My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Call me stupid, but this was one of the more confusing books I’ve ever read — and I really like Pratchett. His humor is definitely on show in this book, which is good, but I never got what was happening in the book’s plot.
It goes like this: ethereal beings called the Auditors want to do away with the Hogfather, Discworld’s version of Santa Claus. Apparently they hate life and hate humans and they think this will do something to humanity. So they hire Assassins to take him out. But that doesn’t really happen. He disappears from the scene, so apparently he’s been kidnapped somehow, but by whom, we’re never told. Meanwhile, Teatime, the Assassin, hires a bunch of thugs and a student wizard to help him out. They find themselves in a castle (?) tower (?) trying to unlock numerous locks on a door. To get at what, I never found out. Meanwhile, they’ve taken over the Tooth Fairy’s collection of teeth because that somehow means something to the plot, but what that is I never found out.
So the Hogfather has disappeared. Well, Death steps in to act on his behalf on their version of Christmas eve and he dresses up in a red suit and fake beard and takes a sleigh driven by four hogs around to all the houses, delivering presents to good children. He even takes time out to stop in a department store and act as the Hogfather there for children who get up on his lap and ask for things. It’s actually a pretty humorous scene.
Additionally, the Death of the Rats and a raven play a role in this novel, mostly as intermediaries between Death and his granddaughter Susan, who’s a governess now and is trying to forget about her heritage. Yet she’s the one who saves the day. She dispatches monsters for the children she serves and ends up going with the rat and raven to Death’s place, for what, I’m not sure. But she locates the Tooth Fairy (What does the Tooth Fairy have to do with the Hogfather???) and engages in a climactic scene with the Assassin and his henchmen, dispatching them with ease.
Now, you can’t have a Discworld novel without funny wizards mucking things up and this is no different. And as they gather for a holiday feast, Teatime comes flying down from above and they think he’s a corpse, but he regains consciousness and leaves. It’s really weird. Where did he come from?
Susan ultimately saves the Hogfather from a pack of dogs, which are really the Auditors, who are chasing him while he’s in hog form. After she saves him, with Death’s help, he reverts to his usual form and goes off on his sleigh and everything is once again right with the world. OK then.
Death was my favorite character in the novel. I first encountered him in Reaper Man and I’ve loved him ever since. He so tries to understand humans and his insights are hilarious. However, Death wasn’t enough to save this book for me. I have no idea what happened in the book or how it happened and that frustrated the hell out of me. I’d normally recommend Terry Pratchett to anyone, but not this novel, not today.