“Unseen Academicals”

Terry Pratchett

Taking a break from my reading new books to reread a favorite of mine! Some friends of mine took part in a recreational soccer league recently, and watching their games put me in the mood for Unseen Academicals. And, upon finishing the reread, I was surprised to find that I’d never posted a review of it.

As with everything Pratchett wrote, the book is a delight to read, a perfect blend of serious story and characters with comedy. It is, frankly, utterly unsurprising that he was awarded a knighthood for his writing; it’d be a shame if he hadn’t been honored.

The thing that makes Unseen Academicals such a long-standing favorite for me is Nutt. And now, in reading it again, there’s a part of me that doesn’t like how neatly his arc is tied together in the end. It’s hardly realistic—that degree of anxiety doesn’t just go away like that. But then, it’s a work of fiction, and more importantly, it’s telling a story. A story has to have a neat ending, or it won’t feel complete.

Still, though, I’ve always loved the portrayal of his fighting through it. The Sisyphean struggle to be worthy:

“But he makes wonderful candles,” she added quickly. “He’s always making things. It’s as if… worth is something that drains away all the time so you have to keep topping it up.”

I really can’t say how much I adore this book. I’ve given copies of it to people before, and likely will again. Go read it.1

  1. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.

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