Unseen Academicals (Discworld Series #37)

Unseen Academicals (Discworld Series #37)

by Terry Pratchett

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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The wizards at Ankh-Morpork's Unseen University are renowned for many things—wisdom, magic, and their love of teatime—but athletics is most assuredly not on the list. So when Lord Vetinari, the city's benevolent tyrant, strongly suggests to Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully that the university revive an erstwhile tradition and once again put forth a football team composed of faculty, students, and staff—or lose the funding that pays for their nine daily meals—the wizards of UU find themselves in a quandary. To begin with, they have to figure out what it is that makes this sport of foot-the-ball so popular with Ankh-Morporkians of all ages and social strata. Then they have to learn how to play it. Oh, and on top of that, they must win a football match without using magic.

And the thing about football—the most important thing about football— is that it is never just about football.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062335005
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/28/2014
Series: Discworld Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 146,893
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Terry Pratchett's novels have sold more than eighty-five million (give or take a few million) copies worldwide. In January 2009, Queen Elizabeth II made Pratchett a knight in recognition of his "services to literature." Sir Terry lives in England with his wife.


Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

Date of Birth:

April 28, 1948

Place of Birth:

Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England


Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

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Unseen Academicals 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 194 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Ankh-Morpork's clever ruler Lord Ventinari informs Ankh-Morpork's Unseen University Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully he could lose a humongous grant if they fail to field a sports team playing football; some sort of hybrid of soccer and rugby. The wizard faculty and administration are in a frenzied state as none of the practitioners understand the rudiments of the game so they struggle to become adept rather quickly; depending ironically on the mundane support staff. As they put together a squad around a good kicker who apparently is not part of UU, but part of the streets of UU, Ventinari plans to take advantage of the competition to further his ambitions as sponsors expect much more than a front row seat. Part of his tasking of the wizards is to remove the violence out of the sport as the two best teams in the city, the Dimmers and the Dollies, break a lot of bones and not just on the playing field or limited to the players. The latest Discworld satire lampoons team sports, fans and academics as UU always put learning and eating way above athletics, but now must dropkick athletics way above learning; eating remains at the top thanks to the cook. Fans will enjoy this amusing look at football and universities with side mockings of racism, sexism and fanatics as learning gets benched for a Top Ten team of headbangers. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of prattcets best. The comlex charachters and intricate interweawing of plots are great. Arc words and overarching themes tie it all together and it is verry funny.
Daniel Golightly More than 1 year ago
The man is from another world it seems, and he continues to take us with him time and again, throught all of his challenges. Unseen Academicals is no different. This book is a gift of creatively brilliant fun for humanity.
NookWorm79 More than 1 year ago
I've read all of the books in the Discworld Series and this one did not disappoint with the laughing out loud, the amazing characters and the fantastic footnotes. Rest assured, you will never be disappointed when it comes to Terry Pratchett.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read all of Pratchett's Discworld series, and this one didn't disappoint. Pratchett's writing style and satirical take on almost every makes reading his series a very enjoyable experience. Pratchett's novels have always intrigued me by the way he takes very modern things, such as police forces, colleges, or even the post office, and inserts them into his Medieval Discworld in comical ways. This particular novel focuses on soccer, something I don't really care about all that much, but I still chose to read it due to the fact that the way Pratchett inserts modern things into his world can make everyone laugh. Even though Mr. Pratchett had started to develop Alzheimer's disease, he has lost none of that wit or style in his writing. His take on soccer in a Medieval time is quite humorous, and the way the characters deal with the changing times are very fun to read about. The way that the plot jumps around from time to time, focusing on Mr. Nutt at one point, then going to the Wizards, then to the Night Kitchen staff keeps the reader intrigued about what will happen next, while learning what another group of people will do. I've always loved the way that Pratchett takes fantasy creatures and includes them in different, and often humorous ways, like having a goblin, which most people would associate with stupid, ugly, smelly little creatures, and have him be extremely intelligent, more intelligent that a majority of the characters in the novel. Even the way he integrates certain aspects of sports into the novel is great, like having one of the ancient rules of soccer being to have water nymphs dressed in as little clothes in possible and dance on the sidelines. Basically, if you like to laugh, this is the book and series for you.
Grea More than 1 year ago
While this book explores places in the city, that fans of Disc are already familiar with, it goes much deeper into the every day lives of the more "common" folks, taking you to places that have previously just been skimmed over. Leaving you with a different memory feeling than other Disc novels. Looking forward to re-reading it in a couple of months, to get a second sight.
myrafox More than 1 year ago
I heard excerpts from the book this weekend at the North American Discworld Convention in Tempe. It was great - between the reading and the bit printed in the program book I know it is going to be a fun read. Terry Pratchett is a very charming and witty speaker and I hope to be able to attend another convention to see him again.
barlow304 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A madcap satire of fashion and soccer shows that Terry Pratchett still has it. This novel combines plots about soccer, street politics, and tolerance with not one, but two wacky love stories.Recently I've been rereading PG Wodehouse and I can see the resemblance between these two authors. The difference is that Pratchett is more overtly political and his pen is sharper than Wodehouse, who merely wrote to entertain. Pratchett is entertaining, but he also is critiquing society, customs, and morals.
EustaciaTan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first Discworld novel I bought. Previously, I borrowed from my friend, but stuck in Hong Kong International Airport with nothing to read (having finished the 6 novels I brought from my flight from Florida), I happily relished the thought of finishing the HKD I had left in Page One, and quite naturally gravitated towards the thickest Discworld novel (remember, I had a flight back)I loved this book from the start. The footnotes of the Discworld series is probably one of the biggest reasons why I fell in love with the books. And on the first page, I had not one, but 2 footnotes, one of them being a footnote to a footnote. I think there's a literary name for it, or it's a comment on the meta-fictional nature of books or Pratchett just being funny, but loved it nonetheless.I also loved the cameo appearances by Rincewind, and I can't forget the dialogue when the Arch-chancellor Ridicully recounts his amazement at Rincewind's previous statement that his mother ran away before he was born.The book is naturally thick, since it covers about 4 plots - the Unseen Academy Aspect, Two separate love stories and the mystery of Mr Nutt. It might be a bit intimidating for first-timers, so I would recommend another, thinner book as an introduction to the Discworld series. Even though I'm not a huge football fan. I still appreciated the satire on football (well, the rest of my family is rather football-crazy).
Kellswitch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not really sure what to make of this book. I enjoyed reading it, but I didn't feel compelled to read it, which I normally do with Terry Pratchett.To me it felt as though he was trying too tell to many stories at the same time and ended up not spend enough on any of them.I would have been much happier if he had done one book on the football theme and one on the fashion theme, both have enough meat in them for their own stories and the characters he introduced for each really deserved more time spent on them. Especially Pepe and Madame, I really want to see more of them.That being said, I did enjoy this book and it was fun to revisit The Unseen University and you can never have enough Librarian in any book, but I suspect it won't be one I go out of my way to reread.
snowyowl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett, and I really like the wizards, but this book just didn't appeal to me at first. It felt really different, with a lot of new characters and a different feel, but after I got a third of the way in I started to recognize some elements.This book is well written and very interesting, but it feels a bit derivative of previous works. However, the story is fresh and new, and definitely worth reading.
ASBiskey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was very dissapointed with this book. It is well written but poorly editted. The editor seems to have thought that since it is Terry Pratchett, we'll just let it all through. The book is LONG. There are at least three plots: the acceptance of an Orc, the world of fasion, and the taming of football. At least one of them is not important enough to clog up this book. Each has merit and is brought to life in Pratchett's wonderful way. There is just to much going on and it detracts from the many positive elements in this book.
jlparent on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another solid Discworld entry - this one covers football (soccer), fans, pies, Orcs, and wizards. It's typical in that it is full of satiric humor, interesting characters and sly old Lord Vetinari. I enjoyed it, 'nuff said.
deepikasd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Terry Pratchett has done it again. Take American football, English football (the true version of football), magic, mysterious creatures, wizards, and four new characters and you have his latest hit.
Though the story is about the wizards at Unseen University (including the Librarian and Rincewind), his four new characters steal the show. Meet Trev, a street urchin and candle dripper who can control any can with his kick. He has fallen in love with Juliet who works at the night kitchen and might be the greatest fashion model ever. [BTW a subtle Romeo and Juliet theme going on here.] Her "guardian" and best friend is Glenda the night kitchen cook. Glenda is in turn fascinated with a certain Mr. Nutt, a person/creature who no one really knows about. Mr. Nutt is under the care of his mentor Trev. Now throw in a good-natured tyrant who tries to unite the city through the game of football by pitting the wizards against everyone else.
I love Glenda. She is one of the strongest female characters I've read from him, and I swear that the subplot between her and Mr. Nutt steals the show. She is a woman not afraid of saying what's on her mind, even to the feared Lord Vetinari.
And this all goes to show that the most important thing about football is that it is never just about football.
391 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved it! I did get a bit bogged down towards the middle (mostly because I just do. not. care. about fashion and was starting to get quite frustrated with Glenda's motherly suffocation, though she turned out to be a total badass by the end). Overall the book was funny, charming and everything I've come to expect from Pratchett. And I did enjoy seeing Rincewind again - I really miss that old coward sometimes.
zabouth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
All in all a good Discworld book. seemed to fail out a bit at the end
timothyl33 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A nice return to wizards of Unseen University (with a cameo by Rincewind the Wizzard and his Luggage) in a story about the 'civilization' of 'foot-the-ball'. Overall, an enjoyable book, though still not topping "Thief of Time" or "Night Watch". For the most part, "Unseen Academical" seems to lack a singular plot to guide the various storyarcs to give the sense of a common thread.
Jvstin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
NB: I received a review copy of this book.Football (Soccer to us Americans). Romeo and Juliet (with a dash of Cyrano de Bergerac). Secret pasts of characters. Cooking.Such is the Matter of Unseen Academicals, the latest Discworld novel from Terry Pratchett. Centering on Unseen University, Pratchett takes us not only into the doings of the wizards there, but the "little people" who make the University work. We meet Glenda, head of the Night Kitchen and possibly one of the best cooks anywhere. We meet Trev Lively, son of the famous football player Dave Lively (who scored an unprecedented four goals in his career in the old and illegal version of football played on Discworld's streets). We meet Juliet, a fashion star waiting to be born from her humble beginnings in the kitchen. And we meet the mysterious Mr. Nutt, who is from Uberwald. He's a candle dribbler, but also amazingly educated for someone of his station. Oh, and he is a monster of unusual stripe...How is it? Well, while I was entertained, UA is frankly, not as good as some of Pratchett's best novels. There are a few things here which are not as well integrated as other plotlines in the novel. Stuff that felt like they should be more important, or were going to be, but never quite came to fruition. I was expecting more out of them than we actually got. Its possible, due to my scattershot reading of Pratchett's work that there are some characterization issues that I am missing. Lord Vetinari feels different than he does in the novels I have read, for example.On the other hand, a very good Pratchett as opposed to a first-rank Pratchett is still better than a lot of the dreck out there. And there are wonderful things in the novel that frankly made me laugh aloud while reading it. The footnote about the Explorer's Guild, for example. Or the offhand mentioned consequence of yet another strange addition to the Watch. The character growth of Ponder Stibbons, who is rapidly becoming a force within the University to rival Ridcully himself. Or the climatic game for that matter. (although there is an incident in the game involving how the Librarian is removed from goalkeeper that felt very wrong).I have a large gap in unread Pratchett novels that was little handicap in reading this novel, and so I can unreservedly recommend this latest Discworld novel to readers of all levels of familiarity with Pratchett's work. Is it up to his highest standards? No. On the other hand, only very good Pratchett is still much better than much of the competition.
craso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The wizards at Unseen University, an old and venerable institution steeped in tradition, realize that there is one tradition they have not been following, playing football. Football in Ankh-Morpork is also an old institution to the lower classes who proudly wear their teams colors and fight other fans in the "shove." The city's tyrant Ventinari wants to regulate the game to make it less violent. He sees the wizards predicament as an opportunity. The wizards must reinvent the game with less hitting and more strategy. They are assisted by Mr. Nutt, a goblin seeking worth, and Trevor Likely, a man who promised his old mum he would never play the game.This is a satire of so many things in society; stogy academicals, struggling lower classes, violent football fans, and the fashion industry. My favorite metaphor comes from a seedy fashion designer who calls the poverty stricken neighborhood he came from a "crab bucket." Glenda, the night kitchen cook, realizes what he means when she sees one crab being pulled from a bucket with two other crabs holding on.
andreas.wpv on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the less funny, less well written books in the discworld series. Some nice ideas, some nice passages, but the plot is mediocre and the development of the story is lame. This book leaves the impression it has been made by recipe: Take a topic many people are interested in, add the bad guy and the beauty, mix in a few spicy characters (Sam, Rincewind) and add a handful of jokes. It takes quite some pages to get interesting, and at least for a Terry Pratchett fan there are no surprises, nothing really new in this. I am not sure, if I have read too many Pratchett books, or if Pratchett has written too many ;-)
lycomayflower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My husband's been a fan of Pratchett forever, but I'd never read anything of his. We listened to a bit of Unseen Academicals on audiobook on a trip recently and I was surprised to find it laugh-out-loud funny and engaging, so I decided to read the book. Those first impressions held true, and while I found the story to be lacking quite the level of narrative drive ("and then? and then??") that will keep me well and truly hooked, the humor, cleverness, gently biting satire, and genuinely engaging characters very nearly made up for that. I think Pratchett may be, for me, like Heinlein--I will have to be in just the right mood to enjoy his work, but when I am, it will be a delight to read him.
merigreenleaf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I put off reading "Unseen Academicals" for three months (got it for Christmas), which is rare for me with a Discworld book. I assumed that since it's about sports, I wouldn't like it much (I dislike pretty much every sport so of course I wouldn't want to read about them), so I wasn't in a big hurry to read it, which meant that it got stuck near the bottom of my "to be read" pile. Boy, was that a mistake!I should have realized that Pratchett never lets you down, and- this is a good point here- has amazing skill at writing characters. In my opinion characters are what make a book and if the characters are wonderful, the plot isn't nearly as important; on the other hand, extreme amounts of action won't make up for poorly written characters. This is the perfect case of characters making up for plot. Yes, the book is about soccer, but it's also mostly about the characters and things that happen to occur around soccer. (And I will say I kept getting confused when I saw the word "football". However, that's less to do about the British/American thing and more to do with the fact that I know absolutely nothing about either sport. The ball has to get to the other side, right?)The characters... well, they're wonderfully rounded and detailed, just like all the other characters Pratchett has written. You know a character is well-written when you spend a lot of the book thinking "someone like this woman should bug me, but she doesn't". What I mean there is that one of the main female characters, Glenda, tends to be rather bossy and controlling and very strong-willed, but she's written in such a way that you understand why she's that way and know that there's far more to her than that. She even intrigues the Patrician, for pete's sake; that's definitely an interesting character trait right there. There are so many new characters in this book (and some recurring ones, of course), but they're all like this- well-written and interesting. I'm especially attached to Nutt, the main male character who is a hard-working and kind goblin-type. If Pratchett writes another book about him, I certainly won't complain!As for the plot, soccer may be involved, but there's also young romance, lots of humor (hey, it's Discworld!), discord between wizards, the city coming to terms with a new race, people striving for more than what they are... Definitely don't make the mistake I did and assume you won't like the book just because of the theme!Honestly, with the exception of the book starting off a bit slowly, which could have just been my imagination as I was grimacing in preparation for the book being all about sports, or possibly because since there are a lot of new characters, they had to be introduced, I can't think of a single thing I disliked about this book. I certainly don't mind all those new characters because we get to meet so many that are just so cool; by the end of the book I was liking them just as much as the reoccurring characters on the Disc.I give "Unseen Academicals" 5 stars out of 5; a very high score, but I think it deserves it. It's not my favorite Discworld book, but it is now in my top 3 (nothing can pass "Soul Music" or "Thief of Time" for me, though!).
lauriebrown54 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ever since I heard about Sir Terry Pratchett¿s Alzheimer¿s diagnosis, I¿ve read each new book of his with trepidation, fearing I¿d find signs of decline. So far, so good- he hasn¿t lost his wit or way with words. But Unseen Academicals *is* different from most of the Discworld books. It doesn¿t run at the breakneck pace of most of the Discworld novels. The jokes don¿t fly quite as thick and furious. But with this slower pace comes something else: the characters emerge. Normally, characters in Discworld books are sketchy and somewhat caricatureish, made to fit a satirical situation and the satire drives the novel. In this book, while satire is the main thrust, the characters also drive the plot. I found that quite nice. While I adore the Discworld books where the jokes fly fast and thick, I found it interesting to see some backstory to some of the wizards. Normally portrayed as nothing more than incompetent gluttons, in this book we get to see them as people with pasts and relationships. Unseen Academicals takes on soccer (football to everyone but Americans), fashion, and racial and class prejudice. I don¿t follow soccer, but reading not long after the World Cup I was able to appreciate a lot of what he¿s poking fun at. I would have liked to have seen more of the fashion satire, but perhaps those characters will be back some day. The parts about prejudice and stereotyping is heavy, unusual for a Discworld book, but it¿s a subject that¿s hard to be lighthearted about. It all works. It may be different, but it¿s wonderful.
Capfox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It must be hard to write yet another book in a series that you've been inhabiting for so long. It's hard not to judge some of the components of the latest Discworld novel in light of the ones preceding it, and that's not to speak of the quality of the book itself, so much as some of the major plot points.That's right, I'm talking about the football, and well, considering the whole football culture and having to wear the right colors and huge games of it out in the streets and blocking up traffic and shoving people about causing ongoing problems for the Watch, you'd have seen something of this in the past. There have been a lot of books set in Ankh-Morpork - there are huge, sprawling, epic fantasy series with fewer books than Pratchett's put in Ankh-Morpork - and I can't ever remember hearing about this before. He's handled this in other books just fine; there was a post office, but it was irrelevant! There was no newspaper, and now we're making one! But this feels very shoehorned in, for all the effects it's supposed to have.That point aside, well, it's a pretty fun Discworld book, with the Wizards playing a more prominent role than they have in quite a while, and a few Rincewind appearances to boot. But while there is a plotline running along the Dean moving to a different university to become Archchancellor, and a new rivalry opening for them and Unseen University, the focus isn't really on the wizards, though. It's on the footballers and those around them, an altogether lower-class bunch of people, and your standard Pratchett characters - the outsider with special knowledge and/or abilities that has to be worked into the larger society (Mr. Nutt); the tough and plucky young lady realizing how to place herself in the world (Glenda)... you've seen them before under other names, and likely, you'll see them again.Overall, though, Pratchett gets in some good riffs on fashion, on sporting culture, on academics (oh, Ponder Stibbons... he's really come into his own), and the themes of acceptance into a larger culture that he's worked well on for years. It would be a run of the mill effort, yes, except really, things don't really quite come together neatly, and it's not really satisfying by the time you get to the end. It's close, but it doesn't quite all work out. Which is fine, I suppose. It's still an enjoyable read, and it was better than the previous couple of Discworld books, in my view, but it's no great shakes, particularly by his standards. I'll still pick up the next one, though, of course.
TheDivineOomba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think this is the best book of Terry Pratchett's in a number of years, but it suffers from being overly complicated. That is what he's famous for, having many characters, many plots, and tying them all neatly at the end. The characters make sense, the plot closes nicely, I am able to tell the different characters apart but there is just too much of it!What I really loved about this book is the role of Lord Veterini. He's usually a shadowy figure, running his city with well placed short meetings. This time around, we see more of him, and how he thinks. I like the Unseen University, but I have a hard time believing that ancient wizards want to play football. They are school, wheres the students to bully into doing this. And of course, there's the ethical quandary involved, this time an orc, who species is known for being terribly warlike and dangerous.