UNSEEN ACADEMICALS by Terry Pratchett

Book Quote:

“After a while Ridcully took out his watch, which was one of the old-fashioned imp-driven ones and was reliably inaccurate. He flipped up the gold lid and stared patiently as the little creature pedaled the hands around. When the expostulating had not stopped after a minute and a half, he snapped the lid shut. …

‘Gentleman,’ he said gravely. ‘We must partake of the game of the people – from whom, I might add, we derive. Has any of us, in the last few decades, even seen the game being played? I thought not. … We are,  fellow wizards, the city’s last line of defense against all the horrors that can be thrown against it. However, none of them are as potentially dangerous as us. Yes, indeed. I don’t know what might happen if wizards were really hungry. So do this, I implore you on this one occasion, for the sake of the cheeseboard.’ ”

Book Review:

Review by Ann Wilkes (MAR 12, 2010)

Terry Pratchett’s books are ingenious satires peopled with imaginative caricatures rather than merely characters. In Unseen Academicals, he once again pokes fun at bureaucracy and thumbs his nose in a hysterical manner at revered, yet moth-eaten, institutions.

Unseen University is a school for wizards, but not a lot of learning goes on. The behavior of the wizards reminded me of P.G. Wodehouse‘s descriptions of antics at gentlemen’s clubs back in the 1920s.

One of the denizens of the University, a candle dribbler (the wizards can’t have their candles dribbling wax every which way), named Mr. Nutt, is a mysterious creature of many hidden depths. He possesses extraordinary strength, perfect recall and knowledge about a wide variety of subjects. Yet he debases himself continually, asking “Do I have worth?” and strives to be useful and subservient.

Nutt is the perfect caricature of a man who thinks he’s no good because he could never please his overbearing father. He meets the night kitchen cook, Glenda, who doesn’t have friends, but rather projects. She controls every thing and every one around her – a classic (or rather over-the-top) co-dependent.

Meanwhile, the University faculty must play soccer or give up their grant, which means foregoing several of their many elaborate meals a day. Soccer, in Pratchett’s Disc world, has degraded into a violent street sport with crowd participation and few rules. The old wizards must play the game without their powers. And the benevolent tyrant has a hidden agenda around the match.

Mr. Nutt trains the wizards (having never played soccer himself) for their fateful match for honor and cheeseboards. But they wouldn’t put their trust in him if they knew what he really was. Even Nutt is ignorant of his true nature.

Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully knows the truth: “This little man, who actually, when you look at him, is not as little as he appears because he weighs himself down with humility … this little man was born with a name so fearsome some peasants chained him to an anvil because they were too scared to kill him. Perhaps Vetinari and his friends are right in their smug way and a leopard can change his shorts. I hope so, because if they aren’t, a leopard will be a picnic.”

Mr. Nutt discovers his true identity while Glenda finds life outside her kitchen. Glenda has taken a fancy to quirky, little Nutt, who says the most unusual and often innocently inappropriate things. After embibing dwarf spirits she finds, to her utter astonishment, that the world does not explode while she’s not looking after it.

I enjoy Pratchett’s books not just for the satire, but for his irrepressible wit and his amazing one-liners. I’ll leave you with a few from Unseen Academicals:

It was hard to argue with a man who insisted that he was not dead.

“Rincewald, you once informed me, to my everlasting puzzlement, that you never knew your mother because she ran away before you were born.”

Madame shot her another of those looks that gave her the feeling that her brain was being taken out and examined minutely.

“But authority must back up authority, in public at least, otherwise there is no authority, and therefore the senior authority is forced to back up the junior authority, even if he, the senior authority, believes that the junior authority is a tiresome little tit.”

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-5from 168 readers
PUBLISHER: Harper; First Edition edition (October 6, 2009)
REVIEWER: Ann Wilkes
AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK? YES! Start Reading Now!
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Terry Pratchett
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:

Bibliography:

The Disc World Series:

Other Books:

For Young Adults:

The Tiffany Aching Series- For Young Adults:

More Young Adults;

Johnny Maxwell books – For Children:

Collaborations:


March 12, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Humorous, Satire, Speculative (Beyond Reality), y Award Winning Author

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