Our boy is happily settled on a deserted isle, enjoying tremendously his boredom, when he is whisked back to Unseen University by the bumbling wizards there who have a new machine for whisking. They have received a cry for help from the rebel Red Army of the Agatean Empire of the Counterweight Continent. They are asking for the Great Wizard, and since it is a dangerous mission, not to mention 6,000 miles away and how is the wizard going to get there, the wizards of Unseen U. decide they can best spare Rincewind.
The Red Army turns out to be a group of children, the progeny of Twoflowers. Remember him from the first book? The tourist with the Luggage? After being captured by the Emperor’s men and tossed into a prison cell, Rincewind discovers that Twoflowers is in the cell next to him.
In this ‘installment’ of the Rincewind saga, we find the source for the sapient pearwood that makes up the Luggage, and we also find that lots of people here have sapient Luggage. Rincewind’s Luggage gets tossed into an inn’s stable with other traveler’s luggage, and falls in love with an elegant suitcase. He shows up at the end with the young ‘lady’ if such it is, and a bevy of small pieces of luggage, the smallest being the size of a woman’s purse.
Rincewind meets up with the Horde, a group of 7 geriatric barbarians, headed by none other than Cohen the Barbarian, himself, whom we met in a previous book. He is accompanied by six others, one in a wheelchair, and another one a former teacher in a boys school, who has plotted for them the ultimate theft in the Agatean Empire, one on which they can finally retire. The former teacher always refers to Cohen as Genghis. (You know, Genghis Cohen.)
But in the interim, we have Rincewind declaring to all and sundry that he is NOT the Great Wizard, and is in fact not even a very good wizard, but as the tale goes along, due to a series of fortuitous occurrances having little if nothing to do with his prowess at wizarding, it seems as if he is winning battles between good and evil by virtue of his magicship. During this time, the wizards in Unseen U. are working with their mysterious Hex machine to get him back. They finally get a bead on him, but the triangulation gets messed up, and Rincewind ends up in someplace that seems suspiciously like Australia. And there we leave him digging for grubs.
I love Pratchett’s work. It is equal parts humor, and deadly intellect. Wotta guy!