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Alone on a desert island — everything and everyone he knows and loves has been washed away in a storm — Mau is the last surviving member of his nation. He’s completely alone — or so he thinks until he finds the ghost girl. She has no toes, wears strange lacy trousers like the grandfather bird, and gives him a stick that can make fire. Daphne, sole survivor of the wreck of t Alone on a desert island — everything and everyone he knows and loves has been washed away in a storm — Mau is the last surviving member of his nation. He’s completely alone — or so he thinks until he finds the ghost girl. She has no toes, wears strange lacy trousers like the grandfather bird, and gives him a stick that can make fire. Daphne, sole survivor of the wreck of the Sweet Judy, almost immediately regrets trying to shoot the native boy. Thank goodness the powder was wet and the gun only produced a spark. She’s certain her father, distant cousin of the Royal family, will come and rescue her but it seems, for now, that all she has for company is the boy and the foul-mouthed ship’s parrot, until other survivors arrive to take refuge on the island. Together, Mau and Daphne discover some remarkable things (including how to milk a pig, and why spitting in beer is a good thing), and start to forge a new nation. Encompassing themes of death and nationhood, Terry Pratchett’s new novel is, as can be expected, extremely funny, witty and wise. Mau’s ancestors have something to teach us all. Mau just wishes they would shut up about it and let him get on with saving everyone’s lives!


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Alone on a desert island — everything and everyone he knows and loves has been washed away in a storm — Mau is the last surviving member of his nation. He’s completely alone — or so he thinks until he finds the ghost girl. She has no toes, wears strange lacy trousers like the grandfather bird, and gives him a stick that can make fire. Daphne, sole survivor of the wreck of t Alone on a desert island — everything and everyone he knows and loves has been washed away in a storm — Mau is the last surviving member of his nation. He’s completely alone — or so he thinks until he finds the ghost girl. She has no toes, wears strange lacy trousers like the grandfather bird, and gives him a stick that can make fire. Daphne, sole survivor of the wreck of the Sweet Judy, almost immediately regrets trying to shoot the native boy. Thank goodness the powder was wet and the gun only produced a spark. She’s certain her father, distant cousin of the Royal family, will come and rescue her but it seems, for now, that all she has for company is the boy and the foul-mouthed ship’s parrot, until other survivors arrive to take refuge on the island. Together, Mau and Daphne discover some remarkable things (including how to milk a pig, and why spitting in beer is a good thing), and start to forge a new nation. Encompassing themes of death and nationhood, Terry Pratchett’s new novel is, as can be expected, extremely funny, witty and wise. Mau’s ancestors have something to teach us all. Mau just wishes they would shut up about it and let him get on with saving everyone’s lives!

30 review for Nation

  1. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    2016 Re-read for Sci Fi/Fantasy book club. Seriously, does anyone else want to kick the Nobel Prize committee for not giving Pratchett the award? I wish this novel had been around when I was a kid. older review Philip Pullman is known, perhaps infamously, for His Dark Materials trilogy, which has been attacked because of Pullman's atheist beliefs as well as the endorsement of atheism that book represents. Pullman isn't the only writer to have been attacked due to his view on religion, and I doubt t 2016 Re-read for Sci Fi/Fantasy book club. Seriously, does anyone else want to kick the Nobel Prize committee for not giving Pratchett the award? I wish this novel had been around when I was a kid. older review Philip Pullman is known, perhaps infamously, for His Dark Materials trilogy, which has been attacked because of Pullman's atheist beliefs as well as the endorsement of atheism that book represents. Pullman isn't the only writer to have been attacked due to his view on religion, and I doubt that he will be the last one. Of course, he will undoubtedly be attacked this year because of his new book about Jesus and his buddy Christ. I find it strange that there was barely a peep about the books until the movie came out. The problem, as I see it, with such "fame" as Pullman receives is that people get hot and bothered either condemning the work or, justly, defending the work. So hot and bothered that books like Nation get overlooked. In many ways, this is good, for no one is trying to ban the book. In other ways, it is bad, for the book doesn't get the fame it deserves. Terry Pratchett is a humanist writer of fantasy fiction. He wouldn't call his work literature, but many of his later novels either is literature or rests on literature's mutable border. I've been a huge fan of Pratchett since Wyrd Sisters made me laugh during a very tough time in my life (Thanks Mom, for giving the book to me). Nation is the best thing that Pratchett has ever written. Nation is Literature. I'm not sure if Nation was inspired by the Tsunami in Asia and/or Pratchett receiving his medical news. In truth, I don't really care. I do know, for Pratchett himself has said it, that Nation demanded to be told, and he stopped other projects to write it. Supposedly a children's book, Nation tells the story of Mau who loses his whole Nation, his whole tribe, when a tsunami hits his island home. Eventually, Mau discovers Daphne, a "ghost" girl who was washed up by the same wave. What then follows is part Robinson Crusoe, told from Friday's point of view; part Swiss Family Robinson; part Island of the Blue Dolphins, and part religious and philosophical debate. Pratchett's novels work because each of his characters is like the reader or like someone the reader knows. His characters are human and contain one or more aspects of everyone. Even Pratchett's most heroic or inhuman characters such as Carrot, Rincewind, or Death, have human traits that effect how they act (remember, Death really likes cats). Here, in this book, Pratchett presents multiple answers to the questions, "Why do bad things happen to good people if there is a just god?" and "How do you feel afterwards?" Both Mau and Daphne have tragically lost family. Both of their reactions are human, yet different from each other. Both question the idea of god (or in the case of Mau, gods) and faith. Both arrive at different answers. More importantly, Pratchett doesn't preach, he doesn't persuade. He just wants the reader to think, the conclusion is left up to the reader. This makes the book totally honest, for there is no clear cut answer to the first question. Besides engaging the idea of the god debate, Pratchett touches on another part of creation - where do stories come from? Are stories more than just religion? Is religion more than story? This comes as no surprise to the reader who has read the last two Science of Discworld books. Despite the tragic and bittersweet events of the story, Pratchett's trademark humor, including footnotes, is present in full force. Like his characters, Pratchett's humor works because it contains an element of human truth. As the following exchange shows: "Don't look back!" "Why not?" "Because I just did! Run faster!" The tale of Mau and Daphne is an adventure tale of two teens surviving the aftermath of a natural disaster. They most rebuild. They must outwit cold blooded killers and hungry cannibal as well as the odd Grandfather Bird and tree climbing octopus. It is a thrillingly story that closely, honestly, and fairly examines faith, science and all in between. Older Review When Nation came out, I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a Discworld novel. Then I read it. It's the best thing that Pratchett has ever written. The one thing about Terry Pratchett, as Lawrence Watt-Evans pointed out, is that the only real difference between his adult books and his children books are the age of his protagonists. There is no reason why an adult shouldn't treat this as a book. It's a book everyone should read. I suppose if Pratchett had the reputation or high profile of Philip Pullman or J. K. Rowling, then there would be a huge cry of how this book should be snatched from the hands of impressable children before they learn how to think for themselves. Maybe there is already such an outcry, but I haven't heard anything. Nation reminds me a bit of Island of the Blue Dolphins, with much more thrown in. Pratchett addresses the big questions of whether or not there is a god, and if there is a god, why do bad things happen? Bad things happen in this book, right from the start. Pratchett deserves credit for not sugarcoating what happens, but for also dealing with the deathes in a way that does not alienate or upset readers (okay, upset them too much). What Pratchett presents for the reader is a book about what extactly faith and life are. When one reads Pullman, it is quite easy to figure out where Pullman stands in regards to religion. It is not easy to figure out where Pratchett stands. One character has lost his faith, but may or may not be talking to the gods. Other characters have faith. Neither character is seen as stupid or evil because of a belief or lack of belief. In many ways, Nation is a more mature novel about faith than Pratchett's earlier tolerance novel Small Gods. This a powerful book, and I hope it continues to fly under the radar of those people who think children shouldn't read books that make you think. Everyone should read this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cait

    Dear Terry Pratchett, It is entirely unfair that every book of yours I read increases my estimation for you. At some point, you will no longer be able to live up to my expectations, and on that day I am probably going to cry. Sincerely, Cait, who is *EDIT* thinking about getting got a hermit crab tattoo. I kind of don't want to talk about the plot, because: "Native boy and English girl survive tsunami, build empire of survivors and create a nation of science!" does not convey how awesome it all is Dear Terry Pratchett, It is entirely unfair that every book of yours I read increases my estimation for you. At some point, you will no longer be able to live up to my expectations, and on that day I am probably going to cry. Sincerely, Cait, who is *EDIT* thinking about getting got a hermit crab tattoo. I kind of don't want to talk about the plot, because: "Native boy and English girl survive tsunami, build empire of survivors and create a nation of science!" does not convey how awesome it all is. Guys, this book is fantastic. It's about coming-of-age, religion, science, culture, exploration, tsunamis, the South Pacific, mysterious powers behind the throne, and also (and if you needed an also, I am going to point out that you and I might not be able to be friends anymore) there are tree climbing octopodes. ) Listened to the audiobook May 19, and this book is still fantastic. (The footnotes are awkward in audio, but otherwise, no complaints.) Seriously, what more can you ask?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Joey Woolfardis

    Deciding what one reads for the quite particular milestone of the 1000th book read is quite something. Whilst stats are never important in any area of life (reading, playing Cricket, sex) they are incredibly fun. And, let's face it, 1000 is a ruddy good number. The importance of reading a good book on the 1000th turn was pivotal because the past few books have been, in a word, dire. Charles Dickens was a good bet. Charles Dickens is always a good bet. Even when he dies and leaves a book unfinishe Deciding what one reads for the quite particular milestone of the 1000th book read is quite something. Whilst stats are never important in any area of life (reading, playing Cricket, sex) they are incredibly fun. And, let's face it, 1000 is a ruddy good number. The importance of reading a good book on the 1000th turn was pivotal because the past few books have been, in a word, dire. Charles Dickens was a good bet. Charles Dickens is always a good bet. Even when he dies and leaves a book unfinished, he's still a good bet. But Charles Dickens only really has a few ways of writing, a few things to write about. It was a slow world in 1854. Terry Pratchett on the other hand, the ever-funny, ever-real, ever-unashamed of voicing his views, is also a good bet... sort of. Discworld is brilliant, but this is not Discworld. This is... Other. And past experience with PTerry's other was mixed at best. Nation is an alternative history edition of a marooned Westerner and a native indigenous Great Southern Pelagic Ocean (South Pacific Ocean) island dweller. On the surface it is a relative easy to read older children's book, much in the same vain as his Tiffany Aching Discworld novels. But, as with all of PTerry's works, scratch the surface just a little and you enter a world that is full of adult themes that we, for some reason, have initialised as being Too Grown Up For Kids And Therefore Should Never Be Mentioned In Front Of Them. Death is a big part of PTerry's works. We don't have the capitalised DEATH of Discworld, but we still have the humour of death surrounding Mau. There's nothing twee here, which connects with the period this novel is set in: 1860s and people died a lot. Mostly of diseases. Death was never a mythical beast who visited and left a shadow but instead it was dealt with. Mau deals with it, as does Daphne, the Western cast-away. It is still dealt with calmly and there are no Lord of the Flies moments, but the important thing is that it is dealt with. It is fast-paced with the occasional lull, with no time for thoughts because of the situation, except the really big thoughts that are impossible to ignore no matter how many dead relatives one must bury. Colonisation and Western approaches to dealing with Indigenous Peoples is also dealt with marvellously. It's ridiculous to expect every Westerner to apologise for what their ancestors did, but PTerry gives it a good go by offering up an alternative view of what should have happened. It's also a good way of seeing how other cultures expect children to grow in to adults, cutting out the society pressure of such a thing and instead giving Mau (and Daphne, to some extent) the means of physically and mentally growing in to adults by forcing them to become adults. It is one of those kid's books that does not talk down to them, but instead talks them up. It is full of character who embody something different, yet are able to-somehow-work together for the same end. It has goodies and baddies, but also in-betweenies, which is rare in a kid's book. It is likeable and clever, but above all easy to read and understand. It is very funny and very, very Terry Pratchett. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Shop | Etsy

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chrissy

    Disclaimer: I'm about to wax poetic in a totally corny way. Just warning you! I am, and have been for years, of the opinion that Pratchett is the best writer there is. He continually serves up pitch perfect depictions of spectacular characters who are both wonderfully inventive, and at the same time purposefully normal. And in every book, hidden in the hilarity, and the side splitting satire, is a perfect pearl of truth about human nature. I remember when I first found one. It was the slender and Disclaimer: I'm about to wax poetic in a totally corny way. Just warning you! I am, and have been for years, of the opinion that Pratchett is the best writer there is. He continually serves up pitch perfect depictions of spectacular characters who are both wonderfully inventive, and at the same time purposefully normal. And in every book, hidden in the hilarity, and the side splitting satire, is a perfect pearl of truth about human nature. I remember when I first found one. It was the slender and yet unbreakable thread connecting the commercial idiocy of our Christmas season with a sweaty desperate beast running for it's life through a winter night, knowing its death was inevitable. Hogfather was a revelation for me. For years Pratchett fans have been telling anyone who will listen that only the jokes kept Pratchett from being called a literary genius by the mainstream. For me, Nation is the final proof. No story that opens with such soul-deep sorrow can be called a comedy. There is some humor of course. The foul mouthed parrot is hard to miss, but even that has a somewhat sinister explanation. This is the first Pratchett book that I had to finish in one sitting. Always before they were savored over days. I knew I could trust Disc World to be alright in the end, and if some people met death in the process, well, he's a pretty good guy all around, so where's the harm in that. But Nation is not set on Disc World, but much closer to home, so I had to stay up until 3:15 AM to see how it all ended. Death is a much scarier guy in this book, although, at the end, much the same. The pearl of wisdom in this book is not small and not hidden. It's sitting right out there in the middle of the stage with flashing lights over its head. This is about why we believe or choose not to believe. In something. In anything. It's about us, but then again, it always is, even when its also about trolls and dwarves. And, as always, it is the characters that catch me. Two seemingly normal individuals, made extraordinary by circumstances and the way they react in those circumstances. In the end, I love Pratchett because he can show me characters that I know are human all the way to their toes, and yet, they give me hope. Mau, Vimes, Granny Weatherwax, even the Patrician, they don't do what they do so that people will thank them, appreciate them, worship them. They do what they do because it needs doing, and no one else stood up for the job. They do the hard jobs, they give up certain niceties in life so that at the end of the day, all is well, not just for them, but for everyone. It gives me faith that somewhere in this world there are men and women like that. It gives me hope that the human race as a whole might be worthwhile. In the end, all I can say is, Terry, Thanks.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    Terry Pratchett is a weird and wonderful writer; his style is completely unique. There really is no other author quite like him and there will probably never be another, a true orginal. His humour is so strange, but remarkably witty. Some of the metaphors he uses are just plain genius. This is the first Terry Pratchett book I read, and I really do need to go and read some more. This novel takes place on a wacky island full of strange creatures and even stranger people. The island's bananas are Terry Pratchett is a weird and wonderful writer; his style is completely unique. There really is no other author quite like him and there will probably never be another, a true orginal. His humour is so strange, but remarkably witty. Some of the metaphors he uses are just plain genius. This is the first Terry Pratchett book I read, and I really do need to go and read some more. This novel takes place on a wacky island full of strange creatures and even stranger people. The island's bananas are pink, the trees secrete poison, it has tree climbing octopus, and stones that are worshipped as gods by the inhabitants. Doesn't it just sound like a great place? Unfortunately for Mau, one of two protagonists in this novel, his tribe is wiped out by a great wave that surges all nearby land. “He could see that the village had gone. The wave had sliced it off the island. A few stumps marked the place the long house had stood since….. for ever. The wave had torn up the reef. A wave like that would not have even noticed the village." On the other hand, the island itself remains intact. Mau, however, doesn’t have a soul. He was completing his initiation to manhood when the wave struck; he didn’t get chance to finish as the initiators all died leaving his transcendence incomplete. What’s the poor half-man to do? He concocts a death wish plain and simple. There’s no reason to live anymore. Well, until the second protagonist’s boat, Sweet Jude, shipwrecks her on the island. Ermintrude (later called Daphne) is a trouserwoman: a person from civilisation who is not a tribal and is defined by her culture's wearing of trousers! Quite funny really, these people are silly trousermen and silly trouserwomen, well at least they are to Mau. Pratchett has created a brilliant narrative voice for Mau that is ever so evocative of his innocence and of his humorous perceptions of westerners. Ermintrude almost shoots him when they first meet and the poor lad thinks the gun is a “spark-maker” to help with building fires. Is this a frown at imperialism? I think so. Ermintrude is also a lady who loves to use the etiquette her Grandmother has taught her, quite the contrast to Mau’s tribal standards. After the two get over their first hilariously embarrassing attempts of communication, and manage to gain a small degree of understanding of one another, they must try to survive on the remains of the wonderful island. No easy task considering another bunch of people wash up on island including a wise old priest, a pregnant mute woman and eventually another family group. This is foreshadowed by the approaching cannibalistic raiders that want to kill everyone on the island. Mau and Daphne must solidify their newly forming culture with the remains of the old one, and learn to survive. This book was great. The writing was superb, the plot exciting and the characters well rounded and funny. More importantly, however, Terry pratchett is an uplifting change to those novelists who take themselves too seriously. I should read more books like this, books that are random and odd Here's a picture of a bird:

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    An excellent, non-Discworld book by Sir Terry. About his 2008 publication, Pratchett himself stated "I believe that Nation is the best book I have ever written, or will write." Nation was an Honor Book in the 2009 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. Nation also won the Brit Writer's Award Published Writer of the year 2010. So what is all the fuss about? Taking a break from his fabulously well to do Discworld series, Pratchett introduces us to an alternate history where An excellent, non-Discworld book by Sir Terry. About his 2008 publication, Pratchett himself stated "I believe that Nation is the best book I have ever written, or will write." Nation was an Honor Book in the 2009 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. Nation also won the Brit Writer's Award Published Writer of the year 2010. So what is all the fuss about? Taking a break from his fabulously well to do Discworld series, Pratchett introduces us to an alternate history where young Ermintrude (who calls herself Daphne) is shipwrecked on a small South Pacific island, home to Mau. What follows is, I agree, some of Pratchett's best writing, fun, fast moving, thoughtful, entertaining and inspiring. 138th in line to the English throne in what is in this time period to be about 1860, strange things happen, not the least of which is a massive tidal wave that deposits Daphne in the middle of the island. That same deadly wave has destroyed Mau's village and left him with the lonely business of cleaning things up and getting on with a life he is uncertain about. Lonely that is until Daphne shows up as well as a steady flow of other islanders, displaced by the storm, looking for refuge in the tiny island that is known as The Nation. Pratchett fills his jaunty narrative with hints of fantasy, myth, legend and enough feel good to fill up an ocean going sailing ship. Exploring themes of family, community, loyalty and responsibility Pratchett has given us another great book to love. Highly recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Young Mau is a boy living on an island he knows only as the Nation. He has been sent to the Boy's Island where he must survive until he can, using only the tools of the island, build a canoe that will take him on the return voyage to the Nation. By doing so, he will prove that he is a man and the village will celebrate as he sheds his boy's soul and takes on his man's soul. Except, when he returns, there are no fires. There are no feasts. There is no one to welcome him home. What is there is dea Young Mau is a boy living on an island he knows only as the Nation. He has been sent to the Boy's Island where he must survive until he can, using only the tools of the island, build a canoe that will take him on the return voyage to the Nation. By doing so, he will prove that he is a man and the village will celebrate as he sheds his boy's soul and takes on his man's soul. Except, when he returns, there are no fires. There are no feasts. There is no one to welcome him home. What is there is death, destruction, and the dawning realization that the Nation, a powerful island tribe, has now been reduced to a population of one. If Mau dies, then the Nation--its heritage, its ancestors, its religion--will die, too. This book had two strikes against it when I picked it up: 1) it's marketed as young adult and 2) my one foray into Pratchett's writing, The Color of Magic, was underwhelming. So Nation was a very pleasant surprise. This isn't young adult literature in the sense that it's written strictly for a younger audience, but I think it has been labeled as such because the protagonist is young and, now that no one is there to perform the rituals that will draw his man's soul to him, wonders if he'll always be more than a boy but less than a man. What seems to be a deceptively simple adventure tale on the surface has levels of complexity as it explores issues tied to colonialism, existentialism, feminism, and racism (and one must admit that's an impressive collection of "isms"). As Mau works tirelessly to bury the bodies at sea according to custom, he begins to--as so many do after a traumatic and life-altering crisis--question the gods and everything he's ever been taught to believe in. This confrontation with the void is complicated by the fact that Mau suddenly hears what may be the voices of the gods speaking directly to him. When he comes into contact with whites, he questions whether or not his people, who seemed to have everything, were really inferior savages. Now, if all that sounds terribly tedious and didactic to you, WAIT--THERE'S MORE! There's also action, adventure, romance, and humor. There are tsunamis, shipwrecks, mutineers, kings, secret passages, sharks, beer, cannons, and a foul-mouthed parrot. And there's a damsel who can take care of herself, thank you very much. And that's the wonderful thing about this book. It causes the reader to think while being entertained. And Pratchett accomplishes all of this without being preachy or trying to substitute his answer for your own. In fact, his message seems to be that you must have faith in something--whether it's a god, a science, or a nation. As long as what you believe in is good and furthers mankind, your faith is not wasted. Perhaps his stance is best summed up by one of the characters: Everything I know makes me believe Imo [the god of the islanders] is in the order that is inherent, amazingly, in all things, and in the way the universe opens to our questioning. When I see the shining path over the lagoon, on an evening like this, at the end of a good day, I believe . . . I just believe. You know, in things generally. That works too. Religion is not an exact science. Sometimes, of course, neither is science. (366) In Nation, as in life, there are no easy answers, but, as in life, it's one helluva ride. Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder and at Shelf Inflicted

  9. 4 out of 5

    Phrynne

    I am a huge Terry Pratchett fan but have to admit I like his adult books best. His YA writings, like this one, are simpler, not as cynical and therefore not as funny. Nevertheless they are still very good. Nation begins with a tsunami which wipes out the residents of many islands including the one where Mau ends up being the only survivor. A variety of refugees arrive over the following days and numerous entertaining events occur. Pratchett does delve quite deeply into beliefs and the existence o I am a huge Terry Pratchett fan but have to admit I like his adult books best. His YA writings, like this one, are simpler, not as cynical and therefore not as funny. Nevertheless they are still very good. Nation begins with a tsunami which wipes out the residents of many islands including the one where Mau ends up being the only survivor. A variety of refugees arrive over the following days and numerous entertaining events occur. Pratchett does delve quite deeply into beliefs and the existence or otherwise of gods. Mau considers at length what kind of gods would let so many people die. The humour in the book comes mostly from the relationships and eventual understandings which develop between the islanders and the "trouser people" ( that's us - people who wear trousers!) This is a good book which just occasionally lets itself wander a bit too far too often into philosophising. Still very good reading:)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    This is YA so I won't give it an official review, but man is it top notch stuff. Faith and desert islands. Foul-mouthed parrots and science. It's a little like Swiss Family Robinson, a little like Casablanca, and a little like nothing I've read before. Grand great stuff. This is YA so I won't give it an official review, but man is it top notch stuff. Faith and desert islands. Foul-mouthed parrots and science. It's a little like Swiss Family Robinson, a little like Casablanca, and a little like nothing I've read before. Grand great stuff.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I suppose that after twenty-five years of writing DiscWorld novels, Terry Pratchett has earned the right to do something a bit different. And different is precisely what he does with his latest novel, "Nation." "Nation" is a story set in a parallel universe to ours, but it's not the world of DiscWorld. (Though it could someday be, I suppose, though I hope Pratchett resists the temptation to "tie together" all his universes). Mau is a young boy, sent on a quest to become a man by his tribe. Daphne I suppose that after twenty-five years of writing DiscWorld novels, Terry Pratchett has earned the right to do something a bit different. And different is precisely what he does with his latest novel, "Nation." "Nation" is a story set in a parallel universe to ours, but it's not the world of DiscWorld. (Though it could someday be, I suppose, though I hope Pratchett resists the temptation to "tie together" all his universes). Mau is a young boy, sent on a quest to become a man by his tribe. Daphne is a young girl on a large ship from a "civilized" nation, headed out to join her father at a foreign post. This unlikely duo cross paths when a huge wave wipes out Mau's entire village and shipwrecks Daphne on an island with him. Together, the two must learn to forge a new civilization, figuring out what is essential to keep from their old lives and what can and probably should be discarded from their old ways of life. Eventually, the two begin to forge their own civilization and soon have various refuges showing up, looking for shelter who become part of the new nation being formed on the island. As I said before, if you're looking for your "typical" Pratchett, you'd be best advised to pick up a DiscWorld novel. That's not to dismmiss "Nation," but instead to say that this story has the same style but is distinctly different. Pratchett still has a way with words, but it's used less to humorous effect here and more toward building the world and finding new and interesting ways to describe things. And this is a novel that is firmly about the characters of Mau, Daphne. Pratchett spends a good deal of time early in the story estabishing who they and the backgrounds they come form, all before beginning to tear it down and rebuild things. It's an interesting process to watch unfold on the page and it leads to some interesting observations by Pratchett through the eyes of his two characters. In his epilogue, Pratchett says he hopes this novel will make readers think. And while there were moments in the story where I wondered what he was up to, I will have to admit the ideas, concepts and torn-down assumptions from this novel have stayed with me long after the last page was turned. It's not DiscWorld. It's some very different. And it's something very good.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gwen (The Gwendolyn Reading Method)

    Still really liked this book, but perhaps I'm rethinking the wisdom of a white man writing a book like this. Still really liked this book, but perhaps I'm rethinking the wisdom of a white man writing a book like this.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jay Kristoff

    I'm not the world's biggest Terry Pratchett fan. I've tried getting into Diskworld on no less than 4 occasions, and have always stumbled by about book 4. BUT, the bride insisted I give NATION a shot because it's a stand alone, and hell, when the bride insists, the wise man listens. So this was a pretty great book. It feels like it could have done with a *tiny* bit more... I don't know what. 'Polish' is the wrong word. I don't know what the right word is. But I read somewhere that the idea for NAT I'm not the world's biggest Terry Pratchett fan. I've tried getting into Diskworld on no less than 4 occasions, and have always stumbled by about book 4. BUT, the bride insisted I give NATION a shot because it's a stand alone, and hell, when the bride insists, the wise man listens. So this was a pretty great book. It feels like it could have done with a *tiny* bit more... I don't know what. 'Polish' is the wrong word. I don't know what the right word is. But I read somewhere that the idea for NATION has been bubbling around in Pratchett's head for years, and he felt compelled to write it now before his Alzheimer's takes away his ability to do so. Which is sad. And it explains that feeling I got while reading it that hey, this is really good, but with a bit more...something, it could have been one of the greatest books I've read in my life. Pratchett has a knack for saying everyday things in a wonderful way. Mau is just a fantastic character - a boy who has lost his family, his country and his faith, and has to rebuild himself from the ground on up. Daphne the Ghost Girl is excellent too. In parts the book is very funny, and I almost get disappointed when Pratchett stoops to poo-poo and vomit jokes, but hey, he's British and as Ben Elton says, bodily functions are the basis for their entire culture (he said it, not me, get offended at him if you wanna) NATION is a book about religion and origins. Its a book about universal truths, regardless of class or race or upbringing, about the things that make us all the same. It's deeply insightful and the prose is, as I already said, simply wonderful in parts. So even if you're not a Pratchett fan, pick it up. It's well worth your time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    David

    Don't let the cartoonish book cover fool you, as it did me--this is a lovely story about two young people from totally different societies, in the nineteenth century. Mau is a boy who has lived on a small island for his entire life. He has just accomplished his month-long rite of passage to manhood. He returns to his home island on a canoe that he built, as a tsunami completely devastates his home. That same tsunami throws a British ship onto the uncharted island, and Daphne is the only survivor Don't let the cartoonish book cover fool you, as it did me--this is a lovely story about two young people from totally different societies, in the nineteenth century. Mau is a boy who has lived on a small island for his entire life. He has just accomplished his month-long rite of passage to manhood. He returns to his home island on a canoe that he built, as a tsunami completely devastates his home. That same tsunami throws a British ship onto the uncharted island, and Daphne is the only survivor--a young woman of nobility. So these two young people meet, a sort of Adam and Eve story in which neither understands the other's language, behavior, customs, or lifestyle. Mau struggles desperately to understand how the gods could allow such an enormous calamity to befall his people. He continually questions his religion and his sacred beliefs. The best parts of the book are those where Mau and Daphne try to understand one another, their motivations, beliefs, and relationships with other people. Mau and Daphne save each others' lives, as well as the lives of other islanders who gradually make their way to the island. They are both amazingly courageous, smart, hard-working, and resilient. They both are clever enough to extricate themselves out of bad situations. Daphne is sure that someday a British ship will come and find her--and try to take possession of the island. It is up to the two of them to figure out a way to keep Western civilization from ruining the island. I highly recommend this book. The story is fast-paced, humorous at times, and scary at other times. It obviously is intended for young adults, but older adults can enjoy it also!

  15. 5 out of 5

    lucky little cat

    One of my short shelf of absolutely essential books. I reread it once a year, so I don't lose sight of who I am and who I want to be. One of my short shelf of absolutely essential books. I reread it once a year, so I don't lose sight of who I am and who I want to be.

  16. 5 out of 5

    TheBookSmugglers

    A THOUSAND STARS! Wow. I was forewarned by friends and readers. I have read – and loved – a couple of other books by the author. So it’s not like I didn’t know the odds this would be good but this book? It blew my mind away. In its epilogue, Terry Pratchett says: Thinking. This book contains some. And that’s true: this is one of the most think-y books I have ever read. I loved it with every fibre of my being. Nation is a book of ideas. Its main theme, that of construction and creation: the construct A THOUSAND STARS! Wow. I was forewarned by friends and readers. I have read – and loved – a couple of other books by the author. So it’s not like I didn’t know the odds this would be good but this book? It blew my mind away. In its epilogue, Terry Pratchett says: Thinking. This book contains some. And that’s true: this is one of the most think-y books I have ever read. I loved it with every fibre of my being. Nation is a book of ideas. Its main theme, that of construction and creation: the construction of a home, of a family, of rules, tradition and religion. It is about those building blocks of civilisation itself and of individuals, in a way that is both extremely rational and enormously emotional. Writing that line just now makes me realise how weird that might sound to those who haven’t read the book. Above all it makes me think about how hard it is to pull something like this off and to keep a balance between what drives a story and the story itself without making a book about ideas, a book that is solely about ideas. If that makes any sense at all – I am finding it extremely hard to write this review because how do you describe perfection? Especially when it’s so affecting? Nation is a book about creation. It starts with the destruction of everything one of its main characters knows. There is a small island in the Great Southern Pelagic Ocean in a world very much like ours (but not quite) where young boys go through a ceremony where they shed their boy-souls to gain their man-souls. Mau is on the Boy’s Island and is about to cross over to the main island to become a man when the big wave comes. He survives it but when he goes ashore to his home, to the Nation, he discovers everything he knows and everyone he loves has been washed away. His first action is to build a spear: “Without fire and a spear, you could never hope to be a man, wasn’t that right?”. But soulless Mau is all alone and nobody answers him. All alone that is, but for Daphne, a young girl who was aboard the Sweet Judy ship, whose wrecked remains are now part of the Nation. They are different because their background, their language, their traditions are dissimilar. They are equals because they share this tragedy and because they are both thinkers. Together, they work to survive and to create a home for those who slowly start to come to the Nation in search of a haven after unspeakable tragedy. First comes an old man, a priest who wants things to be kept as they always were and whose unquestioned belief in their Gods remains unshaken. With him, a young sickly woman with a newborn baby who is barely moving and can hardly feed. Everybody’s immediate response is to fall back into the roles they have always known: if the mother cannot feed her baby, the only one who can help is of course, the other female, Daphne. Except Daphne – a young girl raised by a grandmother who believes young ladies should be Proper – doesn’t even know how babies are made. Mau does what must be done in order to keep the baby alive. Hilarity ensues when he milks a wild pig but also: enlightenment for both Daphne and Mau. Women are not born knowing how to care for babies. Things that appear deep seated gender-led knowledge are not. A man’s soul is not created magically because one crosses from one island to another. So, first comes destruction. Then, deconstruction: little by little, both characters observe this new world and question the old one in search of answers. It is a kind of stripping down to one’s very core in order to understand. But it is a stripping down without letting go of the past completely because the rules are there. So Mau is walking around the island and he hears the Grandfathers’ voices telling him what to do, to follow their traditions, not question their religion, otherwise there is no order. As much as Daphne abhors her grandmother’s voice inside her head telling her to be Quiet and Proper, she keeps listening to it non-stop. Motivation counts too and Mau is angry. He is angry at the Gods and that leads him to question their very existence. Daphne is not moved by religion at all but by Science. There is sympathy and compassion toward other characters and those find their own balance and their own way of surviving. In a way, a wave came but they are not completely marooned because they have Tradition. But does Tradition serve them at this time of need or is that now an impediment? How important is it to keep going as it “has always been”? Or is this yet another misconception about the world? Slowly: the understanding that those are internalised voices and that questioning is good. To understand the HOW is all the more important: history becomes religion becomes tradition becomes internal rules living inside one’s head. Then, forging and building. Mau and Daphne build themselves up and their thoughts are the roots on which they build a new Nation. And they do that by means of Scientific Method. And that is accomplished in a story that is moving, sad, hopeful and funny. Mau and Daphne have hilarious misunderstandings before they lean to communicate. Their community is built and deep connections are formed between people. A new Nation is born out of the old and people still have parties, drink beer, laugh, love, pray and look at the sky. Also: parallel universes. I don’t know how my reading of this particular book has been affected by the fact that I am new to Terry Pratchett’s main oeuvre but this to me, was simply wonderful. Interestingly enough, limited as my Terry Pratchett experience might be, I found Nation to be slightly different in tone (not as funny) to the other books I have read from the author but exactly the same in how smart it is. Nation is a rich and intricate novel. Yes ,it does have an obvious message about the power and importance of thinking, but this never overwhelms the characters or the story. I understood this very well when I started crying when the book was over. Plus, the epilogue is a wonderful gift from an author who truly understands his readers. This book spoke to me in a deeply personal level and I can’t recommend it enough.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Juliet

    A great read! Nation works on many levels, and although it was marketed towards a YA readership, the novel has plenty of substance to keep adult readers thinking. The two main characters, an island boy just coming to adulthood and a shipwrecked Victorian girl whose father is 139th in line for the British throne, are vastly different in cultural background and life experience, but when put to the test, they find they have much in common. Both Mau and Daphne are brave souls with an unquenchable th A great read! Nation works on many levels, and although it was marketed towards a YA readership, the novel has plenty of substance to keep adult readers thinking. The two main characters, an island boy just coming to adulthood and a shipwrecked Victorian girl whose father is 139th in line for the British throne, are vastly different in cultural background and life experience, but when put to the test, they find they have much in common. Both Mau and Daphne are brave souls with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Highly recommended for all readers. Don't assume this is a Pratchett book in the Discworld vein - there's very little madcap humour here, but plenty to entertain you and provide food for thought.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This is a book that I found myself calling wonderful from the very beginning and immediately knowing it would be a favorite. It's one I'd recommend to nearly anyone. Be sure to buy a copy when it comes out in October of 2008. This alternate history takes place in a time when the redcoats were plopping down flags on islands without asking the permission of the natives. Most authors fail to give such natives equal or superior intellectual status with their European contemporaries. Instead, such peo This is a book that I found myself calling wonderful from the very beginning and immediately knowing it would be a favorite. It's one I'd recommend to nearly anyone. Be sure to buy a copy when it comes out in October of 2008. This alternate history takes place in a time when the redcoats were plopping down flags on islands without asking the permission of the natives. Most authors fail to give such natives equal or superior intellectual status with their European contemporaries. Instead, such people are painted as savages. Pratchett seeks here to blur the normal lines between civilized and savage and redefine these words. The story begins when "savage" Mau returns to his particular island for his ceremony of manhood only to find that the entire Nation has been swept away in a tidal wave. Upon his return, he finds Daphne, a "civilized" European teenage girl, who has been washed on shore in the remains of her ship. Out of fear, Daphne immediately and savagely tries to shoot the native islander. They eventually have to look past their pre-conceived ideas of each other as different varieties of savages to make the Nation live again. Soon other survivors from around the area begin to show up to take refuge there. Mau finds himself stealing milk from a wild hog and Daphne finds herself delivering babies and making beer. After Mau retrieves a fourth never-before-seen god anchor from the sea, Daphne urges him to go one step further and roll away a very ancient stone from the mouth of a cave to uncover other secrets of his forefathers. This is when a most amazing and unexpected discovery surfaces that "turns the world upside down" and puts into question history as we know it. Benjamin Franklin said in his essay "Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America" that "if we could examine the manners of different nations with Impartiality, we should find no People so rude, as to be without any Rules of Politeness; nor any so polite, as not to have some remains of Rudeness." In Nation, Pratchett seeks to define the difference between the civilized and the savage in a different way than we normally do. Is one country civilized just because they were luckier in their inventions or the natural resources available to them? Is a cannibal more savage than a man who kills people and other living beings just for the fun of it? Could only Europeans come to logical conclusions about life and the nature of the universe? I wish this had been written by an American author so I could assign it in my American literature class. I just had my students debate whether native American Indians were civilized or savage. This book would have been the perfect accompaniment to that debate. Note: While I critique both purchased and free books in the same way, I'm legally obligated to tell you I received this book free through the Amazon Vine program in return for my review. Blah blah blah.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lady Nerd

    DNF at 17% —————————————— Edit: Ok, I resumed reading this and it’s better now. I’ll update it after I finish it. ——————————————

  20. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Pratchett takes on imperialism, religion, women, men and fate. He does it well, and with greater grace than I can explain without spoilers. Just read it because I told you so, okay?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Liz Janet

    “They didn't know why these things were funny. Sometimes you laugh because you've got no more room for crying. Sometimes you laugh because table manners on a beach are funny. And sometimes you laugh because you're alive, when you really shouldn't be.” The day I began and finished this book, I received the news that Sir Terry Pratchett had died. I was in school, this was my face: I have read many of his books, not all of the Discworld, but I will get there. All of his books I have loved or admi “They didn't know why these things were funny. Sometimes you laugh because you've got no more room for crying. Sometimes you laugh because table manners on a beach are funny. And sometimes you laugh because you're alive, when you really shouldn't be.” The day I began and finished this book, I received the news that Sir Terry Pratchett had died. I was in school, this was my face: I have read many of his books, not all of the Discworld, but I will get there. All of his books I have loved or admire for one reason or the other, the humour, the plot, the characters, the writing, at least one of those was always constant with his works, this book had them all. This is also a young-adult book, he has written others before, but this one stands out, because of the extensive world-building he did, as well as the dynamic characters he created. The easiest way anyone would describe this book would be "it is a survival story," and it is, but such a simplistic view does a disservice to this work. It is also about the world, and our place in it, tribal mentality, various religions, devastating loss, a search for identity. Basically, this is everything Robinson Crusoe should have been but wasn't. That is all I have to say of the book, but to Sir Terry: Thank you, you have made my reading experiences a wonderful thing, I am glad I got to read many of your books, and that I still have more to read. Rest In Peace, Sir.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    I'm about half way through and am truly thrilled by this one. Pratchett is brilliant at writing how people think about things, and think their way through things, and this story, focused on two young people in a catastrophe, is all about thinking their way through. *** Lovely. A little sad, but appropriately so. Also, funny as hell. Love the premise, and I'm feeling smug that he mentions thinking among his brief notes at the back. This may be my favorite Pratchett. *** I grabbed this from the library I'm about half way through and am truly thrilled by this one. Pratchett is brilliant at writing how people think about things, and think their way through things, and this story, focused on two young people in a catastrophe, is all about thinking their way through. *** Lovely. A little sad, but appropriately so. Also, funny as hell. Love the premise, and I'm feeling smug that he mentions thinking among his brief notes at the back. This may be my favorite Pratchett. *** I grabbed this from the library because Pratchett, and it must have been out on display. Doesn't matter. I had not remembered that it started with a plague. It's a very hopeful book. Library copy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    A serious book from a comedy writer. The book is targeted at young adults, but I find it appealing at any age, as long as we remember that we were kids once, or that we will have kids of our own. This is the kind of story I would like to put in their hands. With a tale of catastrophe in an alternate-Earth Pacific ocean and a boy meets girl on a desert island, I thought at the beginning this will go either the Blue Lagoon way or the Lord of the Flies way. But sir Terry Pratchett goes his own way. A serious book from a comedy writer. The book is targeted at young adults, but I find it appealing at any age, as long as we remember that we were kids once, or that we will have kids of our own. This is the kind of story I would like to put in their hands. With a tale of catastrophe in an alternate-Earth Pacific ocean and a boy meets girl on a desert island, I thought at the beginning this will go either the Blue Lagoon way or the Lord of the Flies way. But sir Terry Pratchett goes his own way. While the story is much darker than the Discworld novels, this is a labour of love and a celebration of our humanity in the face of adversity. It is probably impossible for Pratchett to not be funny , it is as natural to him as breathing. So the funny parts are there, not so much the in your face slapstick from The Colour of Magic, but the more subtle type of social commentary and gentle sarcasm from his later novels. A little warning: the author is a scientist and a humanist and raises a lot of issues about religion in Nation . The scope is not to take pot shots at believers or to be insensitive to their faith, but to ask some difficult questions and to take the human spirit out the protective shell of ready-made thoughts (there's an appropriate blue crab analogy repeated in the text). [edit 2016 - for spelling]

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    Terry Pratchett is very angry. At first glance, it looks like Pratchett has combined the descriptions from Simon Winchester's Krakatoa and the Indonesian tsunami with the central question of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel (i.e. why do the Europeans have all the stuff and pacific islanders don't). But that's the surface, in this case much of the plot. The deep part is a look at the process of grieving. It isn't the simple seven steps. Our main character Mau (I kept reading it as Man at fi Terry Pratchett is very angry. At first glance, it looks like Pratchett has combined the descriptions from Simon Winchester's Krakatoa and the Indonesian tsunami with the central question of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel (i.e. why do the Europeans have all the stuff and pacific islanders don't). But that's the surface, in this case much of the plot. The deep part is a look at the process of grieving. It isn't the simple seven steps. Our main character Mau (I kept reading it as Man at first...our everyman vs. the gods), is pretty clear that he will not settle for that last step, acceptance. One of Pratchett's most well known characters is Death. But the likable Death of the Discworld books is not in this book (and yes, the Death of Discworld has appeared in other works by Pratchett not set on that world). Instead we get Locaha, who is much more of a fallen-angel Lucifer than an embodiment of the end of life a cheating trickster opponent than a welcome friend. Maybe I'm reading too far into it knowing that Pratchett has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. But Pratchett has the right and the reason to be angry. We all do.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Furrawn

    Unexpectedly, this book is my absolute favorite of all the Terry Pratchett books I've read so far, and I've read a lot. I don't recall there being a lot of fanfare and declarations of love for this book when it was published. I declare love. True love Mau, a native. Ermintrude-Daphne-ghostgirl, a city girl. A tidal wave. Homemade beer from poison (reminiscent of kava). Lots of gods and ancestors. A cursing parrot. Humanity. Hope. Desolation. Telescopes. Pantaloons. A new word for spiders. "Insects w Unexpectedly, this book is my absolute favorite of all the Terry Pratchett books I've read so far, and I've read a lot. I don't recall there being a lot of fanfare and declarations of love for this book when it was published. I declare love. True love Mau, a native. Ermintrude-Daphne-ghostgirl, a city girl. A tidal wave. Homemade beer from poison (reminiscent of kava). Lots of gods and ancestors. A cursing parrot. Humanity. Hope. Desolation. Telescopes. Pantaloons. A new word for spiders. "Insects went zing and zip all around her, but they weren’t as bad as the huge spiders that had woven their webs right across the paths and then hung in them, bigger than a hand and almost spitting with rage. Daphne had read in one of her books about the Great Southern Pelagic Ocean islands that "with a few regrettable examples, the larger and more fearsome the spider is, the less likely it is to be venomous.- She didn’t believe it. She could see Regrettable Examples everywhere, and she was sure that some of them were drooling" ---The Nation / Terry Pratchett Yep. Regrettable Example. The new word for spiders. I'd like to absorb this book into my cells. It will become a best friend, read many times. Bravo, Terry. Bravo.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    The premise is simple - a devastating tidal wave brings two young people of widely disparate cultures together on a tropical island. The resulting story is anything but simple; packed with vast and universal themes, mixed with humor and peopled with vivid characters. This has to be Pratchett’s best. Like all his stories, the humor and the inventive quirkiness makes for a delightful read yet this is a story that also thoughtfully explores an array of fascinating themes ranging from faith, free wi The premise is simple - a devastating tidal wave brings two young people of widely disparate cultures together on a tropical island. The resulting story is anything but simple; packed with vast and universal themes, mixed with humor and peopled with vivid characters. This has to be Pratchett’s best. Like all his stories, the humor and the inventive quirkiness makes for a delightful read yet this is a story that also thoughtfully explores an array of fascinating themes ranging from faith, free will, gender, science, class structure, justice, duty and the nature of the universe. I am sure this is a book that will yield more and more each time it is read. Outstanding! I completely fell in love with the characters and I also think that one of the most appealing features of this book is the underlying sweetness of it. Without ever being cloying, there is a belief in the goodness of life that flows from the story and moved me tremendously as a reader. I also want much more of the tree climbing octopi and the grandfather birds ;-)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    This was my first reading of a Terry Pratchett book. For the first 20% or so, I struggled with his introductions to two different societies - one 'civilized' and familiar in a historical context, the other 'primitive' and mythical/religious in a pagan context. I had trouble putting these pieces into a single framework, and the story seemed slow to develop. Those who have read many of his works would probably not struggle as I did. At any rate, things got very interesting once the two main charact This was my first reading of a Terry Pratchett book. For the first 20% or so, I struggled with his introductions to two different societies - one 'civilized' and familiar in a historical context, the other 'primitive' and mythical/religious in a pagan context. I had trouble putting these pieces into a single framework, and the story seemed slow to develop. Those who have read many of his works would probably not struggle as I did. At any rate, things got very interesting once the two main characters - Mau and Daphne - took on their central roles. From that point forward, the pieces were falling into place for me. I began to admire the structure of the story, then to love the characters, and finally to let the lessons about cultures, knowledge and wisdom sink in. By that point, about 80% in, I was thinking that this was a really exceptional book, with a depth and subtlety that were truly marvelous. The closing section was a thing of beauty, with all the loose ends deftly tied together. I would certainly read this one again, and probably see the same beauty in the early portions that I saw later on. Without getting into plot details, there is much to admire and think about here. Like all really good fiction, it gives you characters who think and pushes you to think along with them. It turns your view of the 'civilized' world around, at least a little, and that was the part that will stay with me the longest. Wisdom comes in many forms, and willful ignorance of others is not wise. Here, the good guys get their eyes opened to these truths. The bad guys, umm, don't. Very highly recommended. I will definitely be reading more of Terry Pratchett's work. I was very sorry to learn that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and will be looking into associated foundation/research work in his name.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Barb Middleton

    Wow. Terry Pratchett packs powerful messages in a narrative loaded with action. He challenges assumptions about society, faith, gender, conventions, science, and laws - to name a few. The right balance of humor (adult and adolescent) and seriousness makes this coming-of-age story like nothing I've ever read. Yes, he pulls from the stranded-on-a-desert-island adventure stories that made me think of several classics, but it is his own creation and quite brilliant. I would have liked being stranded Wow. Terry Pratchett packs powerful messages in a narrative loaded with action. He challenges assumptions about society, faith, gender, conventions, science, and laws - to name a few. The right balance of humor (adult and adolescent) and seriousness makes this coming-of-age story like nothing I've ever read. Yes, he pulls from the stranded-on-a-desert-island adventure stories that made me think of several classics, but it is his own creation and quite brilliant. I would have liked being stranded on an island with Pratchett's two hero's, Mau and Daphne. I would have maybe learned a foreign language. Or maybe not. They probably would have killed me by accident considering my poor history with languages (I mispronounced older sister in Mandarin saying a boy's private parts). Because the two characters are from different cultures with different languages, the girl shot a pistol at the boy she was so scared when she met him and the boy shot a spear at the girl thinking that was what the arrows she drew on the map meant. I probably would have tried saying "I want water" and it would have come out "I want vomit." Mau could have obliged with a Grandfather bird meal. The Grandfather birds spit up their meals and oftentimes mirror the feelings of the characters when they are in the dumps. Later the reader finds out they are Pantaloon birds (no such bird exists), which sounds like a type of Hornbill or vulture, and is one example of Pratchett having a hey-ho time with word play and puns. Other examples include Mau who thinks that shoe prints in the sand are the result of a toeless creature. Daphne calls alcohol "demon drink." Mau calls a gun a spark maker. Pilu says that humans call underwear "long johns" after some pirate. Daphne calls the Delphic Oracle, the Pelvic Oracle. My favorite is how Daphne sings the lullaby, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," to comfort a mother birthing and a newborn, but the villagers turn it into an auspicious, religious song with great power. The Nation is set on an island in the South Pacific and framed by a subplot at the beginning and end. The Prologue has a creation story of the all-powerful god, Imo, creating humans using dolphin spirits. This is necessary for understanding the religion of Mau's culture. When Imo's world becomes overpopulated, he creates the spirit of death, Locaha, to kill them. Imo believes death has now marred his perfect world and wants to get rid of it, but Locaha says he can't. Imo gives the world to Locaha and goes off to make a perfect world on another planet (similar to Christianity's Heaven). This lays the foundation of bad things happening in an imperfect world; a theme Mau struggles with emotionally throughout the novel along with other characters. The creation story concludes with Locaha telling Imo he will send humans to Imo's perfect world if they can overcome the meanness in the world. In Imo's world they will "wear stars." Mau is offered this at the end, but he doesn't take it. I'm not sure if he is rejecting religion or immortality. Probably both. Mau's character development shows him in continual battle with Locaha or death. He saves people in order to cheat death and risks his life many times in his efforts to save others. Stars symbolize alternate worlds, magic, science, and religion throughout the story. Pratchett adds depth to his narrative story line not only through symbolism, but by having characters deal with issues on a personal level and then adding large-scale history. Chapter one reveals a government in an alternate world reminiscent of England's Victorian age. An epidemic has killed the King and decimated the government. A ship is setting sail to locate the next King in line that happens to be sailing in the South Pacific. The idea is to give the Monarch stability and support the existing government. These governmental issues mirror the religious issues Mau has to deal with internally and on the island; stability or chaos. The end of the story goes back to this part framing it. Chapter two then gets to the island story and the rest of the action plays out from there. Pratchett shows two people from two cultures coming together in Mau and Daphne. Daphne has been shipwrecked on Mau's island after a tsunami hits and comes from a traditional English upbringing with specific etiquette and rules that she tries to follow at first. Mau was on another island going through a male initiation required of adolescents on his island. He survived the tsunami as a result but feels guilty because his village was on the beach waiting to celebrate his return. The natural disaster caused Mau to question his faith regarding why the gods let bad things happen. He also wonders what defines a nation. Mau's emotional arc has him questioning the gods and embracing science, becoming a rationalist. Daphne questions conventions and nationalism that leads to superiority over others. Both are innocent and immature at first and their voices are from a kids point of view. This unreliable narrator adds much humor. Eventually, they both grow toward independence and maturity. The theme of rationalism versus nihilism is woven into many characters. Rationalism has actions based on reason and knowledge not emotion. Nihilism is the rejection of religion and moral principles. Cox is a one-dimensional villain who represents nihilism. The sea captain is religious to an extreme. Ataba is a priest that believes in gods and sees the need for rituals. Religion gives the Nation (or society) structure which in turn makes people feel safe. Mau's questioning can make for discomfort and chaos which is why Ataba rails at him even though he agrees with some of his logic. Mau respects the need for structure and understands Ataba's logic, but distrusts blind acceptance. Blind acceptance can be seen in many of the characters. It shows up in the villagers who want to blame the Nation for the tsunami. A woman questions Mau as to whether the god anchors were moved. Did his country anger the gods somehow? She is looking for a scapegoat but Mau also recognizes her despair. This is a good example of Pratchett showing an internal struggle and realization in a character (Mau), but tying it in with a bigger picture of illogical thoughts that lead to scapegoats. Many times in history we see scapegoats and acts of injustices based on fear: Salem witch trials, Jim Crow laws, Nazis, Japanese Internment, and on and on it goes. Today we see fear in the headlines with Ebola and ISIS. Pilu is the most obvious character that represents blind acceptance of the gods. Pratchett has Mau put him down in his thoughts and it was one of the few times I felt the author inserting too much of himself. But then Pratchett takes this flat character and turns him into the gifted storyteller. He shows how readers are not passive listeners but feel like they have rights in the story. When Daphne feels insulted by Pilu mentioning Mau being so scared he wets himself, she's critiquing his storytelling which is exactly what I'm doing writing a review. Pratchett writes with so much ambiguity and depth that he doesn't come across as didactic. At least for me. Not only is rationalism explored but nationalism. The question of what drives loyalty and devotion in nations is something Mau mulls over. The Nation's grandfathers' speak to Mau and yell at him for doubting their rules and religion. Mau becomes chief by default and eventually has the actions of a chief so that people look at him with respect. He is willing to risk his life for the people in the village. He recognizes the villagers' need to believe in something such as religion. That is why he pulls up the god anchor of water even though he doesn't believe any more. He's acting like a leader. Mau rebels against the rules and becomes a critical thinker. His rationalism and nationalism are intertwined as his character develops. Mau is fascinated by the tools and metal found on Daphne's boat. He feels like his Nation is backwards because they have nothing like it. It isn't until the end of the story when he sees the cave that he has pride in his Nation. Daphne's emotional arc shows her breaking from conventions and learning that nationalism can be good and bad for society. While nationalism can be good in feeling proud about one's country, in its extreme form it shows the ugly head of superiority; thinking one culture is better than another. She tries to shoot Mau when she first meets him out of panic. While she doesn't say so, I'm sure she wouldn't have shot at another person if he was from her country. Eventually she learns to see the human side of Mau and his goodness. She's even willing to save his life. Daphne slowly questions her country's impulse to colonize. She also considers how Cox can murder another man just for his color. By the end she is demanding that her father treat the villagers with respect and see them as human. This novel could be very didactic but avoids this trap using the youthful unreliable narrator in the beginning and weaving the themes with the action in a way that should keep most readers engaged. This young adult novel will be challenging for most of my grade 5 students. I am not sure I'd recommend it to many, but I did just sent an 8th grader an email telling her it is a book I think she'd like. She's a thinker. Pratchett says in the epilogue, "Thinking. This book contains some." Hardy-har-har. What an understatement.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeannette Nikolova

    Also available on the WondrousBooks blog. This is most likely the nicest book I've read this year and I'm really glad I received it as a birthday gift (if you're reading this, thank you). Nation reminded me everything that's great with Pratchett and added a little bit extra to what I liked about him. The book was both very intelligently written and extremely clever, and sweet and heart-felt at the same time. Nation follows the story of Mau, a boy on the verge of becoming a man, who is the last Also available on the WondrousBooks blog. This is most likely the nicest book I've read this year and I'm really glad I received it as a birthday gift (if you're reading this, thank you). Nation reminded me everything that's great with Pratchett and added a little bit extra to what I liked about him. The book was both very intelligently written and extremely clever, and sweet and heart-felt at the same time. Nation follows the story of Mau, a boy on the verge of becoming a man, who is the last survivor of his entire "nation", and Daphne (Ermintrude), who finds herself a world away from where she belongs, and yet, at exactly the right place. Considering Terry Pratchett's usual writing style, this book was no exception to the rule: it was funny, as was to be expected, and full of both knowledge of the world, witty comparisons between our world and the one in the book, and also deeply philosophical, without appearing so at first glance. While the main topic of the book might be tightly related to the idea of the nation, as the title suggests, and also the concept of death, I would say that the thoughts and emotions expressed in Nation went well beyond that. While not being overly nationalistic, if at all, I still felt a deep connection to the struggles of the characters, because more than anything, I think what they desired was not really a nation, but a feeling that you belong. Of course, one belongs nowhere more than with his/her own people and in his/her own family, but really, people have proven time and again that a tribe can also be just two people who understand each other. “No more words. We know them all, all the words that should not be said. But you have made my world more perfect.”  Daphne and Mau were most likely the two best characters I've read about in a really long time. Both were stubborn and clever, yet kind and caring, and simply... human. In a vast world of either extremely damaged characters, or overly perfect ones, it was very touching to read about two such people, who had compelling personalities in the most subtle way possible. There was not a second in the book were I wasn't rooting for them and their happiness. Page after page I kept being impressed by the simple beauty with which Pratchett created both characters. What Daphne and Mau represented to me, really, was this indestructible will to be more than the bad situation that you are in. “The world is a globe — the farther you sail, the closer to home you are.”

  30. 5 out of 5

    Georg

    I have tried several times to read a Disc-World novel from cover to cover, without any success. Since many friends of mine constantly point out that I am to blame myself if I don’t like Pratchett, I read this one. At least I made it until the last page, but I did not like that either. Fourth world meets first world in the 18th century. Of course, the “savages” are the good ones, and they are much cleverer and more “developed” than Her Majesty’s subjects. But still, you can turn the world around I have tried several times to read a Disc-World novel from cover to cover, without any success. Since many friends of mine constantly point out that I am to blame myself if I don’t like Pratchett, I read this one. At least I made it until the last page, but I did not like that either. Fourth world meets first world in the 18th century. Of course, the “savages” are the good ones, and they are much cleverer and more “developed” than Her Majesty’s subjects. But still, you can turn the world around as often as you want, you don’t change anything if your point of view remains first-world-perspective. And even if you try to be politically correct (or especially then) and mix some (good) jokes into your story that doesn’t justify a kitschy and unsatisfying ending. But there is one sentence I really loved and I will add it to my favourite quotes: “„What did they feed the lions and tigers with in the ark, sir?“(Pratchett, Nation, p. 297)

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