Title: Unseen Academicals
Author: Terry Pratchett
Page Count/Review Word Count: 544
This book is an interesting one, because it’s one of Pratchett’s later releases and probably the last ‘new’ Discworld book that I read before he died. Broadly speaking, it follows the story of what happens when the sport of football is introduced to Ankh-Morpork, with predictably hilarious results. I have 544 words to fill, and so I’m going to quote some of the blurb, because that can give you a better idea of what we’re dealing with here than I could, and I’m always afraid of spoilers: “Football has come to the ancient city of Ankh-Morpork – not the old-fashioned grubby pushing and shoving, but the new, fast football with pointy hats for goalposts and balls that go gloing. And now the wizards of Unseen University must win a football match without using magic, so they’re going to try everything else.”
Along the way, we’ll be joined by Discworld characters old and new, and considering I only have a passing interest in football, I enjoyed it. One criticism, though, is that pretty much the entire novel was just the build-up towards the ‘Big Match‘, and as such, it seems like not much really happened across the course of the 544 pages. Nevertheless, it’s a pleasant enough read, and it never seems to drag, like some other books I could mention. But I won’t, because to mention them would be to complete the cliché.
So with that out of the way, let’s talk about the quality of Pratchett’s writing – certainly, other than the sometimes meandering style of the story line, I don’t think that his alzheimer’s was affecting him, unlike some of his readers. In fact, I always thought that he got better with age, although admittedly he did have a golden period in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as far as I’m concerned. To me, it’s kind of disrespectful to talk about the two of them in the same sentence, so let’s move along.
As far as my overall impressions went, I do think that this would rank in my top 50% of Discworld novels… if it was a list only of the novels set in Ankh Morpork. That said, it was still pretty good, and it’s up against some stiff competition. I might not recommend this as a starter book if you’re only just getting into the series, but it’s definitely one to continue with.
For me, though, there’s just such a wealth of Discworld books to read that I always find it difficult to recommend any one book above the others – after all, with an 8/10, this is still a fantastic read, it’s just that Pratchett can do even better. At over sixty books, I’ve read more books by Terry Pratchett than by any other author, and he’s usually up there when I’m asked to list my favourite writers – he certainly used to be my favourite living writer…
That’s pretty much it for the review – it’s one of those books where I think that most people who are likely to read it have probably already read it. I imagine that most sales came from the publicity around the initial release, and the rest will come from completionists.