Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Unseen Academicals

By Terry Pratchett

The Unseen University, a school for and of wizards located in Ankh-Morpork of Discworld, has an unassuming gray fellow working as a candle dribbler. His job is to make all the candles look well and properly dribbled, as befits an antique institution like the Unseen University.
Mr. Nutt doesn't like draw attention to himself, preferring to go about his job efficiently dribbling candles. But Mr. Nutt has begun to make friends with some of the other employees of the University, mainly Trevor Likely, his boss, and Glenda Sugarbean, who runs the Night Kitchen with the help of her best friend, the beautiful Juliet Stollop, and makes the University's pies and other after-hours treats. There is some question about exactly what Mr. Nutt is, and it is commonly accepted that he is a goblin. Or maybe not.
Ankh-Morpork is football-mad and competition between rival teams has become quite fierce and uncontrolled. So the ruler of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari, has decided to step in. He orders the wizards of the Unseen University to set up a team of their own and formalize the rules and move the games from the city streets to a proper arena. And, amazingly, Trevor Likely, Glenda Sugarbean, Juliet Stollop and shy Mr. Nutt are going to be the key figures who will make this plan a reality.

This was an amusing and well-laid out story, even if the subject, football, is one that doesn't interest me. Mr. Nutt is another of Pratchett's memorable and unusual characters, another strange being in Ankh-Morpork's melting pot of strange beings. And like the others, Mr. Nutt manages to find a place for himself and the respect of a reluctant community.

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