From Discworld & Terry Pratchett Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Cover art by Josh Kirby
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date 7 November 1996
ISBN 057506403X
Pages 416
Main characters Death, Susan Sto Helit, Mr. Teatime
Series Death Series
Annotations View
Notes Adapted as a TV film in 2006
All data relates to the first UK edition.


It's the night before Hogswatch. And it's too quiet.

There's snow, there're robins, there're trees covered with decorations, but there's a notable lack of the big fat man who delivers the toys ...

Susan the governess has got to find him before morning, otherwise the sun won't rise. And unfortunately, her only helpers are a raven with an eyeball fixation, the Death of Rats and an oh god of hangovers.

Worse still, someone is coming down the chimney. This time he's carrying a sack instead of a scythe, but there's something regrettably familiar ...

Ho. Ho. Ho.

It's true what they say.

'You'd better watch out ...'


The story begins in the evening before Hogswatch, the Discworld counterpart of Christmas. Susan Sto Helit has found work as a governess in the Gaiter household, where her ability to see bogeymen and defeat them with a fire poker comes in extremely useful. Meanwhile, the Auditors of Reality pay the Assassins Guild a huge fee to assassinate the Hogfather (the equivalent to Father Christmas). Lord Downey sends for Jonathan Teatime, a young, dangerously talented assassin. Teatime employs five criminals, a wizard and a locksmith in his mission.

Death appears to Susan to tell her that the Hogfather is 'unavailable', and he will have to deliver the presents in his place. In Death's library, she discovers the god's hourglass has shattered and travels with Binky, the Death of Rats and a raven to the Castle of Bones (the Hogfather's residence) which collapses because children have stopped believing in the Hogfather. Here, she discovers the newly created Bilious, the "Oh God" of Hangovers, and brings him back to the Unseen University to be cured of his illness. At the University, it is revealed by Hex that the wizards are (accidentally) creating Small Gods to compensate for the lack of belief in the Hogfather.

Susan follows a trail through Ankh-Morpork and discovers that Violet Bottler, a human Tooth Fairy, went missing while taking a tooth to a criminal Banjo Lilywhite (one of Teatime's assistants). In Death's library, her biography shows she is being held captive in the land of the Tooth Fairy. Susan, the Oh God and Binky travel to the land, a world created by children's imagination. In the tower, they rescue Bottler and discover that their enemies have been using the children's teeth to control the children into not believing in the Hogfather.

Meanwhile, Teatime's group have been trying to unlock a door at the top of the tower. As Susan climb to the top of the tower, Teatime's accomplices are devoured by their childhood fears, apart from Banjo, who turns on the Assassin and refuses to attack Susan. Teatime grabs Death's sword off her but it fails to work, since children do not understand death. Susan succeeds in pushing Teatime off the tower where he falls into the pile of teeth. Through the door, she finds the original bogeyman, who became a children's myth as adults stopped believing in him. The bogeyman collected teeth to stop people from controlling the children. Susan leaves Banjo to clean up, and Bilious announces that he will be getting a new job.

Death takes her to the site of the Castle of Bones where the Hogfather, in the form of a pig, is being chased by Auditors in the form of dogs. Susan joins with the pig and guides him to safety over a cliff, while Death confronts the Auditors and condemns them for breaking the Rules. The Auditors are unable to lose their solid form and disappear off the edge of the cliff. The Hogfather transforms back into human form and flies off into the night. Death explains to her that childhood fantasies are important and help us to be human, since later we must understand "bigger lies" such as justice, mercy and duty.

As they return to the Gaiter's house, Teatime follows them in and contemplates trying to kill Death. Susan throws the nursery poker and thanks to the power of the children's belief, it passes straight through Death and impales the Assassin.


  • Death's tenure as the Hogfather, aided by Albert. Death barges into the grotto Crumley's department store and causes a flood of people into the shop by giving out his own presents. There is much discussion between Death and Albert on the meaning of Hogswatch, and an alternative version of the story of King Wenceslas.
  • Much of the humour in the book comes from the scenes in the University. Each time the Wizards mention a non-existent lare or penate, they are suddenly created, to fill the void caused by the Hogfather's absence (e.g. "Veruca Gnome", "Eater of Socks" and worst of all, the "Cheerful Fairy"). In addition, Ridcully also discovers Archchancellor Weatherwax's bathroom, designed by the dreaded Bergholt Stuttley Johnson. He re-seals it after two near accidents, one involving a tap marked Old Faithful, and a worse problem involving the University Organ, which is not described in the narrative.


Major Characters

Minor Characters




Things and Concepts


Terry Pratchett's Hogfather
IMDB 0765458
First Broadcast 17-18 December 2006
Broadcast Channel Sky One
Director(s) Vadim Jean
Producer(s) Rod Brown & Ian Sharples
Writer(s) {{{writer}}}
Starring Michelle Dockery, Marc Warren, Ian Richardson, Joss Ackland, David Jason
Duration 189 minutes
Episodes 2
Series Death Series
Annotations Annotations for Book:Hogfather
Preceded by Soul Music
Followed by Terry Pratchett's The Colour Of Magic
All data relates to the UK home release.

The novel was made into a TV film in 2006. Titled Terry Pratchett's Hogfather, it was first broadcast as a two-parter on Sky One, on 17 December and 18 December. Terry Pratchett made a cameo as a toymaker.


  • Susan Sto Helit - Michelle Dockery (Fingersmith, Downton Abbey)
  • Jonathan Teatime - Marc Warren (Hustle, State of Play, Band of Brothers)
  • Death (voice) - Ian Richardson (House of Cards, The Final Cut)
  • Albert - David Jason (Only Fools And Horses, A Touch Of Frost, The Darling Buds of May)
  • Mustrum Ridcully - Joss Ackland (White Mischief, Lethal Weapon 3, Cliffhanger, Midsommer Murders)
  • Lord Downey - David Warner (Planet of The Apes, The Omen)
  • Mr. Sideney - Nigel Planer (The Young Ones)
  • The Raven (voice) - Neil Pearson (Bridget Jones' Diary, Drop The Dead Donkey)


First Edition Cover by Josh Kirby
Paperback 2004
Audio Cassette
Audio CD
Cover by Michael Sabanosh
Cover by Michael Sabanosh-paperback
TV Series Cover
US Cover
Paperback 2012
Collectors Library Edition
25th Anniversary Edition
Paperback 2022

External Links

Hogfather Annotations - The Annotated Pratchett File

Previous book

Feet of Clay

Discworld Series Next book


Previous book

Soul Music

Death Series Next book

Thief of Time