a Discworld book by Terry Pratchett

Among writers of humorous fantasy, Terry Pratchett must be the most renowned. His Discworld series had been read (and loved) by millions of people all over the world, and this twenty-first installment is no less funny than the rest of his books. However, this book features a slightly darker sense of humour than the earlier books, as we witness the assassination of the Hogfather (you know him, big fellow with red clothes and a jolly laugh, hands out presents at midwinter) and its consequences. As it turns out, this devious murder is part of a much greater plot to destroy all of mankind (and dwarfkind, and trollkind, etc) laid out by a group of beings called the Auditors. The true nature of these entities is somewhat unclear, but they seem to prefer a universe that consists only of spherical rocks in elliptic orbits, without the disturbing elements called life.

The disappearance of Discworld's Santa equivalent, of course, leads to several humorous situations as well as the appearance of some quite strange anthropomorphic personifications, such as the Eater of Socks, and the Cheerful Fairy. Our heroine, Susan, is left to sort all this out. She does, however, have certain advantages over normal people. For example, she can walk through walls and become invisible whenever she wants, all a heritage from her grandfather, who we know as Death. (As stated in the book, genetics isn’t all about sex.) This all adds up to quite an interesting story about human beliefs and superstition, even though it is far from as funny as, for example, Maskerade or Guards, Guards!. I still found it a very enjoyable read though, and who wouldn't laugh at moments like when Death is forced to dress up as the Hogfather and take his place (imagine a seven foot skeleton with a pillow up his robes, practising his “Ho, ho, ho!”). This book definitely has a place in the bookshelf of every Pratchett fan, though I would advice those new to his books to start with another title, such as Mort, or The Colour of Magic.

This is a review I submitted in high school English class. I know, but they don't ask for much either. Node your homework.

Pointless adaptation for TV of Terry Pratchett's most inaccessible novel.

Hogfather is a co-production of Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB and three other independent production companies. Made for TV based on Terry Pratchett's 1996 novel it was to be premiered at Christmas 2006 on SkyOne and is now available on DVD. It features an impressive cast of British household names, including David Jason as Albert, Death's chain smoking, lard eating assistant, David Warner as Lord Downey, the head of the assassin's guild and is even able to cram in Tony Robinson and Joss Ackland. The production design is mostly excellent and stays close to Pratchett's imaginative and intricate description of localities and protagonists. The beginning of the 3 hour, 2 part adaptation of the novel is especially breath taking, featuring a 360 degree flyover (and under) of the Discworld, Great A'tuin and the four great elephants Berilia, Tubul, Great T'Phon and Jerakeen carrying that small piece of pizza shaped galactic real estate. The plot is kept closely to its literary origins which of course can be read in the writeup above and does not need to be repeated, but is the movie's biggest problem: Why the producers, director (somebody called Vadim Jean who previously directed such masterpieces as Jiminy Glick in Lalawood) chose one of Pratchett's darkest (only matched by Nightwatch) and most inaccessible novel is beyond me.

The main problem with this adaptation of Hogfather is that nobody who hasn't read Pratchett's Discworld novels extensively before watching this will have any idea of what's happening: no explanation is being given over the first 2 hours who or what that funny nanny is who is able to kill monsters lurking under children's beds, why she can stop time, has a funny hairdo or can fly with a white horse through the air. Equally nobody cares to tell us why death has a cynical, cockney, lard-eating, chain smoking, alcoholic assistant that hangs around with him. Nor are the references to the Soul Cake Duck, the Tooth Fairy and the other mythical creatures explained. The best girlfriend ever, watching this with a fraction of the encyclopedical knowledge that some Pratchett readers have, was continuously shaking her head at the lack of explanations the writers gave for the ever unfolding plot, which brings me to the film's two other big problems: camera work and script. The camera (apart from the CGI scenes, which work rather well) seems to be continuously static, locked in one place, staring at talking faces. It really feels like you're watching an episode of All creatures great and small with fancy costumes. And it drags. Big time. The already rather inaccessible story of Death and Susan saving the (disc) world from the evil ploy of that assassin with a personality disorder, is made even more boring by a script that builds up no tension, shows no interest in its main characters and tries to rush in 3 hours of non-existing action into the last five minutes.

Quintessence: With a decent degree of discworld knowledge you'll enjoy the masterful production design and its little nods to Pratchett's genius, but if you are a Ankh-Morpork newcomer you'll have no idea of what's happening and will gain no enjoyment.

A missed opportunity, pointless and boring.

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