5 out of 5 stars

Wizards are not known for their physical prowess, they would rather forgo exercise or similar activities for seconds and maybe even thirds at the dinner table. But if they want to keep eating, they are going to have to play a football match to ensure that the substantial financial endowment that they have from a local family continues.

They soon come to realise that the game of football played in Ankh-Morpork is pretty dangerous, two mobs swarm after the ball and there are lots of injuries and often deaths too. Worried by this, after all, you can’t eat if you’re dead, they concoct a plan with Lord Vetinari, the city tyrant and ruler, to amend the rules to make it safer for everyone. The wizards begin their training regime.

The new game of football has a lot of appeal to the people of the city and four unlikely people are pulled into the excitement surrounding the game. Mr Nutt has been employed at the Unseen University as a candle dribbler, he has always thought he was a goblin, but it turns out that he isn’t. His colleague and best friend there, Trev Likely, is the son of the Ankh-Morpork’s most famous deceased footballer, but he had promised late mum that he won’t ever play football. Also linked are Glenda and Juliet. Glenda works the night kitchen at the Unseen University and makes the very best pies on the Disc. Juliet is her glamourous assistant who has a bit of a thing for Trev and somehow ends up as a model for the latest micromail fashion.

As the two teams start to practice with the new rules and balls, everyone in the city is captivated with the match, after all, it is not just a game of football.

I am not a football fan, it really doesn’t do anything for me at all, I much prefer other sports such as cricket. Pratchett’s brilliance is taking a subject from our world and showing it a mirror. The reflection is not exactly the same, rather the traits and foibles that add to the richness of human life can all be seen in their stark and humorous shades and he has done that with this subject rather well. There are lots of other themes in here about the way humans work too that you really have to read to understand and empathise with. If there was one flaw, I thought it dragged a bit in the middle. It is not a book to be read in public as outbreaks of guffaws can happen fairly often with his prose. Very highly recommended.

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