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Unseen Academicals: A Discworld Novel [Hardcover]

Terry Pratchett
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (261 customer reviews)
Price: £18.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Oct 2009

Football has come to the ancient city of Ankh-Morpork - not the old fashioned, grubby pushing and shoving, but the new, fast football with pointy hats for goalposts and balls that go gloing when you drop them. 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!


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Unseen Academicals: A Discworld Novel + Snuff: (Discworld Novel 39) (Discworld Novels)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First edition (1 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385609345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385609340
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (261 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 53,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Terry Pratchett is the acclaimed creator of the global bestselling Discworld series, the first of which, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983. In all, he is the author of fifty bestselling books. His novels have been widely adapted for stage and screen, and he is the winner of multiple prizes, including the Carnegie Medal, as well as being awarded a knighthood for services to literature. Worldwide sales of his books now stand at 70 million, and they have been translated into thirty-seven languages.

Photography © David Bird

Product Description

Review

"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...Like all the Discworld novels, Unseen Academicals rewards a second reading. As ever it is peppered with allusions, from Keats to the Lewinsky affair, but, like Wodehouse, Pratchett wears his learning lightly and the pleasure of rereading is in teasing them out." (Peter Inham Telegraph)

"Mention comic fantasy and Terry Pratchett is the first name that comes to mind...behind the fantasy Terry Pratchett looks at very real contemporary issues and scores many goals. This isn't just football, it's Discworld football. Or, to borrow another phrase, it's about life, the Universe, and everything." (The Times)

"The subject matter is football, with a dash of Romeo and Juliet thown in...exactly what's needed to cheer us all up in the autumnal gloom. Terry has lost none of his ability to raise a laugh...I'll wager there are a few more books in him yet." (Daily Express)

"We doubt whether Pratchett gives a fig about 22 men kicking a bag of wind,but he's ever fascinated by people,our vagaries, our vanities and our triumphs. And, when all's said and done, football is all about us, wherever we sit in society. In case you hadn't already guessed, the man of the match award goes, not for the first time, to Sir Terry Pratchett." (SFX)

"Satirical, historical, fantastical and irresistible." (Daily Mail)

Book Description

Football comes to the Discworld! And the thing about football - the important thing about football - is that it is not just about football.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
203 of 211 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent as (almost) Always 3 Oct 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was a little bit apprehensive about the idea of Unseen Academicals. I couldn't see how even a writer as gifted as Terry Pratchett could make football something true to the spirit of Discworld. Happily, the book manages to meld the strange worlds together in an energising and entertaining whole. I wasn't sure I was going to like it when it arrived, but as usualy Terry Pratchett delivers something much more than we have any right to expect.

Some parts of the book are an unusual departure in terms of the theme of the book - not so much inconsistent but as part of a continual evolution of the character of Ankh-Morpork and its various inhabitants. More so than any other Discworld book, I got the feeling from this novel that things are genuinely changing in the world. People are moving on and growing up, sometimes with surprising results. It genuinely feels like the book moves the continuing story of the Discworld on a few years.

I don't want to say too much about the plot itself, but it manages to avoid that which I had feared - the 'gimmick of the episode' style thing so common to the later stages of popular franchises. It's never the case that the football element is crowbarred in - it emerges rather nicely from the usual serendipitious circumstances that we come to expect. That's especially welcome, because not being a fan of football myself, the whole theme of the book is somewhat alien to me. However, really it's not about football - it's about the people, the mythology, and the spirit of the game. In the same way that the West Wing is not a show about politics, and House is not a show about medicine, this isn't a book about football. Football is just the vehicle used to deliver some important lessons about the nature of community and belonging.

It's a wonderful book, and a very worthy addition to the Discworld canon. Thanks, Terry!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three lions (and an ape) 24 April 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I probably fall in a third camp that neither loved nor hated this novel but enjoyed it as a generic Discworld story that ticks all the usual boxes with some memorable new characters to boot.
The Unseen University crew are some of Pratchett's most memorable creations, but I thought that the majority were underused here, apart from Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully about whom we learn a little more. Rincewind and his brilliant walking chest were largely absent from the action, but the eternally put-upon Ponder Stibbons and bolshy (ex) Dean are given plenty to do.
The story is a straightforward TP satire on society and the way it treats those seen to be different, and is a thoroughly enjoyable read; it just doesn't take the Discworld series anywhere new.
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61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unseen Academicals 11 Oct 2009
Format:Hardcover
Terry Pratchett's recent form has been criticised by many. "Nation" divided fans. "Making Money" couldn't live up to the standard set by "Going Postal" a few years before, much like "Wintersmith" with the two previous Tiffany Aching novels. But one thing was clear about these books, it was that Pratchett, even when slightly off the top form we have cme to expect from him, can still win awards for his books and is usually leagues ahead of the competition.

"Unseen Academicals" on the other hand, is utterly joyful to read. On the outside it seems like a book about football, but as the quote on the back quite aptly points out, "The important thing about football is that it isn't about football." What we have here is a novel about the uncontrollable culture of football and the broad range of football zealots, from the lovers of the game and the men with the skills to the angry old women shouting "kick 'im in da nutz!" and violent hooligans that dominate the Shove.

But wrapped even more deeply is a realisation that Pratchett was actually warning us with that back cover quote. It really isn't about football. The sub-plot, surrounding Mister Nutt, an intelligent and incredibly polite goblin, and his Unseen University colleagues, Glenda the Night Kitchen cook, her assistant Juliet and candle dribbler, Trev Likely. This sub-plot, however, takes up at least 60% of the book, so to call it so would be an injustice. And further so, because it is a wonderful tale of romance, adversity and acceptance. Pratchett has created something quite special with the character of Mister Nutt, who will be a favourite of fans for years to come.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice one 30 Oct 2009
Format:Hardcover
What only three stars?

Yep. It's good, but there are about 20 better ones to read first. It is nicely written and has the usual gentle humour shot through it. What it doesn't have is much plot. At all. If Mr. Pratchett's editor is reading this, please get tougher! There are some lovely themes, characters and events. Just not much in the way of actual story. There is a game of football and Nutt is revealed. That's your lot. Some tired themes here too, Nutt is introduced as a Gobliln, a horrible monster that people hate, so that means that he is not horrible at all. How did we guess? It would be nice to have a proper monster now and again, its all a bit PC sometimes. Mr Nutts origins turn out to be an anti-climax, although it does lead to a nice gag when he confronts the crowd, even if you can see it coming three streets away. The two stories are poorly connected to boot.

Liked it though. At the end of the day, nice one.
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