Mark Reads ‘The Last Continent’: Part 4

In the fourth part of The Last Continent, the wizards make a discovery, and Rincewind avoids one. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

What is happening in this book???


I’m wondering if there’s a cultural thing at work here in Pratchett’s depiction of all the professors and staff members at Unseen University. There’s a very long bit here in which each of them “pretend” that they are not interested in the beach locale through the Egregious Professor’s window. Those who work at Unseen University aren’t allowed to ever enjoy themselves! Everything must be Serious All of The Time.

That is, of course, an absurd notion, and we’ve seen the wizards have a grand old time before. (I’m thinking of Moving Pictures specifically.) But this feels like an exaggeration of how others perceive them. They have to maintain that image because it’s who they are. And we’ve seen, time and time again, that the meaning that others provide for a thing or a person or a place is powerful. So what happens if people start viewing wizards as… well, just like everyone else?

I admit that this isn’t a fully-formed theory or analysis, but it popped up in my brain, so I’m now sharing it with you. Will all hell break loose if the wizards just have some fun? I don’t think so, but I am worried about what this tropical place is. The wizards all assume that it’s probably Fourecks, but that doesn’t seem right. I had nothing to base that on, though, until Pratchett switched briefly to the Librarian’s point of view. As far as I could tell, he was feeling a little bit better. Which is a good thing! I don’t know if this place helped him or if this was just a coincidence. However, this concerned me:

But there was something wrong with the trees. He looked down at the pretty shells on the beach. There was something wrong with them, too. Creepily, worryingly wrong.

A few birds wheeled overhead, and they were wrong. They were the right shape, as far as he knew, and they seemed to be making the right noises. But they were still wrong.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Is it because everything’s too perfect? Is this place on the Disc or is it somewhere else?



So, Rincewind has another interaction with this book’s version of the Aborigines, and it’s… pretty insignificant? These characters don’t seem to do anything except exist to point out how “foreign” the place is, though I did find it funny that the one man Rincewind speaks to doesn’t even bother trying to deal with him. He just walks away because why.

And then there’s the figures in the rocks. I’m guessing this is all tied to the Trickster god, who is trying to get Rincewind involved in… a thing? In one sense, this is exactly the same as every previous Rincewind story: the universe conspires to get Rincewind involved, and he runs away screaming until he’s forced into the conflict in one way or another. I’m interested to see how a Trickster god might change up this format and mess with my expectations. The chicken sandwich under the rock was a nice touch, but you know what? That could be Rincewind’s heat exhaustion, not the work of a Trickster god attempting to push him in the direction he wants. Or maybe Rincewind is supposed to think that.

I DON’T KNOW, Y’ALL. I can’t figure out which is which. Like, he definitely did not imagine the kangaroo talking to him, urging him onto a quest of some sort. Right? That definitely happened. But what’s at the bottom of a pit that Rincewind needs to help with? Another person? What does the Trickster god have to do with all of this???

I’m lost. Surprise.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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