The Last Continent (Discworld Series #22)

( 38 )

Overview

Something is seriously amiss at Unseen University, Ankh-Morpork's most prestigious (i.e., only) institution of higher learning.

A professor is missing — and not just any professor. The Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography. Also the University Librarian, who transmuted (you know how things change!) into an ape (a handy configuration for a librarian, don't you think) so long ago that no one exactly remembers his name, least of all ...

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The Last Continent (Discworld Series #22)

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Overview

Something is seriously amiss at Unseen University, Ankh-Morpork's most prestigious (i.e., only) institution of higher learning.

A professor is missing — and not just any professor. The Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography. Also the University Librarian, who transmuted (you know how things change!) into an ape (a handy configuration for a librarian, don't you think) so long ago that no one exactly remembers his name, least of all himself.

But fear not, the search is on! The Lecturer in Recent Runes and the Chair of Indefinite Studies, as well as the Dean and the Archchancellor, will follow the trail wherever it leads — even to the other side of Discworld, where the Last Continent, Fourecks, is under construction.

Imagine a magical land as bald as a baby's bottom, where there are no trees; where rain is but a myth; where there are precious few animals (and few of them are precious). You have just imagined Fourecks (EcksEcksEcksEcks)* where even the ordinary is strange (the four legged duck, for example), as though evolution is being hurried up with the intention of sorting things out as soon as possible.

Experience the terror as the University's bold would-be rescuers encounter the cowardly Wizard Rincewind, a Mad Dwarf armed with a crossbow, Death, Death of Rats, and even a Creator of two.

Feel the passion as the bizarre denizens of the Last Continent learn what happens when rain falls out of the sky and rivers actually fill with water. (It utterly spoils regattas, for one thing.)

Thrill to the promise of next year's regatta, in remote, rustic Didjabringabeeralong. It'll be absolutely gujeroo.

*Not Australia. Honest.

Terry Pratchett lives and writes in England, where his vast popularity with readers of all ages has prompted critics to observe that his intricately eccentric and unfailingly amusing Discworld novels, arranged end to end, would extend all the way from one end of the arrangement to the other. He also has a hat.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
Pratchett's Discworld series continues with a jaunt through time, space, creation and the equivalent of Australia, known as EcksEcksEcksEcks. Discworld is a flat, circular world of myth and magic that rests on the back of four giant elephants, which in turn ride through the stars on the shell of the Great Turtle. In this story, the wizard Rincewind (the most cowardly hero in the universe) has unhappily found himself on EcksEcksEcksEcks where the Ecksian creator god has chosen him to save the rainless continent. In an attempt to run from this destiny, Rincewind meets up with a Mad Dwarf Road Warrior, Death, and a mysterious talking kangaroo. Meanwhile, back at Unseen University, the Librarian has a terrible magical cold. The bickering faculty of wizards sets out to find Rincewind to help effect a cure and accidentally end up on Mono Island thousands of years before they were born, with potentially disastrous results for their own future. Pratchett tosses in liberal amounts of parody, satire and mayhem to create a story as strange as Dibbler's Meat Pie Floater and as wonderful as a boomerang rainbow. But, no worries, mate, the ending, in typical Pratchett style, has a satisfying sentimental twist. (A Discworld Novel) KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1999, HarperCollins, 390p, 18cm, $6.50. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Lynn Rosser, Freelance Writer, Asheville, NC, July 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 4)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780753140451
  • Publisher: ISIS Audio Books
  • Publication date: 8/1/2008
  • Series: Discworld Series , #22
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: MP3 on CD - Unabridged, 1 MP3, 9 hrs. 56 mins.
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett is one of the world's most popular authors. His acclaimed novels are bestsellers in the United States and the United Kingdom, and have sold more than 85 million copies worldwide. In January 2009, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Pratchett a Knight Bachelor in recognition of his services to literature. Sir Terry lives in England.

Biography

Welcome to a magical world populated by the usual fantasy fare: elves and ogres, wizards and witches, dwarves and trolls. But wait—is that witch wielding a frying pan rather than a broomstick? Has that wizard just clumsily tumbled off the edge of the world? And what is with the dwarf they call Carrot, who just so happens to stand six-foot six-inches tall? Why, this is not the usual fantasy fare at all—this is Terry Pratchett's delightfully twisted Discworld!

Beloved British writer Pratchett first jump-started his career while working as a journalist for Bucks Free Press during the '60s. As luck would have it, one of his assignments was an interview with Peter Bander van Duren, a representative of a small press called Colin Smythe Limited. Pratchett took advantage of his meeting with Bander van Duren to pitch a weird story about a battle set in the pile of a frayed carpet. Bander van Duren bit, and in 1971 Pratchett's very first novel, The Carpet People, was published, setting the tone for a career characterized by wacky flights of fancy and sly humor.

Pratchett's take on fantasy fiction is quite unlike that of anyone else working in the genre. The kinds of sword-and-dragon tales popularized by fellow Brits like J.R.R. Tolkein and C. S. Lewis have traditionally been characterized by their extreme self-seriousness. However, Pratchett has retooled Middle Earth and Narnia with gleeful goofiness, using his Discworld as a means to poke fun at fantasy. As Pratchett explained to Locus Magazine, "Discworld started as an antidote to bad fantasy, because there was a big explosion of fantasy in the late '70s, an awful lot of it was highly derivative, and people weren't bringing new things to it."

In 1983, Pratchett unveiled Discworld with The Color of Magic. Since then, he has added installments to the absurdly hilarious saga at the average rate of one book per year. Influenced by moderately current affairs, he has often used the series to subtly satirize aspects of the real world; the results have inspired critics to rapturous praise. ("The most breathtaking display of comic invention since PG Wodehouse," raved The Times of London.) He occasionally ventures outside the series with standalone novels like the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, a sci fi adventure sequence for young readers, or Good Omens, his bestselling collaboration with graphic novelist Neil Gaiman.

Sadly, in 2008 fans received the devastating news that Pratchett had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. He has described his own reaction as "fairly philosophical" and says he plans to continue writing so long as he is able.

Good To Know

Pratchett's bestselling young adult novel Only You Can Save Mankind was adapted for the British stage as a critically acclaimed musical in 2004.

Discworld is not just the subject of a bestselling series of novels. It has also inspired a series of computer games in which players play the role of the hapless wizard Rincewind.

A few fun outtakes from our interview with Pratchett:

"I became a journalist at 17. A few hours later I saw my first dead body, which was somewhat…colourful. That's when I learned you can go on throwing up after you run out of things to throw up."

"The only superstition I have is that I must start a new book on the same day that I finish the last one, even if it's just a few notes in a file. I dread not having work in progress.

"I grow as many of our vegetables as I can, because my granddad was a professional gardener and it's in the blood. Grew really good chilies this year.

"I'm not really good at fun-to-know, human interest stuff. We're not ‘celebrities', whose life itself is a performance. Good or bad or ugly, we are our words. They're what people meet.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Terence David John Pratchett
    2. Hometown:
      Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 28, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
    1. Education:
      Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

Read an Excerpt

Against the stars a turtle passes, carrying four elephants on its shell.

Both turtle and elephants are bigger than people might expect, but out between the stars the difference between huge and tiny is, comparatively speaking, very small.

But this turtle and these elephants are, by turtle and elephant standards, big.They carry the Discworld, with its vast lands, cloudscapes, and oceans.

People don't live on the Disc any more than, in less hand-crafted parts of the multiverse, they live on balls.Oh, planets may be the place where their body eats its tea, but they liveelsewhere, in worlds of their own which orbit very handily around the center of their heads.

When gods get together they tell the story of one particular planet whose inhabitants watched, with mild interest, huge continent-wrecking slabs of ice slap into another world which was in astronomical terms, right next door--and then did nothing about it because that sort of thing only happens in Outer Space.An intelligent species would at least have found someone to complain to. Anyway, no one seriously believes in that story, because a race quite that stupid would never even have discovered slood.*

People believe in all sorts of other things, though.For example, there are some people who have a legend that the whole universe is carried in a leather bag by an old man.

They're right, too.

Other people say: hold on, if he's carrying the entire universe in a sack, right, that means he's carrying himself and the sack inside the sack, because the universe contains everything.Including him.And the sack, of course.Which contains him and the sack already.As itwere.

To which the reply is: well?

All tribal myths are true, for a given value of "true."

It is a general test of the omnipotence of a god that they can see the fall of a tiny bird.But only one god makes notes, and a few adjustments, so that next time it can fall faster and further.

We may find out why.

We might find out why mankind is here, although that is more complicated and begs the question "Where else should we be?" It would be terrible to think that some impatient deity might part the clouds and say, "Damn, are you lot still here? I thought you discovered slood ten thousand years ago! I've got ten trillion tons of ice arriving on Monday!"

We may even find out why the duck-billed platypus.*

Snow, thick and wet, tumbled on to the lawns and roofs of Unseen University, the Discworld's premier college of magic.

It was sticky snow, which made the place look like some sort of expensive yet tasteless ornament, and it caked around the boots of McAbre, the Head Bledlow, as he trudged through the cold, wild night.

Two other bledlows stepped out of the lee of a buttress and fell in behind him on a solemn march towards the main gates.

It was an old custom, centuries old, and in the summer a few tourists would hang around to watch it, but the Ceremony of the Keys went on every night in every season.Mere ice, wind and snow had never stopped it.Bledlows in times gone past had clam-bered over tentacled monstrosities to do the Ceremony; they'd waded through floodwater, flailed with their bowler hats at errant pigeons, harpies and dragons, and ignored mere faculty members who'd thrown open their bedroom windows and screamed imprecations on the lines of "Stop that damn racket, will you? What's the point?" They'd never stopped, or even thought of stopping.You couldn't stop Tradition.You could only add to it.

The three men reached the shadows by the main gate, almost blotted out in the whirling snow.The bledlow on duty was waiting for them.

"Halt! Who Goes There?" he shouted.

McAbre saluted."The Archchancellor's Keys!"

"Pass, The Archchancellor's Keys!"

The Head Bledlow took a step forward, extended both arms in front of him with his palms bent back towards him, and patted his chest at the place where some bledlow long buried had once had two breast pockets.Pat, pat.Then he extended his arms by his sides and stiffly patted the sides of his jacket.Pat, pat.

"Damn! Could Have Sworn I Had Them A Moment Ago!" he bellowed, enunciating each word with a sort of bulldog carefulness.

The gatekeeper saluted.McAbre saluted.

"Have You Looked In All Your Pockets?"

McAbre saluted.The gatekeeper saluted.A small pyramid of snow was building up on his bowler hat.

"I Think I Must Have Left Them On The Dresser.It's Always The Same, Isn't It?"

"You Should Remember Where You Put Them Down!"

"Hang On, Perhaps They're In My Other Jacket!"

The young bledlow who was this week's Keeper of the Other Jacket stepped forward.Each man saluted the other two.The youngest cleared his throat and managed to say:

"No, I Looked In ... There This ... Morning!"

McAbre gave him a slight nod to acknowledge a difficult job done well, and patted his pockets again.

"Hold On, Stone The Crows, They Were In This Pocket After All! What A Muggins I Am!"

"Don't Worry, I Do The Same Myself!"

"Is My Face Red! Forget My Own Head Next!"

Somewhere in the darkness a window creaked up.

"Er, excuse me, gentlemen--"

"Here's The Keys, Then!" said McAbre, raising his voice.

"Much Obliged!"

"I wonder if you could--" the querulous voice went on, apologizing for even thinking of complaining.

"All Safe And Secure" shouted the gatekeeper, handing the keys back.

"--perhaps keep it down a little--"

"Gods Bless All Present!" screamed McAbre, veins standing out on his thick crimson neck.

"Careful Where You Put Them This Time.Ha! Ha! Ha!"

Ho! Ho! Ho!" yelled McAbre, beside himself with fury.He saluted stiffly, went About Turn with an unnecessarily large amount of foot stamping and the ancient exchange completed, marched back to the bledlows' lodge muttering under his breath.

The Last Continent. Copyright © by Terry Pratchett. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 38 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 1, 2010

    Very funny stuff.

    Thought provokingly funny. Sneaky, funny, profound. Always good to re-read. It is amazing what you catch the next time around.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2010

    Warning: No footnotes

    This is an excellent book, if a little stranger than most in the series.

    This electronic edition gets one star because YOU TOOK THE FOOTNOTES OUT OF A PRATCHETT BOOK, YOU CRETINS. It's a lucky thing I already had this as a paperback, so I'm not left wondering what "slood" is supposed to be.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2000

    Outstanding, whether you know it or not.

    All the Discworld fans will agree that Pratchett has put much effort into supplying us with social comment on every single culture under the sun, and 'The Last Continent' follows the fine tradition in wit and humour. This is perfect for all Aussie Discworld fans, and I do not use the phrase 'not to be missed' idly. In every sentence there is a buried jewel of humour concerning all Australian factors including food, opera, politics, dialouge, culture, animals, beer, places, geography, sports, festivals, television, movies, folklore, sports, ballads, and agriculture. So I guess you can tell that all non-Aussie fans will have a hard time getting the rather spooky amount of Aussie information included by the author. Your opininon can range from the fantastic to the lame. But give it a go anyway, there is still heaps of fun to be had.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2000

    Great new installment.

    Pratchett does not disappoint. A book that explains a lot of things about sex, evolution and 'why a platypus'. Has several appearences by Death and a detailed explination as to why Rincewind is still alive.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2000

    I Loved the last continent

    This was not my favorite Discworld book but it was very good. Terry has not lost his flare for comedy. This book follows The Faculty of Unseen University accross the Disc and accross time in an adventure that will make you laugh until you pass out.

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