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Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett
Review by Paul Haggerty
Harper Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061161704
Date: 01 October 2009 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Article /

For many, football, or soccer as it is known here in the U.S., is not just a game. To those that love it, it is a way of life. And as it is here in the Roundworld, so it is reflected, and warped, in Pratchett's Discworld. In the vast and turbulent city of Ankh-Morpork, football, or as it is more accurately called by some, foot-the-ball, drives a degree of passion and loyalty in the populous that most religions can only dream of. Taking place throughout the streets of the city, what would be called violent gangs anywhere else, are called teams and fans, who proudly wear their team colors. There are vast throngs of people tracking (but not usually being able to see) the game in a horde which is appropriately known as The Shove. Into this chaotic battle of life and death, Lord Vetinari, Tyrant of Ankh-Morpork, has decided to take the game under his wing. For that to come about, there has to be strict adherence to the ancient rules (you can see them as soon as the ink dries), and of course, an appropriate team. Enter the wizards of the great Unseen University, a bunch of overweight, sedentary, risk adverse, bookworms. Football will never be the same.

From official release/information:

Product Description: The wizards at Ankh-Morpork's Unseen University are renowned for many things—wisdom, magic, and their love of teatime—but athletics is most assuredly not on the list. And so when Lord Ventinari, the city's benevolent tyrant, strongly suggests to Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully that the university revive an erstwhile tradition and once again put forth a football team composed of faculty, students, and staff, the wizards of UU find themselves in a quandary. To begin with, they have to figure out just what it is that makes this sport—soccer with a bit of rugby thrown in—so popular with Ankh-Morporkians of all ages and social strata. Then they have to learn how to play it. Oh, and on top of that, they must win a football match without using magic.

Meanwhile, Trev (a handsome street urchin and a right good kicker) falls hard for kitchen maid Juliet (beautiful, dim, and perhaps the greatest fashion model there ever was), and Juliet's best pal, UU night cook Glenda (homely, sensible, and a baker of jolly good pies) befriends the mysterious Mr. Nutt (about whom no one knows very much, including Mr. Nutt, which is worrisome . . .). As the big match approaches, these four lives are entangled and changed forever. Because the thing about football—the most important thing about football­—is that it is never just about football.

(Source: Harper)

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