June 18, 2006

Book 2/12: The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett, illustrated by Paul Kidby; New York: EOS/HarperCollins, 2002; 176 pages; ISBN 0060507772.

Yeah, so I thought I was going to be out of Discworld books until Thud! was in paperback, but when we went to Borders to spend my anniversary gift card, lo and behold, it was there! This one is set… eh, after The Last Continent, but like a good chunk of Pratchett’s stuff, it’s written to easily stand on its own, while at the same time referencing previous (and possibly future) works and including the standard witty parodies (Apollo 13 and quantum physics come to mind offhand). The reason this one will set you back about $22 is because it’s absolutely full of color illustrations (that’s also why it’s about 9.5″x11″), some half-page, some full-page, some two-page spreads; you get the whole Discworld, Ankh-Morpork, Rincewind, Death, and more.

Anyway, the story involves Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde going to return fire to the gods. It’s something of an ensemble cast story, pulling in Rincewind, Vetinari, the wizards of the Unseen University, the Librarian, Death, and others. This isn’t Pratchett’s best work, as it doesn’t have the sheer laugh power of Small Gods or the can’t-put-it-down grip of Night Watch (ok, so I read all the Pratchett stuff in one sitting unless I’m reading them on break at work, but still), but it’s still a fun read, and the illustrations make it that much more compelling for Discworld enthusists (even if Vetinari doesn’t look like Patrick Stewart, who had gotten stuck as my mental image of him, even though Vetinari is only 50ish). As it’s not as long as the novels, it’s not as developed as most of them, but there are only a few characters who are completely new, and the old ones involved have all been fleshed out to a great extent elsewhere – it can stand on its own, but Pratchett fans will have a richer read.

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