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Unseen Academicals [Mass Market Paperback]

Terry Pratchett
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 8.74 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Sept. 28 2010 Discworld Novels (Book 37)

Discworld lives on in Unseen Academicals, the latest novel from Terry Pratchett. Delivering the trademark insight and humor readers the world over have come to expect from “the purely funniest English writer since Wodehouse” (Washington Post Book World), Unseen Academicals focuses on the wizards at Ankh-Morpork’s Unseen University, who are reknowned for many things—sagacity, magic, and their love of teatime—as they attempt to conquer athletics.


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Review

“In short, this is as busy and as daft as any other Discworld yarn, which means it is the quintessence of daft. Nobody writes fantasy funnier than Pratchett.” (Booklist)

“At its heart, this is an intelligent, cheeky love letter to football, its fans and the unifying power of sports. (Publishers Weekly)

“This account of Unseen University’s entry into the world of soccer (or, as they occasionally call it, “foot-the-ball”) pushes past the usual conventions of satire to offer equal parts absurdist philosophy and heartwarming romance....A witty addition to the long-running fantasy series” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Thirty-seven books in and ... Discworld is still going strong...and doing so with undimmed, triumphant exuberance. ” (The Guardian)

“It’s a triumphant effort” (The Independent on Sunday)

From the Back Cover

The wizards at Ankh-Morpork's Unseen University are renowned for many things—wisdom, magic, their love of teatime—but athletics is most assuredly not on the list. So when Lord Vetinari, the city's benevolent tyrant, strongly suggests to Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully that the university put forth a football team composed of faculty, students, and staff—or lose the funding that pays for their nine daily meals—the more-than-usually-at-sea UU wizards find themselves in a quandary. To begin with, they have to figure out just what it is that makes this sport of foot-the-ball so popular with Ankh-Morporkians of all ages and social strata. Then they have to learn how to play it. Oh, and on top of that, they must somehow win a football match without using magic.

And the thing about football—the most important thing about football—is that it is never just about football.


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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More Humor from Pratchett June 15 2010
By Alison S. Coad TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I've been reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld series in a sort of lackadaisical way, dipping a toe in here and there as I run across the books. Most recently, I picked up Unseen Academicals, from 2009, and managed to hold on to it until the opening of the World Cup, fitting because this is a story about soccer. Sort of. Well, soccer Discworld-style. You see, the Unseen University (whose faculty consists of magicians, natch) has long enjoyed the income from a bequest by a wealthy patron, but they discover that if they do not field a team in a soccer tournament for a period of 20 years, they will lose that money - and the 20 years are almost up! Fortunately, they can draw upon the wisdom of a strange being called Nutt, who appears quite meek yet seems to know everything when called upon, and they will try to recruit University staff member Trev Likely, son of the infamous Dave Likely, who was a star football player and died on the pitch. But Trev is besotten by Juliet, who seems to glimmer wherever she goes; and Juliet's best friend Glenda, the head cook of the Night Kitchen, sees that more is going on than meets the eye, and what's going on definitely needs her managing touch....As always, Discworld humour is very British, and may not be to everyone's taste, but I quite enjoyed reading this, particularly between bouts of watching world-class football! I have a post-retirement goal of reading all of Pratchett's Discworld novels, in order, but it never hurts to get an early start on such an ambitious project!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  187 reviews
110 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars are some people misreading this book? Nov. 13 2009
By Edgewood Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Before I purchased this book I read some of the reviews here and some of them distressed me a little.

After actually reading the book I am a bit puzzled at some of the charges that Alzheimer's is at the heart of a poor book. WTF? This was one of the more complex Discworld books to date, perhaps not as light and fluffy as some would hope, but very dense and meaningful. Yes, football seems to be what the book is about, but that is, excuse me, a very facile interpretation of the story, which IS about prejudice, finding meaning in life, love, friendship, the interaction of social classes, and so much more, football is merely the foil upon which part of the book plays out against. This is a discworld book that follows several narratives until they reduce down to one. It is one of the more challenging discworld books in it story telling, and rewards faithful reading of the series with all manners of small insights into formerly minor (and major) characters.

Those that blame Alzheimer's for a book they don't like are on the wrong track, it is fine to not like the book, it took me longer to engage with this book than many other discworld books, but the not liking is a personal preference and not the result of the disease.

Once I adjusted to the flow and style of the book I was pulled further and further in and by the end it ranks near the top of discworld books ever for me.

It is good, nay.. it is great.
61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pratchett scores again Oct. 6 2009
By Nick Brett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Mr Pratchett has used many of his novels to give a comic fantasy twist to many subjects ranging from Banking, movie making to newspapers. Here he turns his hand to blending football into the Discworld. And the football here is the British Soccer, not football as understood by you chaps in the US.

I have been with the Discworld novels since the very beginning, way before the author turned into a phenomenon and then an official National British Treasure. Recently his much discussed illness has perhaps made us appreciate his genius even more. Now, a slight confession, although I was there from the start, I kind of lost my way about Hogfather - maybe it was my age or my tastes changed, but suddenly the books weren't doing it for me and since Hogfather I have only been dipping in and out of the occasional one.

But I love football and was keen to see how Terry Pratchett would morph our beautiful game into a Discworld version! And would the classic humour and clever writing be there as I remembered it from the days of avid reading. In short, yes.

In essence, the wizards of the Unseen University have to win a football match. And they are not allowed to use magic. So they resort to bringing in some players many of whom, in typical Pratchett fashion, are not quite what they seem. But although there are many amusing digs at the football culture, football and the challenge match are just the framework in which the author places interesting characters and very funny interplay. And there comes a point where you realise that actually this book might be about something that is nothing to do with football as we also get a gentle love story and comments on such maters as diverse as discrimination and fashion!
Knowledge of 'soccer' is not required to appreciate this, but there are two elements of British culture that may be worth explaining. Firstly British football is very tribal and who you support and intense rivalries that can border on hate, are part of the culture. Also part of the culture are the stadium pies. These are no culinary delights but are a stadium tradition, you eat them without asking too many questions - nobody expects decent quality food at a football ground in the UK. These are running themes in the book so worth mentioning for background.
Also towards the end the chapters have titles such as "They think it's all over" and "It is now"...this is from a famous TV commentary from 1966 when England won the World Cup.
It's astonishing that an author who is suffering with a serious illness can still produce such high quality stuff. The word genius was never more appropriate.
55 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In which the Unseen University embraces its athletics department Oct. 6 2009
By E. M. Van Court - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Lord Vetinari decides it is time to treat football (soccer to Americans) like crime; if you are going to have it, it should be organized. Ponder Stibbons learns the power of managing the agenda and mastering tradition. Ankh-Morpork finds the Disc's first super-model, and tries to figure out exactly why this should matter to anyone. The power of pie is explored. More insinuations, inuendo, and hints as to the relationship between Lord Vetinari and a mature lady from Überwald. And Mr. Nutt is introduced and acquires worth. Along with the usual cultural literacy exam.

Again, Terry Pratchett has outdone himself. "Unseen Academicals" is a brilliant and complex story with many threads beautifully woven together. The lives of the most powerful people in Ankh-Morpork intersect with the lives of the most humble on the Disc.

Cooks, candlemakers, and the fans and players of foot-the-ball of the neighborhoods of Ankh-Morpork find their lives turned upside down when the Wizards of U.U. find they must play soccer, or limit themselves to only three meals a day. And behind this, a humble and hard working... man, Nutt is trying to gain worth, earn respect, and make friends, none of which come naturally to him. Old characters return, one having substituted 'x' for 'cks', new characters abound. References to Shakespeare and pop culture (for lack of a better word) collide.

I loved it. I read it in a day, and am re-reading it to pick up on the magnificent detail and hints that will only make sense as the story draws to a close. My biggest regret is that "Unseen Academicals" arrived to quickly ending the anticipation, and it will be too long before the next Pratchett book.

E. M. Van Court
28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Pratchett's Normal Fantastic Nov. 9 2009
By C. R. Nelson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Now I know a lot of die hard Pratchett fans are going to disagree with me in this review. I respect that. But I feel honesty is best. Also, I myself am a huge fan of everything Pratchett has written (and yes, I've read nearly everything I could find). I'll always hold him in high esteem.

So saying...this book, while amusing...while good, is not up to Pratchett's usual excellence. It doesn't even really FEEL like Pratchett. Oh, there are accents of him all over it, but it...feels...like it was written by another. It definitely feels ghostwritten. It doesn't have Pratchett's usual sharp wit and style. Is it worth reading? Definitely. It's a good book, but it's merely ok, instead of the Pratchett norm. I realize I'm completely spoiled by his previous books but there it is.

It pains me to say this but I suspect Mr. Pratchett's announcement of poor health has something to do with it. So, buy it. Read it. Enjoy yet another Discworld novel with a good idea behind it, full of many new and old characters...but take it also with a large grain of salt.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Has Worth! Oct. 25 2009
By Kenneth G. Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As Discworld novels go, some are good, and some are great. But this one is Worthy! It is the best Pratchett has ever done, and that is saying a lot! For the first time he actually uses some Forbidden Words, and delves further into adult territory than he has ever done before. The odd thing is that it works masterfully. It is a bit grittier than previous books, and that surprise alone made me laugh out loud. The book is about Foot The Ball (Soccer), Glenda, Juliet, and Mr. Nutt. And Pies. Mr Nutt has got to be one of his best characters ever, and watching this little goblin grow and find his worth is fascinating. Not since Sam Vimes has there been so great a potential for a character. The Dean's treachery makes a great little side plot, and Lord V. is as Machiavellian as ever. Glenda the night cook cooks up more than just pies, and her best friend Juliet stumbles into becoming the Discworld's very first super model. Trevor won't play 'cause his dad got dead in a game' and 'he promised his old mum'. Of course our favorite orangutan is there, and even Rincewind shows up to play. The subtitles are there in all their glorious lunacy. Arch chancellor Ridcully has a larger part in this book than is usual, and proves to be as likable and devious a lunatic as any we have ever met on the disc. All in all, the biggest problem with this book is that it is far too short, and over far too quickly. If you love Pratchett and his motley crew of .....ahem.....people, then you just gotta read this one.

Kudos to you Mr Pratchett. You are a true genius. May you write forever!
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