Review of UNSEEN ACADEMICALS by Terry Pratchett (see his website)
Harper, October 2009
Lord Ventinari has always opposed football, the game of hooligans that spills over the streets of Anhk-Morpork, leaving injuries and relatively few goals behind. But he's also a realist and he's learned to co-opt and use what he doesn't like when an outright ban doesn't work. So, when the Unseen University administration learns that they are about to lose a key bequest if they don't sponsor a football team, Ventinari decides to go along...but only if the game has new (supposedly old) rules.
Nutt is a supposed goblin with issues. He's convinced he has to prove his worth, speaks with an upper class accent while living with the working class, and has read just about every book in discworld. He's also got a firm grip and desceptive strength...and an appetite for pie.
Nutt becomes friends with Trev, the son of a former football player, who gets Nutt to do all of his work while Trev chases after the beautiful (but not too bright) Juliet. Juliet, managed by Nutt's pie-cooker, has a chance to get out of the kitchen and become a dwarf model (modeling the new, no-chaffing, micro-mail armor).
From a story perspective, it doesn't sound like much...and it isn't. But author Terry Pratchett (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of fantasy by Pratchett) balances humor, social commentary, and the heroically fascinating character of Nutt to create a page-turning novel nevertheless. Certainly UNSEEN ACADEMICALS would have to be ranked below Pratchett's best, but Pratchett has set a very high standard. Even a minor work like this is an enjoyable treat to read.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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