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Nation [Hardcover]

Terry Pratchett
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)

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Book Description

11 Sep 2008

Finding himself alone on a desert island when everything and everyone he knows and loved has been washed away in a huge storm, Mau is the last surviving member of his nation. He's also completely alone - or so he thinks until he finds the ghost girl. She has no toes, wears strange lacy trousers like the grandfather bird and gives him a stick which can make fire.

Daphne, sole survivor of the wreck of the Sweet Judy, almost immediately regrets trying to shoot the native boy. Thank goodness the powder was wet and the gun only produced a spark. She's certain her father, distant cousin of the Royal family, will come and rescue her but it seems, for now, all she has for company is the boy and the foul-mouthed ship's parrot.

As it happens, they are not alone for long. Other survivors start to arrive to take refuge on the island they all call the Nation and then raiders accompanied by murderous mutineers from the Sweet Judy. Together, Mau and Daphne discover some remarkable things - including how to milk a pig and why spitting in beer is a good thing - and start to forge a new Nation.

As can be expected from Terry Pratchett, the master story-teller, this new children's novel is both witty and wise, encompassing themes of death and nationhood, while being extremely funny. Mau's ancestors have something to teach us all. Mau just wishes they would shut up about it and let him get on with saving everyone's lives!

Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Childrens; First edition (11 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385613709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385613705
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 267,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Terry Pratchett is the acclaimed creator of the global bestselling Discworld series, the first of which, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983. In all, he is the author of fifty bestselling books. His novels have been widely adapted for stage and screen, and he is the winner of multiple prizes, including the Carnegie Medal, as well as being awarded a knighthood for services to literature. Worldwide sales of his books now stand at 70 million, and they have been translated into thirty-seven languages.

Photography © David Bird

Product Description


"Thought-provoking as well as fun, this is Pratchett at his most philosophical, with characters and situations sprung from ideas and games with language. And it celebrates the joy of the moment." (Nicolette Jones The Times)

"It's witty and wise, but it leaves its young readers enough room for a newly formed opinion or two as they think about its themes of love, loss, loyalty, courage, religion and nationhood." (

"An enchanting novel... Terry Pratchett is one of the most interesting and critically under-rated novelists we have." (Amanda Craig The Times)

"The unique pleasure of this story is that all the serious subjects and juicy ethical questions, such as the dilemma of the compassionate lie, are fully woven into action and character. Satirical portraits of upper-class twits, slapstick buffoonery, bad puns, and that particular brand of English wit buoy this story at every turn. Add a romance of gentle sweetness, encounters with ghosts, and lots of gunfire, and it is hard to imagine a reader who won't feel welcomed into this nation" (The Horn Book, USA)

"This is no heavy-toned tale: Tears and rage there may be in plenty, but also a cast of marvelously wrought characters, humor that flies from mild to screamingly funny to out-and-out gross, incredible discoveries, profound insights into human nature and several subplots. A searching exploration of good and evil, fate and free will, both as broad and as deep as anything this brilliant and, happily, prolific author has produced so far." (Kirkus Reviews, USA)

Book Description

Washed up on the shores of a remote island, two kids from cultures half a world apart have to learn to get along and survive. Brilliantly funny novel from the master story-teller and creator of Discworld.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
136 of 144 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not An Elephant in Sight.. 10 Sep 2008
By Margaret Gallagher VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've had this book on order for months - and I rushed home to rip open the package and get reading when it arrived from Amazon.
And there was no Discworld.. No turtle, no elephants, no witches, no dwarves - nothing - nothing but Terry and his beautiful, perceptive way of understanding and writing about human nature, life, the universe and everything..
I get the feeling that what he has gifted us with, this time, was too important to be hidden cunningly among the wonderful characters and humour of the discworld series. Although the Tiffany Aching books are pretty special, and give my favourite (Small Gods) a run for its money..

What Terry Pratchett doesn't know about people, quantum physics and spiritual philosophy isn't worth knowing.. And the way he engages us, and leads us through both his stories, and the breadth and depth of life and being human, in this place - and at this time - speaks of both love and poetry. This is a beautiful book - and it was worth going in to work half asleep - because I couldn't put it down and get myself off to bed until I'd finished it. Highly recommended.
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85 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic in the truest sense 2 Oct 2008
I want to add my review here of Nation but it's actually an extraordinarily difficult thing to do. The reason is that I don't want to appear to be `gushing' with praise for it. If ever I read such a review, it normally has the effect of turning me off the book completely, as it's obviously written by a fan who hasn't read a different author or genre since they left primary school. In view of this, here's what I genuinely thought of it:
I finished the book last night and my immediate thought was `Oh my gosh, this is a classic'. This is a book that will be discussed, debated and written about for years to come. It's a bit like being around when a new Dickens or Jane Austin novel came out.
The plot has been mentioned here already, so I won't repeat it again. I see that some reviewers have said that Nation is pitched at older children in their teens, but don't be fooled. This book has so much depth and can be read at so many levels, there's enough here to keep 10 year old Harry Potter fans to Academic Philosophers happy. The writing style is as clear and sparkling as cut crystal and while reading it, Pratchett takes your conscious mind out of this world and into his. You become each character, looking through their eyes, thinking their thoughts and feeling their every emotion. It is a fully immersive experience. The book also engages the brain by making you think about how societies and belief systems are created and our place in them. It is also a book to make you think about what makes you, you. If ever there was a book that could provide software upgrade for your brain, this is it.

Terry, I'll probably never meet you in person, but thank you for such a special gift.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An utterly delightful piece of writing 13 Oct 2009
By b
In many of his novels, the wisdom of Terry Pratchett has lurked beneath the surface comedy of his Discworld. In Nation, he writes about a world which is almost recognisable as ours although distanced by history and by its setting on a small island somewhere in the Great Pelagic Ocean.

Mau, a young boy, is completing the ceremony that will induct him into manhood but when he returns to his home there is no banquet. Instead he has to dispose of the bodies of his entire tribe, killed by a massive wave, and to begin his life anew. He is soon joined by Ermintrude, the trouserman girl, from another place and another culture. Between them, they have to learn to understand not only each other, but the needs of their growing tribe of castaways and refugees.

Yet this is no Lord of the Flies, shocking us with man's basic savagery. It is the opposite and is in many ways a more profound and more moving work as the young people work to construct a new civilisation, questioning the religions and the values of their own culture. Mau finds it hard to accept that his gods would condemn his tribe and debates their existence with an elderly priest whilst Ermintrude or Daphne,as she becomes, gradually learns to throw off the prejudices of English society and the values of her frightful grandmother.

This is a delightful piece of writing in which Pratchett's flair for comedy is never far from the surface. It is a wise and optimistic piece of writing. It may be intended for young people but it is a book which many adults will take great pleasure from.
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131 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Usual Pratchett Brilliance 9 Sep 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
So, first things first - this is not a Discworld book, which marks it as somewhat of a departure from the norm. Secondly, it's wonderful, made all the more wonderful by its separation from the usual Narrative Elements of a Terry Pratchett novel.

I received the book today and read it in a single sitting - bits of the book are tremendously sad, other bits are tremendously bitter - I do wonder how much of the book is a metaphor for TP's own deeply sad condition. There aren't many laughs in the book, but there is a very touching, emotionally resonant story that at its core is greatly optimistic.

I do hope that this isn't the last book we'll see from Terry Pratchett, who as an author has given me a greater Enjoyment to Hour ratio than any other writer. If this is to be his swan song though, he's carried it off marvellously.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A bit different to the Discworld novels, it seems ...
A bit different to the Discworld novels, it seems to me this story parodies Pratchett's own journey as he came to terms with having Alzheimers.
Published 8 days ago by bushcraftrelf
5.0 out of 5 stars Gr8 !
Bought for family member for Christmas - he loves Terry Pratchett and this didn't disappoint.
Published 10 days ago by richsisna
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very good buy
Published 23 days ago by Barry Austin Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
well read
Published 1 month ago by nicholas john christie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
bought for my son he loves it arrived very quickly
Published 1 month ago by DAPHNE JOHNSON
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Wife says the book was good.
Published 2 months ago by Mr Big
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing book, well worth reading
Published 2 months ago by margaret mcinnes
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and very thought provoking
I thoroughly enjoyed this book although it's not your usual Terry style of writing .completely enjoyable but not much that is humorous in it.
Published 3 months ago by cathypee
5.0 out of 5 stars slow start, but thought provoking
not part of the Discworld series, or even similar in style, but still written with humour, panache and imagination. Read more
Published 3 months ago by C&J
5.0 out of 5 stars TP the Nation
Different from Discworld but still has the Pratchett magic. The book is funny and will be enjoyed by all Pratchett fans. it uses facts as well as fiction in its narrative. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Richard Neil Camm
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