Mark Reads ‘The Last Continent’: Part 20

In the twentieth and final part of The Last Continent, Rincewind says goodbye to Fourecks. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

So! I finally made it to the end of this book, and I’m left feeling… wanting. I think I understand the means by which The Wet was kept from FourEcks, but even then, this book doesn’t have the grand sense which the past few have had.

Let me first walk myself through what I believe happened. The old Aboriginal man is the Creator. Well, the Creator of XXXX? Who might also be Scrappy, though I’m a little muddled on that connection. I was genuinely surprised that Scrappy never made an appearance again before Rincewind left; I figured he’d taunt Rincewind one last time. Anyway, the Librarian took the Creator’s bullroarer, spun it, and… caused the drought? While also getting the wizards and himself and Mrs. Whitlow stuck in that limestone. Thus, when Rincewind spun the bullroarer in the present time, it brought back rain to Fourecks just in time, while the bullroarer went back in time to be reunited with its owner.

I think.

Even if I’m close, I don’t understand the logistics of any of this. Perhaps that’s one big joke in and of itself, since this novel skewers the time travel genre a few times. Maybe nothing has some Big, Important Meaning attached to it. If the wizards hadn’t climbed through that window, and if Mrs. Whitlow hadn’t shut it, none of this would have happened. (Except they did, and Rincewind had to be Bugarup in order to send the bullroarer back to where it belonged.) Does this mean that there was no rain for thousands of years? If that’s the case, then surely lots of people and animals died because of this, right? That seems exceedingly cruel. If Scrappy was either the Creator OR some sort of avatar or helper, why not bring back The Wet much earlier? There’s still a giant gap of suffering in there. Though that suffering brought about the resilient and tough Fourecksian people… bah, it’s enough to make my brain hurt.

It’s a bit disappointing because… well, why? Why this whole story to get the bullroarer when Scrappy could have just prevented the Librarian to take it in the first place. Also, what was the Librarian sick with? Why did lightning, of all things, cure him of his ailment? I also feel weird about the inclusion of people meant to refer to the Aboriginal people of Australia, but utilizied in a manner that makes them magical and exotic and nothing else. I kept waiting to see if Pratchett would subvert this, but it never happened. As it stands, not one “Aboriginal” character speaks a single world in the whole book, right? Isn’t that… weird? Othering?

At the same time, the conclusion of this book does have a lot more emotional resonance than I expected. The sequences of rain coming back to XXXX are superbly well-written: funny, evocative, and full of that particular brilliance we get from Pratchett every once in a while. The procession of people who thank Rincewind and ask him to stay is the best part of this ending, though, and it’s the closest Pratchett has come to truly growing Rincewind as a character. I mentioned on video how cool it was that Rincewind actually cared to save Fourecks; that scene in the tower proved it. Fuck quest, y’all! Rincewind didn’t want any of the people he had met along the way to perish from the lack of rain. That was a damn fine moment, and so all the thanks he gets at the end are totally worth it. These people want him to stay, and for the bulk of Rincewind’s appearances, he’s been chased; tortured; beaten; despised. And here’s an entire group of people who are begging him to remain in their lives.

It’s a bittersweet way to end The Last Continent, but I have no problem admitting to liking that a great deal. The plot itself feels immaterial to the whole thing, which isn’t a bad thing by itself. If the characterization is strong enough, a plot can be flimsy or nonexistent. There’s some growth for Rincewind at the end, and none for the wizards, so I’m not sure this book worked for me. I struggled with the pacing for a huge section in the middle, and the pay-off was so rushed and ambiguous. To me, I should say! I don’t think this is a bad book; it’s just not my taste, especially not in comparison with other Discworld entries.

Anyway, onwards I go to book 23: Carpe Jugulum!

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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