The Last Hero: A Discworld Fable (Discworld Series #27)

( 17 )

Overview

Cohen the Barbarian.

He's been a legend in his own lifetime.

He can remember the good old days of high adventure, when being a Hero meant one didn't have to worry about aching backs and lawyers and civilization.

But these days, he can't always remember just where he put his teeth...

So now, with his ancient (yet still trusty) sword and new ...

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Overview

Cohen the Barbarian.

He's been a legend in his own lifetime.

He can remember the good old days of high adventure, when being a Hero meant one didn't have to worry about aching backs and lawyers and civilization.

But these days, he can't always remember just where he put his teeth...

So now, with his ancient (yet still trusty) sword and new walking stick in hand, Cohen gathers a group of his old -- very old -- friends to embark on one final quest. He's going to climb the highest mountain of Discworld and meet the gods.

It's time the Last Hero in the world returns what the first hero stole. Trouble is, that'll mean the end of the world, if no one stops him in time.

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Editorial Reviews

Times
A fable? Perhaps. Fabulous? Certainly.
Publishers Weekly
Cohen the Barbarian, aka the Emperor Ghengiz Cohen, hero of 26 Discworld fables, and his Silver Horde go gentle into any good night? Never. Not even if they're held together by various elasticized supporters and forget where they left their false teeth. The gods unpardonably let Cohen and Co. succumb to old age, and the members of the Horde Boy Willie, Caleb, Truckle and Hamish, who's ("Whut?") stone deaf still want drink, treasure and women, even if they admit they've had to ease back on the last one. Cohen gets a bard to record their one last universe-defying hobble toward immortality, and old age has rarely been so gut-splittingly yet accurately portrayed here, embellished by Paul Kidby's wacky and wicked illustrations. The Horde's last quest is to return the fire Cohen stole long ago from Dunmanifestin, the gods' ultimate Good Address. Unfortunately, that will destroy the magic holding the world together, so Lord Vetinari of Ankh-Morpork "workshops" the situation ("the means by which people who don't know anything get together to pool their ignorance") and sends a dragon-powered vessel crewed by an inventor, a soldier, a wizard and an orangutan librarian to stop Cohen and his tottery Horde. Pratchett lets fly sly volleys at today's civilization and skewers nearly every barbarian-fantasy clich? rampant in too many books and films. This far-out farce rollicks along hilariously enough to make the inevitable aging process, if not palatable, at least worth a few good belly laughs. (Nov. 1) Forecast: You don't have to be a fantasy fan to appreciate the marvelous jacket art, depicting a skinny, bald, aged barbarian clutching a sword in one hand and a cane in the other. Copyright 2001 CahnersBusiness Information.
VOYA
Discworld denizen Cohen the Barbarian and the Silver Horde—Boy Willie, Truckle the Uncivil, Caleb the Ripper, and Mad Hamish—are tired of being elderly heroes long past their time and decide that they are going out with a bang. Literally. They are going to the home city of the gods, Cori Celesti, to return the gift of fire—and then some. Lord Vetinari, Patrician of the city of Ankh-Morpork, has a stake in keeping Cohen from his goal, and he enlists his own crew: inventor Leonard of Quirm, the stalwart Captain Carrot of the City Watch, and wizard and confirmed coward Rincewind. Things go awry, however, thanks to a certain Librarian with a penchant for bananas. This oversized, lavishly illustrated book is no ordinary Discworld novel. It is much shorter, and Pratchett's subtitle labels it a fable. The author packs in as many familiar characters as he can, which sometimes gives the tale a crowded feeling, but the lunatic spirit of the series is present overall. Kidby's detailed illustrations extend and enhance the narrative; simply paging through the book is a treat. Discworld fans will line up for this one, if only for the novelty of the illustrations. Although readers who are unfamiliar with the series would enjoy the story, they would get far more out of it if they have read at least some of the books. Illus. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2001, HarperCollins, 160p,
— Donna Scanlon
Library Journal
When Cohen the Barbarian and a select group of aging heroes set out on one final quest that will, incidentally, bring about the end of the world, the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork enlists a brilliant inventor, a luckless tourist-turned-wizard, and an intrepid city watchman to foil the heroes' quest. Lavishly illustrated by Discworld regular Kidby, Pratchett's latest brings together some of the series' most beloved and unforgettable characters in a tribute to one of comic fantasy's most celebrated worlds. Though slim in pages, this oversized illustrated novel showcases Pratchett's comic genius and belongs in libraries where the series has a following. Essential for fans. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/01.] Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A new, albeit rather short, Discworld yarn (Thief of Time, 2001, etc.), profusely illustrated by popular Discworld artist Kidby in an oversized format. This time out, Cohen the Barbarian-he still swings a mean sword, but he's so old he needs a walking-stick, and can't always remember where he put his dentures-and assorted old friends (very old friends) plan to go out in a blaze of glory. None of them are happy about growing old, and who's to blame except the gods? So they plan to return-with interest-what the first hero, Mazda, stole from the gods long ago. If they succeed, of course, the Discworld's magical field will shut down and every living thing will die. So Lord Vetinari, ruler of the huge, rotting city Ankh-Morpork, puts together a team that, by a million-to-one shot, just might save the day: the great inventor and artist Leonard of Quirm, Captain Carrot of the City Watch, and Rincewind the incompetent wizard. Moderately funny, aimed primarily at Discworld addicts and holiday-season gift-givers. (90 full-color illustrations)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060507770
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/28/2002
  • Series: Discworld Series , #27
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 127,091
  • Lexile: 710L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.42 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett's novels have sold more than eighty-five million (give or take a few million) copies worldwide. In January 2009, Queen Elizabeth II made Pratchett a knight in recognition of his "services to literature." Sir Terry lives in England with his wife.

Paul Kidby became a freelance illustrator in 1986. Since then he has worked on projects ranging from computer game packaging to magazine covers. He began reading the Discworld novels in 1993 and was immediately inspired. He has produced, with Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs, numerous Discworld items, including Discworld Diaries, The Discworld Portfolio, cards, book covers, and calendars. He lives in England.

Biography

Welcome to a magical world populated by the usual fantasy fare: elves and ogres, wizards and witches, dwarves and trolls. But wait—is that witch wielding a frying pan rather than a broomstick? Has that wizard just clumsily tumbled off the edge of the world? And what is with the dwarf they call Carrot, who just so happens to stand six-foot six-inches tall? Why, this is not the usual fantasy fare at all—this is Terry Pratchett's delightfully twisted Discworld!

Beloved British writer Pratchett first jump-started his career while working as a journalist for Bucks Free Press during the '60s. As luck would have it, one of his assignments was an interview with Peter Bander van Duren, a representative of a small press called Colin Smythe Limited. Pratchett took advantage of his meeting with Bander van Duren to pitch a weird story about a battle set in the pile of a frayed carpet. Bander van Duren bit, and in 1971 Pratchett's very first novel, The Carpet People, was published, setting the tone for a career characterized by wacky flights of fancy and sly humor.

Pratchett's take on fantasy fiction is quite unlike that of anyone else working in the genre. The kinds of sword-and-dragon tales popularized by fellow Brits like J.R.R. Tolkein and C. S. Lewis have traditionally been characterized by their extreme self-seriousness. However, Pratchett has retooled Middle Earth and Narnia with gleeful goofiness, using his Discworld as a means to poke fun at fantasy. As Pratchett explained to Locus Magazine, "Discworld started as an antidote to bad fantasy, because there was a big explosion of fantasy in the late '70s, an awful lot of it was highly derivative, and people weren't bringing new things to it."

In 1983, Pratchett unveiled Discworld with The Color of Magic. Since then, he has added installments to the absurdly hilarious saga at the average rate of one book per year. Influenced by moderately current affairs, he has often used the series to subtly satirize aspects of the real world; the results have inspired critics to rapturous praise. ("The most breathtaking display of comic invention since PG Wodehouse," raved The Times of London.) He occasionally ventures outside the series with standalone novels like the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, a sci fi adventure sequence for young readers, or Good Omens, his bestselling collaboration with graphic novelist Neil Gaiman.

Sadly, in 2008 fans received the devastating news that Pratchett had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. He has described his own reaction as "fairly philosophical" and says he plans to continue writing so long as he is able.

Good To Know

Pratchett's bestselling young adult novel Only You Can Save Mankind was adapted for the British stage as a critically acclaimed musical in 2004.

Discworld is not just the subject of a bestselling series of novels. It has also inspired a series of computer games in which players play the role of the hapless wizard Rincewind.

A few fun outtakes from our interview with Pratchett:

"I became a journalist at 17. A few hours later I saw my first dead body, which was somewhat…colourful. That's when I learned you can go on throwing up after you run out of things to throw up."

"The only superstition I have is that I must start a new book on the same day that I finish the last one, even if it's just a few notes in a file. I dread not having work in progress.

"I grow as many of our vegetables as I can, because my granddad was a professional gardener and it's in the blood. Grew really good chilies this year.

"I'm not really good at fun-to-know, human interest stuff. We're not ‘celebrities', whose life itself is a performance. Good or bad or ugly, we are our words. They're what people meet.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Terence David John Pratchett
    2. Hometown:
      Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 28, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
    1. Education:
      Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Hilarious! See Discworld and inhabitants in 176 full-color-by-Kirby pages before, after, and while you absorb Pratchett's usual stellar storytelling!

    I originally purchased this volume because it was the only way to get Pratchett's story, but while dubious about the price at first, I'm glad, now. The artwork is just as enjoyable as the story - well executed and funny. One gets the impression Terry Pratchett was looking over Paul Kirby's shoulder while working, and that's a good thing. At 9 1/2 X 11 inches, you get to see every detail - it would lose a LOT at a reduced size. Just plan for it, and it will make a wonderful addition to your library - or coffee table.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2013

    Pratchett with Pictures--Fabulous!

    I'm glad to have some visuals for these great characters. Carrot and Leonard da Quirm are much as I had imagined them, Rincewind somewhat younger (I've seen the David Jason film). The home of the gods, Dunmanifestin (what a great name!) looks right, also. And then there's Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde. That is a right bunch of skinny old men with sharp and shiny weapons! I don't care how old they are, I don't want to get in their way!

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  • Posted October 21, 2012

    An Excellent Tale From Pratchett & Kidby

    Terry Pratchett keeps up his usual good work with "The Last Hero," writing a story that is both funny and quite poignant at times. The plot concerns Cohen and his Silver Horde, who have decided to go on one last adventure to return fire to the gods -- in a rather interesting manner. Also featured are Lord Vetinari, Leonard of Quirm, Rincewind, and the rest of the Unseen University wizards, attempting to avert a disaster that threatens the whole of the Disc. The story remains as well-written as any other Discworld story, full of jokes, footnotes, and wry observations on human nature. Paul Kidby's beautiful illustrations enhance the text wonderfully. There's plenty of two-page spreads in here for your viewing pleasure -- if you've ever wanted to see a map of the Discworld, or a birds-eye view of Ankh-Morpork, you will definitely want to pick this one up. In fact, pick this one up anyway -- if you're at all a fan of the Disc, you will not be disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2006

    The Crown Jewel of Pratchett's Discworld books.

    Excellent and very funny story : career peak for Cohen( he is challenging all the Disc's gods) and Rincewind with Carrot ( they are challenging Cohen and his buddies). Excellent and very funny drawings by Paul Kirby : just like I imagine the Pratchett's world. If you know someone who liked at least one of Disc's books - it is a perfect gift for him ( her). If you are this person - get it as a gift for yourself!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2003

    Great Pictures!

    One of the few books with illustrations, this book wil keep you entertained for hours with just the comic pictures. Pratchett's style will still hit your funny bone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2002

    Great for Kids and Adults

    I read this for myself, and I am 18 years of age. However, it also made a great book for some family friends who were 8 and 12. It is somewhat touching and quite a good tale. Pratchett usually fills his book with humour and spontaneous but deep insights into human nature, and 'The Last Hero' was no exception. The book gives brilliant light to aging and its consequences, and heroism. If that's not enough, the story is quite entertaining and the pictures are really cool.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Exciting Discworld tale

    Discworld is a planet shaped like a disk resting on the backs of four elephants that reside on the shell of a humongous turtle. Currently, the orb faces a worldwide crisis because Cohen the Barbarian and his band of followers are returning to the Gods what was stolen from them: fire. If the group succeeds in their quest, Discworld will exist no more. <P>Lord Vetinari, the Patrician of Ankh Morpork, is aware of the situation and heads up an expedition to stop Cohen and his horde. They use a dirigible run by burping dragon¿s fire. Other then reaching the heroes, Vetinari and his ilk have no disc-worldly idea how to stop them from returning the fire. <P> Fans of the Discworld novels will definitely want to add the well-written THE LAST HERO to their collection. The tale includes ninety beautiful illustrations that augment the visual impact of this vividly described magical world. Characters from previous books appear lending a feeling of continuity for long time readers. Terry Pratchett furbishes another strong entry with a novella that would make quite a nice gift for young and old fantasy fans. <P>Harriet Klausner

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