Mar 23, 2010

[Books] The Last Hero

The Last HeroJust when you think a franchise can't get any better, they up and go and surprise you in a nicely different way. This happens more in the book world as opposed to the movie world, but then not everything can be perfect I suppose.

But there's always a risk when we franchise ventures off into a new direction. Crossing genres tends to be tricky and changing story mediums is even worse, statistically speaking. Video games almost always make for really lousy movies and comic books are wildly hit-or-miss in the movie arena as well. Movies don't always make for great television and not all TV shows cross over to the big screen that decently either.

So perhaps this instance worked since it wasn't that radical a shift. It just involved taking a bit of a step out of their comfort zone that was far enough to be different but familiar enough to be enjoyable.

The Last Hero is a graphic novel set in the Discworld series of novels. As always it was penned by Terry Pratchett and drawn by the highly skilled Paul Kidby, who has done a lot of art for the Discworld universe.

The story involves the geriatric Silver Horde composed of Cohen the Barbarian and his crew.

Havelock Vetinari as he appears in The Pratche...Image via Wikipedia

They've sworn to return fire to the gods while hopefully taking all of the heaves with them in the process in one last big quest. The logic is that heroes survive because they're good at it and so the very best heroes manage to survive for a very long time. Thus as the heroes set about their quest, news reaches the citizens of Ankh-Morpork. Determined not to have the world end, the Patrician, Lord Vetinari commissions a Leonard of Quirm to find a way to get a small group of men to the home of the gods before the Silver Horde gets there in order to stop them.

Thus the novel follows two main narrative paths: the adventure tale of the Horde travelling across the Disc (complete with minstrel in tow) and the "space mission" of the Morporkians making their desperate bid to get to Cori Celesti in time. The whole thing is nicely illustrated thanks to Kidby and it really adds a lot to the story.

Sure, as far as Discworld novels go, this is a shorter one, but that's not the point. I talked about crossing mediums in the beginning since it took the short jump away from just being a plain old fantasy novel and became an illustrated graphic novel. I don't think I can get over how beautiful the art was. I always loved how the story tends to unfold in the wonders of my imagination but the images in these books added a completely different dimension to things that just blew me away.

And the story itlself wasn't that bad either. I was afraid that it would be an underdeveloped story given the forced brevity of things but it still worked out. What more, this is probably one of the few Rincewind stories that I'll ever admit to liking. They're like George Clooney movies to me - I understand the appeal, but it usually doesn't apply to me. So kudos to you Pratchett for finding a way for me to enjoy it.

The Last Hero may be a lot pricier than most Discworld books but it's more than worth it. It deserves 4 dragon-containing trout out of 5.

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