If you're a sports fan who never read one of Terry Pratchett's books, Unseen Academicals is the one you should read. And, if you're one of his millions of worldwide fans, it's Pratchett's observations on sports, sports fans, a little Romeo and Juliet, and racism. And, it's done with his typical wordplay and cleverness. It's another success.
Football (soccer for Americans) is a beloved sport for the people of Ankh-Moorpork, but it's not an organized sport. It's a game for the masses, violent, loud, and one supported by people from the bottom of their souls. Neighborhoods support their own teams, and the other teams' supporters are enemies. It's not the kind of feelings the wizards at Unseen University would understand because they tend to lead an isolated life, and, they're definitely not athletes. But, football will change when the Lord Ventinari, the city's tyrant, decides the university will play, and make rules for the game.
It's going to take someone wiser than than the wizards to organize the sport and the university's team. Who would ever expect that Nutt, assistant to the Candle Knave, would have the organizational skills to force wizards to practice, and form a team? Nutt is more than just as ordinary goblin, and Glenda Sugarbean, head of the Night Kitchen, is one of the first to suspect that.
Up until now, Glenda has accepted her lot in life. She's an accomplished cook whose best friend, Juliet, also works in the kitchen at the university. But, both young women have secrets. Glenda reads romance novels, and has learned a little about life, even though she can't pronounce or correctly understand all of the words in her books. And, Juliet, who is so gorgeous even the celibate wizards are in awe of her, only has eyes for Trevor Likely, son of a football hero, and a friend to Nutt.
Favorite characters from previous Pratchett books make appearances in this book, the Librarian, Samuel Vimes, Commander of the City Watch, and Rincewind the wizard. Unseen Academicals is a treat, filled with Pratchett's humor and play on words. It's a pleasure to watch Glenda and Nutt with their wise observations of humanity, and their skillful manipulation of people. Juliet and Trevor become popular icons, and Pepe, who works for the dwarfs, skillfully utilizes that popularity. And, as always, Pratchett leaves the reader with a satisfying ending (or endings, in this case) in which good triumphs. Unseen Academicals is another entertaining Pratchett success headed for the bestseller lists.
Sir Terry Pratchett's website is http://www.terrypratchett.co.uk
Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett. HarperCollins, ©2009. ISBN 9780061161704 (hardcover), 400p.