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Author Terry Pratchett
Language English
Series Discworld
20th novel – 4th Death story

Christmas, children's stories, the power of belief

Death, Susan Sto Helit
Death's Domain
Genre Fantasy
Publisher Victor Gollancz
Publication date
Awards Came 137th in the Big Read
ISBN 0-575-06403-X

Hogfather is the 20th Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, and a 1997 British Fantasy Award nominee.[1]

The Hogfather is also a character in the book, representing something akin to Father Christmas. He grants children's wishes on Hogswatchnight (December 32) and brings them presents. He also features in other Discworld novels.

Plot summary[edit]

In the novel, the Auditors strike again by deciding to eliminate the Hogfather because he does not fit into their view of the universe, contracting Lord Downey, head of the Assassin's Guild, for the job. Lord Downey commissions the services of Mr Teatime, whose particular brand of insane and uncaring genius makes him ideal for the assassination of 'anthropomorphic personifications' such as the Hogfather. When Hogswatchnight comes, the Hogfather is missing.

Death knows why the Hogfather has disappeared, but cannot intervene directly. He accidentally visits his granddaughter Susan Sto Helit (who is working as a governess) and carefully does not tell her about the incident. Annoyed and curious, she visits the Hogfather's Castle of Bones, only to find the hung-over Bilious, the "Oh God" of Hangovers, whom she rescues before the castle collapses due to the lack of belief in its occupant. In an attempt to cure Bilious, Susan visits the Unseen University, where it is discovered that several small gods and beings are being created. The University's thinking machine, Hex, explains that there is 'spare belief' in the world – due to the absence of the Hogfather – which is being used to create them.

Meanwhile, Death decides to take over the Hogfather's job to make people continue to believe in him. Death starts placing presents in stockings, wearing a long red cloak and a beard, and getting in through chimneys instead of walking through walls. Unlike the real Hogfather, he takes children's letters literally. He is also appalled by the idea that poor children should get only cheap gifts (if any), giving a starving child 'life' as a gift.

Susan and Bilious travel to the land of the Tooth Fairy, which is created from children's beliefs. They discover that Mr. Teatime has 'killed' the Hogfather by placing the millions of collected teeth in a magic circle and using them to control the children, causing them to stop believing in the Hogfather. Mr. Teatime attacks Susan using Death's sword, but it is as powerless as its master in the Tooth Fairy's country, since children have no conception of Death. After throwing the Assassin off the tower, Susan clears the teeth away. She then rescues the Hogfather, who has returned to his former role as a pig-deity, from the Auditors, who have taken the form of hounds. Having experienced life and individuality, they cannot return to their original state and Death claims them by making them fall off a cliff.

Afterwards, Teatime tracks Susan to the nursery where she works, but is killed by Susan using the nursery poker.


  • Christmas
  • Santa Claus
  • Tooth Fairy
  • Power of Belief
  • Reason & Fantasy
  • Economic Redistribution
  • Children's Nightmares
  • Computers

TV adaptation[edit]

A two-part TV film version of Hogfather was screened on 17 and 18 December 2006 (8:00 pm) on Sky One in the UK, with Ian Richardson as the voice of Death and David Jason playing Death's manservant Albert. Marc Warren played Mr. Teatime, Michelle Dockery played Susan Sto Helit, Rhodri Meilir played Bilious, and Tony Robinson (who narrated several audiobook versions of the Discworld novels) played the shop keeper Vernon Crumley. Terry Pratchett himself had a brief cameo as the toy-maker.

The US debut was on 25 November 2007 on ION Television, the Australian on 23 and 24 December 2007 on Channel Seven, and the German on 25 December 2007 on ProSieben.

It has yet to be re-aired in America, though some fans have requested it.


  1. ^ "1997 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 

External links[edit]

Reading order guide
Preceded by
Feet of Clay
20th Discworld Novel Succeeded by
Preceded by
Soul Music
4th Death Story
Published in 1996
Succeeded by
Thief of Time