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Unseen Academicals

(Discworld #37)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  51,742 ratings  ·  2,055 reviews
Discworld lives on in Unseen Academicals, the latest novel from Terry Pratchett. Delivering the trademark insight and humor readers the world over have come to expect from “the purely funniest English writer since Wodehouse” (Washington Post Book World), Unseen Academicals focuses on the wizards at Ankh-Morpork’s Unseen University, who are reknowned for many things—sagacit ...more
Hardcover, 417 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by HarperCollins
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Start your review of Unseen Academicals (Discworld, #37; Rincewind #8)
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Or futbol, or football, or whatever.

Terry Pratchett has created a sports novel, or not, or whatever.

Yes, Lord Vetenari has agreed to allow a disorganized sport for ruffians and street thugs to have rules and even develop a league of sorts. Like crime, if there is going to be sports, it should at least be organized.

The 37th Discworld novel, first published in 2007 is about sports, but like all of Pratchett’s books, Sir Terry stuffs a Librarian (OOK!) sized amount of charisma, philosophy, a
Ahmad Sharabiani
Unseen Academicals (Discworld, #37; Rincewind #8), Terry Pratchett

Unseen Academicals is the 37th novel in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.

The novel satirises football, and features Mustrum Ridcully setting up an Unseen University football team, with the Librarian in goal.

Unseen Academicals tells the story of the faculty of Unseen University being forced to choose between (only) three meals a day and playing a game of football, as tradition mandates the game in exchange for their large financ
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I first read this book when it came out in 2009, and to be completely honest with you, I was kinda disappointed.

The book wasn't bad, mind you. But it was merely good. Pratchett's work is usually somewhere between brilliant and excellent.

Still, I wasn't particularly surprised. I've known about Pratchett's struggle with Alzheimer's for a while. I've known it was just a matter of time before it started to impact his work.

That said, even a somewhat lackluster Pratchett book is pretty good, and I
Dan Schwent
Jun 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: pratchett
Football (soccer to Americans like myself) is all the rage in Ankh-Morpork and Vetinari, the Patrician, has given Unseen University the duty of refining it from a street game to an organized event. Only some people don't want it organized. Can the Unseen Academicals, with Trevor Likely and the mysterious Mister Nutt, overcome football's rowdiest hooligans?

The thing about Terry Pratchett is that while his stories take place in a fantasy world, they are about real world events and concepts. This o
When I was a teenager, a friend and I wrote a behemoth of a three-page letter on A4 paper to Terry Pratchett. We were amazed and grateful when a reply arrived from him a few months later, apologising for the delay and attempting to answer some of our many questions. One of the questions we asked was, "What football team do you support?" He replied something to the effect of not watching football because he thought it was weird.

Warm, fuzzy memories aside, I wanted to love this latest Discworld no
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, fantasy
Re-read 6/20/20:

Still as good as usual. :) Still not a big sports fan but I can see the intellectual side of it. :)

Original Review:

I've never been a sports fan, unless I were actually doing the sport in question, but I found a discworld adaptation of a sport completely apropo and more than a little snide. Fortunately for those of us who don't care too much about sports in general, the reoccurring characters more than make up for the intrusion. I will always enjoy these series of books because th
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Yes, I’ve read this before, out of sequence, back in 2018 when I was watching the Soccer World Championship. The version back then was a full-cast Audible exclusive. This is the original novel by Sir Terry.

Over 80% of Unseen University’s food is paid for by the Weatherwax inheritance. Since having only three types of cheese to choose from would be torture, the wizards decide to abide by the rules stipulated in the will/inheritance and play a
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, fantasy
The Wizards of unseen University must play a game of football (the round ball variety) to meet some historical statute required to keep them housed and fed to the standard they have come to expect. This requires taking the current form of the game played in the the streets by thugs and transforming it into a more civilized form watched in a stadium with rules and a referee. Although anything involving the wizards is likely to have it's own form of chaos.

Perhaps because I am not a big fan of foot
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2018-shelf
While this story was never exactly anywhere close to one of my favorites in the Discworld books, I'd be remiss in saying it isn't excellent.

I mean, it has everything. Star-crossed romance between orc and kitchen maid, underdog sports story, and a heartwarming tale of raising Ankh-Morpork out of the mud and into civilized behavior once and for all.

A game of Foot the Ball can make all of that happen.

Brilliant? Perhaps! It has all the elements that people love and this particular Audible productio
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
‘I would like to try a little experiment this afternoon, gentlemen. We will not talk about football, we will not speculate about football, we will not worry about football – “
‘You are going to make us play it, aren’t you?‘ said the Lecturer in Recent Runes glumly.

The population of Ankh-Morpork has caught the soccer fever. They fill the streets with chaos and wild chants, with violent mobs, greasy food stands and with rising passion for their version of the ‘foot-the-ball or Poor Boys’ Funne
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Last year, I finally started reading the Discworld novels. Thus, I've read this out of order since it's actually #37. However, there having been the World Cup, this was too good an opportunity to miss.

For years, Ankh-Morpork had a game called Mudball. Originally called Foot-the-Ball and being more about technique, it has descended into a violent jumble thanks to the city's Hooligans. As fate (or Lord Vetinari) would have it, the son of a legendary Foot-the-Ball player has been incarcerated and t
Jun 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: old skool discworld fans
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: all of the previous discworlds
Football has come to Ankh-Morpork. Strange that, in the scale of Ankh-Morporkian evolution, football arrives after the genesis of iconographs and moving pictures but there you have it. That is one of the joys of evolution is it not? The element of surprise?

Surprisingly the arrival of football also coincides with the arrival of high fashion, fashion models (maybe not that surprising given the association between fashion and football a la posh n becks), the rediscovery of the Orc (like the redisc
Wizards are not known for their physical prowess, they would rather forgo exercise or similar activities for seconds and maybe even thirds at the dinner table. But if they want to keep eating, they are going to have to play a football match to ensure that the substantial financial endowment that they have from a local family continues.

They soon come to realise that the game of football played in Ankh-Morpork is pretty dangerous, two mobs swarm after the ball and there are lots of injuries and of
May 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
Contrary to popular belief, I don't hate sports.

I know this may come as a surprise, since I studiously avoid all but the most cursory acknowledgment of current sporting events. I finish the paper when I hit the sports section, and the sport report on the news is, for me, time to wash the dishes. I have no favorite teams of any kind, no players I look up to, and no interest in following play-offs, bowl games, championships or derbys. Hell, even with the Olympics my interest plummets after the ope
What do you get when you mix football, magic, academic rivalry, an orangutan, the world of high (sorry) low fashion, a thumbing of nose (if not outright rasberrying) of Harry Potter, commentary on religion, and a designer named Pepe?

Unseen Academicals.

Most readers consider the last few Discworld novels to be good, though not great. In Unseen Academicals, Pratchett is back to his top form. Perhaps, a break from Discworld to write the wonderful and thought provoking Nation was what he needed. Rega
Julian Worker
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent - one of the finest books written about the beautiful game, except when Terry Pratchett writes about football, it becomes the beautiful, funny, humorous, witty, and deeply meaningful game.
Nov 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
The challenge with trying to review a book by the inimitable Terry Pratchett is finding something to say that hasn’t already been said. The man’s unquestionable skill as a writer and the extensive body of his work makes it all but impossible to say anything about a new addition that hasn’t already been said—often.

I had the pleasure of receiving an advance copy of the newest Pratchett, Unseen Academicals, from the publisher, Harper. And trust me, it was very much a pleasure because once again Mr.
Sam Quixote
Aug 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Discworld novel in 4 years, the last one I read being the largely mediocre "Thud!" and a below average outing for the City Watch. I tried "Making Money" a couple of years ago but it was the first Discworld I couldn't finish it was so poor. That was really it for me, I thought I'd not be returning to Pratchett again. I felt sorry for Terry hearing of his illness but his continued forays into the dubious realm of "Young Adult" fiction often yielded poor books for a bloke in his 20 ...more
This book was semi-entertaining, but it definitely won’t be one of my favorites from Discworld. I also think I was a little misled by the Discworld chart I’ve been referencing. The chart lists this as part of the Rincewind series, but he hardly appears in the book at all and has very little to do with the story. He’s a fun character; I was looking forward to one last book about him.

Our main characters are four non-wizards who work on the staff at Unseen University. The other wizards who often fe
Oct 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, sf-f-h, discworld
There isn't much to say about a Discworld novel at this point.You like the series or you don't, you shouldn't start with this one (although it isn't that bad of a starter, it doesn't give a lot of background on the characters--start elsewhere), and you just want to know if it's one of the (rare) standouts, either as extra genius (Night Watch) or a klunker (Monstrous Regiment).

It's a solid Discworld book, and we seem to have precious few of those left, so cherish it.

For recurring characters, it
Feb 18, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Hum... OK - this was one I had missed out on reading though probably it was intentional. I am not a fan of football and while the Unseen University was partly responsible for getting me into Discworld books many years ago it isn't my favourite part of TP's output.

The football bits were somewhat amusing and the librarian is always a good character. However the stars of this book for me were Glenda and Mister Nutt. I won't explain - those who read Discworld will either know or find out about them
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
The wizards have never been my favorite, and we keep getting a dose of new characters, and football is hardly my favorite topic, but, for all of that, it was still an enjoyable story. It'll most likely never be one of my faves, but it was good.

I liked Nutt and Glenda, and wouldn't mind seeing them again, but I particularly liked the addition of Mr. Hix to the UU staff - the man with the skull ring who has license to be just a little bit evil, and to say the things everyone else is thinking. He w
For me, this is the best book of the series in a while, its characters are so loveable and some of the side characters like Pepe are tremendously funny. Mr Nutt especially is a wonderful character, when he starts philosiphising, for example about famous spoons, the book becomes hilarious. At first glance it looks like a book about football, but whilst reading it, I began to realise that it's really about tolerance and friendship. Terry Pratchett tells us this tale of tolerance in his own, unique ...more
Talulah Mankiller
Apr 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Dear Mr. Pratchett,

You have given me much joy in a cold, dreary life filled with vet visits and chemical adjustments to my brain. I was born to bleed from my vagina, expel copious amounts of snot from my nostrils (seriously, what is UP with my sinuses?), and watch GI Joe because my sister thinks terrible movies are funny. Or maybe she just finds my screams of pain amusing. ANYWAY, what I’m saying is that I suffer, I suffer mightily, but your books make things just a little bit more bearable. You
Jun 07, 2013 rated it liked it
I think this might even be the first Pratchett book I read since his death. And somehow it felt so fitting that most of his main characters at least visited this book. As it was fitting that the whole book ends with a big "do you think it is over?" thing. Because it sort of is, and it is sad. I personally still have a few books of his unread, but it is still sad.

The book itself was not one of his best books, but there were parts that made me chuckle aloud and there were parts that moved me. I a
Phil McCrum
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing


"Unseen Academicals" arrives new into a series that is already well over 30 books deep. The series is referred to as the "Discworld" series. For those of you unfamiliar with Discworld, it is a mythical flat world being carried through space on the backs of four cosmically huge elephants that are, themselves, standing on the back of an even larger tortoise. This tortoise is slowly making her way through the universe carrying millions of eclectic entities with her. If you loved "The Hitchh
I find this book a somewhat perplexing addition to the Discworld series. Technically, I think it's classed as a Rincewind book?? And yet Rincewind shows up for approximately two pages.

It's a book about football, in which the game goes from being played in a totally disorganised, stab-your-opponents-if-they-get-in-the-way fashion with a heavy wooden ball to a game with rules and specific positions and a lightweight inflatable ball. Which is fine, except that Jingo, some sixteen books earlier in
Jan 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very fun to read, but it ended quite quickly, without the usual bang. I didn't like all of the new characters. The continuation of the story would be very interesting. All in all, it's a good Discworld book.

And something I've been thinking while reading the book, but not really provoked by it:

It seems more and more civil concepts from our world are starting their own life in Ankh Morpork. The more the Discworld gets populated by newspaper agencies, mobile communications, banks, post offices, fas
Nicholas Karpuk
Jan 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Wizards play soccer. I could leave it at there and let you imagine their pointy hats wiggling across the field. That's almost a sales pitch in and of itself.

No artists ailments affect me quite like Pratchett's weird version of Alzheimer's. If it were some authors I like, I'd be upset, but for many of them, their best work is in the past. It's troubling with Pratchett because his books just keep getting more compelling.

What sounds like a high concept comedy ends up being a pretty bright discussio
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a fan of Terry Pratchett (RIP). But this one was a bit less to my liking. Still funny, creative, enjoyable, but got bored by the long and slow lead-in, and by lots of football (soccer) details. I even checked Wiki info, and found that many jokes (names of teams, specific plays etc) are very specific references to the UK soccer world, which was pretty incomprehensible to me except very generally.
Note: the book cover seems to show a basketball, not a soccer ball, and hands reaching for it, wh
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Born Terence David John Pratchett, Sir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe.

Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, i

Other books in the series

Discworld (1 - 10 of 41 books)
  • The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1; Rincewind, #1)
  • The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2; Rincewind #2)
  • Equal Rites (Discworld, #3; Witches, #1)
  • Mort (Discworld, #4; Death, #1)
  • Sourcery (Discworld, #5; Rincewind #3)
  • Wyrd Sisters (Discworld, #6; Witches #2)
  • Pyramids (Discworld, #7)
  • Guards! Guards! (Discworld, #8; City Watch #1)
  • Eric (Discworld, #9; Rincewind #4)
  • Moving Pictures (Discworld, #10; Industrial Revolution, #1)

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