems to have found his calling, and as he grows into the job, DEATH leaves him with more responsibility. Until one day Mort breaks the rules, setting chaos in motion, which he must now scramble to set right.
I really liked Mort (the character, that is.) I liked the way he grew from a gangly kid into an imposing figure ("more solid" than everything around him.) And, of course, DEATH a major character in this book. (We get to see his warm and fuzzy side). We also meet the Four Horsemen again, whose dialogue is hilarious (especially the way it is presented), as well as a new inept young wizard (not Rincewind), and DEATH's buxom daughter.
"Mort" is my favorite Discworld book so far (although I still have a long way to go!) I'm reading them in order, but *you don't need to have read the others to get this one*. It stands on its own just fine.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lisamac
I'd read and LOVED Good Omens but although The Discworld series had been recommended to me several times by multiple people, this was my first foray into the world. It was just as good as people told me it was. I laughed at the satire, loved the characters in all their refreshing and realistic imperfections, and the universe itself that Pratchett's brought to life is something I can't wait to learn more about. I would highly recommend that everyone read at least one of Terry Pratchett's book, because if you have not read his writing than you are missing out on something wonderful and hilarious. I'm definitely going to read more of the series!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
bklyngrrl
The first Pratchett book I read. Have read all since that day many years ago and eagerly anticipate the new books. The book contains the quote of the decade - 'What's a curry?' - 'You ever eaten a red hot ice cube, that's a curry!'
Having read all that Terry has written I recommend to all to read them - especially 'Moving Pictures', the Witches books and The Guards books (Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords and ladis and Masquerade (Witches)) (Guards Guards, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay and Jingo (Guards)).
Also if you know England and have seen the Omen then read Good Omens - I shall say now more other than read and enjoy!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tom lawton
This was the first of the Terry Pratchett books I ever read while growing up in Columbia, South Carolina. It was a great introduction to his writing and kicked off my enthusiasm for his writing ever since. Without a doubt, the way that he personified DEATH and then humanized DEATH was incredibly creative. This book had the perfect mix of humor, wit, and fantasy to keep every page fresh and alive. Not to mention that the storyline kept me interested the whole way through. As I am sure many others have noted, his development of a whole world for the Discworld series is one of the best parts. Every book stands on its own but the whole series means that finishing one books doesn't leave you without an outlet for more. If you'd like a quote, "Ren Judice, an attorney from Columbia, South Carolina, wholeheartedly recommends this book and the whole series."

Ren Judice, Columbia, South Carolina
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
hector
Mort has been my second excursion into Discworld after The Truth. And though the earlier book is certainly simpler and more innocent (ie less "knowing"/intertextual/inbred) than The Truth and (I suspect) many of the later novels in the series, it largely holds its own. The concept is irresistible. Mort is a likeable protagonist. Death is just cool. There are plenty of rib-tickling scenes (Death's careers' advice interview is a cracker), the action is swift and engrossing and the ending is full of pathos (a good thing). In fact, as with The Truth, I am mighty impressed by the way Pratchett wraps up his story. That, as any writer, and most readers are well aware, is an often impossibly difficult skill to master. Some of the best writers around - and some of my favourites - fail at this last hurdle.

My biggest gripe with the book is that some of the language used and references feel a little dated now. But that's like carping at the datedness of Wodehouse or Dickens! (ie not a particularly illuminating gripe). Sure, Mort feels a little flimsy and I get the sense that Pratchett at the time of writing was still in the process of exploring the possibilities of Discworld. In other words, it seems a trifle unsophisticated and less fully realized than The Truth (and, presumably, the later novels), much in the same way as The Hobbit introduces a wonderful mythology and characters while merely hinting at the greatness to come. Essential reading, no doubt, but I'm pretty certain it'll be a while before I come across that bona fide 5-star classic that I just know Pratchett either has already written or is bound to write in future. Unfortunately, every single Pratchett book seems to have its champions on the store who proclaim it to be the best of the series. And every single one of them also has its detractors who decry its inadequacies. It's quite infuriating! Anyway, enough babbling, I've got Soul Music and Maskerade to plough through! (I've taken to reading at least two Pratchetts (or more) in tandem to save my sanity and so that I don't miss out on the delights of one Discworld sub-genre while I'm exploring another!)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julian mcdaniels
If you are a Pratchett fan then I am wasting my time telling you what a genius Terry is... if you're not yet a Pratchett fan, you need to find your introduction book to the master of Fantasy Satire.
Myths live forever... or do they. Hogfather is a twisting Helix of two tales. A murder mystery featuring Susan Sto-Helit, Death's Grand-daughter and a Romp through the collective human subconcious with Death and his surly manservant. Laugh and smile and wonder as Pratchett educates us as to the history, nature and evolution of Myth, Faith and the nature of belief.
A must have for any fan of Death and Susan Sto-Helit.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nicholas during
I started reading discworld much like other readers, a friend told me. When I started reading I couldn't put them down. But one in particular really got to me. "Mort" Was the only book I ever got done reading in one day. The book was so good I had to read it again. "Mort" is the story about Death, with a big D, and the mishaps that occure when he gets an apprentice. During the story Mortimer (or mort for short) Finds that he can't do the job very well when he accidently kills the wrong person. Now he has the matter of a few days to set the course of history right While trying to maintiane a relationship with a girl, and doing the job of death. That's a big order to fill. I don't want to give away the ending because it is just to good. All I can say is pick up this book you won't regret it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
patty bessmer
This is the first novel which features DEATH (all of his words in the discword series are in capitals), it deals with his struggle to understand humanity, and his taking on of an apprentice Mort (short for mortimer). The footnotes are intrested and so is Albert who would deep fry porridge if you let him. This book deals alot with the mortality of life. Plus it also shows the corruption of the soul by power, unless you are an anthromorphic personification. A love intrest is also included with mort showing an intrest in deaths daughter (adopted). Also the colur scheme is interesting (black). A good read for someone interested in discworld.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
michael taylor
Probably the best book Pratchett has ever written (but then, I would give »Lords and Ladies« a bad credit). To give some arguments: The plot is great because of a) the characters, led by Susan, Death (going HO, HO, HO), the Death of Rats (going HEEK, HEEK, HEEK), Ridcully the Brown and the Oh God of Hangovers; b) the villain, which is Mr. Jonathan Teatime, who has a mind like a mirror crack'd: Lots of brilliant and beautiful facettes, but nevertheless something that's broken; and c)the plot itself, which is a thrilling whodunit, because though you know who had it done and who did it, you don't know How or, even more important, WHY. The resolution ... I won't tell you, but it's brilliant (like Mr. Teatime's brain?). Read this book. Read it again. At least each year when christmas is drawing near. Then think about the sun, and blood in the snow, and an assassin with a eyeball of glass ...
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
felicia fulks
So far, I have liked all of the disciples novels, but this one some, mm, novel twists and unexpected turns. I wonder if Death does take a holiday...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
david sepulveda
Of all the Discworld novels (How many are there now? Quite a few, anyway) this is one of the best. Susan Sto Helit and the personified Death are two of Pratchett's best characters, and they're at their best here. I won't get into the plot; suffice to say that there is a plot, and it is a good one. As has been pointed out, the humor is darker in some places than is typical for Terry, but it's still the same comic personality. The end of the book has a thoughtful edge, as Terry's best books tend to at some point, but somehow it doesn't seem incongruous. Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
debbie421
Loved this book and found myself laughing loudly several times. Terry Pratchett's Death is one of my favorite characters in his Discworld series and I loved reading the adventure (or rather misadventure) of his first apprentice.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
beth sacks
This book was hilarious. Not only did it have the grim reaper playing Santa Claus (or Hogfather as the case may be), but it also has a colorful cast of other "mythical" beings like the tooth fairies, the bogeyman, the "oh god" of Hangovers and the assassin with manners, Mr. Teatime. (That's Te-ah Tim-eh.) This is one of my favorite in Pratchett's Discworld series. It shows the human side to Death himself and his idealistic and childlike yearnings to rob the rich to feed the poor. I recommend it to anyone looking for a wonderful combination of fantasy and laughs (although not without a bit of morale thrown in).
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chamfancy
I love the character of Death.A skeleton who yields a scythe and likes curries and cats is just really funny. My mom thinks the whole thing is just mad. T he idea of being an apprentice to Death seems the kind of position that would be filled by a demon or a ghost but oh no. Pratchett instead chooses Mort a knock-kneed 26 year old boy. I just love the Discworld series and everyone should read them
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kassia
When Death offers Mort the chance of a lifetime to be his apprentice, Mort realizes that this will be a big chance to prove to his father that he is worth something. But Mort realizes that this job could be killer on his love life and that by defying the rules of reality for love he had just messed things up big time. A story full of Death, love, Death, accion, Death, hourglasses of life, Death, magic, Death, scythes and of coarse DEATH.

I loved this book alot. We got to see a big side of Death, WHO ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Mort remindes me of me, and there is nothing better then finding a character in a discworld novel that reminds you of you. My only problem with the book was that the book seemed to drag on sometimes and it could have been a little funnier. Overall, it was one of my favorites.

I recomend this book much more for Teens of all ages.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jessica jazdzewski
Well, it's kinda hard for me to choose my favorite in the Discworld series since every episode has got its great moments. Still, I'd choose this one. For me, it's the best work mr Pratchett has every delivered. Humoristic of course, and as always a brilliant plot. And interesting characters. They're all elements Pratchett got famous for and well, let me tell you he really deserved it. For those who think LOTR is a bit too heavy this is perfect, since it's much easier to read. And for those who love LOTR (like me), well...this is perfect too!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
nancy perkins
Usually I enjoy fantasy books but this particular book was way too all over the place. I found it really hard to follow and I am surprised I got all the way to the end. I found myself reading it and thinking about the dishes, and what I was going to cook for dinner etc
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
april schiltz
Terry Pratchett is one of the only authors alive today who can still get away with writting an entire novel to make a single point. This is the first Discworld novel I read (but not the first Terry Pratchett novel)--my friend happened to have it with him when we were discussing books--and it has inspired me to read the rest of the collection. Some might say that the 21st novel is not the best place to start, but it seemed to work for me. I've read it twice, because Terry Pratchett is one of those authors where you have to. The first time, you read through it fast just to see how he ends it, and then you read through it again to find all the little things that you missed the first time because you read through it too fast. I recommend this book to anyone who's bored with the carbon copy, cookie-cutter novels that flood todays market, because this is definetely not one of them.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
assem
I just finished reading this book and The Wee Free Men, another brilliant Pratchett novel from his young adult series, and I am thoroughly convinced: Terry Pratchett is a genius writer. I have no idea how he manages to do such an amazing job developing his characters, settings, and stories, but every single Pratchett book that I've read is unfailingly strong from all angles. Not to mention that he inserts elements that make you think, long past the point where you've turned the last page.

Mort was no different -- a thoroughly engaging tale of adolescent love and an interesting internship. Within the first few pages I could SEE Mort in my mind, so good was Pratchett's description. Mort's journey as he goes from an awkward teenager to a more polished but still unsure version of himself as Death's apprentice is truly funny and laced with elements of real seriousness, just like life.

More than once I've found myself laughing out loud at Pratchett's writing, and I've decided that I can't start any of his books on any evening before I have to get up early, because I have yet to be able to put one down before it ends. The way he can make a spare, simple sentence speak volumes constantly amazes me, and even in his most fantastic characters, you'll recognize little bits of people you know.

Brilliant.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kathi herick
Death is the best character in the diskworld. Do yourself a favor and read the story where he learns and changes a bit.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
scott josephson
This is a great part of the Discworld series and actually the first one that really got onto me. The story is pretty good, about Death needing a break (DEATH, I mean) and his search for a replacement, which is, you'd guessed, Mort. The book is really funny, and the characters are funny and a bit more realistic than most characters from the first two Discworld books (yeah, I know this is number FOUR but I didn't like number three, Equal Rites, very much). Overall one of the better ones in the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dwain smith
This novel is really good. Having read the other 3 previous novels, I can say that this is rivals the Light Fantastic in terms of quality and characters. Some of the scenes weren't described so well(ie. I only discovered Mort's age a little bit too late in my opinion) and it's too short, doesn't cover ALL of the things that could've happened with the idea (Which I won't spoil it for you)
But other than that, a great Discworld novel, much better than Equal Rites (Which I was disapointed with)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tyson strauser
This is my favorite Discworld book so far. The writing and humor are top notch, and how could anyone resist Susan and DEATH? I laughed out load many times during this book and greatly enjoyed it. (The movie, which can be seen on Youtube, is also a delight.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
paul headrick
This books follows Death and his apprentice Mort through Discworld. And beyond. The plot boils down to Mort falling in love with someone who is going to die. While he has the power to save her, there will be a price for doing so.

the good: He's back, folks. This book is one of the funniest I've read so far. Pratchett seems to be exploring his skills more with this book, but the humor is non-stop. It had me rolling.

The bad: It ended? Not much to complain about.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
margaret murtagh
Can there be another genius on this planet that is half as funny, witty or as enjoyable to read than Terry? The answer is obviously NO! Death has always been the most colourful character since The Colour Of Magic. He defines what life is all about, and this book shows that life is for living, even if you're dead. One day there will be a Discworld film and that could ruin the mystery surrounding Death-the funniest man not on this planet. Did Mr.Pratchett mould Death in his image?
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kristin m in durham nc
I'm working my way through the series and like it, but this one seemed to end abruptly and left too much unresolved. Good characterization and thoughtful premise, but Piers Anthony's On a Pale Horse did it better.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chander2
.....and as Death's granddaughter approaches the latest bogeyman with poker in hand....well, you just have to read the story, Don't you? It's just as good the fourth time as it was the first....and I always notice something I missed before....so enjoy yourself, and whatever you do, Don't take away Hex's FTB!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
darlynn
I love this book. Oh, did I mention I love this book?
Quite apart from containing Death's granddaughter, Susan Sto Helit, who could make a book worthwhile all by herself, it's REALLY REALLY COOL. That Assassin Teatime is *wonderfully* creepy. I have a Teatime fixation now. And the oh god is amazing as well.. Well, the characters, as always, make or break the book, but the plot here's amazing as well. And where else but the Discworld can you have a storyline that takes you from a child's playroom, to Death's house, to the Tooth Fairy's castle?
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
eric m
I've been reading the Discworld books in order and I have to say, that "Mort" is one of the better ones I've read.

At the same time, I also have to say that "Mort" was not as funny as I thought it would be (hence the title for my review). But there are a few witty passages (THERE'S NO JUSTICE, said Mort. JUST US (page 207)) and ideas (the whole idea of the Holy Listeners was brilliant!).

The only time I did laugh was the scene with the parody of the "I Ching" or "Book of Change" which in "Mort" is called the "Ching Aling". I was really able to connect with that scene because I've been unfortunate enough to have read an obscurely worded copy of the "I Ching". "Without verticality, wisely the cochineal emperor goes forth at teatime; at evening the mollusc is silent among the almond blossom. (page 95)".

Mort is a very well developed character and I think that's another reason why I ultimately ended up liking this book even though it was not as funny as some of the previous ones.

The storyline, too, is also much better than that found in "Equal Rites". I remember "Equal Rites" taking a good 50+ pages to get on with the adventure, whereas "Mort" gets right to the point within a few short scenes.

Overall, a really good Discworld book.

But Death is still no laughing matter.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
alyson gerber
This is one of those "bummer" Discworld novels, lying somewhere in the bottom half of Pratchett's output. This is one of those Discworld novels where the plot (what there is of it) evolves entirely off stage, and is never even summarized by Pratchett or one of the characters. You have to guess it from occasional vague indications.
On stage we have the always boring Susan, grandaughter of Death, as well as Death himself, plus some time-wasting and always irrelevant antics at Unseen University. You will not be surprised at all to learn that with Discworld's equivalent of Santa Claus or Father Christmas turning up missing, Death has to fill in. Nor will anything that then happens surprise you. And most of it won't amuse you either. The villain, Mister Teatime, is potentially interesting, but is given little or nothing to do, like all the other characters.
By this time in his output, 20 novels down the tubes, Pratchett seemed quite tired of it all, and the reader will be tired of this novel long before the final page is turned.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andres
In all honesty, after you read this book, she'll probably be your hero too. You have to admire a girl who not only knows the boogieman exists, but also knows that if you put a fluffly blanket over a boogieman's head, it thinks it doesn't exist. She's one of the most logical characters in all of Prachett's Discworld, which isn't to say that she doesn't get sucked into fantastic going ons, but that she deals with them in a precise, sensible manner. As Death's reluctant heir, she's fantastic, and it's worth reading Hogfather just for her.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sheikh shahidur
This was brought for one of the grandkids as it was on their the store wish list. I have heard no complaints.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
trees
"Mort" is the 4th Discworld novel. Alternatively, it's the 1st in the Death/Mort/Susan subseries ("Mort," "Reaper Man," "Soul Music," "Hogfather," and "Thief of Time"). It's also the best of the series up to that point. An excellent book with some of the best writing I've ever read. In this book, Pratchett develops Death and transforms him from a flat, cameo-like persona to a recurring, fairly central, far-more-LIFE-like role. Wonderful book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cynthia dahle
Hogfather's my first Discworld book, and I'm not disappointed at all! Pratchett's style is erratic and subtle at the same time, fraught with clever wording and the funniest lines of dialogue. The footnotes are a refreshing bit. Hogfather is a story of belief and imagination, of the dreams and nightmares of childhood. Amazingly deep and philosophical without being boring. The only problem I had with the book is that my Teatime (yes, I've come to think of him as *mine*), the absolutely brilliant - and creepy - villain, wasn't played up enough. He could have been an enduring character! But that excluded, Hogfather is an altogether brilliant work!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mehri
Terry Pratchett here came up with one his three best characters. Ok, he didn't make him up, but the earnest deadpan characterisation, and the use of capitalisation to signify Death speaking works wonderfully well, and is a lot of fun.

Throw in one of his other best characters, the Librarian, and guaranteed to be decent.

A seemingly useless young boy becomes Death's apprentice. Silliness and adventure ensue.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jeremy patterson
MORT is not one of Pratchett's stronger entries in the Discworld series. Taking the old "Death takes a holiday" premise and putting the Discworld spin on it is not quite enough to make this more than an afterthought in the series. Mort, whose constant restating of his name when called "boy" or lad" becomes his most memorable characteristic, (Showing just how poorly drawn a character he is.) becomes Death's apprentice and mild amusement ensues. Pratchett is always funny but this one lacks the originality found in so many other Discworld stories and pales in comparison.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julie frost
As usual, this book is a masterpiece. Although I read it about 5 times, I still find it captivating and compelling. It's one of Pratchetts funniest and with less moral lessons as his other ones (e.g. Jingo or Feet of Clay). Nevertheless, or maybe because of this, it is very enjoyable. Furthermore, Pratchett seems to be one of the rare persons who really understand the psyche of children,i.e. that children like blood and are really egoistic buggers. I rated this book with five stars because there aren't more available.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nathan harrell
I have not laughed at a book so hard since I picked up the Desden Files, years ago. The way Terry Pratchet wrote Death is remarkable.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katie nolan
Easily one of the best Discworld books I've read. Hogfather was the first Terry Pratchett book I read, and while Death is a great character, it was fun getting a look at Albert's origins and Susan's parents.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kody
Love Terry Pratchett! Love Discworld! So funny but with interesting social commentary... :)

Just FYI, read these in numerical order (my sister did this) or find a "reading order" online--some books are better to start with than others ("Equal Rites", "Mort" or "Guards! Guards!" are all good to start with).
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kaye booth
This has to be the best Terry Pratchett book I've read to date. If Death taking on an apprentice isn't wierd enough then just wait, as you read you'll discover the oddest, and funniest, things about the life of Death. I love this book and so have the people I lent it to. If you enjoy light hearted comedy, fantasy, or satyrs then you should READ THIS BOOK!
((well that didn't sound like an infomercial))
~Lupus
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
michael delmuro
No, not THAT first time! My first time at visiting the hilarious, wild, thought provoking and wonderful Discworld. Since this book I have read all but the most recent of Terry's Discworld series and with a couple of rare exceptions (Intreresting Times being one) they are truly the pepperoni slices on the pizza of literature! Mort will forever remain my favorite, closely followed by Guards, Guards, as we follow the misadventures of Mort in his apprenticship to DEATH (just having DEATH 'speak' in capitals is funny). And who knew that HE liked the odd curry and hated people who were cruel to cats. No series of books has made me laugh out loud so much, and NO humorous book has made me care about its characters to such an extent that the climatic fight leaves me not wanting to read on, but having to! Science Fiction, Fantasy call it what you will. Me, I call it a great book and a great read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nick smith
Mort is Definately one of Pratchett's best (which one isn't). I am at the moment involved in the play and am playing Mort. I haven't laughed so much in all my life as when I was reading this book. My favourite part being When Mort (Death's Apprentice) and Ysabell(Death's Daughter- adopted of course) diss each other about their appearances. Death is a really cool character and you will love this book, I don't care who you are.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jo anne
Adore Pratchett, adore the Death books. Fantastical, delightful, wondrous. Good fun to read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
aster
Introducing Death, his apprentice and his daughter.. oh.. and a large pile of horse manure - what could possibly go wrong? Another fun tale from Pratchett. Not as strong as later tales but a good one.. worth a read
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
anita harris
Just a quick review. I picked this book up a year ago because the artwork vaguely reminded me of The Nightmare before Christmas. Pratchett is as witty and hilarious as Douglas Adams, yet succeeds in creating a style of "randomness" all his own. I absolutely adore the character of Death; his philosophic monologues and the way in which he repeatedly questions some of our earthly ways is downright intriguing. Pratchett mixes complex humor and likeable characters, then adds in a dash of theological and gothic tone. A great intro to the Discworld series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
brenda keith
This book contains Pratchett's writing in usual form, and is for the most part well-written, and contains some stuff that is flat-out hilarious, such as the depressed cheerful fairy. Still, the ending is somewhat confusing, and seems to leave a few loose ends. Also, the inherent concept of Death taking over the duties of a jolly old sort seems underplayed. There is a great deal of comic potential in this scenario, of which the surface was barely scratched. These are minor qualms, however, and as a whole this book still makes excellent reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
summerscent
Terry Pratchet's Hogfather is a comedy that deals with what happens when Death has to assume the role of Hogfather (like Santa Clause). The reader is easily drawn into Pratchet's Discworld; a vivid and comical world filled with character that can only make one laugh. Three characters particularly caught my attention, Teatime, Death, and Susan. Their descriptions and quirky traits always brought a smile to my face. Yet it is worth mentioning the background characters, who in turn provide most of the comical relief (in my opinion). Characters such as the Death of Rats, and the guard at the university were really hilarious as their comments were so original that I couldn't help but go and tell others. "The Death of rats nibbled a bit of the pork pie because when you are the personification of the death of small rodents you have to behave in certain ways." Page 49-50.
The theme that I see in this book is that one should accept who you are, this can be clearly seen with Susan and Death both trying to be someone there not. I agree with this theme because I too have dreamed of a different life, one where I am a SWAT team member. Yet due to my poor eyesight this dream is currently nothing but a daydream.
I strongly recommend this book to all readers that want to escape reality by becoming part of another world such as Discworld or J.R.Toliens middle-earth. It is also a book for people who enjoy sophisticated humor.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
aharon
No one can match the verbal wit of Terry Pratchett. If you're not laughing out loud while reading, you're at least smiling--and wishing you were able to remember some of the best lines. Sometimes the plot is irrelevant because it's how he says something, not what he says.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
veronique bois
I love all things Terry Pratchett. I just finished reading "MORT" - a clever story about DEATH as a personality.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
emily blum
I thought that this book was pretty decent. It doesn't have the depth that I like in later novels, but it is only the fourth one. There really isn't too much to say about it. It was a decent read, nothing spectacular, but fun, funny, and interesting. I recommend it as a lighter read in the discworld novels. I do think that it develops Death's character pretty nicely. Since Death is in just about all, if not every, discworld novel, it helps with some quips and jokes that come in later books. Gives you sort of a nice, warm "I got the inside joke" feel later on in the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
donna cahill
I think this is my favorite of the Discworld novels, although "The Fifth Elephant," "Small Gods," and any other Vimes novel are also high contenders. "Hogfather" gets points for its poignancy, its interesting insights into human belief, and of course the hysterical scenes with Unseen University's bungling high wizards.
I don't want to give anything away, but Pratchett's visions of the mind's eye of childhood and the things that terrify you when you're young are brilliant. The assorted gods, fairies and gnomes that fall into existence when the Hogfather goes missing are wonderful and crazy characters, and of course, any book with Death as a primary character is always a great read.
All in all, I loved this book. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I admit, it had me in tears at the end. BUY THIS NOW. You won't regret it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ilmar
Entertaining, as usual, but not in the top tier of Discworld books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
karen gomez
Funny and irreverent seasonal tale. Who knew Death had a granddaughter? And a desire to portray that familiar jolly elf. Based on this convoluted tale I need to read more about Discworld.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
hofita
Death loves cat and kittens. How much fun is that? Once again Sir Terry created a hilarious romp. Don't do anything bad to cats because Death will know.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bill cissna
I love all the disc world novels so far! Terry Pratchett was a genius!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
estefaniasv
I was just getting into the Terry Pratchett novels when I decided to pick up this seemingly witty parody of our Christmas culture. I enjoyed everything about the book from the Hogfather's origins to the alliance of Death and his granddaughter as they race the clock to save Hogswatch. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sachi
Perhaps the funniest of the Discworld novels I've read so far! This book combines the Death series (my favorite) with the goofiness of the wizards of the Unseen University. Although this book technically comes after the events in Reaper Man and Soul Music, I had to read it without the benefit of first having read those books (they are deeply back-ordered at the library). But it still stands up well as a standalone read after Mort and is a joyous, hilarious statement about humanity and belief. Death remains one of my favorite characters in the series and he truly does not disappoint here, especially when he takes on the mantle of the fallen Hogfather. Who knew a skeleton in a red Hogfather suit, giving out Hogswatch gifts with wild abandon, could have so much heart? This has made the list of books that I must read every Christmas!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jenni read
As always Pratchett delivers a fun read. It's not one of my favorites, but I still enjoyed it. Quoth and Death of Rats were actually my favorite characters in this tale, the others were a little tired.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
immi
My only problem with this book is that it is far too short. I read it more and more and wish the story didn't end too soon. The story draws you in, and all the characters are portrayed very well, leading to a very tense moment when Death starts, well, um... Don't want to give away the plot. Let's just say he's losing his voice, and that's a bad thing... A GREAT book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mercurio d
This was the first book in the Discworld series that I read...forever after, hooked! It is a great universe and I encourage anyone to get lost exploring it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nelson
Ending was not as satisfying as rest of book. Seemed rushed. I am going to read the rest of the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jamie hurley
More humor from Terry Pratchett's Discworld. I had missed a few of the earlier Discworld offerings, but this one stands alone as yet another comic offering from a slightly skewed world.
Please Rate Hogfather: (Discworld Novel 20) (Discworld series)
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