Dec 12, 2007

Terry Pratchett - The Last Hero

After finishing The Last Hero, I came to the computer to write my review, and then I came across this news. It looks like the false alarm earlier this year wasn't false after all. He's being incredibly optimistic about it, and I admire him endlessly for it, but still, this is terrible news. Alzheimer's is my worst nightmare. I know that he will most likely still be among us for many years, and like he said there's even time to write more books, but I wish he didn't have to go through this.

Terry Pratchett is not only one of my very favourite authors, but he's also someone I admire a LOT. From his books, interviews and etc. you can tell that he is an incredibly intelligent, grounded, sensible and perceptive person. He understands people and how they work - both the good and the bad. And this is something that comes across very clearly in his stories, and it's one of the reasons why I love them so much. He is incredibly insightful about a huge variety of issues. I often jokingly tell my boyfriend that I would vote Terry Pratchett for president of the Universe (or rather, Multiverse). And I know that he is asking people not to mourn him, but it's really upsetting that someone so amazing and brilliant has to face something like this. But of course, it's not like amazing and brilliant people don't have to face serious illness all the time. Curiously enough, I have just finished a book by him in which a group of nonagenarian heroes decide to confront the Gods, and one of the reasons why is the fact that they are tired of the unfairness of old age. On with the review...

In The Last Hero, Cohen the Barbarian and the Silver Horde, a group of aged heroes, decide to climb the mountain of Cori Celesti, where the Gods live. The first hero stole fire from the Gods, and now they are bringing it back. They kidnap a minstrel and bring him along, so that there's someone to write the Saga and their deed can be remembered. What they don't know is that blowing up Cori Celesti will open a hole through which the Discworld's magic will leak - and it is magic that holds the Disc together.

To stop this impeding doom, a mission is put together: Rincewind the Wizzard, Carrot of the Watch, and Leonard de Quirm (plus one unexpected, hidden passenger) go on a flying machine named The Kite to try and stop the old Barbarians. And of course, their journey turns out to be quite interesting in itself.

I always say that the Rincewind subseries is my least favourite Discworld subseries. However, I still like it better than a great deal of the other things I read. And within my least favourite Discworld subseries, this is by far my favourite book. I suppose it is a Rincewind book, but there is as much of him as there is of Cohen, of the other Wizards, of the Patrician, of Carrot and of Leonard de Quirm. Plus, it's more reflective and philosophical than the Rincewind books normally are. It's more like a Death book in that way. What we have here is a tale about the place that we humans occupy in the universe, and about the importance of stories and of memories - how they hold us together, and how they urge us on.

No one remembers the singer. The song remains.

Which is to say, the stories remain.

The book is richly illustrated by the wonderful Paul Kidby. That alone would make it worth having, even if the story wasn't a brilliant one - which it is.

I swear, this review was much more coherent in my head, but I guess being this sad is getting in the way of making sense. My apologies


  1. I think it's a FINE review! A+

    I just started the Discworld books a few months ago, and I've read just three. It's good to know the series continues strong.

    2/3 of my experience is with Rincewind, so your preference for the others is also a happy thing to hear.

    Thanks for sharing the sad news... poor guy.


  2. That's so sad :( Not your review of course, the news...It's sad of course when something like that happens to anybody, but being a writer that you know and love so well it's like hearing that about family, I'm sure. It upset me and I've only read one of his books. Well two actually if you count Good Omens.

    On the book review front, this one sounds great! The only book I read had Rincewind in it and I liked him well enough to want to see what else happened with him, so I'll definitely continue on with the series. I'm sure there are other subseries that I'll enjoy much more though! I'm really looking forward to the Death books!

  3. I just found out about this awful news and of course thought of you immediately, came over to your blog and found this post. How very sad. And terrifying for him. We are very lucky that he's been such a productive and prolific writer. But still, what a tragedy. :-(

    And I loved your review, btw.

  4. Scott, thank you. I guess I just wanted to explain myself better instead of saying "this book is x and y", but being so upset forced me to keep it short. I think almost everyone agrees that the Rincewind books are the least strong. Some, like me, prefer the Death books, others the Watch, and others the Witches. But I have yet to meet anyone who prefers Rincewind. So yeah... you have a lot of great reading ahead of you. And yeah, poor guy :(

    Chris: Silly as it might sound, that's just how I felt... like I'd received this news about a friend of relative. I mean, I don't actually know him, but his books have been important to me for so long that it feels like he's a presence in my life. And this just makes me so incredibly sad.

    I really think you'll love the Death books. I think you should quit reading them in publication order and jump to Mort :P

    Darla: It is a tragedy :( We are definitely lucky that he wrote so many great books, you're right. The way he says "there's time for a few more yet" is so sad, though :( I cannot even imagine how dreadful that struggle against time must be.

  5. I have The Last Hero as a gift actually, but never got around to reading it. Then the news of Pratchett and your review. It's time to read it.

    The news of his illness saddens me too. I feel the same way too, when he wrote he has a few more books in him -- but that's the point -- there will come a time when he will have to stop writing.

  6. That would be devastating news to hear about anyone, but it hits home even more considering that I just got my first Pratchett given to me and am enjoying it thoroughly. Wow, I don't even know what you say to that. I pray that his health is long and that that "high end brain" expert comes his way.

  7. I read an article about Pratchett this morning. And as Darla said earlier, I immediately thought of you! How sad. My grandmother had Alzheimer's, and it's a horrible thing to see someone you love go through it. It will be horrible for someone that is as sharp as Pratchett too.

    You're review was great, btw.

  8. I'm with you, Alzheimers is my worst nightmare, too. It sounds like he's being incredibly courageous. I'm sorry, Nymeth. I just don't know what to say...this is just heartbreaking news.

  9. I haven't even read a Terry Pratchett book yet, and I was greatly saddened by the news. I imagine I would be though with anyone as terrible a disease as Alzheimer's is. Anyhow, my heart goes out to him and his family.

    I am really looking forward to reading my first Terry Pratchett book for the 1st in a Series Challenge this next year.

  10. It's so sad about Terry, but at least you got to meet him and get a few books signed and he will be able to write more.

    I haven't read this yet as I have hidden it along with the one for Alex in case he spots the autograph and it spoils his surprise. It sounds like a fun book. I like Cohen and Carrot and am looking forward to it.

  11. I just read this (as well as the BoingBoing link) and now I'm really sad. Even if Pterry himself wants us fans to be optimistic.


  12. i just read the news on dark orpheus' blog. i can't believe it. i'm too devastated right now to be optimistic about it all...

    "last hero" is great, though.


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