Unseen Academicals (Discworld, #37)

By Terry Pratchett

Rating: 3 stars

This Discworld book sees the Wizards of Unseen University forced to play a football match in order to be able to continue to dine in the manner that they have become accustomed. Conveniently, this coincides with the point that the goddess of football starts to take an interest in the game, and hilarity, as they say, ensues.

Except that it doesn’t. While this is an entertaining, and even, at times, amusing, book, it’s not funny, and I still expect a Discworld book to be funny. I know that Pratchett swapped out laugh-out-loud funny for witty observations a long time ago, but I’ve never quite got over the idea I should be laughing, or at least giggling, my way through a Discworld book, rather than occasionally smiling to myself. The book is still easy to read because I’m comfortable in Ankh-Morpork and old favourites such as the Patrician, Sam Vimes and, of course, Cut-me-own-Throat Dibbler make their various presences felt, to varying degrees of relevance to the plot, but they were a comforting presence all the same.

While this book is seemingly about the wizards, it gives much more prominence to the staff Under Stairs at the University (including the mysterious Mister Nutt), in particular putting the head of the Night Kitchen, Brenda, somewhere between the witch Agnes Nitt and one of the residents of Cockbill St that Sam Vimes remembered in Feet of Clay. The ‘spirit of football’, or goddess or whatever, is purely a plot device, and there’s no reason given for why these events are happening here and now, so that whole plot fell a bit flat for me.

So, a decent enough entry in the Discworld canon, but for me these later books don’t hold a candle to the glory days.

Book details

ISBN: 9780552153379
Publisher: Corgi
Year of publication: 2009

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