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Whether you're already a fan of Pratchett's work, or this is your first foray into the discworld, you won't be disappointed!
Unseen Academicals is a great introduction to the series, not requiring any knowledge of previous books to understand what's going on.
Pratchett's writing style is disctinctive and hillarious, though if you're unfamilliar with his work, the little asides may seem a little odd until you get used to them. You then realise that what seemed like a random and unrelated comment from the author actually gives an insight into the story and is a part of what makes Pratchett's writing great.
While I find the writing style enjoyable, others may find the slightly rambling style not to their taste and wish the story would speed up a little. To those I simply say give the book a chance. You'll soon be won over by Mr Pratchett's wit and imagination and be a life-long fan!
Unseen Academicals - Terry Pratchett
I have been a fan of Terry Pratchett's books for years though have only just got around to rereading some of the books after years of never finding the time. It is the comedy and dry humour which has me laughing until I cry which brings me back time and time again to these books. The comedy is possibly not to some people's tastes as at times it really is just silly, though for me - silly is great!
Unseen Academicals takes place in Ankh Morpock, the medieval type city surrounding the magical Unseen University, which is all sat upon the Discworld.
The story follows the wizards of the Unseen University as they are forced to choose between only having three meals a day and playing football which often results in extreme violence and even death in the local version of the game. The Wizards set out to make new football rules which include only using 'official' balls and forbidding the use of player's hands.
Whilst this is all happening, four other young people live out their lives; Mr. Nutt who discovers he is not what he thought he was and learns to overcome the fear of his race, Trev Likely who is Mr. Nutt's best friend and co-worker and the son of Ankh morpork's most famous footballer, must decide whether he will play football or keep the promise he made to his mother, Glenda who works in the Unseen University's kitchen and Juliet who works for her. These four people's lives end up joined together to advise the wizards on their football effort which ends up in an intense game between them and the former street footballers.
I know that the storyline does not sound like much, though with the Terry Pratchett books, you will find that the story is more in the humour of the situations and characters. Not only that, a lot happens around the main story line which keeps your attention to the full from cover to cover.
In comparison to other books of Terry Pratchett, I have to admit that this is not the best though it is still certainly worthy of 5 stars. It has some brilliant humour and great characters which will leave you laughing your socks off right up until the end and more.
A gem of a discworld novel. We meet some characters we have seen before in other discworld novels, but there are some new ones too, not least the uneducated but worldy wise pie cook Glenda who finds herself teaching the wizards a thing or two about football.
The Unseen University ambles on in its usual way, but is forced by complicated financial shenanigans from past centuries to involve itself in the somewhat violent and proletarian game of foot the ball.
There's a mysterious hero called Mr Nutt, and another hilarious character called Trev whose idea of a love poem is: "I think you are really fit. How about a date? No hanky panky, promise. Luv, Trev." Quite a lot of the book revolves around hapless males making failed overtures to the women of the kitchens.
Needless to say there are plenty of slapstick moments when the wizards shed their robes and don their new team strip for the upcoming game. The town of Ankh-Morpork with its guild of thieves and multi culti police force provides the background, and Pratchett's wit shines undimmed through it all.
If you haven't got this one in your collection - it's time you made a move to buy it. My copy cost £7.99 in an airport shop, but you may find a cheaper deal online or in the high street. Enjoy!
Unseen Academicals is the latest Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett and could be his last because of his ongoing battle with Parkinson's disease -let's hope not.
I've been a fan of TP's books since the very first The Colour of Magic came out in about 1987, I've read every one and some are my favourites. Discworld is a world which is a place of humour, magic, squalor and comic effect. It has moments of high comedy, toilet humour and plenty of decent stories and keeps the reader both amused and entertained throughout.
Unseen Academicals is the latest book in the series and maintains TP's recent output of placing very British style institutes into the growling beast that is the city of Ankh Morpock. We've had the postal service, police force and printing now we have football.
Ankh Morpock is the setting for this book, it's huge, sprawling, a kind of vast expansive medieval London full of noise, violence, strife, money making and squalor. It is also the setting for a very English medieval lifestyle, there are all the trappings of the times in terms of sword fights, archers, and men at arms but of course there is the additional magical element of the Unseen University.
UU is the largest university on Discworld and teaches magic, it is huge sprawling and reminiscent in some ways of Mervyn Peake's gormenghast. The university covers an unknown area of land its precise boundaries are impossible to guess because the use of magic changes the university everyday. It has a very traditional university structure with fellows, professors, deans, and the Arch chancellor Ridicully. All the senior figures are pastiches of senior professors, they are argumentative, a bit obsessed with food and comfort and their position in the university.
Unseen Academicals tells the story of how football moves away from the street brawling version into the sanitised version we created in the middle of the nineteenth century. Here the book starts with a game of street football with all the pushing and shoving, however, the lawlessness of the game has raised the ire of Veterini who rules the city with an iron fist. He states that the game must change and the rules are these, so the game of the masses is taken from the masses and placed in a nice sanitised stadium and let the games commence.
That the gist, of course as with all TP books there is a lot going on under the radar, we have characters who have famous football fathers, two cooks one brilliant at cooking but plain looking and the other incredibly dense but good looking and there is Mr. Nutt who is small, wiry and has an unknown past. The university soon becomes involved and decides to enter a team, they are soon informed that magic is not allowed and when the former dean of the university returns as Arch chancellor of the neighbouring town's university they are soon challenged to a football match.
The book progresses along smoothly, the main character is Mr. Nutt who turns out to have an interesting and classically Pratchett obscure past. The fact he's a perfect English gent in every way except for a strange ability for violence and mayhem and seems to be momentarily immortal (including the only appearance of DEATH in the novel in which DEATH is denied his prize) but his story plays through and drives the novel.
The other aspect is football, the author pokes fun at the love of the game and the devoting clubs garner. He takes great delight in giving his street teams rather unlikely names like the dollypushers, constantly giving the reader the pleasure of the development of the game from that headless rushing around to a more stately and more balanced (but less fun) game.
This is classic Pratchett; it perhaps hit the heights of his best books like Mort, Weird Sisters or The Colour of Money but continues his return to form after losing his way somewhat with Pyramids and moving pictures which started with Going Postal. There are jokes, humour and lovely little inside jokes for the reader who loves football such as the Unseen University suddenly employing an overseas Professor called Maracadona who is strangely good at this game and using the librarian (who an orang-utan) as the goalkeeper.
Very enjoyable and give it 5 stars.
Terry Pratchett is back!
After lampooning the banks (Making money) the politics/diplomacy (thud) Pratchett takes a satirical swing at something the public actually cares about FOOTBALL!!
As in this world football (or foot-the-ball) is ingrained with tribal like rivalries inferred racism and sex. like all of his books Pratchett's tribute to the beautiful game is insightful, irreverent and uncompromising but most importantly affectionate. one can't help feel a for Glenda (of the jolly good pies) and Trev (the tin) living in a world where not having a team is not an option (a point of view I like every other person from that battle ground of the great northwesten club Warrington can sympathise with).
Long time fans may wince at the less subtle than before parody and mourn the gentleness of the previous books but I love the wry observation.
there is much to be said about the Nutt character and the lessons we could all learn about fear and prejudice from his story and couldn't possibly do it justice here but I maintain that we would all be better off is the discworld series became mandatory reading for all.
I remember reading my very first Terry Pratchet novel, could not put it down, red it again and again. His mastery of inventing a new world held on the back of 'great attuin' I mean who could have thought of that and made it work. Cut me own throat dibbler, selling sausages in the street, witches,dragons, demons, trolls fairies, giants wizards his books have got it all.
In his latest novel 'unseen academicals ' he tackles sport, football to be precise. The biggest sporting event of the Ankh Morpork diary, there's only one problem for the wizards and that is... no magic. Now normally this wouldn't matter because the wizards of the unseen university aren't any good at magic, but they are no good at any thing that requires physical energy, so it's not going to be easy for them.
there are some new characters and old ones, so, if you've read any of the other novels, you'll probably bump into some here.
all in all a good read and a good addition to the disc world .
The Wizards are at it again in this, Pratchett's latest Discworld novel.
This is a novel with something for everyone - not just football fans as the cover would seem to suggest. There is magic and wizardry, tales of love, team spirit and pie!
Unseen Academicals is a true underdog story where everything is ok in the end. Pratchett brings the Discworld another step closer to our own world by bringing football or 'foot the ball' to the streets of Ankh Morpork.
The Dean has absconded from the faculty and set up a rival University, and its the famous Arch-Chancellors pointy hat at stake as the two Universities battle it out in their first ever inter-University Football Match!
Yet amid all the testosterone filled football, Pratchett finds time to introduce us to some of the young ladies working at the Unseen Universities huge kitchens. These two young Cheerleaders get caught up in the world of Football, falling for two of the star players, yet also find time to take the Dwarf Fashion world by storm and bake some rather fine pies! Even the Patrician can't turn down one of Glenda's pies!
The 37th Discworld book by the hugely popular Terry Pratchett, recently Knighted for his services to literature, UNseen Academicals focuses on the reintroduction of foot-the-ball, the Discworld football, into the Unseen University's traditions. However, like Terry says on the back of the cover, "The thing about football, the important thing about football, is that it's not just about football", the main focus of the story isn't the football. It's how the football affects the lives of the four protagonists - Glenda, a cook in the Night Kitchens of the university; Trev, a candle maker and his assistant the myterious Mr Nutt, and Juliette, who works with Glenda. As the talks of the reintroduction of the rule of the "beautiful" game, the city is stirring (most notably the current players of football - a rough and violent street game) and Ankh-Morpork's Patrician Vetinari's reputation rides on the success of the game. And will the darkness of Mr Nutt's past come back to haunt him before the big game?
Lampooning real life into his distorted Discworld, Terry Pratchett does it again, mixing in heavy laughs with sharp writing and brilliant storytelling perfectly. One of the longer Discworld books to date, it makes sure you keep turning the pages with its gripping plot.
It's obvious here that there is definite evolution in Ankh-Morpork, something we've seen a lot of recently with books like Going Postal, Making Money and The Truth. There's definitely a sense of time passing, characters evolving and the entirety of Ankh-Morpork feels somewhat different. This isn't to say it's a bad thing. The city revolves around its constant change, and this might sound like it could alienate a reader but its repeat characters mean there's something staple and constant to make you want to come back
The latest offering from Terry Pratchett sees a return to the much loved Disc World setting. In this outing Pratchett turns his attention to Football and the Patrician's attempts to tame the Beautiful Game and take it out of he back alleys and into the mainstream.
The Unseen University, its Wizards and the back room staff fill out the cast of characters and provide a background for the plot. In order to maintain the astronomical food budget, the Wizards need to fullfil the terms of a will leaving them a large amount of funds if they play a game of football every 20 years. Surprisingly it's been 20 years since they last played!
In this offering Pratchett offers the reader a view into the lives of the back room staff of the University which gives a richer and more rounded feel to the place. Two of the kitchen maids and two the the basement's candle dribblers are the main plot drivers and through this you get to see a different side of the University "gentlemen" and the life of Ahnk Morpork's under classes.
Introducing Mr Nutt, a character with a past; Trevor, who plays the meanest game of football of the streets, but only if he uses a tin can! Juliet, the kitchen maid who dons a false beard to take up a secret identity as a dwarf fashion model and Glenda, boss of the night Kitchen, Juliet's friend and Mr Nutt's interesting other. Alongside the new characters there are the usual names making an appearance, the Wizards, the Patrician, Vimes and the Sammies all flesh out the back ground and make the setting feel familiar.
A return to form in a very funny book, an easy read and a great additon to the series.
This is a great book, clever, enjoyable and full of belly laughs. It isn't the best Discworld novel in my opinion but it is certainly one of the more enjoyable ones. Mr Nutt has come to Ankh Morpork and he has a hidden past. Who or, more importantly, what is he? Mr Nutt works in the bowels of the Unseen University, dribbling candles for the Wizards who seem unable to do anything but eat. Mr Nutt's boss, Trevor is the son of a legendary football player but he has sworn off football on a promise to his old mum.
Vetinari deviously alters football as Ankh Morpork knows it and "encourages" the unseen university to form their own team. Mr Nutt becomes the teams trainer but he is fighting a darker more violent side of himself. Meanwhile a human kitchen maid becomes the most sought after Dwarf model. As Mr Nutt and Trevor run in to trouble with one of Ankh Morpork's vicious street gangs a clothing designer named Pepe shows a secret dark side.
In 1995 I came across a Terry Pratchett book in my local library, decided that the cover looked rather interesting and thought I'd give it a read . . . well after 14 years I am a great fan and his latest Discworld offering 'Unseen Academicals' doesn't disappoint.
For those who have never read a Terry Pratchett discworld book here are a few basics:
* Discworld is a fantasy world consisting of a flat disc which rests on the backs of 4 huge elephants, which in turn are on the back of a huge turtle swimming through space.
* The main city on Discworld is Ankh-Morpork (which seems rather like London in many ways).
* The characters in the books range from humans, trolls, dwarves, witches, wizards, vampires . . . the list goes on and on (just about every fantasy creature imaginable).
* These are not children's books, they are in fact adult fairytales and hold a mirror up to our own society.
* Each of the 37 Discworld novels is a story in its own right, but I have found the books more enjoyable if read in sequence so that you meet and develop an understanding of the characters.
I am not one of those people who like to give away the story in a review as I don't see the point of reading a book after reading a detailed account of what happens in the story . . . so I am only giving you a brief outline to make you curious:
The theme of Unseen Academical is football and is based around Ankh-Morpork and the Unseen University. Lord Vetenari (the city's tyrannical ruler) has decided that the street foot-the-ball needs to be regulated and has enlisted the wizards at the university write down the rules of football and create their own team to play against a mixed city team for a goldish cup (that is full of beer).
Apart from the story of football the book is centred round a mysterious new candle dribbler at the university called Mr Nutt, his friend Trevor Likely and 2 of the girls (Glenda and Juliet) who work in the night kitchen.
The reason that I love the Terry Pratchett books is because of the humour and sharp wit that you will find on every page of the books.
It is hard to put the book down once you have started reading, definitely recommended for those who love Terry Pratchett books as well as those interested in finding out what the fuss is all about.
Unseen Academicals is available on Amazon for £9.48.
When "foot-the-ball" is played in the streets of Ankh Morpork the violence of a surging crowd is matched only by the violence on the pitch. Archancellor Ridcully is therefore, horrified to find that he and the other members of the Unseen University must form a team and play a one off game. Fortunately, Lord Vetinari wants to bring rules to the game taking it off the streets. With a funny little Goblin named Nutt as Head Coach and foot-the-ball legend Dave Likely's son as Assistant the team of the "Unseen Academicals" might just survive.
"Unseen Academicals" is the thirty-seventh Discworld by the genius that is Sir Terry Pratchett. Showing no sign of slowing down, despite the well publicised onset of Alzheimer's disease, Pratchett continues to release quality novel after quality novel and "Unseen Academicals" is no exception.
Many subjects in society have been the subject of Pratchett's gentle but accurate mockery but few have been as accurately represented as football has in this novel. The fervent and aggressive support, the cult-like divisions, the passion and the romance are all wonderfully represented in Pratchett's bizarre yet familiar parallel world. As an avid football fan, I see a lot of myself in here. The throng of a pulsing and animalistic crowd is certainly something I see at every Derby.
Complex and intricate, "Unseen Academicals" is a winding tale of humanity and weaves several sub-plots with varying degrees of success. Despite being primarily about football, there are elements of romance, political thriller and even horror in here. This does mean that some of the sub-plots seem watered down. Fashion for example, is parodied brilliantly by Pratchett but seems a mere offshoot to the main plot and is deserving of a novel all of it's own. Perhaps it is because Pratchett dictated this novel that there are a lot of ideas a little wasted in here. At times "Unseen Academicals" is a fragmented read and things only really come together when football is at the forefront.
However, Pratchett does relationships and characters so well that the fragmented nature of the novel rarely impacted on my enjoyment. Despite being set in the now familiar (to this fanboy) city of Ankh Morpork, Pratchett opens up whole new areas of my favourite city allowing a whole new cast of intriguing characters to enter the fray. I became invested in their fates early on and some of the romantic scenes were more heartwarming than anything I have ever read in a novel, fantasy or otherwise. It was also great to see some of my favourite characters fleshed out and humanised, in particular the tyrannical Lord Vetinari.
More gentle than some of the blood and thunder of recent novels, "Unseen Academicals" is also laugh out loud funny. And by laugh out loud I don't mean crap text message LOL stuff. I genuinely found myself laughing while reading much to the confusion and amusement of my wife. Pratchett's writing remains as sharp and observant here as any stand-up comedian you will ever see and some of the miscommunication between characters had me laugh so much a little bit of wee came out.
As you can see, this is not a novel for the Discworld novice, but would anyone reading the thirty-seventh novel in a series expect anything else? It is a novel for the initiated and despite not quite being his best, it is still far better than anything else I have read this year. At a lengthy 400 pages this is a slower paced read than some of Pratchett's other stuff. As such, I have a feeling that my obsessive nerdiness has made me more forgiving of this. However, it is still a great novel and one I recommend. Fantasy Football as only Terry Pratchett could write it.
After casting his eye over films, music, opera, journalism and many other aspects of "civilised society", Terry Pratchett turns to football for his latest Discworld novel, Unseen Academicals.
The story in this one is slightly convoluted (although Discworld books generally are!) It surrounds attempts by The Patrician, Lord Vetinari, to turn football from a street game played by thugs into a respectable sport. To achieve this, he turns to the wizards of Unseen University (UU) and one of their employees - a goblin, to whom there is more than meets the eye.
Even this slightly-longer-than-usual (for me) plot synopsis doesn't even come close to summing up this book: there are also sub-plots surrounding a dwarf fashion house, a peek at life in the kitchens at Unseen University, simmering rivalry between the Archchancellor or UU and a former employee, together with Pratchett's usual digressions and wry observations on life.
In fact, this proves to be something of an issue which prevents Unseen Academicals from joining the elite group of the best Discworld novels. There is almost too much going on to fit within the confines of the book. It's as though Pratchett had storylines for several different books buzzing around in his head, but then tried to incorporate them all in a single volume. Somehow, it never quite seems to hang together as a coherent book, and each element detracts from another. Sub-plots feel underdeveloped and slightly convenient - only re-appearing when the plot needs them, then disappearing again. This is particularly true of the fashion sub-plot. A parody of the world of fashion is deserving of a whole book in its own right, yet here it occupies only a tiny part of the book and never really develops as it should. Pratchett's caustic observations on a world so alien to "normal people" would have been fascinating and I found myself frustrated that I was only getting "edited highlights". This is true of other elements - they all feel disjointed and disconnected from what has gone before or what follows.
Since we're being critical (I'll get onto the good stuff in a minute) Unseen Academicals also takes an awfully long time to get going. It features a lot of new characters who need to be introduced before the central plot can start, and this inevitably takes time and the slightly slower pace may frustrate some readers, anxious to get to the meat of the book. At over 400 pages long, this is at the upper end of the scale for Discworld novels, and some readers may question whether the extra pages actually hamper the book.
Where the new characters are successful, though, is in enabling Pratchett to cast his eye over new areas, without being limited by what characters have done in previous books. Even within the confines of Unseen University (UU), there have been significant changes and an apparent influx of new staff which helps to alter the dynamic between the wizards. Veteran Pratchett readers who like their Discworld to remain static may bemoan these changes, but once you adjust, they actually work well giving a new dimension to a familiar environment.
Pratchett always does characters well, and Unseen Academicals is no exception. If you were feeling uncharitable, you could accuse him of recycling certain character types (Glenda is little more than Agnes Nitt re-cast as a cook; Nutt is essentially Walter from Maskerade), but this would be churlish. The truth is, Pratchett develops the characters needed for the plot and - within the confines of that plot, they feel very real and act in exactly the way you expect them to. Each is multi-dimensional, slotting into the storyline with an audible click, and sits comfortably with what we already know about Ankh-Morpork, whilst adding something new.
As ever with Pratchett books, it's the relationships between characters which produces many laughs. The way they talk to one another, the constant misunderstandings and petty rivalries really brings the characters to life and makes for many of the book's laugh out loud moments. In the finest Pratchett tradition, the characters are all slightly exaggerated caricatures, giving him the chance to focus in on human behaviour in all its absurdities.
Whatever weaknesses Unseen Academicals has, it still delivers on the humour. This flows throughout the book taking a variety of forms: amusing asides and footnotes, deliberate or accidental misunderstandings leading to "humorous situations", dry, thought-provoking observations about human behaviour and outright parodies of films, books and "real life". There are times when Unseen Academicals seem has a much sharper, more cynical edge to than previous works and this worked particularly well. As ever, his observations will make you laugh out loud, whilst also making you think - and there are not many books that you can say that about.
One final aspect I was slightly disappointed with was that Unseen Academicals never provided quite as much on the parody front as perhaps it could have. The world of football, with its ridiculous rules, pampered players and officious officials was just begging to be ridiculed. There is some of this, but this is another example of all the various sub-plots detracting from each other. It never quite parodies football, for example, in the same way that Maskerade did for opera or Moving Pictures for film. Sure, it would have been an obvious target, but I was left with a slight feeling that a golden opportunity had been missed. I'd have been really interested to see his take on the petulance of certain football managers, or the banality of some commentators, filtered through the Discworld environment.
It should go without saying that readers new to the Discworld should not with this book, since it builds on elements and characters from previous ones. Starting with Unseen Academicals would probably leave you totally bewildered as to who all these strange characters were and why they act in the way they do. Still, if you choose to start with number 37 in a series, you deserve everything you get!
So, 37 not out. Whilst this might not be the greatest addition to the Discworld series, there is still enough of Pratchett's trademark wit and wry observations to entertain the reader and make long-term fans hope for further visits to the Discworld.
© Copyright SWSt 2009