The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett
book, review, discworld
This review was originally posted at Goodreads and imported here later with next to no spell/grammar checking.
By its own admission, this book is not about Australia. It just happens to be set in a continent consisting of deserts, bushes, kangaroos and people who say "mate" a lot.
It picks up where the last Rincewind book (Interesting Times) ended, but you don’t need to read any of the previous novels.
I’ve always been fascinated by Australia and this only grew over time. Its fauna, history, people, languages. As someone who does not believe in anything supernatural, this place is as close to true magic (good and bad) as you can get.
The Last Continent captures that spirit perfectly with a good helping of jokes. As is traditional in Pratchett’s writing, but done exceptionally well here, some are really in your face while others are so subtle you’ll miss them if you blink. I’m still chuckling at the Platypus one.
The plot is a classic Rincewind affair: he’s in danger, runs away, gets into a bigger danger, meets cool characters a saves the world. But it’s all snappy, easy to get to and you can’t wait to see what happens next. I mean, the god of evolution who hadn’t figured out sexual reproduction yet? Nice one.
Contrasted to the Discworld book I read prior to this one (Hogfather) it just flows really well.
The book does spend a lot of time making fun of Australia. My impression was that these were loving jabs rather than vicious attacks and ridicule. But neither the author or the reader are from there so what do we know.
This is my second time reading this book. The first time was some fifteen years ago, translated to my native language. I liked it much less then. Some of it was due to me not having the necessary historical, geographical, biological and cultural context.
But the rest was just due to the language. You simply cannot translate the Australian phrases or linguistic quirks. The Last Continent builds on that a lot and you will lose that if you read it translated.
I was absolutely delighted this time around. One of my favourite Discworld novels.