In the ninth and final part of The Last Hero, the Silver Horde accepts their destiny. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
WELL, SHIT, THAT WAS UNEXPECTED. I feel like this just snuck up on me because I didn’t think through the ramifications of Captain Carrot being a part of the team to stop the horde. I started to, by the way, when I said while reading this section that if anyone was talented enough to succeed in a battle against the Horde, it would be him.
But I didn’t follow that through at all. Carrot came to save the world from the side effects of the Horde’s final stand against the gods. From his side of things, that is a hero’s journey, though I wouldn’t suggest that Carrot considered himself a hero. He’s a little more humble than that. Still, I never really considered the impasse that these characters would arrive at. This was a hero’s journey for the Horde! It was what they were meant to do! But what if that hero’s journey comes at great expense to someone else? If a hero is meant to save the day, what if that very act ends the world?
Obviously, that was the predicament at the core of The Last Hero, and yet I never once even theorized quietly that the Silver Horde would give up their quest. That’s not what they do, y’all. EVER. When Carrot faced them down and told them that they were going to end the world, I actually thought that they were going to go through with it. Why? Well:
“S’not much of a world,” Cohen muttered. “Not any more.”
The world of heroes had changed. If anything, The Last Hero was a chronicle of that reality. These men were old, there was little that they could conquer or raid, and was there really even a need for heroes anymore? So, in a tragic sense, it seemed possible that the Silver Horde would find a way to take the whole world out with them in a blaze of glory.
Two things stopped them, though! First, the minstrel:
“There will be no one left to remember,” said the minstrel, as if he was talking to himself. “If there’s no one left alive, no one will remember.”
And then… well, they had to be heroes, right? And if the world was going to end, then they had to be the ones to save it, right? I mean… let’s just ignore that they were saving the whole world from themselves, so that’s totally unimportant MOVING RIGHT ALONG. It’s incredible to me how well this fits in with the logic of heroes. The minstrel remains alive and behind to tell the story of how the Silver Horde willingly plunged off the top of Cori Celesti with a massive bomb in order to save the world. (Well, and Cohen wore a fish head. DON’T LEAVE THAT OUT, VERY IMPORTANT.) The palace of the gods isn’t blown up, and THE MINSTREL GETS TO CONFRONT HIS GOD. Oh, y’all, this was such an incredible treat!!! I didn’t expect that, or the Librarian getting much-needed supplies from Blind Io, or the minstrel being transformed into a character worthy of a thrash metal record. (SERIOUSLY, HE LOOKS SO BADASS IN KIDBY’S ILLUSTRATION, Y’ALL.) And in the end, the Silver Horde still gets to have one last long adventure, even if they are dead. I don’t know where that will take them, but Pratchett has often been ambiguous about what a person does before they pass on to their final resting place.
It’s a touching end to this book. I absolutely loved the illustrations, which improved the experience of The Last Hero by EIGHT BILLION PERCENT. But it’s also cool to see Pratchett do a fable rather than a more straightforward novel. Now I kind of wish all the books had Kidby illustrations in them, y’all.
Anyway, on to Book #28, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents!
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