C.R.'s Reviews > Unseen Academicals

Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett
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Dec 01, 09

bookshelves: series-discworld
Read in November, 2009

This latest installment of Pratchett's twenty-some volume Discworld "series" turns its sharp eye to professional sports, notably "foot-the-ball," what we Yanks call soccer, romance novels, and High Fashion. Hilarity, of course, ensues, but, as ever, it is the hilarity that comes with taking the rules of Fantasy very seriously, and then letting characters loose in them.
This particular volume is unique in the high amount of face time Lord Havelock Vetinari receives. He has historically been a kind of background character, given a page here, a paragraph there. This time, we actually get to see him at work. We're not allowed into that shining, sharp, steel mind of his, but he explains himself to us with a bit more frequency than has been common in the past.
The moving of Vetinari to the center of books, rather than keeping him at a periphery, is very much in keeping with two observed trends. First, what I call the "Ankh Morpork" series, those books focusing on Ankh Morpork as it transforms from a stereotypical Fantasy city into a thriving, modern, metropolitan Fantasy city. Title in this last are, mainly, "The Truth," "Going Postal," "Making Money" and, now, "Unseen Academicals." The other group, of course, is the longer running "Coppers" series, which details the tribulations of Sam Vimes and the Night/City Watch.
One other thing that is more pronounced in "Unseen Academicals" is the view of the Watch. We, as readers, know the Watch as "the good guys:" Sam Vimes may be an asshole, but he's doing his best and He Gets His Man/Dwarf/Vampire/Golem/&c. Like "Making Money" and "Going Postal," "Unseen Academicals" gives us the citizen's view of the Watch as often reckless, authoritarian, and dubiously legal/ethical, much like actual police work from the citizen's view.
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Quotes C.R. Liked

Terry Pratchett
“Juliet's version of cleanliness was next to godliness, which was to say it was erratic, past all understanding and was seldom seen.”
Terry Pratchett, Unseen Academicals


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