Newest Review: ... manhood who returns to his island (the Nation of the title) to find everything and everyone has been swept away by a massive Tsunami. His... more
Nation - Terry Pratchett
Member Name: lady_natalie
Nation - Terry Pratchett
Advantages: typical Pratchett story, good themes
Disadvantages: bit of a religion rant sneaked in there
I'm a huge fan of Terry Pratchett but haven't had chance to read any of his books that are not in the disc world series, so when this came out and I heard nothing but good reviews for it, I was of course looking forward to reading it and seeing what Pratchett would do with characters not from Disc World.
Ermintrude is a very distant heir to the throne and when most of England is killed off what she thought was impossible happens, her father is next in line to the throne, making her second in line. But at this time she on the other side of the world and needs time to sail back home. At the same time Mau is partaking in the ritual of becoming a man, he must leave his island and find a way to get back , and when he does he will no longer be considered a man. But on his way back a massive tidal wave passes over him and his island, killing all its inhabitants. When he manages to make his way back he left with none of his family, just a cave full of dead ancestors bones and the ship wrecked Ermintrude, and a talking parrot.
Although Mau and Ermintrude don't know each other and can't speak the same language they must do their best to rebuild the Nation on Maus island as more and more people keep turning up, including women who have just given birth and an old and very religious priest. He wants Mau to pay the proper respect to the Gods, but Mau doesn't believe in Gods anymore, not since they killed all his family, every one he's ever known. But the Gods and his ancestors keep talking to him in his head, so what should he do? They also have to contend the ongoing threat of raiders who could turn up at the nation at any moment, killing everyone and taking all they have worked for.
The story of nation is very good, although I think it was marketed as a children's books and I'm not sure what children would think of it, it seems a bit older to me. It's set in a time when the British Nation was very strong and wanted to stick their flags everywhere they could, this is the world that Ermintrude knows so when she finds herself on a small island that is considered big by most peoples standards she doesn't quite know what to do with herself. On top of that she also needs to learn to communicate with someone who doesn't know how to wear clothes, or do most things she is used to. I liked this, what it really means to be a nation, there is a lot to be said about community, what it is and how it's built and maintained, what relationships mean to people, etc.
Religion plays a strong theme throughout this book and by the time I finished reading it, it really started to annoy me. Mau has grown up somewhere very religious, but when his whole family is killed with the wave, all he can think is that either the Gods let that happen, or they don't exist. The book really does go on about the many different ways why Gods shouldn't exist, why people make them up because they need them to exist, but of course they don't really. It gets boring. I don't believe in God, at all, so I really don't need convincing, and I think that for people who are actually religious this over the top determination to make people see it 'the right way' must get quite annoying. I don't mind religion being mention in the story, I see why it was needed, but not as much as it was. It detracts from what the story was and turns it into a way to make people 'convert' to atheism. Maybe I just picked up on it more than other people might, but to me there was no getting away from how much this was mentioned.
So apart from religion getting mentioned way too often, the story really does work well. I love Mau's and Ermintrudes relationship, they're really sweet, but I also like how real this is kept, and all of the story actually. It's not about make believe (although it is obviously fiction), but it is more about being true, and what is right.
Overall I prefer the disc world books, but this was OK. I do think it makes a nice break from disc world, but still, I am looking forward very much to the next in the disc world series, and am not really too excited about the next non disc world book, there are better books than this one if you would like to read one by Pratchett.
Summary: a nice change from disc world