Bokrecension: Unseen Academicals
That last few days have been spent in a sort of half coma. It has been very rainy, and so I’ve been devoting myself entirely to reading the fantasy novel Unseen Academicals by the british author Terry Pratchett. Had you been spying on me you would have seen me sitting in the sofa in the living room and reading, by the computer, in my room, in the kitchen and… yeah, pretty much all over the house.
It was a very long time (for me, at least ) since I last read anything by this author, and so when I’d started I had a hard time putting the book down. I reacted the way I would probably react if I kept off sweets for a few months, and then somebody came and put a bowl of candy in front of me.
Unseen Academicals can be read “alone” if you want to, but it is also part of a series of fantasy novels that all take place in a universe called Discworld. It’s very imaginative and enormously funny, and there are, I think 38 books about Discworld right now. Terry Pratchett has been knighted, so I think that means that what he writes transcends genres, it’s the kind of fantasy you can appreciate even if you don’t normally read any fantasy.
More than being fantasy, it’s satire, because Discworld is in many aspects similar to our own world, and the reason why the characters are so funny and also likeable is because they are so familiar and behave in all the weird ways that humans generally do.
There are several characters in Discworld, so one book might be about only some of them and the other characters might not be present at all, but in other books they might have a smaller part to play or they are sort of in the background, and in yet another book these minor characters will be the main characters.
A few of these characters are the three witches who live in a small village in the mountains, who have their own mini series within the series with something like four or five books being about their adventures. Then there is the grim reaper, Death, who is rather nice and philosophical but a bit at a loss when it comes to understanding humans, though he really tries his best. There is also Ank-Morpork, the greatest city of Discworld, that is almost a character in itself. Apart from its large population, it harbours som of the main characters such as the city guard, the dictatorial patrician, and most importantly, all the wizards of the great Unseen University (the university of magic ). Normally, there are also a few new characters introduced in each book, some of them who are only part of that book and some of them who come back in other books.
The book I’ve just read takes place in Ank-Morpork, and centers around the wizards at Unseen University. It’s probably a lot more enjoyable if you’ve read all the books in the right order. Anyway, Unseen Academicals is the name of a team put together by the wizards. In this book, they are required to play a game of football in order to keep getting money from a trustfund they need to finance their economy. None of the wizards like sports very much, so they aren’t keen on it, but they decide that they have to because otherwise they won’t be able to afford eating nine meals a day, and they’ll only have three different kinds of cheese to choose from.
Some of the main characters in this book are not wizards, but are part of the staff who work at the university, namely two of the staff employed to light the candles and make them dribbly, and two of the maids working in the kitchen. One of the candle lighters is a goblin and arfaid he won’t fit in among the people of Ank-Morpork. There is a lot of prejudices about how evil goblins are supposed to be, and although there are both dwarves and trolls living among the humans of the city, there hasn’t been any goblins around. The other candle dribbler is his friend, a young boy with a talent for kicking a tin can.
The two maids are Glenda and Juliet (gack, why couldn’t Shakespeare have chosen another name, I hate all the romanticism attached to it ). Glenda is one of the maids, or rather, the cook of the Night Kitchen of the University. She’s very good at working hard, feeling sorry for people, telling other people what to do and keeping them out of trouble, eating too much and reading sappy novels. Her best friend Juliet is also working in the kitchen, and is a pretty but airheaded girl.
These four all become important to the wizards and their football for different reasons, and the story is as much about what happens to them as about what happens to the wizards. This is rather typical of Terry Pratchett. He’ll often have two or three different stories going on at the same time, and often being woven together somewhere along the way.
Football is very dangerous in Ank-Morpork (possibly it’s more like the american version ). When the wizards discover this they manage to re-write the rules together with the dictator of the town, and make it more like the kind of football we call football.
I enjoyed the book very much, especially the part where you got a summary of the wizards first attempt at playing football. They were not very good at it at all, some ran away from the ball instead of towards it, some stood still leaning agains the goal and smoking a pipe, and some of them kicked the ball into their own goal.
Book cover, showing the whole team:
Terry Pratchett himself, sporting a wizard hat and a very cool beard:
The very first book by Terry Pratchett that I read was not about Discworld, but set in England. Though it was still fantasy, because the main characters happened to find a way to travel in time with a shopping cart. It was called Johnny and the bomb, and was part of a triology about a young boy named Johnny and his group of friends. It was a friend of my mother, my mothers’ secretary at the time, who told my mother about the book. She was one of the younger secretaries there, close to my mother in age, and very kind with a good sense of humour. And fond of cats.
Inlägg senast uppdaterat: 15 februari, 2022