Series: Discworld #20
I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read this book. I’ll admit for a little while near the beginning, I felt like I had to force myself a little just because all the words were so familiar, but then I got sucked into the story again and it was all good. I guess that answers the hypothetical question (think science fiction or fantasy genre) why someone might choose to live through events even though they know what’s going to happen; they got sucked in by the experience of what’s happening to them. Anyway, I don’t see how I can rate a book I’ve read so many times as anything other than 5 stars. In Hogfather we have Death pretending to be that jolly old fat man for reasons that are discovered in the book, and we have vital roles played by the Death of Rats and his raven friend. Plus there’s lots of stuff with the wizards.
The following two quotes, from pages 422 and 423 of my edition, embody the spirit of the book:
‘All right,’ said Susan. ‘I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need . . . fantasies to make life bearable.’
REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.
‘Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—’
YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
‘So we can believe the big ones?’
YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
‘They’re not the same at all!’
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.
‘Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—’
MY POINT EXACTLY.
STARS EXPLODE, WORLDS COLLIDE, THERE’S HARDLY ANYWHERE IN THE UNIVERSE WHERE HUMANS CAN LIVE WITHOUT BEING FROZEN OR FRIED, AND YET YOU BELIEVE THAT A . . . A BED IS A NORMAL THING. IT IS THE MOST AMAZING TALENT.
OH, YES. A VERY SPECIAL KIND OF STUPIDITY. YOU THINK THE WHOLE UNIVERSE IS INSIDE YOUR HEADS.
‘You make us sound mad,’ said Susan. A nice warm bed . . .
YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT AREN’T TRUE. HOW ELSE CAN THEY BECOME? said Death.
And that’s something we should all keep in mind.
I read this book for booklikes-opoly square # 7 “Read a fantasy with talking/anthropomorphized animals or read a ‘Classic’ fantasy published before 2000”. It probably fits both options because Quoth the raven talks and it was published before 2000. At 445 435* pages, that’s another $5 for my bank, bringing my total balance to $64. And now I finally get to roll again after a week of trying to get through those extra rolls!
[*See, I almost forgot about the book starting on page 11.]
Here are some more quotes, some of which I’ve posted before and some of which are new.
‘Tell me again who those people were,’ said the oh god.
‘Some of the cleverest men in the world,’ said Susan.
‘And I’m sober, am I?’
‘Clever isn’t the same as sensible,’ said Susan, ‘and they do say that if you wish to walk the path to wisdom then for your first step you must become as a small child.’
‘Do you think they’ve heard about the second step?’
Susan sighed. ‘Probably not, but sometimes they fall over it while they’re running around shouting.’
‘Um . . . excuse me, gentlemen,’ said Ponder Stibbons, who had been scribbling thoughtfully at the end of the table. ‘Are we suggesting that things are coming back? Do we think that’s a viable hypothesis?’
The wizards looked at one another around the table.
‘Viable, right enough.’
‘Yes, that’s the stuff to give the troops.’
‘What is? What’s the stuff to give the troops?’
‘Well . . . tinned rations? Decent weapons, good boots . . . that sort of thing.’
‘What’s that got to do with anything?’
‘Don’t ask me. He was the one who started talking about giving stuff to the troops.’
‘Will you lot shut up? No one’s giving anything to the troops!’
‘Oh, shouldn’t they have something? It’s Hogswatch, after all.’
‘Look, it was just a figure of speech, all right? I just meant I was fully in agreement. It’s just colourful language. Good grief, you surely can’t think I’m actually suggesting giving stuff to the troops, at Hogswatch or any other time!’
‘That’s a bit mean, isn’t it?’
The word for this, he had heard, was ‘cabin fever’. When people had been cooped up for too long in the dark days of the winter, they always tended to get on one another’s nerves, although there was probably a school of thought that would hold that spending your time in a university with more than five thousand known rooms, a huge library, the best kitchens in the city, its own brewery, dairy, extensive wine cellar, laundry, barber shop, cloisters and skittle alley was testing the definition of ‘cooped up’ a little. Mind you, wizards could get on one another’s nerves in opposite corners of a very large field.
p 372 (Conversation between Death and Hex, a thinking machine):
BUT YOU ARE A MACHINE. THINGS HAVE NO DESIRES. A DOORKNOB WANTS NOTHING, EVEN THOUGH IT IS A COMPLEX MACHINE.
+++ All Things Strive +++