I like the Wizards books, I do. The scenes involving them are always a good time in making fun of bureaucracy and tradition and old white men. They are also usually very silly. But I have yet to love one of the Wizard books. It’s just so hard for them to have an emotional through line like so many of Pratchett’s other books do.
Like, this book wasn’t really about anything. Sure, on the surface it’s the Wizards flouncing off accidentally to Not Australia (aka XXXX aka the titular last continent) in search of Rincewind, the terminally inept but strangely effective wizard, who is the only one who might know the Librarian’s name, and thus be able to help cure him. The Librarian is sick and things are chaos at Unseen University without him, and he keeps sneezing and turning in to things like deck chairs and fuzzy books, and all the books are going into a magical frenzy without him to tame them. But things DO NOT GO AS PLANNED. And while Rincewind is off having a miserable time on EcksEcksEcksEcks, the other Wizards bumble 30,000 years into the past and mess everything up, as usual.
There’s also a running gag with the Wizards being gross to a lady that I did not appreciate (by treating her more like a precious thing than a person, which is admittedly better than other options). I realize this is done on purpose for satirical purposes, but I still didn’t like it, and normally Pratchett has awesome lady characters to make up for his idiot men characters but here it’s just the Wizards and Rincewind and a magical kangaroo, and Mrs. Whatsherface is just there. (See, I can’t even remember her name!)
Ponder Stibbons is always a good time, though. I very much appreciate how sensible that character is in the face of all the other wizards, most of whom don’t even have proper names, instead going by their titles (the Bursar, the Chair of Indefinite Studies, the Senior Wrangler, etc.) I also liked how into the idea of evolution he was here, and that he got to meet the god of evolution was a real kick.
I’m ready for some GOOD Pratchett, now, though.