Foot-the-Ball. It’s an ancient and ritualistic sport played by the lower classes in Ankh-Morpork. The teams are just as entrenched, the fans as fanatical and the hooligans as bad as in real life. Vetirnari, Ankh-Morpork’s patrician, who of course has nothing to do with reminding the Wizards at Unseen University that they must be seen to play the sport once every so often in order to retain their major grant, would like to see the sport cleaned up. He also has nothing to do with the appearance of the mysterious Mr. Nutt, a funny little man who is extremely anti-social but very intelligent. No, nothing at all.
When the wizards realize that they must participate in Foot-the-Ball, they become intent on changing the game for the better (which Vetirnari had nothing to do with), but will the masses accept their changes or will mass pandemonium break out? And what does the unassuming Mr. Nutt have to do with it? Hmmmm…..
Terry Pratchett is one of my all-time favourite authors. His books are clever and entertaining; his latest bent on examining football (soccer) and making fun of it, and its fans, in every possible way. I’ll admit that not everyone likes Pratchett and he does have his own special brand of humour. You also have to know what he’s on about in order to understand his wit (not knowing what the Scone of Stone (or the stone of scone) in The Fifth Elephant was a real hindrance to getting the jokes), so if you don’t know anything about football and the football scene, you might not get this one. Having said that, I’m neither a fan nor do I follow much of what’s going on and I still found it quite amusing, or maybe it’s because I’m not a fan that I found it amusing. That one could go either way on this book. The point being that just having watched the news and observing my co-workers whose eyes glaze over at the sight of a football gave me enough insight to find the book hilarious.
I’ll also add that you have to have a huge dollop of silly in your makeup to enjoy his books. The wizards are silly. Really silly.
So, if you’re a Pratchett fan, this is another good one. I hope that he is able and willing to bless us with more of his work in the future. Go Pratchett.