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The Last Continent

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The Last Continent is the twenty-second Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett. First published in 1998, it parodies Australian people and aspects of Australian culture, such as the Crocodile Dundee and Mad Max movies, Vegemite, Flip-Flops, cork hats, the Peach Nellie, and the popular Australian song "Waltzing Matilda."

Plot summaryEdit

The story opens years after the events of Interesting Times, in which Rincewind is magically transported to the forsaken continent of XXXX due to a miscalculation made by the Unseen University wizards. Rincewind has been surviving by falling in water holes, looking for grubs under rocks, and befriending indigenous peoples (up to a point, since Rincewind would invariably talk about the weather, a subject about which the native tribes were apparently sensitive). Rincewind soon meets the magical kangaroo Scrappy, who was sent by the creator of XXXX. Scrappy explains to Rincewind that he is fated to bring back "The Wet," meaning the rain, and that he is the reason for the eons-long drought. Scrappy says that the continent is unfinished, and time and space will be an eternal anomaly there until it is finished, i.e. the rain is brought back, and shows Rincewind cave paintings of Wizards.

Meanwhile, the senior wizards (made up of Archancellor Mustrum Ridcully, the Dean, the Bursar, The Chair of Indefinite Studies, the Lecturer in Recent Runes, the Senior Wrangler and Ponder Stibbons) of Ankh Morpork's Unseen University are trying to find a cure for the Librarian's magical malady (which causes him to transform into a native object, such as a book when near a library, whenever he sneezes) contracted from his work in the UU's magical library. The wizards soon find out that the books in the Library become hostile and attack (being magical books in a magical library, this is in fact a threat) when not in the librarian's care. The wizards cannot cure the Librarian without knowing his name. The Librarian, being also the archivist, destroyed any evidence of his true name since he believed the wizards would attempt to turn him human again, as he rather enjoyed his orangutan body (brought on by a magical accident years before). The Lecturer in Recent Runes suggest they interrogate Rincewind, as he once worked closely with the Librarian and seemed to know more about him than anyone else. The wizards then decide to find the continent of XXXX (so named because no one has any clue what its real name is) where they had previously sent Rincewind by accident. The wizards find the Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography's study, but no sign of the professor himself. They then find a magical window in space leading from the professor's bathroom to a tropical island thousands of years in the past.

Thousands of years later, Rincewind attempts to run away from his destiny, but in fact runs towards it. With the secret assistance of Scrappy, Rincewind eventually ends up wrongfully arrested for sheep theft and taken to Bugarup, where he is hoping to find a ship to escape on. A gigantic circular storm surrounding FourX prevents any ships from leaving, however. The people of Bugarup are enthusiastic for Rincewind, since they regard sheep thieves as folk heroes and encourage him to escape, while not actually allowing him to. Rincewind finds a hidden message on the ceiling of his holding cell telling him to check the hinges on the door. Rincewind discovers that he is able to lift the door off its hinges and escape.

The wizards on the tropical island become trapped when Mrs. Whitlow, the head maid, brings them their breakfast and inadvertently closes the window that leads back into the Professor's study. The wizards soon encounter plants that rapidly evolve to suit their needs but do not question the turn of events (apart from Ponder) until a large dinosaur evolves into a chicken in front of their eyes. After finding a plant-based boat, the wizards start to question their surroundings even more and the god of Evolution, who has been causing the events, then turns up and helps explain things a bit. He created the boat plant so that the wizards would leave him in peace, as the plants are going haywire attempting to evolve to suit the wizards' every needs in order to have their seeds distributed. The god doesn't understand the purpose of the seeds and is, it turns out, unaware of the concept of sexual reproduction. After Mrs. Whitlow explains it to him, the much excited god decides to almost completely redesign the creatures on the island in order to incorporate the idea. Ponder decides to stays to help the god while the wizards load up on provisions and leave. Ponder soon catches up with them, as he discovered that the God was fixated with beetles and built the cockroach as his primary project rather than humans. The wizards then reach FourX and meet the Creator of FourX (not of the Disc) in the process of creating it by way of impressionistic cave paintings. The wizards bicker over the Creator's technique and inadvertently create the duck-billed platypus. The Librarian meanwhile steals the Creator's bullroarer and spins it, causing the drought Rincewind is in the process of stopping. The wizards are then frozen in time for thousands of years by the stray magic left over from creating the continent.

Rincewind having escaped from gaol, invents the Peach Nellie, and then meets up with a group of female impersonators, Darleen and Letitia, and a female, Neilette. Rincewind then meets up with his magical trunk, the infamous Luggage, who rescues him from the Watch. Escaping from the Watch, Rincewind and Neilette break into the old brewery (which was never used because all the beer kept going flat). An earthquake (induced by the voice of the creator) causes the brewery to collapse, trapping them inside the Luggage. When they emerge, Rincewind can see the ethereal outlines of the wizards (who were trapped, frozen in time, for thirty thousand years in the brewery). Eventually he arrives at the University of FourX (which is made out of corrugated iron nailed onto a wooden frame, and has a tower that is taller on the inside than it is on the outside). He takes the FourXian Wizards to the brewery and figures out how to free the wizards, by drawing a picture of them, like the Creator does to create animals and plants in the past. However, it becomes apparent that no-one knows how to make it rain. In despair, they give up. As they are sitting around, Rincewind idly twirls the Bullroarer (which had remained in the Librarian's possession), and realises that it is the key to making it rain. He swings it around his head, and it soon begins to fly faster and farther than it should with the force with which it is being swung. Rincewind lets go and the bullroarer flies off; immediately, it begins to rain.

Having saved FourX, the Wizards return to Ankh-Morpork by ship, and the story ends with the old man with the sack (the Creator of the last continent) catching the bullroarer in front of a young boy.

TranslationsEdit

  • Последният континент (Bulgarian)
  • Poslední kontinent (Czech)
  • Het jongste werelddeel (Dutch)
  • Viimane manner (Estonian)
  • Viimeinen manner (Finnish)
  • Le Dernier Continent (French)
  • Heiße Hüpfer (German)
  • Ostatni kontynent (Polish)
  • Последний континент (Russian)
  • El País del Fin del Mundo (Spanish)
  • Den sista kontinenten (Swedish)

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