Nation by Terry Pratchett

Nation was published in the UK in September 2008. Written by the author of The Disc World series, Nation retains Terry Pratchett’s wicked humour, and is surprisingly touching.

It takes place on a South Sea island in an alternate version of the 19th century. And in my mind looked like something out of Robinson Crusoe or It was easy to imagine the location, I just thought of classic stories like Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island. 

Nation is about Mau, a South Sea islander who we are introduced to when he’s performing a traditional rite of passage to mark his transition from boyhood to manhood. As part of this ritual he is left on a neighbouring island, and that’s about the time a tidal wave hits. 

With one terrible natural event, Mau’s civilization is wiped away. When he returns to the island everyone he knows and loves is gone, and in their place is a strange-looking girl who doesn’t speak Mau’s language.

Daphne’s is a young shipwrecked British girl.She’s made up of layers of loss, out-dated manners and a new awakening to who she really is when you strip away everything non-essential. 

Just as we get used to the two of them, new characters start to pop up.  To say any more would spoil the experience for other readers. 

This quirky tale isn’t your typical fantasy novel. Although there’s a hint of romance, Pratchett’s writing focuses on the friendship that develops between Daphne and Mau I think Nation is the sort of book that translates well across different ages. It has has lot of interesting observations on things like society, the relationship between blind faith and investigation, between being ‘proper’ and being human. Does wielding power responsibly require us to be vulnerable in unexpected ways. All these thought-provoking things and more are packaged in a comedy wrapper that is fun and exciting. It made me laugh and tear up, not much more I could want out of a book.

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