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Nation Paperback – September 22, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 280 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 7–10—In this first novel for young people set outside of Discworld, Pratchett again shows his humor and humanity. Worlds are destroyed and cultures collide when a tsunami hits islands in a vast ocean much like the Pacific. Mau, a boy on his way back home from his initiation period and ready for the ritual that will make him a man, is the only one of his people, the Nation, to survive. Ermintrude, a girl from somewhere like Britain in a time like the 19th century, is on her way to meet her father, the governor of the Mothering Sunday islands. She is the sole survivor of her ship (or so she thinks), which is wrecked on Mau's island. She reinvents herself as Daphne, and uses her wits and practical sense to help the straggling refugees from nearby islands who start arriving. When raiders land on the island, they are led by a mutineer from the wrecked ship, and Mau must use all of his ingenuity to outsmart him. Then, just as readers are settling in to thinking that all will be well in the new world that Daphne and Mau are helping to build, Pratchett turns the story on its head. The main characters are engaging and interesting, and are the perfect medium for the author's sly humor. Daphne is a close literary cousin of Tiffany Aching in her common sense and keen intelligence wedded to courage. A rich and thought-provoking read.—Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Roughcut edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics praised Nation as a hybrid, deeply philosophical book aimed at young adults, but one likely to appeal to adults as well, much like Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy or J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. With echoes of William Defoe and William Golding, Nation takes the form of a “classic Robinsonade,” notes the Washington Post—that is, a book in which characters on a desert island recreate civilization. As his characters grapple with questions of leadership, humanity, and survival, Pratchett explores fundamental ideas about religion and culture. This might all sound rather heavy, but there is plenty of originality and humor—and cannibals, spirits, and secret treasures—to go around. In the end, Pratchett offers a vision of a deeply humane world. “In some part of the multiverse there is probably a civilisation based on the thinking of Terry Pratchett,” writes the Guardian, “and what a civilised civilisation that will be.”
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to the Roughcut edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061433039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061433030
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (280 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Schechter VINE VOICE on July 22, 2008
Format: Roughcut Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Nation is an exceptionally good book, rewarding to read; it is aimed at young people, and I think that it would appeal strongly to the best in fourteen-year-olds everywhere; however, even though I haven't been fourteen for many years, I enjoyed it very much and recommend it for all ages.

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.
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Format: Roughcut Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Just one important point before I start: this review contains no spoilers; Pratchett fans can read it with impunity.

'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?
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Pratchett's first non-discworld novel since 1996 (Johnny and the Bomb) is a real winner for kids, adults, fans, non-fans...all human-types. (Parrots will like this too; however some pigs may be scandalized).

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.
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