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Nation Paperback – September 22, 2009
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It has many of the characteristics of Terry Pratchett's work, but it does not fit easily into any category. His humor is there, as is his relish in deflating the balloons that make up the given wisdom of human culture; the allusions that make every book he writes a delight, a puzzle, and an unending source of new discovery at each re-reading are there; none of it is present to the degree that any of it would be in a Discworld book.
A continuing idea running through his work is that of the alternate universes created at each decision point. One picks up a fork; alternatively, one may not have picked up a fork, and by not doing so may have created a different reality, the fork-not-picked-up universe. Nation takes place on an earth where a good many different utensils have been picked up at different times from what we know, but it is still recognizable as a nineteenth century when Britannia ruled the waves.
Although it is an entertaining book, it is not primarily a funny one. The themes it deals with are overwhelming--loss of the entire cultural framework that makes life in society meaningful, death of all that is known, the futility of traditional coping mechanisms in the face of such loss, the need to build a new life from within when all that has been known before was an old life imposed from without. The young hero has lost everything--even the coming-of-age ritual he was to go through the day of the tragedy.Read more ›
'Nation' is one of Terry Pratchett's Young Adult books. It isn't set on Discworld, and the characters are new. It's set on our Round World, in Victorian days, at the height of the British Empire.
Well, to be accurate, it's set in an alternative world, in a different leg of the Trousers of Time, where, among other things, the Royal Family has met with a series of calamities, and it is vitally important that the Heir to the Throne be found (some small print in the ratified version of the Magna Carta, apparently).
The two main characters are teenagers - both, for various reasons, without a Nation, and both representing all that is best in their respective cultures. Mau, the boy, is the only survivor after his island is devastated by a tsunami. Ermintrude, the girl, is shipwrecked on his island.
No. It isn't The Blue Lagoon. That's all the plot that I'm willing to divulge.
Like all of Pratchett's work, this book can be interpreted at many levels. The younger folk will enjoy the yarn, which is brilliantly crafted, as always. They might even identify with the characters. Both show that curious mixture of wisdom, intelligence and basic Humanity of all of Pratchett's younger characters. There are many moments of tension, resolved at the narratively appropriate minute, plus an ending which brought tears to the Reviewer's eye.
Pratchett's sense of humour is never absent. A stunningly beautiful scene where all the multi-colored birds in a tropical island take wing at once, is brought to earth when he mentions the problems that occur when standing underneath a large, nervous, flock of birds.
And for us older readers?Read more ›
It's set in a world similar to ours but with a different history. England is beset by plague & the heir to the throne who was quite a ways down the list before some dying occurred in the royal family needs to be fetched from his position as Governor of Port Mercia. His daughter Ermintrude who was in route to be with him will need to be picked up on the way...
Meanwhile, on an island so small as to not be on maps--well maps made by people who think being on a map makes you civilized--Mau is leaving his boyhood behind. He's about to complete the ritual that will lead him to being considered a man...Then something happens--a wave washes away everything and everyone Mau knew. But it deposits Ermintrude's ship in a tree.
Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of reading a Pratchett novel knows that summarizing them just doesn't do them justice, so I'm stopping there. Suffice to say that this is an amazing book. It's fun to read. The characters are funny, but never made fun of. Pratchett's trademark dry, sly British humor is well in evidence. It takes on several weighty issues (death, imperialism, religion, grief) without ever being preachy or patronizing. It's the story of a boy who didn't know there were questions (especially about the whole gods thing) and a girl who was taught questions were improper (especially questions about propriety)...how they meet and share their questions and answer a few of them. That with guns and sharks and milking of pigs in.
Just like his Discworld books starring Tiffany Aching, this is a gift to young audiences and people who read like them.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing book, I'm a big fan of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels and it's great to see his work in a stand-alone storyline. My favorite author by far.Published 28 days ago by Terry
I loved this book by the late Sir Terry. But I love everything he's written! There's always a compelling story but also a purpose and a message that makes you think long after you... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Liz
Terry Pratchett was a literary god. The only reason I put my book down (I'm halfway through in one sitting so far) was to give it a five star review! Read morePublished 2 months ago by Tansit
One of Pratchett's best - not a disc world novel, but thought-provoking and valuable in context. Great story line, well-developed characters, entertaining at all levels-and there... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Maggie Church
Nation is the book Terry Pratchett wrote when he knew for certain the name of the disease that would take his life. Read morePublished 3 months ago by J. Crum
Love all of his books. Can't say I ever read one I didn't enjoy.Published 4 months ago by Andrea Louis
I was disappointed. Definitely not a typical Terry Pratchett book.
Great potential in the characters and an an intriguing story but I missed the Disc world. Read more