First Published in 2009 • #37 in the series • #7 in the Wizards story arc
This is Unseen University: the ancient and candlelit school of wizardry, with its gates of octiron and a library that transcends time and space. Its wizards command respect even as they command a place at the dinner table. But who serves those dinners? Who lights those candles? This is a story about those who live below stairs.
Glenda is queen of the night kitchen at Unseen University. Mr. Nutt is a mysterious outcast who lives and works in the candle vats. When football comes to the city of Ankh-Morpork, it is not only the wizards of Unseen University who get drawn into the game but Glenda, Mr. Nutt, and their friends. As a big game draws closer, the wizards’ mettle will be tested even as unsettling pasts are revealed. With a broad cast of new characters and returning favorites, such as Ponder, Ridcully, and the Librarian, Unseen Academicals unravels a story of self-worth, self-doubt, prejudice, and triumph—with Dwarven fashion shows, haunted whistles, and terrible meat pies.
Anne: Like The Last Continent, Unseen Academicals is one of the few Discworld books that I specifically avoided. After actually reading The Last Continent, I am much more excited to read this book. My opinion is that Terry Pratchett continually improves throughout the series—not that the earlier books aren’t good, but I typically find that the later books are even better. Pratchett had 25 years between The Colour of Magic and Unseen Academicals to hone his craft—I can’t wait to see what a recent wizards book is like.
Ryan: I’ve heard all kinds of bad things about this book, usually attributed to Pratchett’s battle with posterior cortical atrophy. Personally, I’ve always thought that while Pratchett’s writing definitely changes following his diagnosis, it doesn’t necessarily go bad so much as simply move in a new direction. It’s more sprawling, more didactic, lengthier, and in some ways more intricate. It’s like seeing your old favorite characters but through different eyes. Maybe that’s one way of responding to the reality of one’s impending death? I don’t know. But I’m curious to see how the Wizards’ story evolves—and what that story looks like considering real-world exigences.
“The rising sun managed to peek around the vast column of smoke that forever rose from Ankh-Morpork, City of Cities, illustrating almost up to the edge of space that smoke means progress or, at least, people setting fire to things.”
“She read the way a cat eats: furtively, daring anyone to notice.”
Anne: The Closest Anyone Has Ever Come to Explaining Sports Enthusiasm in a Way That Does Not Sound Ridiculous
Ryan: Most…er, First Humorous Sports Coach/Gym Teacher I’ve Ever Encountered
PRETENTIOUS ACADEMICALS SUBTITLES:
Anne: Unseen Academicals: The Crab Bucket We Call Society
Ryan: Unseen Academicals: In the Pursuit of Self-Worth
Want to read along? Bring your local librarian a banana and ask him/her/it if Unseen Academicals is available in your library’s catalog.
Otherwise, go to your favorite Internet Search Machine, type in “UNSEEN ACADEMICALS” + PLEASE HELP BUY” and go from there..