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The Last Continent (2006)

The Last Continent (2006)

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3.96 of 5 Votes: 2
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0552154180 (ISBN13: 9780552154185)

About book The Last Continent (2006)

Quick - what do you know about Australia?I reckon if you live in Australia, you probably know quite a lot. If you've known someone from Australia or perhaps have visited there, you might know a few things. If your experience is limited to a few "Crocodile Dundee" movies and the Crocodile Hunter, then you could probably stand to know a little more. No matter what your level of Australiana is, though, you probably know at least enough to get a lot of enjoyment out of this book, Terry Pratchett's homage to the strangest continent on Earth.Now keep in mind, Pratchett does state quite clearly that this is not a book about Australia. "It's about somewhere entirely different which happens to be, here and there, a bit... Australian." So that's okay then.Really, this is Pratchett's homage to Australia, a country that he clearly likes a lot. In reality, Australia is a pretty strange place. It's a giant island, most of which is barren desert. It's been disconnected from the other continents for so long that evolution has given us species unlike any others on Earth. Pretty much anything that you come across, from the lowliest spider to the cutest jellyfish to the weirdest platypus, is deadly. The country is a tribute to Nature, both in its beauty and its danger, and really deserves more attention than it gets.In one memorable scene, Death asks his Library for a complete list of dangerous animals on the continent known as XXXX, aka Fourecks. He is immediately buried under books, including Dangerous Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Birds, Fish, Jellyfish, Insects, Spiders, Crustaceans, Grasses, Trees, Mosses and Lichens of Terror Incognita, volume 29c, part three. A slight exaggeration? Perhaps. He then asks for a complete list of species that are not deadly, and gets a small leaflet on which is written, "Some of the sheep."This book isn't about Death, though, as much fun as that may be. This is about the worst wizard on the Disc. The classic inadvertent hero, who had seen so much of the world but only as a blur while he ran from danger. The hero who truly just wants to be left alone, perhaps with a potato - Rincewind.What you most need to know about Rincewind is that he absolutely does not want to be a hero. He craves a boring life, one in which the most he has to worry about is whether to have his potatoes baked, mashed, or deep fried. He does not want to be chased by mad highwaymen, put in prison for sheep theft, or required to completely change the climate of an entire continent. He doesn't want to time travel, be guided by strange, otherworldly kangaroos or fall in with a troupe of suspiciously masculine female performers. He just wants peace and quiet.The universe, of course, has other ideas. And so it is up to Rincewind to once again save the day. The continent of Fourecks has never seen rain - in fact, they think the very idea of water that falls from the sky is ludicrous. But there are legends of what they call The Wet - the day when water will be found on the surface of the ground, rather than hundreds of feet below it. And while they don't know how it will happen exactly, they do know it will happen. Lucky for Rincewind, the universe has chosen him to make sure that it does.I really can't list all of the Australia references because there are just too many. From drop bears to Vegemite, Mad Max to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, they're pretty much all there.This book is, like so many other Discworld, books, a lot of fun to read. One of the more interesting sections in the book is one that's not strictly necessary. Exploring a strange window in the University which, for some reason, leads to a beach, the Wizards of the Unseen University find themselves marooned thousands of miles away and thousands of years back in time. On this weird little island, they meet one of the most unusual gods on the Disc - the god of evolution.This god isn't interested in the normal godly things - lolling about and being worshiped, occasionally smiting a few followers here and there. As Pratchett puts it, "It is a general test of the omnipotence of a god that they can see the fall of a tiny bird. But only one god makes notes, and a few adjustments, so that next time it can fall further and faster." This god of evolution is devoted to making life forms better, often one at a time, and lives on a strange little island where there's only one of everything, but everything yearns to be useful. With him, the wizards are able to explore evolution and natural selection and figure out why sex is just so darn useful.I say that this section isn't strictly necessary because it just isn't. It's certainly interesting, and I suppose the god's island is a nice echo of the real Australia, where evolution has had a long time to tinker and come up with some really weird stuff, but in terms of the story, it's not all that important a plot point. In fact, the wizards in general don't contribute much to the story other than to make it longer and funnier. Their exploration of evolution and Rincewind's unwilling quest to bring rain to the barren land of Fourecks are almost wholly unrelated to each other, up until the very end.This isn't to say that they're unwelcome - I love watching the wizards explore the world. The combination of personalities whenever all the wizards get together is one that offers endless hours of reading fun, and I think that without them, the book would have been less enjoyable. They're just not essential to the plot, is all, and if that kind of thing is important to you, then you might not enjoy this book so much.Me, I love science and I love Discworld. While the actual Science of Discworld series was kind of dry and boring in the end, I love it when Pratchett explores real-world science through the eyes of his Discworld characters. By looking at science from another perspective, he is able to make it perhaps a little more understandable to people who otherwise might write science off as "too hard."This book is a trip through time and space and Australia. It's a long, strange trip, to be sure, but an entertaining one.

The Rincewind arc is my least favorite beat in Discworld, in spite of my burning love for the Luggage and the Librarian. It's cute, but more often than not the novels are like an overblown joke and it gets tiring. I don't get most of the Australian references anyway! :)) The drop-bears are precious, though.Time travel: pretty meh. Pratchett writes a better closed-loop (though in this case it's more of a Trousers of Time thing) story when he comes up with Night Watch. Still, Ponder and the Archchancellor's exchange about paradoxes = favorite. It's kind of like a primer for time travel tropes, with wizardly snarking/bickering. XD PONDER: Please! What I was trying to get across, sir, is that anything you do in the past changes the future. The tiniest little actions can have huge consequences. You might... tread on an ant now and it might entirely prevent someone from being born in the future!RIDCULLY: Really?PONDER: Yes, sir!RIDCULLY: That's not a bad wheeze. There's one or two people history could do without. Any idea how we can find the right ants?PONDER: No, sir! Because... the ant you tread on might be your own, sir!RIDCULLY: You mean... I might tread on an ant and this'd affect history and I wouldn't be born?PONDER: Yes! Yes! That's it! That's right, sir!'RIDCULLY: How? I'm not descended from ants.PONDER: Because... Well... er... well, supposing it... bit a man's horse, and he fell off, and he was carrying a very important message, and because he didn't get there in time there was a terrible battle, and one of your ancestors got killed – no, sorry, I mean didn't get killed—[...]RIDCULLY: Only one thing I don't understand, though. Who'll tread on the ant?PONDER: What?RIDCULLY: Well, it's obvious, isn't it? If I tread on this ant, then I won't exist. But if I don't exist, then I can't have done it, so I won't, so I will. See? You've got some brains, Mister Stibbons, but sometimes I wonder if you really try to apply logical thought to the subject in hand. Things that happen stay happened. It stands to reason. Oh, don't look so downcast. If you get stuck with any of this compl'cated stuff, my door's always open. I am your Archchancellor, after all.SENIOR WRANGLER: Excuse me, can we tread on ants or not?RIDCULLY: If you like. Because, in fact, history already depends on your treading on any ants that you happen to step on. Any ants you tread on, you've already trodden on, so if you do it again it'll be for the first time, because you're doing it now because you did it then. Which is also now.But the one thing I really, really liked was that one bit about cave art - how they're crude and ~unrealistic but the most "alive" kind of art, because they capture the essence of things and are in fact magic. IIRC during the prehistoric times, art was a magical thing (in certain cultures, anyway). It's believed that people also thought that painting an animal would capture the soul, so those bits of the novel were just HNNNNG YES to me. That's because perspective is a lie. If I know a pond is round then why should I draw it oval? I will draw it round because round is true. Why should my brush lie to you just because my eye lies to me?

Do You like book The Last Continent (2006)?

Published: 01/03/1999Author: Terry PratchettRecommended for: fans of fantasy novelsThis is another great book in the famous Discworld series, in this book we are transported to the magical, mystical world that Terry Pratchett has created. We meet characters such as: Rincewind, Luggage, The Libarian, DEATH and Mustrum Ridcully. In the book we go on another great adventure with Rincewind (the wizard who can't quite spell wizard) and his faithful companion Luggage, this book can be read as a stand alone book which is great if you havent managed to track down all of the series yet. It is full of funny moments that will have you laughing and maybe even crying with laughter, the writing style is done in a way that makes you be able to visualise the conversations that the characters are having with each other as if you are actually there in the room with them. This is a great book for young adults and adults, it is sure to make your imagination stretch and expand. It is one that is also very hard to put down and step away from, you are sure to find yourself back reading it. I love this book!
—Sophie Narey (Bookreview- aholic)

I laughed myself stupid reading this: there are some really funny and clever bits in this novel, set on the Discworld equivalent of Australia, culled from all the pop culture references you might know and a few that you might not, from movies to songs to poems to art to history and folklore, and it is mostly an interesting story: for once, a story bifurcated between The Wizards and the other plot is genuinely invested in the whole tale and is also quite good. But it felt like a collection of setpieces in search of a plot. Picaresque and episodic I can cope with, but this just felt far too padded, with several scenes just there to set up a punchline (although the idea of the University of Bugarup being populated by the faculty of the University of Wollomoolloo is brilliant). On the whole, though, it had a satisfactory ending and made me read it in just a couple of sessions, but to employ possibly the only Australian vernacular not used in this book, "Yeah, nah."
—Ian Banks

Time travel. Bleh. At least at some point, Mustrum Ridcully, the UU's pragmatic Archchancellor, sets us all straight, at last:"I can't help thinking, thought, that we may have...tinkered with the past, Archchancellor," said teh Senior Wrangler."I don't see how," said Ridcully. "After all, the past happened before we got here.""Ye [sic], but now we're here, we've changed it.""Then we changed it before."And that, they felt, pretty well summed it up. It is very easy to get ridiculously confused about the tenses of time travel, but most things can be resolved by a sufficiently large ego.In the end, I just didn't love this book. It's odd because the Wizards are some of my favorite characters. Oh, who am I kidding? I love all the characters except Mort and Carrot. It was all the pseudo-Australian bits that grated on me. They just weren't catching me. C'est la vie and onto Carpe JugulumAs a side note, this is the second Discworld book I've read on the iPad, and I'm so peeved with HarperCollins' digital editions crew that I'm writing letters. They have made a shoddy edition, with typos, incorrect formatting and tedious endnotes. For shame.

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