(For more Discworld reviews, see The Great Pratchett Review Table)
Thanks to our own lovely and talented Tim, I was able to get my hands on the coffee-table sized version of The Last Hero, the one with Cohen in all his geriatric glory on the cover. What a treat this book is. The Last Hero is the story of a group of unlikely heroes who attempt to stop an old threat, namely the Silver Horde, from destroying Discworld. It seems that Cohen and his gang want to give the gods what for, which, unfortunately, will also result in bad things for the rest of the Disc.
The Last Hero, clocking in at around 40,000 words, is very short book, more of a novella really. The story itself is rather fun, if short, being a conglomeration of parodies: the moon landing, fantasy evil overlords, and the lone hero against impossible odds are just a few of them. However, The Last Hero really requires some knowledge of the previous Discworld novels, as Pratchett doesn’t wast time with character introductions or backstory re-hashes. Everything is in service to the plot, and the action move along at a brisk and humorous pace. We meet old friends such as Rincewind, Lord Vetinari, Cohen and Corporal Carrot. Of course there is the usual Pratchett word play, which reminds my of Jimmy from Airplane!, frequent use of footnotes, normal seeming situations that rapidly become comically unusual and, of course, Death.
But where this book really shines is in the artwork. Paul Kidby replaces the usual artist, Josh Kirby, and he brings a more ‘realistic’ style to the Discworld. His takes on the appearance of all the characters are refreshingly different yet still manage to capture the feel of each character. That being said, I think the best artwork in the book are the drawings of Leonard of Quirm, the Disc’s version of Leonardo da Vinci. Kidby does an incredible job of mimicing da Vinci’s artwork style while infusing it with typical Discworld insanity. My favorites would be the drawing on the Common Swamp Dragon, the painting of the Rimfall, and the sketches of the space ship, The Great Bird. In fact, The Last Hero is just chock full of great eye candy and I spent as much time just looking at the art as I did in reading the book.
While not the longest story in the Discworld canon, I have to say that the artwork alone in The Last Hero elevates this book near the top of the best Discworld novels. If you’re a Discworld fan and you haven’t read this book, do yourself a favor and get it. You won’t be disappointed. I may have to ‘lose’ this book and, thus, not be able to return it to Tim…