Discworld lives on in Unseen Academicals, the latest novel from Terry Pratchett. Delivering the trademark insight and humor readers the world over have come to expect from "the purely funniest English writer since Wodehouse" (Washington Post Book World), Unseen Academicals focuses on the wizards at Ankh-Morpork's Unseen University, who are reknowned for many things--sagacity, magic, and their love of teatime--as they attempt to conquer athletics.
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. And so when Lord Ventinari, 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, the wizards of UU find themselves in a quandary. To begin with, they have to figure out just what it is that makes this sport--soccer with a bit of rugby thrown in--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.
Meanwhile, Trev (a handsome street urchin and a right good kicker) falls hard for kitchen maid Juliet (beautiful, dim, and perhaps the greatest fashion model there ever was), and Juliet's best pal, UU night cook Glenda (homely, sensible, and a baker of jolly good pies) befriends the mysterious Mr. Nutt (about whom no one knows very much, including Mr. Nutt, which is worrisome . . .). As the big match approaches, these four lives are entangled and changed forever. Because the thing about football--the most important thing about football?--is that it is never just about football.
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.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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October 04, 2009
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