on April 18, 2002
The Last Continent is another Discworld book, a wonderful series of books by Terry Pratchett that takes place on a Disc, on the backs of four elephants that are standing on a cosmic turtle that's hurtling through space. This one features another adventure of the wizard who's not very good at wizardry, Rincewind. One thing he's good at, though, is getting into trouble, and boy does he in this one!
Rincewind is stranded in a dry, desolate place called XXXX (that's "ecks-ecks-ecks-ecks" to the locals). There is no rain. Instead, there is some water that you have to dig for. Unfortunately, that's starting to dry up too. Magic is going crazy on this continent, and Rincewind has been chosen to sort things out. Of course, as the kangaroo who gives him the job states, Rincewind already has sorted things out, so the kangaroo has no doubt that Rincewind will come around and accept the responsibility of sorting things out. Make sense? It doesn't to Rincewind either. He is forced to go on a journey around the continent (very obviously, it's supposed to be Australia, though supposedly Pratchett denies this) and falls into adventure after adventure. He's attacked by a drunken wombat, he discovers "Ecksians" can come up with new phrases (this actually seems to make Australian euphemisms make sense). He discovers an alternate group of wizards from another Unseen University, and accepts there help in his mission.
Speaking of the Unseen University, a number of faculty wizards end up on a desert island after stepping through a window in the study of one of another faculty member. Unfortunately, that window gets closed, leaving them trapped on this island, ages in the past, with no way to get back home. What would a normal wizard do in this situation? Of course! They panic. The resolution of all this, and how these two stories tie together, is really worth reading. I don't want to give away any more than I already have.
The Last Continent is a tremendously funny book. It's not as good as the City Watch books (another series of books taking place on Discworld), but it is well worth the time spent on it. Pratchett is a master at silly humour, and there's lots of it in this one. There's the aforementioned bit on euphemisms, there's one of the wizards trying to explain time paradoxes to a group of wizards that just don't get it. There's a scene taken from the movie The Road Warrior that is just priceless. The jokes never stop.
This book does tend to grow on you as well. When I first finished it, I rated it as a 4-star book. I thought it was really good, but not outstanding. However, after having had some time to reflect, it has really risen in my estimation. I'm thinking back to all of the funny bits and I find myself almost laughing out loud while remembering. It's the best of the Rincewind books that I've read (which, admittedly, leaves out any between The Light Fantastic and this one). This is definitely a 5-star book.
The characters are just wonderful. While Rincewind has his great moments, the other wizards steal the show. They just can't seem to understand much of anything, with the exception of one of them who keeps trying to explain things. Of course, sometimes his explanations make their misunderstanding even worse. The interplay between these characters, and between them and the university's housekeeper, is outstanding. The characters Rincewind runs into are great, too. There were no characters that I wished would just leave so I wouldn't have to read about them again. Pratchett keeps the sequences that Rincewind gets into short, so there's no real opportunity for them to get stale.
I can't say whether or not reading the previous Rincewind books is necessary. I personally didn't feel like I was missing anything by not having read them (with the possible exception of how Rincewind got to XXXX in the first place, though that didn't bother me too much). I picked it up cold and enjoyed it, so you shouldn't be afraid to either. Yet another must-read in the Pratchett collection.
on June 10, 2001
Well, I don't know why everyone's going on about this book not being so good--unless they simply prefer the more "serious" or not so pop-culture-reference-laden books of the Discworld series. Me, call me cheap, but, as nice as some philosophy can be, I like the ones that make me LAUGH. And the Last Continent did that. BIG-time!
In one plotline, we have Rincewind, who I liked from the moment I first read "The Colour of Magic" and have laughed myself silly at any book he's ever been in since. (Including the unpopular "Sourcery", which had me almost DYING with laughter, and even "Eric".) How can a character who's so _cowardly_ be so _likeable_? It defies logic on the surface of it, but, there you go! Terry Pratchett is the only author I've seen so far who can make the most pathetic losery _anti_-hero you can think of--and then genuinely make you cheer for him.
Anyway, Rincewind's plotline involves him not only wandering all over "FourEcks" and running into a parody version of just about _every single famous Australian thing known to man_, but also a whole ton of just plain side-splitting jokes and scenes. I LOVED the whole "Priscilla" thing! Assuming that Rincewind was another drag-queen, with his "dress" (wizard robe), oh, gods...! I was so in stitches. And the Luggage in high heels even!
The other plotline involves the wizards from Unseen University--but this time, they are OUT of the University! Big improvement! I guess I'm in the minority here, but when it comes to favourite "groups" of characters the wizards are TOPS for me, with the witches, Guards, "Death" family, etc. below them. I dunno. Maybe I just like eccentric whackazoid characters. (And HEX rules.) Anyway, this part of the book takes the wizards out of their usual cloistered surroundings for a welcome (for us; frightening to them) breath of real fresh air and sunshine--and weirdness! Highlights of this plotline include young Ponder Stibbons becoming a very strong character suddenly (he gets a sympathetic background and a hot temper among other things) and Mrs. Whitlow also being developed further. As for the God on the island offending heavily-religious people, listen: He's the GOD of EVOLUTION. Like, since evolution is something you can "believe" in, it must have a god behind it...well, on Discworld, anyway! He was making fun of atheists or secular humanists in a tongue-and-cheek way. Notice it was Ponder, the scientific wizard, who was _horrified_ to find out that such a god could exist (at first...then he thought it was cool...for a while.) Last but not least, I _liked_ the way the two plotlines tied together at the end. I just hope this isn't the end of Rincewind's "adventures", not just yet.
In short: BOTH plotlines are funny, have character development and HILARIOUSLY funny lines and scenarios. It _does_ make sense if you pay attention to it, and you don't have to be Australian to get the jokes--just alive and alert for the later part of the 20th century is all. If you want to laugh, get this book! If you didn't like it so much the first time...wait a while, then try it again. I wasn't so impressed the first time. This review is from my _second_ read.
And if you STILL don't like it, well, no worries!
on March 3, 2001
How could people not think Rincewind is SO FUNNY? This is definately the funniest Discworld book, all the Rincewind ones are so funny, Terry Pratchett sould be arrested on the charge of making everyone's sides split. It's like a sequel to Interesting Times, when after the Wizards accidentally send him to Fourecks. Anyway, the Librarian is sick and Rincewind is the only person who knows his name so they can cure him. They end up on an island with a Creator who creates anything that seems convenient at the time. Rincewind is told by a talking kangaroo that he has to set things right in Fourecks, while the Wizards try to get to the continent. The Wizards have never been a funnier bunch of absent-minded old, fat men, especially the Senior Wrangler. Whenever Mrs. Whitlow appears, he's saying "Mwaaaaa..." There's refrences to drag queens, and the dangers of practically everything in Fourecks.
Okay, so it's a little like Australia. Okay, it's a lot like Australia, but who doesn't like Australian jokes?
Terry Pratchett's humor is just brilliant, and I have no idea how he came up with such a funny and absurd character like Rincewind.
on July 30, 2000
'The Last Continent' takes it's place in the Discworld series as another hilarious political insight into different cultures. I found that this book was certainly one of the more clever additions to the series, since in every sentence a little jewel of social comment into Australian culture is buried. For all you Aussie Discworld fans, and I know there are a lot of you out there, if you could only read one book this year, make it this one. For all you non-Australian fans, and I know there are probably more of you out there, your opininon of this book can range from the fantastic, to the totally lame. One begins to wonder if this book was written especially for Pratchett's Aussie fans, for they're the only one's who will get all the hidden gags. So if you really want to enjoy this book to it's absoloute fullest (and let me tell you, it has great potential) brush up on your Australian folklore, dialouge, beer, traditions, animals, landscape, geography, politics, foods, opera singers, cities, plants, television, movies, ballads, buildings, sports, haunted breweries, gay festivals, myths, and natives. But if you're not up to it, just enjoy the wizard jokes put in it just for you, ok?
on September 13, 1998
as a New Zealander it is in my nature to appreciate watching the Aussies come under the keen scalpel of Pratchett's wit, but it also seemed to me, that, besides all the movie cliches and the carricature of famous and infamous (was I the only one who noticed dibbler's simalarity to a certain xenophobic-but-doesn't-know-what-the word-means, red haired australian politician)Australians,it also seemed to me that in the end he was writing with great respect and wonder and of course humour. For those stibbons fans out there we see him and the rest of the faculty in an entirely new light and discover who realy is controling evolution. I would personally recomend this book to anyone.
on September 8, 2000
Witty dialogue, clever story line, imaginative characters, this book has them all! I just love the way Terry Pratchett transplants pieces of our world into the Disc World, he makes it all so damn funny and thought provoking.
I was actually fotunate enough to attend a book reading by the author while he was visiting New Zealand to promote this book, so my copy contains an autographed dedication on the title page (oh, and for those that haven't had the fortune of meeting Mr Pratchett, he is every bit as delightful as his books!)
For all lovers of the Disc World, this book should enjoy a place on your bookshelf along with all the others in the series.
on February 11, 2000
After almost 20,000 books in the Discworld series, Terry Pratchett unaccountably continues his original, funny-bone writing style. Many authors "peter out" after the third or fourth novel - not Terry! Somehow he keeps churning out fresh ideas, fresh material, fresh humor - all while keeping the customer enamored with familiar characters and storylines. While some of the later books may seem daunting to new readers unfamiliar with our loveable Luggage or the invincible Rincewind, I for one will never give up my addiction to the Discworld so long as Terry keeps on with his terrific work
on March 14, 2000
I found this book in a small bookshop outside the supermarket (Woolworths?) in Katherine NT. We were restocking on our 2 month trip across and around Australia in Vanessa the VW kombi van. We had spent a happy 15 months in Melbourne and were going to 'see a bit' before returning to the real world in good old Blighty. After 'The tyrrany of distance' reliably described as an 'Aussie classic' this was a very welcome,if all too brief, positive blast of fresh air; truely reflecting some of the facets of the Australian psychi. I loved it, but then, as Max Boyce once said, I was there.
on October 22, 1998
Can't say this is the greatest Pratchett book I've ever read. These days it seems as though Discworld novels are sort of hit-or-miss. I loved Soul Music, Interesting Times, and Hogfather; I was less than impressed with Maskerade, Feet of Clay, Jingo, and this. I was glad to see that the Unseen U faculty featured prominently here, but they just don't seem as dynamic as they have in the past. I dunno; this just didn't really strike me. Maybe Carpe Jugulum will be better...
on August 10, 2000
As an Aussie myself, I'm naturally going to get a few more of the jokes than say, an American. But I don't care what nationality you are, if you can get through this book without cracking up, you need to find a very good psychiatrist.
Ignore anyone who tells you otherwise, this is worth your while. But if you haven't read Pratchett before (what's wrong with you?) I would recommend reading,say, "Reaper Man" first, to get you into the Pratchettian style.