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Unseen Academicals (Discworld) Hardcover – October 6, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 254 customer reviews
Book 37 of 40 in the Discworld Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Football, food, fashion and wizards collide in Pratchett's 37th Discworld novel (after 2007's Making Money), an affectionate satire on the foibles of sports and sports fans. The always out-of-touch wizards at Ankh-Morpork's Unseen University stand to lose a very big bequest unless they enter a team in a violent but popular street sport competition. As the wizards struggle to learn the game, aided by the university's hired help, Ankh-Morpork's ruler schemes to use the competition for his own purposes. 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. (Oct.)
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“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)
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Product Details

  • Series: Discworld (Book 37)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (October 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061161705
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061161704
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (254 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #375,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was fifteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe. Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, including his first Discworld novel, The Color of Magic, in 1983. In 1987 he turned to writing full time, and has not looked back since. To date there are a total of 36 books in the Discworld series, of which four (so far) are written for children. The first of these children's books, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal. A non-Discworld book, Good Omens, his 1990 collaboration with Neil Gaiman, has been a longtime bestseller, and was reissued in hardcover by William Morrow in early 2006 (it is also available as a mass market paperback (Harper Torch, 2006) and trade paperback (Harper Paperbacks, 2006). Terry's latest book, Nation, a non-Discworld standalone YA novel was published in October of 2008 and was an instant New York Times and London Times bestseller. Regarded as one of the most significant contemporary English-language satirists, Pratchett has won numerous literary awards, was named an Officer of the British Empire "for services to literature" in 1998, and has received four honorary doctorates from the Universities of Warwick, Portsmouth, Bath, and Bristol. His acclaimed novels have sold more than 55 million copies (give or take a few million) and have been translated into 36 languages. Terry Pratchett lives in England with his family, and spends too much time at his word processor.  Some of Terry's accolades include: The Carnegie Medal, Locus Awards, the Mythopoetic Award, ALA Notable Books for Children, ALA Best Books for Young Adults, Book Sense 76 Pick, Prometheus Award and the British Fantasy Award.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
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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!
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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
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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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