Non 1001 Book Review: Nation Terry Pratchett
Beloved fantasy novelist, Terry Pratchett passed away on March 15th this year and to pay a tribute to his life and his works, we have each decided to read and review one of his works. I’ll start it off with a review of Nation and next week Jen will share her review of The Colour of Magic, the first in the Discworld series. We hope you join us in sharing your thoughts about some of your favorite Pratchett books.
We will be giving away one kindle copy of either The Colour of Magic, Mort, or Guards, Guards — you chose which one you want. Why these books? Although not in order of publication, they represent the first books in three story lines within the Discworld series (Rincewind novels, Death novels, and Watch novels).
How do you win? Simply share your thoughts about Terry Pratchett and his books in the comment section by April 1st and we will randomly select one person to win the copy. If you’ve never read any of his books, you can just comment on why you’d like to read one of his books.
Nation by Terry Pratchett
First Published in: September 2008
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Set on an alternative world that is very much like Earth in the Victorian era, Nation is a story about faith, friendship, doing the right thing, and making sacrifices. While on the surface it is a very funny story, there are deeper issues going on underneath.
Superficially this story is about a boy and a girl. Mau is a native of the island known as the Nation. He is away on the boys’ island working his way to becoming a man when a tsunami strikes and wipes out the only world he has ever known. Ermintrude is an English girl from a well to do family in England. She is on a ship scheduled to meet with her father when the wave strikes and she becomes shipwrecked alone on the island of Nation. Overcoming cultural and language barriers, the boy and girl become friends. When more people begin to arrive on the island they work together to rebuild Nation.
On a deeper level, this story is about questioning faith and much more. Mau constantly battles with the idea that the gods allowed him to live while killing everyone he ever loved. His struggles lead him to the point where he doubts their very existence. The discovery of a new stone marker on the island could swing him either way.
As the story progresses, Ermintrude realizes that the Empire’s way of just arriving at a place, planting a flag, and claiming it as your own is actually wrong. She learns that the people you meet in remote places may not be the savages you are taught they are in school. In fact, they may be much more important to the world than you ever imagined.
The book is also about friendship. There are hilarious moments as Mau and Ermintrude (or Daphne as she renames herself) struggle to communicate with and understand each other. However, they ultimately find a way that works and both are improved by their friendship. As they become friends and work together, they must learn to do the right thing. Mau and Daphne both struggle with what needs doing and how to do it. They are both good people and while their actions are not necessarily always good, they are always in the best interests of others.
Finally, this story is about making sacrifices. I can’t really say much about this particular theme as it would be a spoiler for the end of the book –which by the way is really well done and puts a new spin on everything you have previously read.
Here are some of my favorite quotes including quotes that made me laugh and others that made me think:
“Mau awoke early. There was no more fruit on the round metal tin, but a Grandfather bird was watching him hopefully, in case he was dead. When it saw him moving, it sighed and waddled off.”
“Grandmother used to say this with a look in her eye that suggested she was planning 138 murders, and you didn’t have to know the old lady for long to suspect that she would be quite capable of arranging them”
“The other thing about Grandmother was her belief that a conversation consisted of someone listening to her talking”
“Let him ask forgiveness of the dead. Let him ask forgiveness of me. But don’t tell me that I am supposed to thank the gods that I’m alive to remember that everyone else died.” Mau
“Daphne felt the panic rise. She was going to the beach as well? But she was practically naked! She had nothing on under the grass skirt but one petticoat, her pantaloons and a pair of Unmentionables”
“They obeyed as wise men do when a woman puts her foot down”
“Yeah we got four loaded pistols missie,’ Said Polegrave, waving one at her ‘and they’ll stop anything you hear’
‘They wont stop the fifth man, Mr Polegrave”
“Everything that can happen must happen, and everything that can happen must have a world to happen in. That is why Imo builds so many worlds that there are not enough numbers to count them”
“I can prove that no European has been into this cave before me’ Daphne looked around, chest heaving with passion. ‘see the gold on the gods and the globe and the big door?’
‘Yes of course dear I could hardly fail to notice’
‘There you are then’ said Daphne picking up the lamp. ‘it’s still here!”
“No your majesty we are forbidden to laugh at the things say, sire, because otherwise we would be at it all day”
“This is the beginning. This…is the place where you might grant God absolution”
I chose to read this book as a tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett who died recently and I am glad I did. It made me remember why I loved his writing and it has made me regret not reading more of his books in recent years — an oversight I intend to amend.
Which Pratchett books have you read? Share your thoughts with us about his books.