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Customer Review

29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best and funniest Discworld novel in a while, 6 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Unseen Academicals: (Discworld Novel 37) (Hardcover)
This new addition to the adult Discworld series is the most enjoyable since, for me anyhow, The Hogfather, and much more entertaining than I expected it to be at this stage in the series. The recent books have been light on laughs with the stories not being all that riveting either. Happily this is not the case with a book about football, although as it turns out, it's about a lot of things other than football.

As someone who has no interest in 'foot-the-ball' the set up for the plot didn't fill me with excitement: the wizards of Unseen University must win Discworld's murderous version of the game using the proper non-magic rules in order to continue to enjoy their slothful lives. But rapidly it becomes clear that knowledge of the game isn't required to enjoy the story. This isn't a satire on modern day football, but more a satire on lots of aspects of our lives such as celebrity culture, fashion, education... Ankh-Morpork has also changed a lot, certainly since the early books. This has been going on for a while as the satirical element to the series grows, but the feeling that the town has moved on is noticeable and makes the direction of future stories interesting.

This story is in essence a parody of that perennial favourite, the no-hope team winning a game against all the odds aided by a washed-out coach who used to be big once... But as this is Discworld, story logic subverts everything and is mingled in with several other perennial favourite stories such as Romeo and Juliet. But what makes the book is the characters. The problem with recent books is that new main characters, such as Moist in Going Postal, were so uninteresting they had to be livened up with appearances from old favourites like Vetinari. This time the tale gets the balance right by adding in few good new ones while keeping old favourites in cameo roles and larger roles. So the Luggage, Rincewind, and The Librarian are back, along with Death, Vimes of the Watch and many more. But they are not just there to cheer up the fans as the new ones such as the sardonic Glenda, the seemingly naÔve Juliet, and the brilliantly enigmatic Mr Nutt are already strong enough to carry the story.

All right, the comic bits won't make you drop the book while you laugh out loud; they tend to just generate wry smiles or a knowing nod as another facet of life you've never considered before gets considered from a new, twisted angle. But as with Pratchett's best books I often found myself re-reading the last few paragraphs just so I could enjoy again a great set-up or a well-delivered turn of phrase. And as I haven't done that for a while, that means this is one of the better Discworld books. Oh, and all the best for the future Sir Terry.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Oct 2009 11:16:39 BDT
Nick Brett says:
Very well put, I agree completely!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Oct 2009 08:42:25 BDT
Blackhorse47 says:
Thanks, N. Brett. It's so pleasing that the series has bounced back so strongly with this one.

Posted on 17 Oct 2009 00:07:44 BDT
A. Conway says:
Well written review, though have to say that I at least love Moist. Think that's one of the nice things about the series in a way - I've often found in discussion with other fans that someone's least favourite always seems to be someone else's favourite.
Can't wait to read Unseen Academicals, but think I'm expected to wait till Christmas from the hint my family gave not to buy it myself.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Oct 2009 13:36:16 BDT
Blackhorse47 says:
Perhaps I was bit unfair to Moist. I didn't enjoy some of the recent books and Moist has featured heavily, so it's hard to tell if that's a good character in a book I didn't like or just a character I didn't like.
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