Doubleday £18.99/£14.99

Unseen Academicals/ The Carpet People, By Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett satirises football in his 37th Discworld novel, and adds colour to a children's book

The Terry Pratchett who emerges from his latest, 37th, Discworld novel, Unseen Academicals, is a very different proposition from the one suggested by his inaugural effort, The Colour of Magic, back in 1983. Then, aged 35, Pratchett had not yet cemented his distinctive style: the first novel was all colourful, literary flourishes, a more complicated writing style, obscure characters such as his surreally walking treasure chest ("The Luggage") and Rincewind, the cynical, ineffective wizard who has intermittently cropped up since.

By the late 1980s, he had settled into a groove: his characters were expanding (the City Watch; the indolent wizards in Unseen University; the thieves, the beggars, the movie-makers, Death et al) and the perennial Pratchett allegory began rearing its head like a two-headed beast. Cue easy pops at Hollywood (Moving Pictures) or, say, Christmas (The Hogfather).

We also must mention Pratchett's 2007 diagnosis with Alzheimer's disease; something that is clearly not affecting the quality of his work. His universe is as fresh and arch as it always was; all the more impressive considering that Pratchett has now sold almost 10 million books in the UK, generating more than £70m in revenue. He has now either written, co-written or been creatively associated (including high-profile collaborations with Neil Gaiman, another literary sorcerer) with 100 books. While the majority are based in Discworld, there is also a highly successful range of tomes for children, which include the Carnegie Medal-winning The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents (2001).

So you'd have thought that, by now, Pratchett would be running out of ideas; thankfully, however, the universe he created 25 years ago just keeps on giving. In Unseen Academicals, the focus of his mild form of satire is football (providing the principal narrative strain of the book): cue allusions to "playing them buggers in Dimwell" until 3am, and "play until full-time, first dead man or first score" in true Ankh-Morpork style. Other targets for Pratchett's satirical quill include the fashion world, former polytechnics, the tabloid media's obsession with showbiz, and even the Monica Lewinsky affair.

The plot focuses once again on Unseen University's sorcerers. The conditions of a vital bequest depend on the wizards fielding a team for a spot of what they term "foot-the-ball" or Poore Boys' Funne. ("Mobs in the streets, kicking and punching and yelling... and they were the players.") A nice sub-plot focuses on the below-stairs staff at the university, including the mysterious goblin Nutt and the model-like Juliet, a particular target of lust for the bored wizards. It's a triumphant effort.

And then comes the illustrated edition of Pratchett's The Carpet People – ostensibly one of his "kiddies" books, originally written in 1971, but rewritten 20 years later (Pratchett says he has "co-authored" it with himself). It has been published with Pratchett's own coloured-in scribbles accompanying the text. Very much in the spirit of his Truckers trilogy, the book sees a tribe, the Munrungs, navigating their way across a carpet ("The Lord of the Rings on a rug"); cue various allusions in a Honey I Shrunk the Kids way to the deathly results of vacuuming, or the mining of metals from a fallen coin. Pratchett's illustrations have a loose, less-bloody, Ralph Steadman quality to them. They are not all that numerous, however, making this principally a must for collectors.

"My memory is still pretty good. I can write, and actually I've no problem with plotting; the plot for Unseen Academicals [came] together in my head beautifully," Pratchett told The Bookseller earlier this month. "But like a lot of writers, I love the therapy of hitting the keys, with my brain going at the pace of the typewriter. It's very frustrating to lose a skill like that. [But] while I still think I can write with my brain, we'll find ways of getting round not being able to write with my hands." Long may it continue.

Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL are releasing Plectrum Electrum next month

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Arts and Entertainment
John Kearns winner of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award with last years winners: Bridget Christie and Frank Skinner
comedyJohn Kearns becomes the first Free Fringe act to win the top prize
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Sue Vice
booksAcademic says we should not disregard books because they unexpectedly change genre
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Muscato performs as Michael Crawford in Stars in Their Eyes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
‘Game of Thrones’

TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

    What is the appeal of Twitch?

    Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
    Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

    Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

    As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
    Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

    A tale of two writers

    Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
    Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

    Should pupils get a lie in?

    Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
    Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

    Prepare for Jewish jokes...

    ... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
    SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

    A dream come true for SJ Watson

    Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
    Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

    Paul Scholes column

    Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?