Unseen University isn’t like other schools. This could, I suppose, be said about most schools of magic, but Unseen University isn’t like other schools of magic, either. To start with, it’s located on the Discworld, which (as any Terry Pratchett fan can tell you) is a large flat planet that flies through the universe on the backs of four gigantic elephants, which, in turn, stand on the shell of an even more gigantic turtle. So, you know, as far as weirdness goes, that’s a start.
- Due to a magical accident at some point in the distant past, the school’s Librarian is a large, hairy, and orange orangutan (not monkey, never monkey).
- Other faculty members regularly featured include but are not limited to the Chair of Indefinite Studies, the Lecturer in Recent Runes, the Head of Inadvisably Applied Magic, and the Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography.
- There are students, but the faculty generally doesn’t bother about them very much. More often than not, lectures are scheduled in rooms that don’t exist at all. Imparting knowledge is much less important than a good meal and a nice cigar in front of the fire.
- It’s bigger on the inside. (Like the TARDIS!)
- There’s a book chained in the basement.
I could obviously go on in this vein for a really very long time, but whenever I try to write about Terry Pratchett I just find myself wanting to endlessly quote passages from the books. I mean, why try to come up with my own words when his words already exist and they’re so much better? (On that note—I apologize in advance if I’ve accidentally swiped Pratchett wording anywhere in this post. Lines from Discworld novels have a way of embedding themselves in my subconscious.)
So instead, I’ll leave you with this: Unseen University both pays homage to, and mercilessly mocks, the magic schools of our imaginations. I can’t say I’d want to attend, but UU has appeared in more than fifteen books thus far, and I still haven’t had enough.
Also, Terry Pratchett is a genius and most everything he’s written is worth reading. And rereading.