Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

unseen academicals

This is the first Terry Pratchett novel I have read after his passing. Pratchett and his Discworld novels have been part of my fictional escapism since reading The Colour of Magic back in 1997. Eighteen years is a pretty long time to be loyal to any one author, and I will continue to be so.

It’s sad to think that apart from a few I have yet to read and a couple of potential posthumous novels, the Discworld series has come to not exactly an end, but a ‘completion’ of sorts. There will be no new tales of the characters we love so much. While Pratchett has given his daughter blessings to continue developing this world, we know it won’t be exactly the same. That sharp wit and observation of the real world… no one does it quite like Sir Terry Pratchett.

Back to the novel.

Much like Pratchett’s other work, the Discworld novels tend to revolve around a specific theme, and if you can’t tell by the cover, this time, Pratchett took on football. And even if I don’t watch football apart from during the FIFA World Cup, when I say football, I mean this football. Real football. Not the American kind.

But it’s more than just about football. It’s about the hooliganism of it, the crowd, of bringing it back to its roots (aka the football us mere mortals are familiar with). It’s also about a shy hardworking goblin, fashion and star crossed lovers ala Romeo and Juliet without the suicide at the end. There’s a character called Bengo Macarona with brilliant footwork, and Vetinari makes some astute remarks about the game:

“Well, of course, classically, gods play with the fates of men, so I suppose there is no reason why it shouldn’t be football. We play and are played and the best we can hope for is to do it with style.”

“It does look as if football is very much like diplomacy: short periods of fighting followed by long periods of negotiation.”

I admit, this novel may be more for Discworld fans instead of football fans, but if you’re one of the latter who enjoys a good book set in a world unlike yet exactly like our own, then try this one on for size.

Until then, I leave you with the perfect tribute to Terry’s life and work, that tweet announcing his passing:

Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.
The End.

Goodbye Terry Pratchett. Your works will be missed, but at least you are no longer in pain.

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