Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

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.


Mari said...

I have only read the Tiffany Aching books. Did I get her name right? It has been awhile. One day I will read more.

postJazz said...

<-- Biggest Pratchett fan ever. I think that anyone who doesn't live in the British Isles will miss some of their humour, it's unbelievably English sometimes. There are so many references and quirky jokes and clever and deep and thoughtful points that he makes - which means the books are readable again and again and again. Literature degree under my belt and everything, and I STILL read Pratchett all the time, because I love the reminder that sometimes you just have to laugh.

Unseen Academicals, actually, I found strange. I still loved it, but Pratchett has, fairly unsurprisingly, started going in a new direction. I found this a slightly more didactic work, in so far as that's possible with Pratchett...so not very. But the points he makes are more moralistic than satirical in recent novels. I defy anyone who is not well aware of the English traditions of football hooliganism (and that's not me, I wasn't old enough to remember some of the worst bits) to get every single reference...!

Scrabblequeen said...

True confessions; I haven't read a Tery Pratchet myself (yet) but three of my (adult) boys are hooked on them I bet the 4th would be also if he received one in the mail...it could happen. Sounds like another winner to one I just read the review to.