Finishing The Last Continent brings me up to the point where the next Discworld book is Carpe Jugulum which is Ship of Fools book group’s July book. I should have finished it quite a while ago but I seem to have taken a three week gap in the middle.
Anyway, The Last Continent is about what would be the Discworld equivalent of Australia, called FourEcks (XXXX as in those old lager commercials, still going strong at the time this came out). It’s also a Rincewind book, and I like Rincewind.
Rincewind finds himself in FourEcks doing what he does best, staying alive. Meanwhile back in Ankh-Morpork the Librarian has caught some sort of magical disease and keeps changing shape every time he sneezes. The wizards want to change him back to his orangutan form but need to know his name in order to perform the requisite spell. Rincewind, having worked with the Librarian is likely to know his name so if they can find him they can ask him. So they embark on a journey, via magic to FourEcks, or somewhere not entirely unrelated to it, to track down Rincewind.
Meanwhile Rincewind is being guided in his sequence of adventures i.e. serial escapes from various dangers, by a talking Kangaroo, who has told him that the Continent is out of whack, mystically speaking and only Rincewind can put it right. Rincewind reacts to this in the way you’d expect, by running away.
So there are two plot strands – the wizards on a mission to find Rincewind, and Rincewind on a mission to stay alive and avoid his destiny.
Remember how I said that when I first read Equal Rites I was disappointed that it didn’t feel quite the same as the first two Discworld books, but that later I realised that it was the first real Discworld book because it was the first one with a real story and plot rather than just a collection of jokes? Well the Rincewind story is a bit like that – the jokes mainly being various parodies of Australian stuff. I preferred the wizards story because the jokes are funny but I think I prefer a story. Although having said that I do like the character of Rincewind himself, even, especially since he’s developed a bit since the first couple of books.
In the end of course the two plotlines join together and get resolved in what I’ll call one of Pratchett’s “flights of fancy” – where he attempts to be lyrical and mythic. Which sounds like I didn’t like it but I did, just not so much perhaps as I might have when I was younger and had read so many of his books. It was also a little confusing but I just decided not to worry about the bits I didn’t quite get and take in the general sweep instead.
7/10 – No Worries.