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Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett
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Unseen Academicals (2009)

by Terry Pratchett

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3,8901411,321 (3.92)197
Member:bluedream
Title:Unseen Academicals
Authors:Terry Pratchett
Info:Harper (2009), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:
Tags:fantasy, satire, discworld

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Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett (2009)

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English (138)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (141)
Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
I've never been a Terry Pratchett fan, but picked up this book because I liked the cover :)

Mr. Nutt is a wonderfully likeable fellow, with mysterious origins and a secret so secret, even he doesn't remember it. He strives in his job as a candle dribbler in halls of the Unseen University to prove his worth and "become". When the university and it's wizardly faculty are faced with the job of revising the city's violent version of football (soccer), Mr. Nutt takes the lead, developing the rules and training the team with the help of a Likely fellow, a cook, and a vacuous and lovely young women who takes up modeling wearing a beard.

Funny, well-written, great characters. Highly recommended. ( )
  debs913 | Apr 2, 2016 |
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. ( )
1 vote thebookmagpie | Mar 13, 2016 |
Fine, but no where near as good as Pratchett usually is. Some plot points never went anywhere, the wizards were far more powerful than usual, Vetinari spent a rather prodigious amount of time talking out loud, and the new characters all felt like retreads of old one. Still, quite funny and with a good heart to it. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
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. ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
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. ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 138 (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 (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pratchett, Terryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pratchett, LynAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Briggs, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ittekot, VenugopalanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidby, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthews, RobinAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKowen, ScottCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ring, JonathanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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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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