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on March 11, 2017
I collect Terry Pratchett books and reread them when I really need something to laugh out loud about.
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on April 7, 2017
Took a little longer to get here but very happy with the product.
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Famed writer Terry Pratchett has amassed a huge readership in the UK, and a smaller but still BIG readership in the USA. With all that backing his books, he apparently has chosen to branch out and experiment a little in his latest ventures. And this experiment is a roaring success.
I was a little nervous about this book, afraid that with big full-color pictures...it would have a lame storyline and just be good pictures. I was grateful to be wrong; in recent years some of Pratchett's books have taken a more serious slant, but this book shows what he is best at: Poking fun. His rapier-sharp wit takes on the barbarians in the typical fantasy novels, as well as god pantheons and a bit of space travel to boot.
Cohen the Barbarian was a fearsome hero once before, leader of the Silver Horde. He's pretty old, though, as one can see from the cover--though he often loses his false teeth, he's still pretty feisty and remembers the old days where you could pillage, plunder and "ravish" without that pesky civilization thing getting in the way. So he concocts a scheme: Blow up the gods. There are two teensy problems: The gods are incredibly powerful, and if he were to succeed, Discworld would end.
Patrician Vetinari gets news of this, as the Silver Horde (assorted decrepit barbarians: Boy Willie, Truckle the Uncivil, Mad Hamish) travels to the hub of Discworld (where the gods live) with a kidnapped minstrel (to compose a saga about this last amazing heroic quest) and Vena the Raven-haired, an ex-warrior babe who isn't so raven-haired anymore. (She's in better shape than the Silver Horde, tho). They also team up with an ex-Dark-Lord, Evil Harry Dread, who's gotten out of the Dark Lord business and is as old as the rest of them (though considerably saner)
Vetinari doesn't intend to let them end the world, however. So he enlists Leonard of Quirm, an immensely talented inventor from a prior book. Leonard creates a spacecraft-like device, and fan faves Carrot and cowardly wizard Rincewind join the mission (and the Librarian). They'll encounte aging barbarians posing as minor gods, the pantheon of deities, dragons of several breeds, zero-gravity comedy, Death's cameos, elephant legs, and will actually walk on the moon!
Where to start? Well, the story itself is hilariously told (well duh, it's Pratchett), about barbarians and kick-butt heroines, Dark Lords and nefarious henchmen, straight out of any hack fantasy work--with the small problem that they're all about eighty years old. Since we never see aging hack heroes/villains in other novels, this is a refreshing change. It's also great to see fan faves like Leonard (Leonardo da Vinci of Discworld), naive Carrot, and Rincewind who still doesn't want to be on adventures but has to go anyway. The Librarian gets a bit more action than in many Discworld books!
Dialogue is great as always, especially the delicious scene where Cohen and Evil Harry Dread meet up again: "You've GOT to let the Dark Lord escape. Everyone knows that." "Got to leave yourself some work for tomorrow." "I mean, I always left a secret back entrance in my Mountain of Dread, I employed really STUPID people as cell guards..."
With that out of the way, let me go on to the illustrations. They're excellent. Many fans may not like having pix of such characters as the Patrician, Rincewind, etc shown to them rather than imagining their own, but I enjoyed them overall. Rincewind's shrinking appearance and sort of tattered beard and clothes are great; Patrician looks sufficiently sinister; the Librarion looks kooky (or "ook-y"); we also get clear views of such characters as Leonard, trolls, Death (with a little kitty), and what the sinister dragon-armor of a Dark Lord looks like after about forty years.
Carrot was the only one I was disappointed in--that face looks too hard to be our Carrot! I will continue thinking of him as a Stephen Snedden look-alike. I didn't expect Ponder Stibbins to look like an adult, clinically depressed Harry Potter, but I got used to it. And it's worth it alone for the GORGEOUS two-page spread of Great A'tuin, the four Elephants and Discworld on top of it all!
What didn't I like? Well, it's too short--I wished it had been longer, though it does say "fable."...
...this is a hilarious new Discworld adventure, not to be missed. (Also recommended for those who enjoy this sort of spoofery: all Discworld books, Diana Wynne Jones' "Tough Guide to Fantasyland")
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on November 25, 2002
The end of the Discworld is near, as the geriatric Silver Horde, lead by Cohen the Barbarian, are on their way to Dunmanifestin with the firm intention of blowing up the Gods. They've even kidnapped a minstrel to write the story of their heroic lives. Someone has to stop them, and quickly!
So to save the world from total destruction, the Wizards of Unseen University and the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari, have no choice but to call Leonard da Quirm to the rescue. Soon the inventor, along with the very literal Captain Carrot of the City Watch and Rincewind the chicken-hearted WiZZard, embark on a perilous journey aboard the Kite, a bird-shaped flying device powered by Swamp Dragons. According to his calculations, if the Kite goes over the rim at great speed, it'll come back around and rocket right towards the hub, where lies Dunmanifestin, just in time to stop Cohen and his gang.
Even though The Last Hero might seems a little bit short, comparatively, of course it has the genuine, punful, Pratchett style that we've all come to love so much. The good side of it is that it's read in no time, eh! And Paul Kidby's lavish illustrations are just astounding. Would do a wonderful gift idea, wouldn't it?
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on January 7, 2003
I loved this book! I would not advise it for someone who is not yet aquainted with the Discworld, but it is otherwise marvelous. The tale was short but made up for it with page after page of spectacular illustrations by Paul Kidby.
The Last Hero brings together Carrot and Rincewind who, to my knowledge, have never before shared an adventure, along with gods, wizards, priests and of course heros. Altogether, throughly spiffy
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on November 16, 2003
Cohen the Barbarian (lately Genghiz Cohen, Emperor of Agatea) and his Silver Horde (they used to be a Golden Horde, but that was before what hair they have left went grey) have set out on one last grand and pointless adventure; Cohen plans to swarm the mountain of the gods and "the last thief will return what the first thief stole".
For those who wonder just what that means, the first thief is currently chained to a mountainside with an eagle tearing at his liver, and Cohen has a large barrel of Agatean Fire Clay[1]...
And, if he succeeds, it's the End Of The World.
And so the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork turns to the wizards of Unseen University and to Leonard of Quirm[2] to figure out how to stop Cohen.
As usual, Leonard has An Idea.
And so Leonard, Captain Carrot of the Watch and Rincewind, the reluctant wizard[3] set out in the Discworld's first spacecraft to orbit the Disc and get there in time to stop Cohen and company.
Unlike the usual Discworld adventure, this is a large-format book with illustrations by Paul Kidby[5], and the illustrations (while not essential to the story) are hilarious and complement Pratchett's inspired satirical insanity brilliantly.[7]
As usual, though, one can count on Pratchett to hold up a twisted mirror to our own world and to make a few Telling Points here and there.
And -- mirabile dictu! -- Archchancellor Ridcully seems to be beginning to understand some of the implications of quantum theory as it applies to magic and the (more or less) Real World.[8]

[1]Not to mention a kidnapped minstrel to write the saga after it's all over. It is required by The Rules that Heroic Deeds be recounted in sagas.
[2]Usually kept locked up in a tower -- he's a Really Nice Fellow and brilliant painter who can't help inventing things that people with the Wrong Sort Of Minds (most people, actually) see all sorts of potentials for bigger and better mayhem in.
[3] Recently appointed Chair of Cruel and Unusual Geography at UU, on account of having seen so much of it in a lifetime devoted to hair-raising escapes, Adventures[4] and general Running Away.
[4]An Adventure, properly defined, is someone far away having a truly terrible day.
[5]Not to be confused with the late Josh *Kirby*, who painted the definitive Discworld covers, which we don't get to see in the States.[6]
[6]This fact (and the Generally Awful covers the books *have* had in the States) may be part of the explanation of why the Discworld books don't sell better Over Here...
[7]Probably the best of all of the illustrations is the one printed Very Faintly across a two page spread that is almost invisible -- Kate missed it entirely until i showed t to her -- of Cohen and Blind Offler in the poses of Adam and Jehovah from the Sistine Chapel. Cohen, however, is not limply holding out his hand for the Divine Spark.
[8]And Ponder Stebbins has been promoted from the High Energy Magic department of UU to Head of Inadvisably Applied Magic.
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on October 22, 2001
This installation of the classic DISCWORLD series features Rincewind, Carrot, Leonard De Quirm and The Silver Horde as Cohen the barbarian (and friends) decide to return something special to the Gods. Moreover, in this illustrated book, the illustrations actually do add to the book and are like something out of a fantasy art book.
While maybe not "the best" discworld book out there, I feel that this is still in the upper echelon of the reluctant series.
If you are new to the series, you may want to read "Interesting Times" and "Guards Guards" first as these will give you a bit more background. However, being new, it may be helpful for you to actually see some of the players in the drama via the illustrations. It's hard to go wrong with a discworld book.
In conclusion, this is a funny book which provides a great diversion from the real (ie round) world. Only Mr Pratchett
can turn a line like, "Houston, we have a problem" into "Ankh-Morpork, we have an orangutan."
Enjoy! and happy reading.
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on October 26, 2001
(...) First, let me say what I do not like about the book. It is a coffee table sized book, with too many illustrations. It is too expensive (though I paid about half list with coupon). Some of the illustrations are really great, some are very funny, really, the only problem is that there are way too many, sometimes two pages. I did not realize this when I purchased the book. I thought it was like previous ones, just shorter. The size of the book makes it awkward to take places.....With that said, the writing style is pure Pratchett, very funny in places. It is not the best of the series, but perhaps in the top ten. I am almost finished with the book, and it actually is getting better as I go. I was not too happy with it at first, but there are at least 5 different times when I burst out laughing, and then re-read the paragraph and started laughing again. The characters are all old favorites, I just wish the story line did not jump around quite so much. For the price, the book deserves 3 stars. For the literary content a 5. The art work is great, but too much. So over all, I think a 4 is fair. If you are a die hard fan like me, you have to buy the book now. You can't wait. I know. I needed my fix right away. If you are not a die hard fan, I would suggest you wait until this ends up in the bargain bin/discount rack. At half the list price, I am happy. Anywhere close to list and I would have felt cheated. (Of course, this may be more personal than anything else). In any case, if you are reading this, you have already pretty much decided to buy the book, and are already one of the poor, addicted fools, like me. So, buy the book already and enjoy! ;-)
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on May 14, 2002
...Pratchett books are too short. This (sigh!) is the
shortest of the lot. Other than that, of course, it's
marvelous.
We last met Cohen the Barbarian and his antique
superheroes when they conquered the Counterweight Continent
in _Interesting Times_. With nothing left to conquer, they
give up the easy life that has already taken one of their
number. They are going to climb Cori Celesti, the impossibly
high central spire of Discworld, and return fire to the gods
- in the form of a barrel of gunpowder. The resulting
explosion in Dunmanifestin, the godly city, will destabilize
the entire world.
To stop them, Unseen University is launching an
experimental ship, powered by belching mini-dragons, off the
edge of the Disc. Designed by Leonard of Quirm, its orbital
path should land it on the mountain in time to stop the
attack.
Once again, Pratchett takes the ridiculous and raises it
to the sublime. Truckle the Uncivil, Boy Willie, and Mad
Hamish (in his wheelchair) can't take on the gods! But when
they do, we'll learn something about how to remember real
heroism. The terrified minstrel dragged along behind Caleb
the Ripper and grandmotherly war-maiden Vena the Raven-haired
learns how to write a song remembered forever. Leonard of
Quirm, the innocent super-genius, can design an possible
flying machine in his head, but stands in awe, painting the
grandeur he views from space.
There is clearly some Pratchett soul in Leonard, and
Rincewind the Wizzard, and even in Evil Harry Dread (the last
Dark Lord). Likwise, Paul Kidby has contributed part of his
being to everything from group shots of the gods, to the
masterful turtle-elephants-Disc views, to the dozens of
(Leonardo de Vinci) fantasy/technical drawings of dragon-
powered aircraft and self-filling ink quills.
This is a marvelous book to the very last page - Kidby
gives us rubies sprouting flowers in the snow. Pratchett
gives us an immortal saga on a lyre made from a skull and
broken wires, about five heroes who weren't sure they were
dead. (Well, if you're not sure, steal the flying horses of
the Valkyries who come for you and head for other worlds.)
"No one remembers the singer. The song remains."
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on December 15, 2001
This book is utterly brilliant. I think it ranks with the very best of Pratchett's work. As highly regarded as Pratchett's work is, I think he is still dreadfully underrated. A picture book for adults--how audacious--and it works. What about the Leonardo da Vinci notebook takeoff--the delicious detail and amount of work involved! With the wealth of background information that discworld readers will bring to this novel he has written a full-size novel in a unique format and with a sparingness of words reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh and Somerset Maugham. There is an awful lot in the book that isn't in the book per say but in the interaction between discworld readers and their reading of the book. Great Fun and well worth owning to return to again and again and marvel at such inventiveness. Writers of long series should take note--a great ape (no monkeys here) as a major repeat character can be amazingly useful (See "Moving Pictures".)
Favorite Quote "Ankh-Morpork, we have an orangutan...")Yes! The Librarian also gets my award for best picture. Perfect alchemy of illustrations and text. Bravo Paul Kidby.
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