Books

Book Review: Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

Hogfather is one of my favorite Discworld novels, and there is no better time to read it than now as Hogswatch is coming. What makes it one of the best Terry Pratchett’s books is that it has a well thought out plot, amazing characters, deep insight into life, humans, and social issues, and Death as a “Santa Claus.” If you haven’t read Hogfather, there is still time to get the book and read it before the d-day.

The book is all about belief and how humans need it to survive. And I wonder why Terry Pratchett a known atheist has put so much importance and trust to beliefs/fantasies? He beautifully sums this up in a few lines in Hogfather, making him not only a great writer but a human being and intellect. We need fantasy/belief to be able to believe concepts like JUSTICE, MERCY, and DUTY. He writes: YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET- Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME… SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED. (page 422-423, paperback.)

This is why Hogfather is one of his best books. He has tuned it into perfection. And yet after arguing all about the importance of belief, the value of human life, and what is to be a human, he writes through the Auditors that we are a mistake, a flip in evolution, but that doesn’t mean we should be removed just because we make a mess.

I agree with him both about the importance of belief and how we have dreamt not only our gods but our other abstract concept that hold together our societies. In nature, there is no good or evil. We have come up with them. We think something is good or evil based on our society and our learned assumptions. We need those fantasies to be able to create, evolve, and work together. What makes us human is that before breakfast we all can think at least a dozen impossible things without shutting our eyes. And all this is down to our instincts to survive. To think strategies to hunt different animals, gather food from nature, and again to work together. Our dreaming goes beyond our basic needs. We can tell stories to learn and to teach and to remember. And Terry Pratchett was a great storyteller. Hogfather is proof of that. It is a tale that keeps with you beyond the last page. This is why I love the book and why it is one of my favorite books of all time.

Thank you for reading!

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