Skip to content

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
Rating: ★★★★★

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.

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lisa #

    My favorite – and first book of his that I read- is going postal. Hilarious and smart


    March 29, 2015
    • Lisa – did you want me to enter you in to win a copy of one of those books? Only two comments thus far so you have a fairly good shot at it 🙂

      Just checking since you may have already read one of the listed options (The Colour of Magic, Mort, or Guards, Guards).


      March 30, 2015
  2. Laura #

    I have not read any of his works, but I recently have heard friends talk about his writings. He apparently used to wear a shirt to conventions that said “Tolkien is dead, and JK is too expensive, so they invited me.”

    Liked by 1 person

    March 30, 2015
    • I saw a photo of him wearing that shirt! I will enter you into the raffle to win a copy. Good odds, thus far! Apparently people feel very strongly about the order in which to read the series (see the link I provided below). I started at the beginning with Colour of Magic. I liked it but didn’t love it. It was funny but lacked some of the deeper elements that people often mention when discussing his works. But if you win the raffle, you can check out the link below to see if you also want to start with Colour of Magic or one of the other two “first” books.


      March 30, 2015
      • I felt the same way about Colour of Magic Jen. It was my introduction and I liked it for the humor, specifically the Luggage, but I didn’t fall in love with the series until I tried Equal Rites next. I was so impressed that a man had written such a great empowering feminist book.


        April 1, 2015
    • So unfortunately you did not win this raffle but you should still check out his books many of the first ones are really cheap. Kate won the copy and she might also be a good person to recommend which book with which you should start. I did add those three books to our amazon store ( The first one (The Colour of Magic) is very cheap but my guess is that you can also find easily at your local library. I’ll be curious to see if you like it.

      We’ll be having lots of other challenges too so hopefully you’ll win one soon since odds aren’t so bad!


      April 1, 2015
  3. I’ve not yet read Pratchett but have had him in my sights ever since I realized how much I love fantasy. Would love to give him a shot w/ a free kindle book! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    March 31, 2015
    • Tricia- I got your email comment but don’t see it on the post. I’ll include you in the raffle though.


      March 31, 2015
      • And now it is showing up. Weird. Anyway, will include you in the raffle. Will announce winner tomorrow night!


        March 31, 2015
    • Hi Tricia! So unfortunately you did not win this raffle but you should still check out his books. Kate won the copy and she might also be a good person to recommend which book to start with. I did add those three books to our amazon store. The first one (The Colour of Magic) is very cheap but my guess is that you can also find easily at your local library. I’ll be curious to see if you like it.

      Better luck for spring challenge. It’s an awesome prize! We’ll be having lots of other challenges too so hopefully you’ll win one soon!


      April 1, 2015
  4. This will teach me not to keep up with book blogs if I lost out on a chance at a free Pratchett! I just did some quick counting and I’ve read 29 of his books. All but 3 of them Discworld titles. I’m trying to do this systematically, reading each of the separate arcs in order and pacing myself to make it last longer.

    My favorites have been the City Watch series and Small Gods. I fell in love with Sam Vimes in Guards Guards and consider him my not-so-secret literary crush. Every time the police in this country do something appallingly boneheaded, confrontational, misguided, or just plain stupid I tell myself “that’s not the way Sam would have handled it.”

    My least favorite was Dodger, his retelling of the Artful Dodger character as a stand alone novel. It just bored me.


    April 1, 2015
    • You’re still in time for raffle but I’m guessing you aleeady have read the three options for the giveaway. How about I throw in “going postal” as a fourth option. That way if you are selected, you can pick one you haven’t read yet.

      I will do the draw tonight around 9pm EST


      April 1, 2015
      • Thanks Jen! You are correct not only have I read the first 3 options I also own them. Going Postal would be nice.


        April 1, 2015
    • Congrats Kate! You made it just under the deadline and you won the Pratchett book. I have your email from the spring challenge. Is that the email address you want me to use for sending the kindle book? I’ll send you Going Postal


      April 1, 2015
  5. Much as I love the Discworld, Nation is perhaps Pratchett’s masterpiece.


    September 15, 2020

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Terry Pratchett Tribute: Part II | The Reader's Room

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: