When you pick up a Discworld book, you never know if you’re going to get the good Terry Pratchett — the one of Night Watch and Hogfather, who can tell deeply meaningful stories while also being funny — or the mediocre Pratchett — the one of Monstrous Regiment and Soul Music, who tells forgettable but lightly enjoyable stories. The good news I have for you is that if you pick up Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals , you’re getting the good Pratchett.

As the name would imply, this is essentially a Wizards book. Historically, I’ve found the wizards to be good supporting characters, but lousy protagonists, so it’s perhaps a good thing that they’re not really the protagonists in this book, either. The protagonists are the lower-class people in the depths of the Unseen University — the cook in the Night Kitchen, the candle dribbler — and this is a story that is very deeply about class. It is Pratchett at his most keenly observant, and also possibly at his funniest; there are a handful of lines that would surely be in people’s sig files if it were 15 years ago when people still had sig files.

If you’ve read the Discworld books, you’ll want to read this one. If you haven’t, you should.


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