Super Book Password

The Super Password Challenge is now closed. I may consider revamping it for next year...we'll see.
In the meantime....let's congratulate this year's point leader and prize-winner Ryan! And thanks to all who participated!

Some of Bev's Favorite Quotes...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Unseen Academicals (and by the way--1st Challenge Done!)

So, I picked up Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals at my library's Friends of the Library Bookstore, 'cause, you know, it was all humorous and academic and stuff. With wizards and orangutans and dwarfs and goblins and golems and who knows what other kind of fantastical creatures (some of them don't know what they are, so why should we?). And I'd heard a lot about how amazing Terry Pratchett is, so I thought, Hey, why not give this a try? And then the Terry Pratchett Challenge came along and I was all--this must be fate, so I should read it. (And it made me feel all whimsical--can you tell? Is my whimsy showing?)

And then I read the story. Which goes something like this: The wizards at Unseen University are bumping along just fine. Teaching potions and chants and magic and all that good wizard stuff. That is when they're not eating their three square meals a day, plus tea time, plus, like, oh, maybe 42 snacks here and there. Life is good in the halls of wizardly academe. Until Ponder Stibbons, the Archchancellor's right-hand man, general keeper-in-line of all university things, and most importantly, the keeper of traditions, discovers that the University has been falling down on the job on one very important tradition--fielding a team to play "foot-the-ball" (soccer to you and me). If the wizards don't get their pointy-hatted act together and play a game right quick, they will lose a substantial endowment....and all eating opportunities save three meals a day (with vastly reduced portions). Very few of the wizards have ever seen a ball, let alone tried to foot it--but by golly their cheese tray choices are at stake. And then Lord Ventinari, Ankh-Morpork's benevolent tyrant, gets involved and insists that not only must they play their game, but in order to keep their very special Archchancellor's pointy hat they will need to win a game...without using magic.

While the wizards are busy trying to sort themselves out athletically, down in the cellars of UU romance is budding and an answer to their quandary is brewing. Trevor Likely, a chandler, and his fellow candle-dripper, Mr. Nutt, become involved with Juliet ( beautiful, fairly dim maid and kitchen help who also may be the greatest fashion model ever) and her friend Glenda, the University's night cook--who just happens to make the best pies and other pastry dainties ever. Trev is a handsome fellow and a darn good kicker--son of one of the town's most renowned foot-the-ballers. He loves Juliet who happens to be the daughter of one of the leading families in a rival team. He also believes that he's not fit to wipe her boots. Juliet thinks Trev is pretty keen as well--but can't understand why he doesn't even try to sneak one little kiss. Trev is friends with Mr. Nutt--a mysterious person who claims to be a goblin, but seems better educated than most of the professors at the university. At least he has a bigger vocabulary. But even beyond that he may not be what he seems. Events soon lead our foursome above stairs to mix with their betters and to show the wizards a thing or two about how the ball should be footed.

This book had its moments. There were some very funny bits. I particularly like Glenda and Mr. Nutt. I enjoyed some of the academic word-play and the satirical commentary on academic life (I always get a kick out of that--working in an English Department as I do). But it wasn't sustained. I found myself skimming the book and downright bored stiff in certain places (and that wasn't just when we were discussing "foot-the-ball" a bit overmuch). A fun read, a decent read. But not one that I'd highly recommend and certainly not one I'll read again. I understand from other comments that this may not be Sir Terry's best perhaps if I come across an earlier book, I might give him another go. Not a high priority, however. Three stars for an okay outing.

I do have a few favorite quotes, though:
"There are all kinds of darkness, and all kinds of things can be found in them, imprisoned, banished, lost or hidden. Sometimes they escape. Sometimes they simply fall out. Sometimes they just can't take it any more."

"The last thing she wanted was to see her friend getting ideas in her head. There was such a lot of room in there for them to bounce around and do damage."

"The Librarian was not familiar with love, which had always struck him as a bit ethereal and soppy, but kindness, on the other hand, was practical. You knew where you were with kindness, especially if you were holding a pie it had just given you."

And, by the way, this completes my Terry Pratchett Reading Challenge. I signed up for one book and I'm all done!


Regina Hott said...

Can you feel the jealousy seeping from my pores? Finished? Sure, it was only one but... Still!

neer said...

Great. One challenge done. The book though doesn't seem to be interesting.

Jean said...

Since it's such a late book, you probably have to be more familiar with the Discworld universe to enjoy it more. If you're only going to read *one* Pterry novel, I'd recommend Wyrd Sisters or Mort, one of the earlier ones so you can get to know the characters and world. I love them all. (In fact I just finished the new one, Snuff !)

Gigi Ann said...


Debbie Rodgers said...

Congrats on completing your first challenge of 2012! I also signed up for one Pratchett and I'm also finished - I just have to get the review done. Life is too crazy here....

Bev Hankins said...

@Debbie...Yes, reading and blogging has been a bit more challenging lately in my corner as well.

Cheryl @ Tales of the Marvelous said...

I've read a lot of Discworld, and I find the wizards some of the least endearing characters--frankly, I can never remember who each one is, although they're usually amusing. I'd recommend Going Postal--it's VERY funny, and much more stand-alone. No need to know the characters from other books. I also really love the ones that focus on the City Guard, which starts with Guards! Guards! I hope you'll give Pratchett another try. :)