In the sixth part of The Last Hero, Leonard leads Carrot and Rincewind on their journey around the Disc. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Reading The Science of Discworld before this was such a good idea. It ended up being a wonderful companion to what is happening within The Last Hero, both in terms of the actual science and how it’s a spiritual successor. These three men (and one orangutan) are making history, and in doing so, they are going to learn a lot more about their own world.
It’s not like the Disc was a mystery to the reader. We always knew the Disc sat on the backs of four elephants (and we know the fate of the fifth one, too), which rode on the back of the Great A’Tuin. But, as Rincewind comments in the text, it’s one thing to hear about this and another thing to see it. I get why Leonard becomes emotional at the very start of this, you know? Even if he might seem content living in the Patrician’s palace, the man is outside for the first time in a long while, and the thing he designed worked. Yes, there are hiccups along the way, and the Librarian absolutely counts as one. (OH MY GOD, I GENUINELY DID NOT PICK UP ON THIS.) But the man got to see one of his inventions succeed.
There’s another angle to this sense of wonder that I enjoyed, though. I was reminded of the very beginning of my journey through the Discworld books. I’m not so sure I commented on it, but regardless, it’s still worth saying here. One of the reasons I have begun to fall in love with fantasy again is because I enjoy getting to experience a fantastical world for the first time. Many of you feel the same way: worldbuilding within a story can be a truly memorable thing! I’m glad I’ve been able to approach fantasy as an adult (and with a more open mind) because there’s just so much good fantasy coming out these days.
Yet there’s a dynamic here that I don’t see too often. The characters onboard the Kite are reacting in wonder to their own fantastical world, and that is just as fulfilling to me. It’s something present in The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, since Rincewind is often seeing parts of the Disc for the first time alongside the reader. Now, I’d argue that Rincewind is a lot more weathered as a protagonist by the time he gets to the events of The Last Hero, but I also can’t deny that he’s still getting to witness something—and this time, with other people!!!—that most people on the Disc will never get to see. It’s spellbinding. It’s good worldbuilding, and it’s damn fine writing for these characters. I love that these four specific people are the ones who get to see it!
And given that it’s now possible they won’t make it all the way ‘round the Disc, I am very eager to see where else Pratchett is going to take them.
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