Skip to main content

Nation by Terry Pratchett

Today we Icelanders wish each other a Happy Summer. The third Thursday in April is the designated First Day of Summer in Iceland, and a public holiday, one of the few that are non-secular. In the era when people only had experience and superstition to rely on for weather forecasts rather than scientific meteorology, one of the ways in which the weather the coming summer was predicted was by putting a bit of water in a shell on the eve of the First Day of Summer, and going out just before dawn to check if the water had frozen over. If it had, the summer was supposed to be a good one. If not, then God help us.

I am pleased that today is a holiday, because while I have a cold and a sore throat and feel rather tired, I am not really sick enough not to go to work. Having today off is going to give me a chance to rest and hopefully I will be feeling better tomorrow. I have already finished two books today, both, I hasten to add, ones that were already half read. Below is the review for one. The other will follow tomorrow or on Saturday.

Year published: 2008
Genres: Adventure, coming-of-age, for children and teens
Setting & time: A tropical island in the southern hemisphere of an Earth in a universe parallel to our own; 19th century

Terry Pratchett is one of the few authors whose books I have read who are equally good at writing for children and adults. The Nomes trilogy, the Johnny Maxwell books and the Tiffany Aching books are just as enjoyable as the adult Discworld books.

Nation is no exception. The setting is somewhat southern Pacific-like, although the sea in which the Nation’s island is located is called The Great Pelagic Ocean, and is located on a parallel universe version of our own world. A rag-tag group of people, the survivors of a tsunami, gather together on a small island under the leadership of Mau, the only survivor of the Nation that lived there before the tsunami hit. He was halfway through the ritual that would have seen him accepted as a man, and is bewildered and angry, but also intelligent and resourceful and together these people start to make a Nation of their own. Added to the mix are a British girl castaway with quite a destiny waiting for her, mutineers from her ship, cannibals led by a madman, and the god of death.

All of this comes together to make a very entertaining story, by turns humorous and grim, that ends up being not just the coming-of-age story of a boy and a girl, but also of a nation.

Rating: 5 stars. Buy it, read it for yourself, read it to your kids or better still, get them to read it for themselves.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book 40: The Martian by Andy Weir, audiobook read by Wil Wheaton

Note : This will be a general scattershot discussion about my thoughts on the book and the movie, and not a cohesive review. When movies are based on books I am interested in reading but haven't yet read, I generally wait to read the book until I have seen the movie, but when a movie is made based on a book I have already read, I try to abstain from rereading the book until I have seen the movie. The reason is simple: I am one of those people who can be reduced to near-incoherent rage when a movie severely alters the perfectly good story line of a beloved book, changes the ending beyond recognition or adds unnecessarily to the story ( The Hobbit , anyone?) without any apparent reason. I don't mind omissions of unnecessary parts so much (I did not, for example, become enraged to find Tom Bombadil missing from The Lord of the Rings ), because one expects that - movies based on books would be TV-series long if they tried to include everything, so the material must be pared down

List love: 10 recommended stories with cross-dressing characters

This trope is almost as old as literature, what with Achilles, Hercules and Athena all cross-dressing in the Greek myths, Thor and Odin disguising themselves as women in the Norse myths, and Arjuna doing the same in the Mahabaratha. In modern times it is most common in romance novels, especially historicals in which a heroine often spends part of the book disguised as a boy, the hero sometimes falling for her while thinking she is a boy. Occasionally a hero will cross-dress, using a female disguise to avoid recognition or to gain access to someplace where he would never be able to go as a man. However, the trope isn’t just found in romances, as may be seen in the list below, in which I recommend stories with a variety of cross-dressing characters. Unfortunately I was only able to dredge up from the depths of my memory two book-length stories I had read in which men cross-dress, so this is mostly a list of women dressed as men. Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb. One of the interwove

Icelandic folk-tale: The Devil Takes a Wife

Stories of people who have made a deal with and then beaten the devil exist all over Christendom and even in literature. Here is a typical one: O nce upon a time there were a mother and daughter who lived together. They were rich and the daughter was considered a great catch and had many suitors, but she accepted no-one and it was the opinion of many that she intended to stay celebrate and serve God, being a very devout  woman. The devil didn’t like this at all and took on the form of a young man and proposed to the girl, intending to seduce her over to his side little by little. He insinuated himself into her good graces and charmed her so thoroughly that she accepted his suit and they were betrothed and eventually married. But when the time came for him to enter the marriage bed the girl was so pure and innocent that he couldn’t go near her. He excused himself by saying that he couldn’t sleep and needed a bath in order to go to sleep. A bath was prepared for him and in he went and