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Pratchett should be proud of his great "Nation"
Nation - Terry Pratchett
Member Name: dididave
Nation - Terry Pratchett
Date: 24/09/08, updated on 14/11/08 (935 review reads)
Advantages: Rich characters in a well-realised world. A plot fo depth and emotion.
Disadvantages: Not packed with Pratchett's trademark humour.
"Nation" is a weird novel even by Terry Pratchett standards. Pratchett has a monopoly on a certain wonderful brand of weirdness in the form of his magical and iconic "Discworld" series. However, "Nation" is something of different entity.
A departure for Pratchett, "Nation" takes him away from his comfort zone and away from his established old faithful cast of characters. Pratchett, excuse the pun, could have been a little bit at sea here. However, this makes this one of his most rewarding novels in many years.
All the ingredients of a great Pratchett novel are here with his distinctive disjointed and satirical writing style in evidence. Once again he takes great joy in dismantling the fundamentals of organised religion in society and large parts of "Nation" are mocking references to Christianity among other religions. However, as ceaselessly entertaining as Pratchett's ability is to find new ways to mock religion and it's doctrine, he has done it with more style and humour in previous novels such as "Small Gods" and "Good Omens".
Fortunately, this is not just yet another excuse for Pratchett to have a go at religion and Pratchett's central theme of love and loss is surprisingly subtle. There is emotional depth here previously unseen in a Pratchett story. The humour has been toned down in this one in favour of a warmth and hope that affirms Pratchett's unswerving faith in humanity. This makes "Nation" a uniquely serious novel which a fan may not expect. However, it also makes this a good novel for the uninitiated to Pratchett's genius.
"Nation" is an undoubtedly enjoyable mish mash of ideas that can be confusing at times. Although set on a parallel world to Earth, the geography is very similar and it takes a lot of thought to get your head around the similarities and differences. This is a novel of World history that has taken some research and there is an obvious intelligence and history here. However, I have to admit that a more casual reader may become lost. Although the plot is interesting there is an initial dawdle to it and there is a degree of perseverance required initially as the protagonist "Mau" wanders around trying to make some semblance of sense of the events unfolding. I do feel it is worth the wait though as the novel picks up in pace and Pratchett's attention to details is astounding.
Pratchett's alternate reality is rich and vivid and entirely believable. He has created a great cast of well-realised characters and the emerging relationships throughout are both tender and funny. This is Pratchett's best novel in a long while . It is a fresh and vibrant step away from the fantasy themes Pratchett usually treads. A novel well worth anyones time.
Summary: A different and refreshing Pratchett novel.