Mark Reads ‘Hogfather’: Part 12

In the twelfth part of Hogfather, the wizards reminisce, and Death does a good deed. Sort of. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

So, let’s talk about the wizards. I’ve mentioned a few times before that they aren’t necessarily my favorite characters because Pratchett rarely, if ever, grows them. They each play their roles, and they stick to them. And I never really touched on this either, but I can’t think of another series where there are recurring characters who don’t have names. All the wizards have titles! Does that mean that different people inhabit those roles or is it actually the same person the entire time?

Actually, that’s not necessarily important. I believe this is a bizarre writing choice, but it’s not without some merits. I say all this because I want to praise just how ridiculously funny the opening conversation is between all the wizards. It comes right after Ridcully and Ponder get close to discovering the reason why these “household” gods keep appearing in the world: there is suddenly an excess of belief because a major focus of that belief has disappeared. It stands to reason that, given the timing of all this, that figure is the Hogfather. Which, of course, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because… well, Death is out there building up reserves of Hogfather belief, right? Isn’t he deliberately trying to counter this loss of belief?

But what’s truly glorious is that this possible discovery inspires utter shenanigans. Once the Dean suggests that the Hogfather might have been the god who disappeared, an argument is set off. First: do any of these men believe in the Hogfather? (Some do. THEY TOTALLY DO.) BUT THEN, MAGIC HAPPENS. The Dean reveals that he used a pillowcase instead of a stocking for Hogswatch, and all hell breaks loose. It’s kind of incredible to see where this argument goes and how Ridcully completely loses control of everything while it happens. It’s an avalanche. An unending disaster. Some wizards accuse the Dean of having an unnecessarily posh upbring; the Dean thinks everyone else doesn’t know how to actually celebrate the holiday.

Then, the conversation morphs into an even funnier topic: the bitter cynicism of Hogswatch.

“It’s exactly the time for silly arguments. In our family we were lucky to get through dinner without a reprise of What A Shame Henry Didn’t Go Into Business With Our Ron. Or Why Hasn’t Anyone Taught Those Kids to Use A Knife? That was another favorite.”

I just… it was such a delight reading this. Part of that comes from the fact that for the first time in a while, the wizards largely agree on something. They went from viciously arguing with the Dean to bonding over horrible Hogswatch traditions. But the truly wonderful thing about this is the reveal that Ridcully genuinely adores Hogswatch. On the surface, that seemed a ridiculous statement. How could Ridcully, the most straightforward and brash wizard we’d ever met, love something so silly and sentimental? Except as soon as I thought about it, it made perfect sense. Of course he would love a holiday as loud and in-your-face as he is! He would love the paper hats and the games and the food and the drinks and IT IS THE MOST RIDCULLY HOLIDAY IMAGINABLE.

And it’s all ruined by the Cheerful Fairy. The Senior Wrangler messed this one up, creating the Cheerful Fairy on accident, and if there’s anything that wizards don’t do, it’s cheer. Ever. (Except Ridcully, but that’s the point. HE IS CHEERFUL OFTEN.) But there’s a tinge of sadness to this because it’s not like the Cheerful Fairy can do anything else. Her entire purpose is to cause cheer! So I’m glad the wizards indulge her for a moment since it’s not really fair that she’s been created in a place where she’s useless. And hey, the wizards need to have some fun, right?

That’s how I’ll read the scene where the wizards lie in wait in the Library alongside the Librarian, who might be the only person who outwardly believes in the Hogfather. They intend to catch a glimpse of him and hopefully get the Hogfather to help them, but you know what? I bet they all secretly believe in him, too.

Meanwhile, Death is most likely making his way towards Unseen University, but along the way, he spreads a little Hogswatch cheer. Like before, Death recognizes the inherent unfairness of the world, and in this case, he steals food from a more wealthy family in order to give a Hogswatch meal to many of Ankh-Morpork’s better known beggars. It truly is a sweet gesture, but Albert isn’t exactly pleased with it. Again, he sees a lack of fairness as the way the world works, not as something that needs to be fixed. Even though the family who “lost” their meal can easily get another one, and even though the beggars may never have a meal like this again, Albert still thinks it’s wrong. I understand the context Albert comes from, but Death isn’t exactly wrong about this disparity existing, nor is he necessarily wrong that sometimes, those who have everything in the world should give things up to those who have nothing.

But is it helping people to believe in the Hogfather? I sure hope so.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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