Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Review; Unseen Academicals

Title The Unseen Academicals
Author Terry Pratchett
Rating ****
Tags fantasy, comedy, ankh-morpork, series 

It's Terry Pratchett. That means it is brilliantly funny, with good characters. The book is about many of the standard characters and places, like Lord Vetinari of Ankh-Morpork, and the wizards at Unseen University. Newer characters include Glenda, who is in charge of the Night Kitchen at UU, her friend and co-worker the beautiful but not-to-bright Juliet, Mister Nutt the candle-dripper, and his friend Trev Lively.

The action of the book centers around the game foot-the-ball. It is played in the streets, with many followers who can be violent and follow the game while rarely getting an actual glimpse of it. The wizards at UU, for financial reasons, are forced to take up the game. So they start reinventing it.

Pratchett's satire strikes all the typical targets, government, religion, you know the drill. It is the character of Mr. Nutt that really interests me. He is a genius, excessively polite, inventive, rational.... and an orc, which he finds out in the course of the book. So it is expected that any moment he will break into acts of mayhem and murder. This is an exploration of a topic that's gotten to bother me more and more over the years. When I was young I read Tolkien and accepted that of course orcs were bad. There are many books that rely on such depiction of evil, and that the only way to deal with it is to kill it. Pratchett takes this on. I've come to believe, as he obviously does, that once a being is sentient, it has as much or more chance of being good as bad, or a complex mixture of both like most people. Kudos to Mr. Pratchett for making the point brilliantly while never being heavy-handed about it.

Publication Doubleday UK (2009), Hardcover, 400 pages
Publication date 2009
ISBN 0385609345 / 9780385609340

Posted via web from reannon's posterous

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