In the eighteenth and final part of Hogfather, all returns to normal. Sort of. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.THIS BOOK IS TOO MUCH.
Look, I knew he was still alive, and I knew that this book would need to deal with that, and yet, I still felt shocked by the way that Teatime tried to hurt Susan. And I already know why that is: he tried to use children to do it. Confronting Death and Susan? I expected them to be able to defend themselves. Throwing in two defenseless children as well? Yeah, NO. NO.
I must also admit that I just don’t like the he interrupted the adorable scene were Susan invites her grandfather in to make hot cocoa. THIS WAS A GREAT SCENE THAT WAS VERY NECESSARY, AND DEATH WAS THINKING ABOUT HUMAN NATURE WHILE EATING BISCUITS AND I CAN’T ASK FOR ANYTHING MORE. Except then Gawain and Twyla both walk in on Death, suddenly, I understood why it was so necessary that these kids had Susan as their governess. Because to them, a skeleton in a cloak and hood was not weird or abnormal. He was just another monster that Susan would attack with the poker. (Except… not really, but we’ll get to that.)
In that world, then, hat does Teatime represent? Is he as monstrous as the creatures they’ve dealt with before? The reader can immediately recognize the threat that Teatime poses, though not just because he’s got that sword. No, the horror of Teatime comes from the casual nature of his cruelty. We know for certain that he would kill all four of these characters as long as it amused him. That’s the bare minimum that he’d need, you know? So when he forces Susan to call for the Gaiting children, my fear was that he’d do something awful to them. That’s an entirely believable thing!
However, Teatime is scary to the audience, and perhaps to Susan, too. But he is nothing compared to the horrors that Gawain and Twyla have seen. If anything, he’s just another common creature. That’s important, of course, because he’s viewed as a monster. It’s what brings about his eventual downfall. He isn’t scary to the kids, and when Susan throws the poker at him, it guarantees that Teatime will die, not Death. And out of every creation in Hogfather, Teatime is the only monster that Susan actually kills. This doesn’t happen with anyone else, and think that’s the point Pratchett is trying to make. Who is worthy of death in this instance?
Yeah, I’m still kind of emotional about Death’s gift to Susan, mostly because it’s just so goddamn endearing. Yes, he doesn’t quite get all the references, but the fact that he tried so very hard – MELTED SNOW, OH MY GOD – warms my heart. Forever. The raven got a sheep, a whole sheep! And then, Pratchett flashes back to RUIN MY GODDAMN DAY by showing me the moment when Death bought Susan her rocking horse. Again, it’s a display of the kind of cluelessness we expect from Death, though it’s always coupled with sincerity, too.
I am not as big of a fan of who concludes this book, and I think it would have been stronger for him to switch the rocking chair scene with the conclusion of the plots in Unseen University. Now, I do think this resolution needed to happen, so I’m not suggesting that this be taken out. I loved learning that there was an actual GlingleGlingleGlingle fairy, which is so goddamn clever that it made my brain hurt once I thought about it. (It meant that these wizards had to believe that that sound had to happen whenever a new Household God showed up.) I just thought it was strange to focus on Ridcully’s shower and the Librarian, but only because it didn’t feel terribly emotionally resonant. The same goes for the bit with Hex and Ponder, and perhaps even the beggars. It might be thematically appropriate , but I thought the story just fizzled out. It’s not at all a bad ending, and I do believe that Hogfather is one of the best written books in this series. But I think ending with Death or Susan would have given this ending a bigger pop. Still, I loved this book. A LOT. And now I’m gonna go think about Banjo some more and get sad because BANJO LILYWHITE.
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