A brief Discworld meditation

I posted this to tumblr a while ago, but I’m reposting it here because I just reread this book and, gosh, I love it a lot.

The Last Hero is my favorite Discworld book. It has so many elements that come together to make just exactly my ideal story.

It was also the first one I ever read, which I really don’t recommend. Because when I picked it up for the first time I read the first few pages and then almost put it down because I didn’t really understand what was going on – it felt like I was missing some important context, but at that point I didn’t even know it was a series. (My mom had just brought it home from the library one day because her co-worker’s son had liked it and she thought I would too).

The reason I didn’t put it down was actually the pictures. I gave up on the story pretty quickly but just started flipping through the pages looking at the art. And it was great art, but that was really all I intended to do.

But then. I turned the page and there was a picture of a black-clad skeleton petting a cat.

It was weird, because all the other pictures had been brightly colored, and it was such a sudden transition from the other characters which I had seen popping up here and there, and again the kitten thing, so I figured I’d better at least read the adjoining page just to see what all that was about.

And there’s something about Death, you know? He’s so charming, and he tries so hard to understand, and at that point that page, which made me laugh for a solid minute and then I went back and read it again and laughed again, that page was exactly what I needed to go back and read the rest of the book.

I didn’t get a lot of it. So much of it is wrapped up in the existing mythology of the Disc, and I was still too young to have heard of the Roundworld references, and I hadn’t had enough time to build up the rock-solid layer of cynicism that I carry today. But that didn’t really matter because the world was so big and rich and colorful and when I had finished I felt more like myself than I had when I began.

That’s so much of the series, to me. It’s so easy to slip in and out of Discworld, and whenever I finish a book, be it for the first or five hundredth time, I feel like I understand something that I didn’t before; I’m a little more real than I was before. I don’t know how better to explain it. And the Last Hero makes me feel that most of all. It’s about old stories and new frontiers and the end of the world, all in so small a space on my bookshelf. And when I need some place to be completely myself but I forget how that’s done, it’s one of the places I know I can always go.




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