Review: “Hogfather” – Terry Pratchett

Posted: December 17, 2019 in Terry Pratchett
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PODCAST:

S4E12B – Hogfather (book)*

SHOW NOTES:

Wherein we close out the year with a satirical and ponderous fantasy holiday classic! Joining me on this third time round the Disc is former co-host, Richard Mehl a/ka/ Rick, and his witty wife, Heather Mehl, who’s no stranger to this series herself! 

Ryan focused the discussion heavily on the central themes explored by the author concerning myths and beliefs and what they mean to humanity. Heather preferred a lighter more entertaining read of this many-layered work and enjoyed the sharp agency and proactive nature of the female protagonist. While Rick struggled with the protagonist’s motivations, he did enjoy poignant moments of reflection among the lower class members of society on the Disc.  

Overall, Heather, found this novel in keeping with the general high-standard she has experienced while reading other books in the series. Ryan and Rick agreed with their more limited knowledge of Discworld. Like others in the series, no prior read is necessary, and this one is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a way into the famous Discworld books.*

-Ryan

*Note: For podcast context, these episodes were recorded chronologically prior to the “Second Variety” and “Screamers” episodes Rick was on this season which were released before this one.

 

WRITTEN BOOK REVIEWS:

“Hogfather (1996)” by Terry Pratchett

Ryan: 5 Stars “…Densely wrapped satire cleverly tucked in around a holiday plot loaf of good cheer, and baked with a robust premise which is both refreshingly poignant and wildly genius—it’s an important Hogswatch on the Disc this season—mind the bells—Glingleglingleglingle!!!…

Rick: 4 Stars “…like being on a wild and crazy sleigh ride through this sort of kaleidoscopic nether land of Discworld…

Heather: 5 Stars “…having read more than the both of you put together, of his books, I would say it was very typical…

(Click the links to read full written reviews on Goodreads.com)

 

FUN FACTOIDS:

In this episode we discussed how the author was reluctant to have his Discworld books adapted for film because he wanted to retain control over the quality and also the merchandising rights. In 2006 Hogfather became the first live action adaptation followed by The Colour of Magic in 2008 and Going Postal in 2010 (both covered previously on this podcast in episodes S2E2 and S1E8 respectively). However, prior to all these there were two animated mini series released in 1997 for Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music preceded by a 1996 short entitled “Welcome to Discworld.” All three feature the voice talent of an actor frequently mentioned on this podcast in the role of Death: Christopher Lee.

Among things that the author did license were a nifty and collectible 3-D “Unseen University Cut-Out Book” in 2006 and “Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather The Illustrated Screenplay” in 2009. Even though he considered his fantasy world un-mapable he did eventually help create some with the Discworld Map” in 1995, “The Compleat Ankh-Morpork” city guide in 2014, and “The Compleat Discworld Atlas: Of General & Descriptive Geography Which Together With New Maps and Gazetteer Forms a Compleat Guide to Our World & All It Encompasses in 2015. As an aside, we’ve mentioned before that there are fan-created reading maps for readers to show various ways into the impressive catalog of stories which encompass this series. If you’re looking to explore, but don’t know where to start here is a an io9 article titled “How To Read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Series, In One Handy Chart” by Risa Mira on that subject: https://io9.gizmodo.com/how-to-read-terry-pratchetts-discworld-series-in-one-h-1567312812 and an updated graphic here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discworld#/media/File:Discworld_Reading_Order_Guide_3.0_(cropped).jpg.

Pratchett himself enjoyed video games and licensed off parts of Discworld over the years for such use. The earliest iteration was a faithful adaptation of “The Colour of Magic” in 1986 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Colour_of_Magic_(video_game)) that came in the form of a text adventure computer game (Here’s a YouTube video walk-through: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw54uOykjN4). In 2006 this work was adapted again for mobile play as an isometric action game (Here is a link for a short synopsis and screenshots for Moby games: https://www.mobygames.com/game/discworld-the-colour-of-magic and one for Pocketgammer: https://www.pocketgamer.com/articles/001084/discworld-the-colour-of-magic/).

A series of point-and-click adventure games followed with Eric Idle as Rincewind in the 1995 “Discworld (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discworld_(video_game)) and in 1997 “Discworld II: Missing Presumed…” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discworld_II:_Missing_Presumed…!%3F). Another adventure game focused on a private investigator from the Disc was released in 1999 called “Discworld Noir” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discworld_Noir).

That all said, the earliest of earliest Discworld games was a text based multi-user dungeon game designed by fans and released in 1991: Discworld MUD (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discworld_MUD). This game still exists and you can play it here on its official website: http://discworld.starturtle.net/lpc/. Also, in a random retro shout-out on the show Rick mentioned one of the very earliest text adventure games that existed, the cult classic, “Zork” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zork)!

For more info on Discworld games you can check out an FAQ at the L-Space Web (A Terry Pratchett/Discworld website): http://www.lspace.org/games/discworld/faq.html#part1.2. When interviewed somewhat recently the author’s daughter remarked about the possibility of some of the old games being re-released for retro enjoyment, but the prospects looked murky. Check out that article “The Original Discworld Games Are Stuck In Limbo” by Alex Walker for Kotaku here: https://www.kotaku.com.au/2018/05/the-original-discworld-games-are-stuck-in-ip-limbo/.

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During the episode we mentioned different documentaries that Pratchett was involved with at the end of his life concerning Alzheimer’s and assisted death. Those are as follows:

Lastly, we talked at length about Death’s speech to his adopted granddaughter Susan about the importance of myth and fantasy and believing in “the little lies” to be human, in order “to be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.” A clip of this speech from the television adaptation we will be reviewing in the next episode can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUt6sPXQQus.

 

* DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the views and opinions of the hosts and guests of NDIOS are completely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of the other hosts and guests or that of NDIOS.

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