"May you live in interesting times" is an old curse, and nobody knows its horror more than Rincewind. He'd love to be bored. Boring is just fine by him. And yet, he has to take part in adventure after adventure, and now the wizards of Unseen University have roped him into another one, because the Counterweight Continent, er, did NOT send a Pointless Albatross to Vetinari, NOT asking for the "Great Wizzard" to be sent, and the wizards do NOT deem it wise to be in conflict with Vetinari's wishes.
Or something like that.
Anyway, the Auriental Empire (because of the gold) is dealing with a curiously polite rebellion, to whom the Great Wizzard is the key. And Rincewind, with a sinking heart, finds out just why they want him... because he's a ray of hope for a repressed culture, even small and cowardly as he is. Of course, the devious Lord Hong, who arranged for him to come, doesn't realize that there are others who have plans as well.
Those others being Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde, barbarians who are very good at surviving. So good, in fact, that there's not a one of them under eighty. And they've come to the Aurient for a theft of massive proportions...
This novel is very well-rounded, with many well-developed characters. Rincewind is more interestingly pathetic than before - he's not incompetent, but he has a knack for trouble that has a big effect on his personal philosophy. The Silver Horde is amusing in its varying levels of deafness and decrepitude, but you have to remember to never be on the wrong end of fights involving them. (As in, be on their side or be dead.) And even the gods have cameos, when you get a sense of why Rincewind has survived as long as he has.