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 February 9, 2001
Being Australian, I was a little worried that non-Australians might not get many of the Aussie-themed jokes and cultural references -- fortunately, this seems not to be the case. (Although, having met Terry at a book-signing for "Last Continent", he was at pains to find out if I had picked up all of the Oz-references, and was delighted that I had, so he obviously took a great deal of care and did much research for them).
Last Continent is an interesting mix of Pratchett's usual style, with slightly more characters and slightly fewer clear plot points than normal. As a result, there is less of a "story" to follow but more fun people and more scope for one-liners. I found it slightly less enjoyable than, say, "Hogfather" (roughly of the order of "Jingo", which had more of a moral and political tinge to it) but still a very fun read.
Readers new to Pratchett should probably read the other Rincewind books (particularly "Colour of Magic" and "Light Fantastic") to get a feel for the main characters, as knowledge of their personalities adds a great deal to the enjoyment of this book. Reading it cold would probably give a bit of a distorted feel for the series. And remember, if RIncewind is not your bag (baby), there's always the Guards series (my favourite -- try "Small Gods") or the witches (try "Equal Rites").
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 June 3, 2000
It is impossible to convey in mere words the feelings that Mr Pratchett can invoke in the heart and mind of his readers. Suffice it to say, that if there was no terry pratchett, the world would be a very boring place to live in. What can I say to make other people buy his books, so that they can partake in the joy and pleasure that comes from reading his books? I can not recommend one of his books without urging you to read the other chapters in the discworld saga. To read one of his books is to for the first time in your life know what it to breathe really fresh air, and you can not go back to the stale air you used to breathe. The last continent, like all other discworld books, did not in any way disappoint me. It was a stark contrast to the watch, death or witches novels, but that is why I keep reading book after book. I have fallen in love with all the characters and the world they live in. I always want more. The last continent might not bring the sudden, loud, or the delayed laughter caused by reading the same passage over and over again ten times, that other books have brought, but when I read this book I experienced the kind of feeling that I can only find when spending time with a loved one, be it organic or inanimate. When I read the book I could really feel as if I were in Australia, and I have never even been there. I would like to give the book five stars, but there are better books. These books would also be pratchett's. The four stars does not mean that the book is lacking in anything, it just means that this book which is "merely" fantastic could not attain the divine position of the other stupendous, fabulous and utterly breath-taking books that he has written. This is a book which I would not have wanted to have left unread.
on May 10, 2000
This is my very first Terry Pratchett book and I must say that he suceeded in making his book interesting and hilarious. What I really didn't like about this book was that the ending was corny and the plot never seemed to hold together.
At the beginning of the book, the wizard faculty of the Unseen University is looking for Rincewind, a lunatic wizard left stranded on the Terry Pratchett equivalent to Australia. The reason the faculty is looking for Rincewind is because he's the only one in the known world who knows the real name of the Unseen University Librarian and by knowing his name, the wizards are able to cast a spell to cure him of his odd sickness. So now the faculty is looking for him .... uh-oh .... they got lost in a strange dimention. (This constitutes approximately 50 pages of this 400 page book). The rest of the book hardly even mentions this doomed librarian and the faculty seems to forget what their initial plan was to begin with! The book also has Rincewind running around the Pratchett equivalent to Australia with nothing in particular to do or with any particular meaning.
Now, of course, the reason I decided to give this book three stars is because it has wonderfully constructed one-liners --I practically laughed my gut out! The wizards talk with gods quite a bit and they just loooove arguing with each other, resulting in hilarious consequences. The dialouge is pretty good as well.
I must say that this book is enough to make me want to read another Pratchett book (in fact I went out and bought The Color of Magic when I was done reading) knowing that this isn't Pratchett's best work.
on April 26, 2000
This one alternates between Unseen University faculty marooned on a beach and Rincewind marooned in not-quite-Australia. Sometimes the time spent on one plotline before switching to the other is too short. Some characters feel underdeveloped, the ending stretches on too long, and there are scattered typos that contribute to a feeling the book was rushed. Finally, there's some overuse of clever similes. In the span of a few pages we get "Snowy went and drank from the tiny pool with a noise like an inefficient suction pump trying to deal with an unlucky turtle", "When he awoke, it was to a sound very much like a donkey being sawn in half", "The sound was that of a straw investigating the suds of the biggest milkshake in the world", and then some. Too much of this takes the laugh out of it.
But I still recommend the book for its humor and cleverness. "'We're wizards, young man. Using magic is what wizarding is all about.' 'No, sir! *Not* using magic is what wizarding is all about!"
on March 27, 2000
I honestly couldn't believe how bad this book was. Rincewind ismy 2nd favorite Discworld character (Death), but this was nothim.
It started out good, with the usual Pratchett "I wish I woulda thoughta that" imagination. But I don't know, it seemed to me that after the first 50 pages or so ...he was the only one who thought this stuff was funny. I love the DW books with the wizards, too, but these were not them either. There are a few parts where Pratchett just goes on and on and on and on about something that stopped being funny 5 pages ago.
Worst of all, the plot is erratic. There are way too many things going on which aren't ever explained. That's not like Pratchett either.
A few good jokes (one particular I was in pain laughing so hard), but that's it. Sorry Terry, you missed badly with this one. END
on October 21, 1998
As a diehard Pratchett-fan, I was sorely disappointed in his latest effort. A few things you can always be certain of in a Pratchett novel: very funny dialogue and a cleverly constructed storyline. Alas, both are missing in this Discworld-instalment: two very loosely intertwined storylines that are basically going nowhere. The one with the wizards will only make you laugh out loud if you're a member of a live studio audience, and the one about Australia has the feel of a script for Crocodile Dundee part IV. We must commend Terry Pratchett for insisting to have a new book out each year; but hey, if the spirit doesn't move him we will gladly wait a little longer until it does. Then we can again expect great books like Jingo, the rest of the Guards- and Weatherwax-series or deep and very funny stuff like Small Gods.