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The Last Hero Hardcover – 1948

5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; Reprint edition (1948)
  • ASIN: B000LZX0PG
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,854,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is the first round of the Saint vs his arch-enemies Rayt Marius & Prince Rudolf, continued on "Knight Templar" (a.k.a. "The Avenging Saint").
Although this "The Last Hero" still has the shortcoming that the style is rather long-winded, I bet it is the best of the Saint stories. I really enjoyed adventure after adventure of young Simon Templar and his jolly friends. Anyway it is much better than its continuation. In "Knight Templar", the enemy's plan was rather vague that made the whole story less thrilling. But in "The Last Hero", the subject is plain and simple; a fight for a devilish invention of a mad scientist. The story is much more thrilling and full of actions and wits. And the characters are much more vivid; Simon is so youthful and dynamic, his friends are so amiable, Marius is so ferocious and formidable, and Prince Rudolf's inhuman calmness heightened the tension of the climax.
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By Paul Magnussen TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
For my money, this is the best of all the Saint books. On one level merely a good thriller, on another level it's a very serious book indeed, because it deals with the horrors of war and what it's worth sacrificing to avoid them; and its great merit is that it makes its points without ever becoming preachy or leaden.

Kingsley Amis, in his insightful and entertaining opus The James Bond Dossier, expends considerable space on considering what goes into the making of a good villain. Charteris's best villains are easily the equal of Fleming's, and "The Last Hero" has two them!

One may safely invent a sinister arms merchant from any country (although Rayt Marius is much more sinister than most). To present a sinister head of state, however, presents a problem: obviously one can't use a real head of state, for reasons of both plausibility and libel. There are two traditional solutions, both moderately unsatisfactory: to invent a fictional country, which will irritate any reader with the basics of geography; or to be mysterious about which state it actually is. Charteris here opts for the second alternative, and great villain though Marius undoubtedly is, for me Crown Prince Rudolf of ---------- is the best in the whole Saint Saga.

(It is of course logically pointless to try and work out what the country really is, but it's quite fun trying anyway, as Charteris obviously realises as he plants clues in various places. It's somewhere around the Balkans. The Saint doesn't yet speak the language, which therefore can't be French, German or Spanish.
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Format: Paperback
'The Last Hero', also known as 'The Saint Closes the Case', is one of the best Saint novels ever written, and arguably the greatest adventure story written in the inter-war years. The second full-length novel featuring Simon Templar, alias the Saint, this epic adventure sees the Saint, his girlfriend Patricia Holm, and his associates, Roger Conway and Norman Kent, seeking to preserve the peace of Europe. Professor Vargan has created a diabolical super-weapon which will give to any country possessing it overwhelming strength. The wicked Professor Rayt Marius and his sinister organisation seek to obtain the weapon, in order to upset the balance of power. Is it simply so that Marius can make more money out of arms trading, or does a foreign despot stand behind the mystery millionaire? Templar and his allies must do battle with Marius, Chief Inspector Teal, and the military forces of two Governments, as they seek to suppress the secret of Vargan's weapon and keep the peace of the world. In the end, all the battlefields of the looming future war come together in a cottage in Maidenhead.

In 'The Last Hero', first published in 1930, Leslie Charteris approaches literary greatness. While the inter-war adventure genre has been frequently criticised for national chauvinism (Dornford Yates please step forward), Simon Templar, one of the most anarchic and appealing of the heroes created during this period, emerges here as an internationalist, the League of Nations Disarmament Committee personified, as he seeks to destroy a super-weapon of almost Satanic aspect. Templar here could almost be the patron Saint of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, fighting both the British Government, the evil minions of Rayt Marius and the unidentified nation of Crown Prince Rudolf.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8e34c36c) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e355210) out of 5 stars 1st-quality Saint. 21 May 2000
By Michele L. Worley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
(Also known as The Saint Closes the Case.) This book takes place in the early days of the Saint's career, when Scotland Yard still had no proof of his identity, and he still had the last of his original crew of adventurers (the other "wearers of the halo") with him: Roger Conway, Patricia Holm, and Norman Kent. The Saint in those days still pursued his career mainly for love of "battle, murder, and sudden death" - that is, adventure for adventure's sake. "He also...had heard the sound of the trumpet, and had moved ever afterwards in the echoes of the sound of the trumpet, in such a mighty clamour of romance that one of his friends had been moved to call him the last hero, in desperately earnest jest." This book introduces Prince Rudolf (later seen in Getaway), and is also the first appearance of Rayt Marius (international arms dealer, although the term doesn't do him justice). Briefly, Marius is trying to acquire a new, horrible weapon from an English scientist to sell to the prince. Templar and the other Saints are trying to prevent *anyone* from getting the weapon...
If possible, this should be read before The Avenging Saint (a.k.a. Knight Templar), which is a continuation of the story begun by The Last Hero. Both books are part of The Saint: Five Complete Novels (Avenel, 1983), if you can find a copy.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e3554ec) out of 5 stars The Most Thrilling Adventures of the Young Saint 29 Sept. 2000
By APRICOT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is the first round of the Saint vs his arch-enemies Rayt Marius & Prince Rudolf, continued on "Knight Templar" (a.k.a. "The Avenging Saint").
Although this "The Last Hero" still has the shortcoming that the style is rather long-winded, I bet it is the best of the Saint stories. I really enjoyed adventure after adventure of young Simon Templar and his jolly friends. Anyway it is much better than its continuation. In "Knight Templar", the enemy's plan was rather vague that made the whole story less thrilling. But in "The Last Hero", the subject is plain and simple; a fight for a devilish invention of a mad scientist. The story is much more thrilling and full of actions and wits. And the characters are much more vivid; Simon is so youthful and dynamic, his friends are so amiable, Marius is so ferocious and formidable, and Prince Rudolf's inhuman calmness heightened the tension of the climax.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8eb54528) out of 5 stars Saint Saga #03 1 Feb. 2006
By Paul Magnussen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For my money, this is the best of all the Saint books. On one level merely a good thriller, on another level it's a very serious book indeed, because it deals with the horrors of war and what it's worth sacrificing to avoid them; and its great merit is that it makes its points without ever becoming preachy or leaden.

Kingsley Amis, in his insightful and entertaining opus The James Bond Dossier, expends considerable space on considering what goes into the making of a good villain. Charteris's best villains are easily the equal of Fleming's, and "The Last Hero" has two them!

One may safely invent a sinister arms merchant from any country (although Rayt Marius is much more sinister than most). To present a sinister head of state, however, presents a problem: obviously one can't use a real head of state, for reasons of both plausibility and libel. There are two traditional solutions, both moderately unsatisfactory: to invent a fictional country, which will irritate any reader with the basics of geography; or to be mysterious about which state it actually is. Charteris here opts for the second alternative, and great villain though Marius undoubtedly is, for me Crown Prince Rudolf of ----- is the best in the whole Saint Saga.

(It is of course logically pointless to try and work out what the country really is, but it's quite fun trying anyway, as Charteris obviously realises, planting clues in various places. It's somewhere in the Balkans. The Saint doesn't yet speak the language, which therefore can't be French, German or Spanish. The Prince is Marius's own prince, and Marius was once a guttersnipe in the slums of Prague; on the other hand, we later learn that the Prince's appendix is in Budapest. The most telling clue [not divulged till Getaway] is that the Prince's family owned the Montenegrin crown jewels. [King Nikola of Montenegro might in fact be the prototype of Rudolf's father, were not the time-frame all wrong. This is cool juggling. How many readers are familiar enough with Montenegrin history to know whether he did in fact have son called Rudolf?] )

Professor K.B. Vargan has invented a weapon called the Electron Cloud, capable of incinerating large numbers of people in minimum time. The British Government wants it, and so does Prince Rudolf, who has military ambitions. The story revolves around the efforts of the Saint and his friends to keep the weapon from ever being used at all, for the sake of the men and boys "who'd just be herded into it like dumb cattle to the slaughter, drunk with a miserable and futile heroism, to struggle blindly through a few days of squalid agony and die in the dirt".

The familiar friends — Orace, Pat, Roger, Norman — are all here. Charteris was later dismissive of his early work, as older authors often are. But whatever its deficiencies, this book and its sequel Knight Templar have a drive and fire, and an idealism (eccentric though it be), that lifts them above the mundane.

Variously published as "The Last Hero" (the original title), "The Saint Closes the Case" and "The Saint and the Last Hero". The last shows how much awareness the publisher concerned has of his material: the Saint — so labelled by Vargan — IS the last hero!)

The cover of this particular (International Polygonics) edition has no relation to the content, but that is a minor quibble.

P.S. For a list of all Charteris's Saint books, look up "Simon Templar" (section "The Saint book series") on Wikipedia.
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