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Three moon gifHarper Prism (Paperback), ISBN 0-06-105907-2
So how did Australia become, well, Australia? Don't think we'll ever really know. But Pratchett's The Last Continent attempts to explain how the Last Continent, a land, which seems very similar to Australia, came into being.

Book: Terry Pratchett, The Last ContinentThe Last Continent bears remarkable parallels to our own Land Downunder but with the misfortune of residing in Discworld. This, of course, also means we get Rincewind, the Unseen University and (making a briefcase appearance) the Luggage.

The story? Start with a sick librarian undergoing morphic problems. The librarian can't seem to hold on to his shape and changes from an orangutan into a bookcase and other unlikely objects immediately following bouts of abnormal sneezing. In order to cure him, the wise old leaders of the Unseen University need to know his real name, and for that they need Rincewind -- once a former assistant librarian and the only person left who knows.

This presents the wizards with a slight problem. Rincewind involuntarily obtained magical transport to the Last Continent in a previous book, and no one at the Unseen University knows where the Last Continent lies.

Enter Indiana Jones, or should I say "the Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography?" Well, to be specific, exit the Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography through a time/distant portal to a place far away and a long time ago. A bunch of wizards follow.

Book: Terry Pratchett, The Fifth ElephantWhat do they find when they get there? Mad Max, Crocodile Dundee, lots of beer, sheep and spiders, a handful of gods, lessons on evolution and (by the by) a few laughs thrown in -- not a bad sample of Pratchett theology. Rincewind struggles to survive, and the wizards just meddle. Yet will all this lead to the discovery of rain, and the affiliation of two Unseen Universities?

Overall, The Last Continent didn't seem quite up with to the Pratchett standard. The plot unraveled like the seams of an old coat -- too thin in spots, too thick in others, and sometimes it just dragged on too long. Plus, some of the jokes were old hat -- though with so many titles under his belt Pratchett probably finds himself hard put to keep the humor fresh.

Still, it makes worthwhile reading -- if only to get an Englishman's view of Australians. Or should I say the Last Continentians?

Stephen John Smith

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Readers Respond

There seems to be a lot of negative feelings over Terry Pratchett's book The Last Continent.

Every harsh review or disappointed fan seems to conclude that it's a let-down after ones such as Jingo, or The Fifth Elephant. Books which focused upon Sam Vimes, Nobby and best of all -- The Patrician. Popular characters who are given a greater depth than Rincewind, the original anti-hero.

But does that make him any less entertaining? Not at all. If you want to get maximum enjoyment from Pratchett, don't look for the trademarks of one character in another.

The only negative thing I can find about Pratchett's The Last Continent is its predictability. The regurgitated humour is dull, the antics of the Wizards no longer shock. Jokes are seen coming a mile off, and surprises are often barely worthy of a smile. But to a new reader, such problems would not exist.

And through all the old entertainment, I still find enjoyment. I can read 'The Last Continent' over and over again, alternatively smirking and rolling my eyes at the exaggerated parody of Australia.

The Last Continent is a Pratchett book, through and through. It's been labeled as both "Genius" and "Tacky" yet it's still a must-have on the shelf.

Von Meerman