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The Last Continent - Terry Pratchett

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Author: Terry Pratchett / Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy

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      12.05.2013 13:36
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      The Last Continent marks the end of the Discworld's Golden Age

      The Last Continent always strikes me as one of the books that marks the end of Pratchett's "Golden Age", the series of Discworld novels from the mid-late 90s that were simply superb. It's not that the books that came after that were poor; but they lacked the same sparkle and sense of originality. The Last Continent has its moments, but is not a patch on the titles which preceded it.

      When Rincewind, the Disc's most incompetent wizard accidentally travels to the fabled continent of Fourecks, he finds himself becoming an unlikely hero to the local population (with some help from a mysterious kangaroo). Meanwhile, after exploring some of the darker regions of their own University, the wizards of Unseen University find themselves stranded on some mysterious islands, thousands of years in the past.

      As ever with Pratchett novels, the story doesn't really make a great deal of sense if you try and think about things in a logical way. In previous novels, this hasn't mattered since the lunacy of everything else going on more than makes up for it. Somehow, though, the lack of plot in The Lost Continent has always bothered me, and I can't quite put my finger on why. Perhaps it's because the book isn't quite as funny as the ones which preceded it, which makes the absence of any real plot more obvious.

      It also displays something of a lack of imagination. Perhaps it's just because we've now seen it so many times before, but what plot there is relies heavily on the idea of Rincewind running away from anything and anyone, accidentally saving everyone from some dreadful danger in the process. This element is repeated constantly in The Last Continent so it becomes rather overused and repetitive.

      Still, let's not look too much on the dark side, eh? Whilst it might be a slight step down from earlier adventures, it's still a lot of fun. Transporting Rincewind to a different continent allows Pratchett to create a "fish out of water" comedy. It's always good to spend time with Rincewind. His bumbling, cowardly, incompetent nature makes for many amusing misunderstandings and his antics will have you laughing out loud. It also gives Pratchett an opportunity to uncover a different side to Rincewind, as he surprisingly finds himself taking to the more relaxed way of Australian life.

      It's good to see the wizards of Unseen University get an expanded role, too. Recent books have seen the Faculty develop into more distinct characters, and here they get an excellent chance to show how far they have come. The blustering, bullying Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully is priceless, the brash bravado of the The Dean amusing and the insane ramblings of the Bursar often hilarious. Even some of the less well known wizards (The Senior Wrangler, Chair of Indefinite Studies) get their chance to shine and seize it with both hands. The constant bickering and bumbling of the wizards is definitely one of the highlights.

      What perhaps separates The Lost Continent from other Discworld novels is that you need to know a fair bit about Australian culture (or at least Australian culture as perceived in the West). Other books have used cultural references to make the odd joke, but The Last Continent relies on them more heavily. The text is littered with references to Australian folklore (particularly the story behind Waltzing Matilda) and Australian films (Mad Max/Crocodile Dundee). If you don't know about such things, many of the jokes will pass you by. If you get them, they add a lot to the humour.

      Even if you don't get them, there's still plenty to make you laugh. One of Pratchett's great strengths has always been his ability to incorporate a wide range of humour and The Last Continent is no exception. There are film references, word jokes, silly (but funny) situations, highly amusing conversations based around misunderstandings, along with Pratchett's usual skewed take on human behaviour. All this makes up for a book which will regularly have you laughing out loud.

      A new copy will set you back around £5 (paperback or Kindle edition), but if you keep your eyes peeled, you can probably pick up a second hand copy for a couple of pounds. It might not be the cream of Discworld novels, but it's still an excellent read.

      Basic Information
      ------------------------
      The Last Continent
      Terry Pratchett
      Corgi, 1999
      ISBN: 978-0552146142

      (c) Copyright SWSt 2013

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      19.07.2010 15:39
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      While a good book, it seems a bit flawed, or unfinished

      Welcome to Fourecks, the Discworld's newest continent. The problem is it's going to die in a few days, unless someone can bring the rains back. But where are the heroes? And just who is that red-cloaked, nervous, bearded man with that walking trunk following him?

      ---


      It's Rincewind, the last hero, who was transported here after a miscalculation from the wizards at the University. He meets a magical kangaroo called Scrappy who tells him that the continent is unfinished, and that if he doesn't bring the Rain, the continent will die.

      Meanwhile, at the Unseen University, the Librarian has taken ill, and from the curse which turned him into an ape some years back (from the Light Fantastic), it's now causing him to turn into random objects every so often. The wizards need his name for the cure, but he has destroyed all evidence of this, since he thought they would try to turn him back human if they found out his name, so they decide to search for Rincewind, as he was the only one who really knew the human Librarian.

      But when they try to find the professor of cruel and unsual geography, they find a window open, leading a tropical island thousands of years in the past, and, (after the housekeeper closes the window) they find themselves trapped in the past, with nowhere else to go ...

      --

      The Last Continent is I'm going to say straight up, my least favourite of the numbered Discworld books. I don't know why, but I've read it through twice and neither time I've really gotten into it much. I liked the Rincewind storyline, but a lot of time it all kind of felt a bit forced and some of it was rushed, it seems.

      A bit like Pratchett was responding to endless letters to bring Rincewind back and, out of desperation, wrote it to please them. I don't know, maybe I just didn't get it.

      The wizards story was pretty good too but a lot of the links between one scene and another seemed a bit blurred.

      However, for its faults, it's still a pretty good book. The classic humour is still there and this time Pratchett is examining evolution and the ideas behind it, claiming this Fourecks "Australia-like" continent to be unevolved, through an error in its creation. Things float towards it on driftwood but the problems in space, time and weather means that leaving it becomes a problem and a half, and that whole theme is quite prominent in both the Wizards and Rincewind's stories.

      All in all, though I couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed. It's a good book, by itself, sure, but I think compared to the other Discworld books that have gone before it, it could have been a lot better.

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        20.06.2010 16:25
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        overall a really good book can't fault

        The last continent is the 22nd book in the Discworld series written by author Terry Pratchett.

        As you may have noticed I decided not to do a review on jingo the previous book as it featured some boring characters called The Watch.

        The book features the wizards of Unseen University and carries on where the book Interesting times left off. The story takes place in Australia. The inhabitants do not call it Australia but rather call it XXXX because they never were able to find out the name of the continent.

        One of the books main characters Rincewind who is of those not your typical hero types. To be honest as the series has progressed I have grown to like him. The best way to describe how Rincewind's character is while most heroes laugh at danger he runs away from it and is pretty good at it. He has all the luck in the world and always somehow evades death.

        The book as always has humor and I found it extremely funny how the librarian would change his shape whenever he sneezed. He would then change into furniture or anything that blend into the surroundings.

        As I have said before when Terry starts going into anything scientific the story does get boring. There is enough humor to keep the story alive.
        The book plays on how different Australia is by showing how different animals evolved. Terry plays on this by having a God character create strange animals such as kangaroo's and many more strange looking animals unique to Australia. I found this to be a funny theory as to why Australia is different from the rest of the world.

        The book also makes light of certain parts of religion which can be funny when it's not done to offend anyone.

        What I enjoy the most in the series is Terry's humor and for me this has been the best book in the series

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          04.05.2008 13:21
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          No worries, eh? :)

          At the end of 'Interesting Times', a slight magical miscalculation sees the unfortunate 'Wizzard', Rincewind, end up on the continent of EcksEcksEcksEcks (or FourEcks, if you prefer). It's a large uncharted area of the Discworld, where - as Death's library informs us - the list of dangerous creatures comes in 23 very heavy volumes, whereas the un-dangerous ones consist of "some of the sheep". How on earth - I mean Disc - will the most unmagical wizard ever survive?!


          For those who haven't been paying attention, Terry Pratchett - recently hailed by the BBC as the saviour and most important modern-day writer of fantasy fiction (although personally I think satire and humour are better genres to peg this in, if you must) - started writing about the Discworld, a flat earth-like place carried through space on the back of four elephants standing on top of a giant turtle (really), some 20 years ago and hasn't stopped yet. The Last Continent (TLC - aw!!) is volume 22, and although the series is not a single story as such, you will possibly be a tad confused if you start here.

          TLC is a Wizard novel - I mean, it follows Rincewind and the faculty of Unseen University, in separate strands. While Rincewind tries to survive a place that is very definitely *not* Australia, all right?, the Archchancellor and his staff (not his *staff*, with the knob on the end, his... oh, you know what I mean!) find their way through a dimensional portal. That is, they climb through a bathroom window in the University, and find themselves on a most peculiar island. "I'm dying for a smoke", cries the Dean, and lo! Ten minutes later a cigarette bush has evolved!

          The lack of seriousness here is rather what makes the book for me. Of course, I just said that about a book with passing references to theoretical physics, space-time, evolution, and the edibility of vegemite! But it spends far more time just galloping through a relatively thin plot: Rincewind's arrival on FourEcks, you see, has disrupted the delicate balance of... something... and unless he finds an answer the whole continent is going to dry up completely. Does it have anything to do with the ancient pictures of pointy-hatted men painted on the rocks? And how is Rincewind supposed to help, when he's locked up for sheep stealing (not that he's much help when he's not locked up!) - perhaps Scrappy the kangaroo can be of some help... Meanwhile, is it really safe to have the faculty of UU wandering about in the past, stomping on ants, and making suggestions to the god of evolution?!

          Thanks to exams, my poor brain was feeling somewhat abused and my choice of reading matter needed to be untaxing and preferably a lot of fun - and this hit this spot *perfectly*! It's just such a joyous, silly, smile-inducing romp. Pratchett's lack of chapter structure, the flicking back and forth between the two story lines, and just a huge amount of enjoyment kept this whole thing flowing along nicely, and I devoured it over just two days.


          The Discworld is a marvellous place to poke fun at the real world, but personally I find TLC a lot more gentle than usual. Perhaps because the fun being poked is at Australian stereotypes (although many notes are made at the start that this is not a book about Australia!) rather than, say, war or politics. I'm not sure how well any of this would go down with an Antipodean ('no worries, eh?') but for me it was just a bit of silliness: kangaroos, dangerous bugs and vegemite are all pretty safe issues to chortle at, I guess.

          On the other thread, however, Pratchett does get to grips with creationism and evolution, as the University faculty meet the - I mean, *a* - god of evolution. I'm very big on evolution, and very not-happy with all the 'intelligent design' nonsense being taught in some schools, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading about a god finding mankind so... inadequate; the concept of 'the birds and the bees' (hah!) utterly baffling; and beetles the pinnacle of everything. Apart from cockroaches! Again, though, it's very very gentle prodding fun of, and (probably) unlikely to cause much offense.

          Ah, but who cares about the message? This was just an excellent distraction from the woes of the world. Rincewind is so fabulously unlucky, cowardly and incompetent, and the rest of the wizards are just such a brilliant lampooning of upper management-types. Add my favourite characters - the Luggage, Death and Death of Rats, and the wonderful Librarian suffering from polymorphic 'flu - and the whole thing is just perfect when you want a bit of smiley escapism. This is definitely the most fun book I've read in a long time, and probably one of the fun-est books of the Discworld series. Certainly, the books about the wizards are my personal favourites, but there's also just a sense of out-and-out silly entertainment that is sometimes missing from the more serious underlying satire in other, particularly more recent, books. My advice: forget 'Making Money', and flip back a decade and a few thousand millennia, and just have some fun!




          *Boring bits:
          Paperback 416 pages (Corgi 1999)
          First released in 1998
          ISBN: 0552146145
          RRP: £7.99

          I'd recommend following the adventures of Rincewind from the beginning before picking this up. These are:
          *The Colour of Magic / The Light Fantastic (recently filmed)
          *Sourcery
          *Eric
          *Interesting Times

          The first two are published as 'The First Discworld Novels', and the latter three are available in 'The Rincewind Trilogy' omnibus.

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            02.05.2007 18:02
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            s'okay but not the best Discword he's written by far....

            Well this month I have sat down and read two Pratchett novels; THE TRUTH was the first one which I really enjoyed and which I have already reviewed, this was the second one.

            All I can say is that after such a brilliant predescessor, this entry into the Discworld series that is not really a series was nothing but a great big let down.

            The libarian of Unseen University is suffering from some form of magical ailment (In an earlier book he was transformed into an orangutan(don't ask) and now can only say "ook") and so the Professors of Magic decide to try and come up with a cure-which is a problem because none of them can remember his true name...

            As most people are aware, people's real names hold power and without the libarian's name there is doubt ovwer whether any spells will work. The wizard Rincewind is probably the only person who might know it but since he is absent in the last continent of Ecksecksecksecks( or four ecks), the professors are forced to seek assistance from one of their colleagues in order to find him...

            This inevitably leads to them being stranded on a dessert island somewhere back in time whereupon they come across the God Of Evoloution and embark on all kinds of hilarious(?) adventures. Meanwhile Rincewind is being haunted by a mysterious kangeroo who keeps vanishing; able to magic up all sorts of delightful snacks just by looking under boulders and bushes and running ver hectically and very fast through the Ecksian outback pursued by people who think he is a sheep rustler or a notorious outlaw...so no change from any other book that Rincewind has been featured in then except the people chasing him this time are cliched versions of Australians!!

            The plot(S) are very convoluted and twist and turn all over the shop before they come together but hey- no worries right? Wrong!

            THE LAST CONTINENT is something of a one trick pony-it has some very humourous moments in it but most of these are gentle pokes with a sharp stick at Australians and their country. After the first few hundred pages your average reader will most likely begin to get bored and it was only sheer determination that kept me going.

            There is very little to reccommend here unless you are a big Pratchett fan and as his work goes, this often comes over as a very mediocre attempt to sell another book. a previous reviewer commented that there is a diffrence between quantity and quality and just because someone has written a lot of books that doesn't make them alll good ones- this is certasinly never truer than in this case. Pratchett has written some really cracking novels-unfortunately this isn't one of them...


            Unless you are a die-hard fan who eats up everything he writes, this is one Pratchett I would probably give a miss. Its readable and its funny but its not got anything on MOVING PICTURES,GOING POSTAL or THE TRUTH- so far my three most favourites of this series...

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            27.08.2005 12:27
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            A fine read, another must for Discworld fans, and if you're not a fan, get it anyway. No worries.

            The Last Continent (a strange land which is called "EcksEcksEcksEcks") is one of the longer Discworld novels, and that can never be a bad thing. It centres on ... er... The Last Continent, which was made thousands and years ago... only Rincewind (an inept wizard who cannot learn new spells because one of the eight "great spells" has lodged itself in his brain and any others are too frightened to be near it... oh, and a perpetual coward who somehow escapes every form of death through no skill of his own) has to save it. From what he does not know. How he does not know. And does he even want to?


            Discworld is a planet that in some ways mirrors our own, and in some ways is completely different. So, while you may end up thinking that this book is about Australia, and indeed bears more than a passing resemblance to it, you must remember that the book is only about a continent that is LIKE Australia in certain ways. Oh what the hell, you can think of it AS Australia, this is a great book whichever way you look at it, Bruce.



            So, cobber, the story is based upon the creation of the Last Continent, and the unexpected arrival there at the time of creation of several wizard's from Ankh-Morpork's Unseen University. These are The Arch-Chancellor (Ridicully - one of the best characters in the series), the Dean (who really doesn't like the Arch-Chancellor), the Senior Wrangler who has fallen into serious lust with Mrs Whitlow, the afore-mentioned Mrs Whitlow (the University's housekeeper), the Burser (a senile but harmless old gent, and an excellent burser), and Ponder Stibbons (a young up-and-coming wizard, well young by wizard's standards, but held back due to his forward-thinking). Thousands of years later, things are happening which... seem to have always been there. It's all very confusing, but Rincewind's here to save the day.



            So no worries, eh?



            The only slight problem I have with this book is that some of the main characters are slightly one-dimensional. The Burser, for instance, is just in a world of his own. This does provide a number of very amusing moments, but for a main character you'd expect a bit more depth. The arguments among the wizards are very funny, though. Their meeting with you God of Evolution (started out as one of the normal gods, but decided it'd be great to actually help people and stop throwing lightening at them etc... but not the world's best inventor...) is also very good (and highlights some serious problems with the evolution theory within a very humorous setting).



            The parallel plots involve the voyages and discoveries of the above-mentioned wizards, and Rincewind's quest to avoid his destiny as the savior of the continent. There are some great observations made along the way (did you know just how many things could be solved with the words, "no worries"... Just who thought of putting beer in tins!??!), some interesting culinary creations, sandwiches that just appear underneath rocks, Famous Last Stands ("has anyone ever heard of a Famous Last Run?"), ballad writers, talking kangaroos that you just can't get rid of, sheep-rustling, drop bears, colloquial expressions, and native art that isn't all that it seems.



            This book is certainly up with the best of the Discwolrd novels, which is saying a lot. Despite the slight thinness of characterisation, the book is extremely enjoyable and the strong plot (one of the best I've seen in a Discworld novel so far) keeps things going. Death only makes a brief appearance, but Ridicully is an excellent character and makes up for that. I'd also developed a real fondness for the Burser by the end of the book!



            Oh, and just one more thing. It's near the end of the book, but you must look out for the scene where the Duckbilled Platypus is created!


            As with all the Discworld books, Last Continent can be found in basically any bookstore. Amazon.co.uk have the paperback for £5.59, hardcover for £11.04, and Audiobook (narrated by Tony Robinson) on cassette for £6.99.

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              22.10.2004 16:17
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              a pun on, and inspired by "The Lost Continent" by Bill Bryson, "The Last Continent" is Terry Pratchett's 22nd Discworld novel and I class it as one of his best. For the unaware among you Pratchett's Discworld is a strange blend of fantasy, humour and satire.

              Set on the Discworld; a flat, magical land were anything can happen and often does; this particular novel centres around Rincewind. A failed "Wizzard", he was accidentally transported by his more learned friends to "The Last Continent" or EcksEcksEcksEcks, a land whose location no one is sure off and some say it does not exist.

              This is one of my favourite novels for many reasons but the main one is the lack of plot. Perhaps, a bizarre thing to say but this book benefits from its loose plot outline, which covers the creation of a continent, evolution and stereotypes.

              Unlike many of Pratchett's other novels this one follows two paths, that of Rincewind and that of his fellow University members. This allows Pratchett to examine evolution, religion and traditional Australian stereotypes to full effect. He is also able to poke fun at the "typical" tourist, who survives on stock phrases such as "No worries" and eats the native delicacies that the natives themselves would never touch.

              The book reads more like a parody than a novel and follows the adventures of Rincewind across the barren land. It initially reads like a funny "Robinson Crusoe" with Rincewind taking the lead and an imaginary God-Like Kangaroo (who bears a remarkable resemblance to Skippy) as his Man Friday. Indeed the tale is partially told in the form of diary entries.

              As the novel progresses it is clear that Pratchett has written this as a predominantly humorous novel with parodies of "Priscilla the Queen of the Desert", "Skippy" and "Crocodile Dundee" all thrown into the mix. However, although these are amusing, once again it is the one liners and observations from established characters such as the cowardly, reluctant hero Rincewind, Death and Archancellor Ridcully (Head of Unseen University for Wizards).

              Lines such as...

              PEOPLE'S WHOLE LIVES DO PASS IN FRONT OF THEIR EYES BEFORE THEY DIE. THE PROCESS IS CALLED 'LIVING'

              Rincewind had always been happy to think of himself as a racist. The One Hundred Meters, the Mile, the Marathon -- he'd run them all.

              - "I think there may be one or two steps in your logic that I have failed
              to grasp, Mister Stibbons," said the Archchancellor coldly. "I suppose
              you're not intending to shoot your own grandfather, by any chance?"
              - "Of course not!" snapped Ponder, "I don't even know what he looked like.
              He died before I was born."
              - "Ah-hah!"
              (Discussing time travel)

              Are all what make the novel a personal favourite. Unfortunately, knowledge of Rincewind's exploits in earlier novels is necessary to fully enjoy some of the jokes. As a continuation in the series this novel reads almost like the funny warm up act before the more serious stuff in novels to come.

              Told at a frenetic pace, Pratchett presumes the reader knows his characters well and spends little time characterising preferring to fill his pages with jokes and cameo appearances from favoured characters. As a Discworld fan this is my idea of heaven however, those who are yet to be acquainted with Discworld may find this novel difficult to get into.

              At 411 pages this novel reads like it is much less and simply flies by. A real page-turner, it is the sort of novel you promise yourself to only read one more chapter and find three hours later you have finished it. For any fan a must buy and for the unacquainted worth the paltry £6.99 it retails for in paperback.




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                20.04.2002 05:12
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                This is the 22nd book in the discworld series and the first book in the series that I read. At first I found the split plot quite difficult to read because the story jumped about so much, but after a couple of pages it was much easier to understand and this is the style used in most of the Discworld books. This time the story is based around Rincewind and the wizards of the Unseen University (including their housekeeper who adds a lot of humor to the book) and a country strangely reminiscent of Australia although we are assured in the foreword that this is definitely not the case. The Luggage, which is a box with many many vicious legs and a vicious temperament to go with it, is Rincewinds "pet" well sort of anyway and features quite a lot in this book, Death also appears a great deal, which is great because hes such a well thought out character and very humerous. The book has two plot lines that are separate and intertwine at the end of the book. Rincewind is the most inept wizard on the disc, and so, after his many incounters its very surprising that he has managed to live so long. This could perhaps be due to his extremely fast feet and a pechant for detecting which direction his killers are approaching from. The University Faulcity are supposed to be the cream of the wizards at the University, but actually they'r just the men who have managed to always remember to check in their beds for scorpions and in their food for poison. The story is about the creation of a new continent (the Last Continent, Counterweight Continent or, as it is called in this book EksEksEksEks). Rincwinde is stranded on XXXX after being catapulted there by the Wizards of the Unseen University, this was of course an accident but no one could ever be bothered to try and get him back (until it was absolutely necessary). while in XXXX he discovers that it never rains and that EVERYTHING is poisonous. Rincewind e
                ncounters a kangaroo who tells him that XXXX needs a hero and that he is that hero. Rincewind of course has other ideas however his constant running away from his destiny resulted in him getting closer and closer to saving the continent. The wizards on the other hand are lost after climbing through a portal window to another continent where they meet a strange God who eventually grows the wizards a boat so they can sail to XXXX. I thought this book was very funny, though the constant Australia jokes did wear a bit thin towards the end. overall the book was very enjoyable and the ending, although a little bizarre it's good and classic Pratchett style. I'd recommend this book to anyone who would like to start reading Pratchett, this is the first Discworld book I read and despite having no prior knowledge I found the book entertaining, interesting and readable.

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                  22.04.2001 02:56
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                  This book is (not) about australia The last continent welcomes back my hero and yours (cough) rincewind. rincewind is in (not) australia, and he wonders why it doesnt rain. Aparrantly it's the fault of people with pointy heads. extremely entertaining, this book is more about the journey than actually solving of the problem. Getting locked up in the dijabringyabeeralong jail is a moments restbite in the "running away from things" that is rincewind's life. A visit from a talking kangaroo only helps rincewind learn what "help! someones fallen in a deep hole" means in kangaroo. This book is highly amusing, and the australian jokes are never tiresome. All in all, a quality read oh, and by the way, "mu cau pi" is pronounced "moo cow pie"

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                    29.03.2001 22:33
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                    “Against the stars a turtle passes, carrying four elephants on its shell.” And so begins ‘The Last Continent’, the 22nd Discworld novel by bestselling author Terry Pratchett, which takes as its starting-point the satirical target of Australia. Having once been a massive Discworld fan, going back to the series after so long a gap reminded me of the reason why I tired of the books in the first place, and probably the same reason why the series has now become so perennially popular. Discworld, you see, is a series which has become respectable in a somewhat middle-aged sort of way; reading a new volume feels more like sliding on a pair of comfy old slippers than readying yourself for a piece of biting satirical commentary on the errors of our society. This is probably best evidenced by the fact that it has been some considerable time since Terry Pratchett has introduced any new recurring central characters to the Discworld novels (he now seems quite content to alternate in his series between stories featuring the wizard Rincewind, the Unseen University faculty, the witches coven of Lancre and the Ankh-Morpork city watch, the first two of which are sometimes in tandem, as is the case here). Not that there is anything essentially wrong with this, of course, since all of these characters and their customary settings, companions and situations are all well thought out, and since Pratchett populates each of his novels with a very rich ensemble of supporting characters. It is simply that the regular reader of the series cannot but help think that the author can’t be bothered to think of anybody new with an equally well-thought out background, and that he seems to be content in treading old ground (either this or, of course, that none of the new characters he has introduced recently have proved sufficiently malleable to reappear, something which would have almost equal meaning). Treading old ground is precisely
                    what Pratchett is NOT doing here, however, in terms of narrative. For this is a story about the creation of a new continent (and, at the other end of the timescale, it death; no-one ever accused Pratchett of being scared of scale). The exceedingly inept wizard Rincewind, a feature of the series since the very first novel (‘The Colour of Magic’), was last seen, to the best of my memory, in ‘Interesting Times’, in a land which more than superficially resembled China, at the end of which he was catapulted quite some considerable distance by the Wizards from back home (the Unseen University), but instead of landing in his home city of Ankh-Morpork, he landed on the mysterious continent XXXX, (in this novel referred to as “EksEksEksEks”). This novel finds the utter coward attempting to make a life for himself in the Bush, when a strange apparition in the form of a Kangaroo appears and tells Rincewind that a hero is needed to save the continent. Unfortunately, Rincewind will not be given any specialist equipment as in the case of most quests, and his every attempt to run away (his gut reaction to most circumstances, as regular readers of the series will know) seems to lead him in the right direction to carry on his mission. Actually, one other problem Rincewind has is that the Kangaroo will not actually tell him what his mission is supposed to BE. Running in parallel with this is another narrative involving the University faculty themselves who, after stepping through a window in the study of the Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography, find themselves stuck in the distant past on a continent still in the midst of being formed by a god, with the Librarian unable to control a bout of shape-shifting (his usual form being, of course, that of an orang-utan, he here seems to spend much of his time in such forms as a red-furred penguin and a deck-chair), and accompanied by the University housekeeper, Mrs.
                    Whitlow, a woman much fancied by many of the older members of the faculty (i.e. nearly all of them). It does not take long for the reader to work out that this is the distant past of XXXX, with the wizards bumping into the God of Evolution and showing him how to actually DO it, or to figure out who is to be the cause of the catastrophe — the plot synopsis on the novel’s back reads, “It’s the Discworld’s last continent, and it’s going to die in a few days, except…”, so this shouldn’t be much of a plot spoiler — or, logically, what is to be Rincewind’s quest. But the fun is in the reading, and at time Terry Pratchett can be very funny indeed. Rather than the more general satire on life which marked the earlier Discworld titles, Pratchett’s tactic these days seems to be to choose a specific target for each book, be it Opera, China, or, in his latest novel as of this review, which I have not yet read, the invention of the printing press. Consequently, ‘The Last Continent’ is a book filled with sly (but rather gentle and inoffensive, I must stress) pokes at our Australian cousins, including the tendency to simply state “no worries” in any situation in the hope that somehow that situation will resolve itself, the need to turn every comment into a comparison with something which very probably does not exist (“bigger than a bat’s whatsit in Bujumbura” or something similar), etc. The secondary target of the book, however, is the explanations offered to the world by science, as represented in this book by the young wizard Ponder Stibbons who has attempted to turn the art of magic into the practice of science (as happened with alchemy in reality) but who has come up against not only the inestimable force of Tradition in the University, but also against a faculty who are likely to ask awkward questions about his theories to which he can never qui
                    te respond sufficiently at the time. This, together with the discussion of evolution whose form in the novel seems to be mainly concerned with forcing the god of evolution to accept that the living creatures he creates should evolve on their own as a result of sex (a concept the god also has to have explained to him, causing much feet shuffling and embarrassment among the faculty until, thankfully, Mrs. Whitlow steps in), creates a subject thread throughout the novel which runs in parallel with the Aussie-baiting and serves to give the book a sense of variety as well as to beef up the word count. Thankfully, Terry Pratchett is not one of those authors who blithely pad a book to death in order to satisfy the modern publisher’s desire for a nice, thick book (based upon the premise that a thicker book is more likely to be regarded as good value by the general punter and hence is likely to sell more copies), a practice which usually results in a central core of solid writing surrounded by a mish-mash of pointless drivel which is almost as tedious for the reader to read as it was for the writer to write. This ‘thickness-quota’ has, instead, been adhered to by the publishers themselves, and Terry Pratchett’s recent paperbacks have the largest font size I have ever seen in this format book intended for anyone over the age of five and situated outside the ‘large print’ section of libraries. In any case, there is more than enough content here to keep the reader intellectually stimulated (in a relaxed, Horlicks-induced kind of intellectually stimulated state, anyway, but surely that’s what people read Pratchett’s book for), and the book is undoubtedly relaxing and fun. In this case, therefore, the fact that the page count (412) is padded out greatly by very large text really doesn’t matter. The book would still be worth the asking price at half the size.

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                      19.01.2001 02:47
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                      After reading this book I discovered that if somebody is described as a prolific writer then it doesn’t necessarily mean consistently good. At his best Terry Pratchett is a great Sci-fi author. His Discworld series is a great surreal idea. The stories entertaining and often very funny. His characters are flawed yet likeable and make for great reading. At his worst he is dull, boring and smug. The Lost Continent sadly is not very good. The Discworld's Last Continent is hot and very dry, and everything is poisonous. It never rains in this country and the water left is running out. This continent needs a hero. Unfortunately it gets the inept wizard Rincewind. Still, no worries eh? This is the 22nd book in the Discworld series. The book breaks into two stories, which link up at the end. The second part of the story is the Wizards from Unseen University going in search of Rincewind and end up going through a portal onto a strange Island. This part is a "Small Gods" type of story based around the gods. Terry Pratchett has mixed his 'gods' ideas with a Rincewind adventure and it doesn’t work. It ends up becoming too surreal and not very interesting. I got bored very quickly and s became impatient waiting for it to end. The conclusion was pretty uneventful. The plot line is paper-thin; the twists between the two stories dull and the jokes about Australia are lame. I’ve only read about 10 of the books in the discworld series so I can’t comment on all of them but it seems to me that while most of the novels are excellent there are two or three that I’ve read that are very average. The Last Continent is the worst one I’ve read in the series. The first two novels, Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic were brilliant. They were excellent stories with a good sense of humour and set up the discworld brilliantly. My favourite of the book being Men at Arms. I’d avoid this book because it will
                      only leave you disappointed.

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                      26.11.2000 04:57

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                      Terry Pratchett's done it again! The Last Continent is an absolutely cracking read, and had me in tears of laughter for most of the book! Mind you, it did take me quite a while on my first read to figure out it was meant to be Australia! It wasn't until I saw the name of the place written down as XXXX instead of Four Ecks that I actually twigged. Mind you, I'm not that with-it at the best of times! I was glad to see Death had a somewhat larger part in this one than in the previous few books, as I have to admit he is one of my favourite discworld characters. Also I was glad to catch up with Rincewind again, as the last time he showed up that I can actually remember is Eric. It's amazing the amount of danger that wizard can get into just from trying to stay out of trouble! A damn fine book, almost as good as my favourite ever discworld, Soul Music. Keep up the good work, Terry!

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                      25.08.2000 23:50
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                      This is the latest of the Rincewind book in the discworld series, and as always with Pratchett is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. Rincewind has been sent to the last of the uncharted continents on the disc which resembles Australia in a lot of way’s, and as always Rincewind has been swept up in an adventure, this time to bring the wet back to the strange world of XXXX. You see it’s all Rincewinds fault that it wasn’t there in the first place.

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                      11.08.2000 03:37
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                      What an absolute laugh, Terry has outdone himself again. How does the man manage to get funnier over such a long period of writing. To call him a genious is an understatement. He contnues to enthrall all age groups with chracters who live in your life. Who could go on if he killed the city watch or Nanny Ogg. The people really live, well except Death of course. This truely is a masterpiece of writing, forget Harry Potter, get into Pratchett, his work will last an eternity, on many planes. If you do not feel he is worth reading just try any of his books, they are all excellent.

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                        28.07.2000 05:06
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                        Yes, after a long absence in the Discworld series, Pratchett returns to one of his most enduring characters, Rincewind in this tale of the land of Fourecks, very Australian in feel, with all the pun possibilities this brings the author. It may not be one of my personal favourite Discworld novels, but the discussions of evolution, Rincewind's attempts to restore the space-time continuum mess he created in his arrival to the land all make for interesting and, obviously, humourous reading. One of the more 'considered' Discworld novels, part of the humor here relies on the cleverness of Pratchett's original conceit for the story. Die-hard fans will enjoy seeing Rincewind again, whereas newcomers get a perfectly good introduction to the madness, chaos and fun that is a Pratchett novel.

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                    • Product Details

                      The Discworld's last continent is hot and very dry, and everything is poisonous. All this place has between itself and wind-blown doom is the inept wizard Rincewind, the only hero left.