The Quotable Pratchett: Hogfather

No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away

With the passing of Sir Terry Pratchett and the publication of The Shepherd’s Crown, I embarked on an epic re-reading of all 41 official Discworld novels, with the goal of finishing by 31 December, 2016.

Famous for its wit and wisdom, the series offers countless quotable quotes on a variety of subjects. The quotes I share should not be considered the whole of Sir Terry’s excellent prose; indeed, they are the tasty appetizers to a succulent, nourishing meal.

About Hogfather

Hogfather Book CoverThis is the 20th Discworld novel and the 4th in the DEATH series.

I must admit that I’m also partial to Hogfather; it was my first introduction to Terry Pratchett & Discworld.

‘Twas the night before Hogswatch

And all through the Disc

A story plays out

That you won’t want to miss!

When a deranged assassin draws a contract on the Hogfather, the very fabric of reality is at stake. DEATH fights back by taking the role of Hogfather with chain-smoking Albert as his “pixie.” Susan must decide what’s more important: family or normalcy. The Wizards of Unseen University try to determine why extra gods are turning up. And what, exactly, does the Tooth Fairy have to do with this?

Examining the ideas of belief & reality and family, Hogfather is a Discworld novel sure to become a favorite.

Hogfather Movie Poster

The Goodreads Blurb:

Who would want to harm Discworld’s most beloved icon? Very few things are held sacred in this twisted, corrupt, heartless — and oddly familiar — universe, but the Hogfather is one of them. Yet here it is, Hogswatchnight, that most joyous and acquisitive of times, and the jolly old, red-suited gift-giver has vanished without a trace. And there’s something shady going on involving an uncommonly psychotic member of the Assassins’ Guild and certain representatives of Ankh-Morpork’s rather extensive criminal element. Suddenly Discworld’s entire myth system is unraveling at an alarming rate. Drastic measures must be taken, which is why Death himself is taking up the reins of the fat man’s vacated sleigh . . . which, in turn, has Death’s level-headed granddaughter, Susan, racing to unravel the nasty, humbuggian mess before the holiday season goes straight to hell and takes everyone along with it..

To the Quotes!

Discworld Librarian

The Librarian as he appears in The Discworld Companion, illustrated by Paul Kidby

Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree.


Most people forgot that the oldest stories are, sooner or later, about blood. Later on they took the blood out to make the stories more acceptable to children, or at least to the people who had to read them to children rather than to the children themselves (who, on the whole, are quote keen on blood provided it’s being shed by the deserving*), and then wondered where the stories went.

*That is to say, those who deserve to shed blood. Or possibly not. You never quite know with kids.


Ridiculous threats didn’t worry them at all, but they were obeyed. Especially the ones in graphic detail.


Besides, it was nice to hear the voices of little children at play, provided you took care to be far enough away not to hear what they were actually saying.


Getting an education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.


Any horse that was grinning was planning something.


The difference between a school and a-a-a- raven delicatessen is that they hardly everhave eyeballs lying around in bowls in case a raven drops in for a quick snack.


But is was always the case, wasn’t it? You could go out into the world, succeed on your own terms, and sooner or later some embarrassing old relative was bound to turn up.


IT’S A SWORD, said the Hogfather, THEY’RE NOT MEANT TO BE SAFE.

She’s a child! shouted Crumley.

IT’S EDUCATIONAL.

What if she cuts herself?

THAT WILL BE AN IMPORTANT LESSON.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.


Sometimes I think I know quite a lot that I didn’t used to know. It’s amazing what you do end up knowing, I sometimes think. I often wonder what new stuff I’ll know.


MERE ACCUMULATION OF OBSERVATIONAL EVIDENCE IS NOT PROOF.


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.

. . .

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