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Unseen Academicals (Discworld) by Terry…
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Unseen Academicals (Discworld) (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Terry Pratchett

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3,6931311,423 (3.93)191
Member:calmclam
Title:Unseen Academicals (Discworld)
Authors:Terry Pratchett
Info:Harper (2009), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:discworld, parody, fantasy

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Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett (2009)

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Once more Terry Pratchett examines aspects of our society through his fantasy series set in Disk World: a disk shaped world supported by four elephants standing atop a gigantic turtle swimming through outer space. Mr. Pratchett lampoons and examines football (soccer) and crowd psychology; the fashion world; and the value of cooks. He also parodies Romeo and Juliet while he's at it.

This audio dramatization was well executed by the reader Stephen Briggs, who ably portrayed the dozens of characters and the multiple species of Disk world (human, dwarf, orc, troll, and vampire). You know the reader is good when you can tell which character is portrayed by the voice used.

I highly recommend this audiobook, if you have a sense of humor. ( )
  jjvors | Jul 28, 2015 |
I was not a huge fan of this book. On the face of it, it should have been a great fit for me - I love watching football, I love Ankh-Morpork, and I love a good love story. But I was went into this book with trepidation as I'd heard "less-than-good" things about the story from sources that I trust. And sadly, those opinions were - in my opinion - well founded. This was one of the weakest Discworld titles I've read to date.

The story, in brief, follows the attempts of Lord Vetenari, he of the dog-bothering, to clean up the game of football and, to that end, the wizards, who have their own vested interests in the matter, are roped into putting a team together. While all this is going on, an unlikely love story develops between one nice-but-dim couple and one equally-nice-but-less-dim couple "downstairs" in the university, as it were.

The first problem this book has is pacing. It take about two-hundred pages (out of over five-hundred) for any of the different plot strands to begin to advance. You know from the outset that there's going to be difficulty getting a team of wizards to "play ball", that there's going to be opposition from the kind of people who think a kick about means you literally kick the opposing team about the pitch. You know that there's something a bit weird going on with Nutt, that Glenda is going to rise above what she sees as her station and cast off her downtrodden way of thinking, and that Juliet is going to prove to have a bit more about her than meets the eye - though not too much more. I don't mind a predictable plot, where Terry Pratchett's concerned. However, much like the forwards for Unseen Academicals, it all feels a bit flabby. There's plenty of dithering on the way there, and at such a lengthy page count (is this one of the longest Discworld novels?), it really shows. While it's always fun to spend time on the Disc, it doesn't really work when almost none of the usual magic and sparkle is there.

The second problem is the writing. It doesn't feel as tight and precise as it has in previous Discworld novels. There are run on sentences and paragraphs all over the place, and I noted what felt like far less clever wordplay than I'm used to in one of Pratchett's novels. I'm used to feeling lost in the middle of at least five jokes I haven't picked up on yet, but here, it often felt like the joke was either obvious, or that it wasn't there to get in the first place. Also, there are quite a few "oo-er-missus" jokes about gay men and balls/sex/general campness and while it doesn't come off to me as homophobic in the slightest - bearing in mind that I'm straight so please take what I say with a pinch of salt - it's just a bit tired and unfunny in general. It's like in The Last Continent where he makes several jokes about sex and the jokes are all literally "HAHAHA ISN'T SEX FUNNY?"

Finally, the characters. For me, and this is really a personal thing, none of the characters really shone. They're all areas which Pratchett's covered before - the buxom forthright girl with an understanding of the commonfolk, the special person who doesn't know he's special, the stupid pretty girl who isn't really so stupid, and the complete bleeding psychopath - but that he's done better and in more interesting circumstances. I liked Glenda and Nutt a lot, but I didn't love them.

It's an okay book, really. There's about 350 pages of decent material here. But I found my attention wandering a lot of the time, and, as it was largely obvious where the plot was going, I couldn't really get invested in much else about the book. Even the worst Terry Pratchett doesn't deserve to be lumped in with anything really terrible, and I still like it more than Monstrous Regiment, but I really can't give Unseen Academicals anything more than five out of ten. ( )
  humblewomble | Jul 14, 2015 |
Quite possibly the best Pratchett novel thus far that I have read, if only because, despite my hatred of football, Ankh-Morporkian Wizards plus football equals something completely unmatched by any other humour writer I have encountered. You can have modern football with sci-fi as done by Rankin, or you can have modern football with modern settings ala everybody else, but modern football in Ankh-Morpork? Possibly the only way that football can be enjoyed anymore.
The humour was the fantastic Pratchett-style as usual as being grown-up yet at the same time really rude at times, which is beyond most people.

Possibly the most outstanding part of this novel for me was the character of Mister Nutt. Sublimely crafted by Pratchett, who has always managed to have sufficient characters that are 3D and not flat, shallow or passers-by. Mister Nutt is the epitome of everything wrong with humanity in the way he is treated, created et all, and he is also the epitome character that shows just how good Pratchett is at creating realistic characters, even if they are Goblins! (or any other number of mythical species, for that matter). Mister Nutt probably stands out as the most thoroughly thought through characters in the Discworld. ( )
1 vote Xleptodactylous | Apr 7, 2015 |
It pains me to give a Discworld novel a less than stellar rating, but I found this one lacking in some way. It started out promisingly -- the wizards at Unseen University find that in order to keep a sizable endowment, they must play a game of commoner "football," or as it is known, "foot the ball." They are aghast, but are more aghast at the thought of their losing any of their nine meals a day, so they begin to form a team led by Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully. Meanwhile, Lord Vetinari, the city's benevolent tyrant, has decided he wants to control this game, forming leagues and handing out gold looking trophies and he wants the wizards to lead the way. Promising start, yes?

Unfortunately, it's all ruined by a Romeo and Juliet love story between Trev and Jewels, two new characters. We also meet Glenda, a forceful cook in charge of UU's Night Kitchen and Mister Nutt, a goblin (who later turns into an orc) who is adept at pretty much anything. Trev takes Nutt to his first football match, where the crowd does "the Shove," and where the wizards are in search of pie, and Nutt is really taken with it. So much so, that he grabs the ball and scores the game winning goal.

Somehow it comes to the wizards' attention that Nutt has some skills, so they make him coach of the team. They ask Trev to join, as he's the son of a late, great football player, but Trev declines, saying something along the lines of "I promised me old mum" he'd never play. This is repeated so freakin' often, Pratchett pretty much beats the reader to death with it. It gets old very quickly. And of course, you know Trev ends up playing. Duh.

So Jewels becomes a fashion model for dwarves and becomes quite famous and in demand. Glenda acts as her manager. Nutt seems to develop a thing for Glenda, which is odd because one traditionally doesn't think of "things" happening between goblins and humans. But Glenda feels her heartstrings being tugged at for the first time in her life and she loves it.

I guess my main complaint is, the book really isn't so much about foot the ball as it is about Nutt and his relationships with others, such as Trev and Glenda. And while that's moderately interesting, the humor that could have been attached to a book devoted to a book of the wizards playing at foot the ball solely could have been pretty forceful. This, however, is rather mediocre. It's a romance, with football as its backdrop. I feel disappointed. I'd recommend it to Pratchett fans, but not to anyone else. ( )
  scottcholstad | Mar 26, 2015 |
You know that sardonic twinkling eyed attitude sometimes you see when speaking or being spoken to tongue in cheek? This whole book is imbued with that spirit. It's lovely.

It has it's philosophical points. But the story drives the action and it never gets to heavy handed. A fun though not terribly serious read. ( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
That professors are impractical, though, is rather old information. It's said that Einstein couldn't remember where he parked his car, but isn't it more important that he came up with the special theory of relativity? The stylistic razzle-dazzle notwithstanding, rehashing a cliche gets tiresome because whether it's a game or a novel, fans want to be surprised.
 
I wouldn't call this the best Discworld novel ever. But it's in the top five.
added by lampbane | editBoing Boing, Cory Doctorow (Nov 11, 2009)
 
The secret of Terry Pratchett's comic fantasy isn't so much the wackiness of the fantasy as the reliability of the comedy. The very least you get in any of these 400 pages is amiable, agreeable chuntering, and there is an instructively regular provision of terrific lines.
added by Shortride | editThe Guardian, Harry Ritchie (Oct 24, 2009)
 
This is the 37th in a body of work so vast that it has spawned its own concordance, yet the quality remains as high as ever and the laughs as plentiful.
 
Though the book suffers from a few awkward moments (Pratchett’s attempts to discuss racism through the strained relationships of dwarves, humans and goblins fall particularly flat), the prose crackles with wit and charm, and the sendups of league football, academic posturing, Romeo and Juliet and cheesy sports dramas are razor sharp and hilarious but never cruel. At its heart, this is an intelligent, cheeky love letter to football, its fans and the unifying power of sports.
added by Shortride | editPublishers Weekly (Aug 31, 2009)
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pratchett, Terryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Briggs, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ittekot, VenugopalanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidby, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKowen, ScottCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ring, JonathanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
This book is dedicated to Rob Wilkins, who typed most of it and had the good sense to laugh occasionally.

And to Colin Smythe for his encouragement.

The chant of the goddess Pedestriana is a parody of the wonderful poem 'Brahma' by Ralph Waldo Emerson, but of course you knew that anyway.
First words
It was midnight in Ankh-Morpork's Royal Art Museum.*
Quotations
It is a well-known fact in any organization that, if you want a job done, you should give it to someone who is already very busy. It has been the cause of a number of homicides, and in one case the death of a senior director from having his head shut repeatedly in quite a small filing cabinet.
"If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior." (Veterinari)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Football has come to the ancient city of Ankh-Morpork. And now the wizards of Unseen University must win a football match, without using magic, so they're in the mood for trying everything else.

The prospect of the Big Match draws in a street urchin with a wonderful talent for kicking a tin can, a maker of jolly good pies, a dim but beautiful young woman, who might just turn out to be the greatest fashion model there has ever been, and the mysterious Mr Nutt (and no one knows anything much about Mr Nutt, not even Mr Nutt, which worries him, too). As the match approaches, four lives are entangled and changed for ever.

Because the thing about football – the important thing about football - is that it is not just about football.

Here we go! Here we go! Here we go!
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061161705, Hardcover)

The wizards at Ankh-Morpork's Unseen University are renowned for many things—wisdom, magic, and their love of teatime—but athletics is most assuredly not on the list. And so when Lord Ventinari, the city's benevolent tyrant, strongly suggests to Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully that the university revive an erstwhile tradition and once again put forth a football team composed of faculty, students, and staff, the wizards of UU find themselves in a quandary. To begin with, they have to figure out just what it is that makes this sport—soccer with a bit of rugby thrown in—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 win a football match without using magic.

Meanwhile, Trev (a handsome street urchin and a right good kicker) falls hard for kitchen maid Juliet (beautiful, dim, and perhaps the greatest fashion model there ever was), and Juliet's best pal, UU night cook Glenda (homely, sensible, and a baker of jolly good pies) befriends the mysterious Mr. Nutt (about whom no one knows very much, including Mr. Nutt, which is worrisome . . .). As the big match approaches, these four lives are entangled and changed forever. Because the thing about football—the most important thing about football­—is that it is never just about football.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:26 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The wizards of Unseen University in the ancient city of Ankh-Morpork must win a football match, without using magic, so they're in the mood for trying everything else. As the match approaches, four lives are entangled and changed forever.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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