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The Last Hero    by Terry Pratchett order for
Last Hero
by Terry Pratchett
Order:  USA  Can
Eos, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

This volume, measuring nine and a half inches by eleven and a half inches, is the coffee table book to end all coffee table books. Terry Pratchett's witty, wonderful and totally crazy Discworld is brought to stunning life with the lavishly colourful and equally witty and wonderful illustrations by Paul Kidby.

The last hero is Cohen the Barbarian, recently Emperor of Agatea, who becomes disgruntled with the Gods for allowing men, even heroes like himself, to grow old and die. He and all his old, (very old), companions decide to storm Dunmanifestin, the home of the Gods. The legendary band of seniors plan to return to the Gods what had been stolen from them by the first human hero, Mazda; that is, fire, but with a millenium's accumulated interest. Cohen intends to detonate a keg of Agatean Thunder Clay which should end humanity's problems with the Gods forever.

Unfortunately, since it will destroy all magic, it will also be the end of the Discworld and everyone on it. It falls to Lord Vetinari, the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, to organise an expedition to save the world.

'Why us?' said Mr. Boggis, head of the Thieves' Guild. 'He's not our Emperor!'

'I understand the Agatean government believes us to be capable of anything,' said Lord Vetinari, 'We have zip, zing, vim, and a go-getting, can-do attitude.'

'Can do what?'

Lord Vetinari shrugged. 'In this case, save the world.'

'But we'll have to save it for everyone, right?' said Mr. Boggis. 'Even for foreigners?'
Naturally, Lord Vetinari calls in an expert, Leonard of Quirm, who can design anything, and unfortunately often does. What he comes up with this time is a spaceship powered by fiery swamp dragons. He hopes it will fly off the end of the world and circle down, between the legs of the four elephants holding up the world but safely above the turtle on which they are standing, and then up again above the world to finally reach the highest mountain and the home of the Gods. To accompany him, the Patrician enlists the extremely reluctant Rincewind the Wizard, who has met Cohen before, and fallen off the edge of the world before, and has all the scars to prove it. Captain Carrot of the City Watch of course volunteers.

The story follows the two bands of adventurers through all their perils, until they both reach Dunmanifestin, and all is finally resolved, more or less. Fate gets its comeuppance, Carrot arrests Cohen though he can't make it stick, the last heroes get blown up to somewhere better and Mazda gets the eagle which has been gnawing at his innards for the last millenium. In fact, it's a happy ending, except for the eagle. The Last Hero cannot be too highly recommended, if you have a suitable coffee table.

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