I'm only doing two challenges this year - until the Once Upon A Time one starts on the 21st. that is - and both of them are going well. Two books read for the Year of the Historical and now two books for the Terry Pratchett one. This is book two, Nation, for the latter challenge which is being hosted by Marg at Reading Adventures.
Mau is returning to his island, from Boy's Island, when the wave strikes. When he reaches home he will be a boy no longer and will join the ranks of the single men. Somehow he survives the giant wave but when he reaches his own island he finds that no one else has: he is alone. Devastated, he has to bury his family and friends at sea and copes with this by mentally withdrawing. But someone is helping him by leaving food. Mau has no idea what's going on until he follows a trail through the forest and finds the ship. And a girl.
Ermintrude is a Victorian English girl on her way to join her father, who is the new govenor of one of the island chains in the Great Southern Pelagic Ocean. She too is an only survivor... but from a ship this time. Terrified, she tries to shoot Mau, who actually has no idea what she's doing as he's never seen a gun before. Or a trouserman for that matter, which what his people call white people from the northern lands.
Ermintrude decides to become 'Daphne' and slowly but surely, Mau and Daphne learn how to speak each others languages and find out about each others cultures. More people turn up and Mau finds himself in the position of chief, taking responsibility for his people's safety and well being. Daphne, intelligent and resilient, finds out more than she ever wanted to know about delivering babies and feeding old women with no teeth, but the upside of it all is that she is freer than she's ever been in her life.
As the scattered survivors become a community and things settle down there is still one over-riding worry. The cannibalistic 'Raiders' are destroying all in their path and Mau knows they are on the way and that his fledgling community is not strong enough to withstand an invasion. What's to be done?
I always find it hard to review books by Terry Pratchett as his work always leaves me simply thinking, 'This is brilliant - read it!' He is just *so* insightful and clever and makes me think things I'd never thought to consider before.
'And when your father comes in his big boat? What will happen to us then?'
'I... don't know,' said Daphne, which was better than telling the truth. We do tend to stick flags in places, she had to admit it to herself. We do it almost absent-mindedly, as though it's a sort of chore.
'Hah, you fall silent,' said the priest. 'You are a good child, the women say, and you do good things, but the difference between the trousermen and the Raiders is that sooner or later the cannibals go away!'
'That's a terrible thing to say!' said Daphne hotly. 'We don't eat people!'
'There are different ways to eat people, girl, and you are clever enough to know it. And sometimes the people don't realize it's happened until they hear the belch!'
Nation is not one the Discworld books and is thus a very different kettle of fish. And yet there are similarities. Most of Pratchett's books have strong female characters who are often striving to fulfil their destinies or even simply to be taken as seriously as the men. Tiffany Aching springs to mind, 'Malicia' from The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents or Grimma from the Bromeliad trilogy - all of them want their intelligence to be appreciated while still retaining their basic feminity. I admire Terry Pratchett for doing this - he so gets it and that's very unusual in a man.
What else? Well this book will make you think hard about religion and gods, responsibility, respect, freedom... the list is endless. Pratchett writes 'thinking' books and it's rather sad, imo, that he gets very little respect for that from the literary world. I remember several years ago reading an article in The Telegraph where a book reviewer had to read the current top ten fictional books - it might have been the top twenty, I'm not sure. One of the books was a Pratchett book... I can't say for sure which one but I think it might have been Going Postal. The reviewer in question completely refused to read it saying, 'I'm sure Terry Pratchett's legions of fans are thrilled that he has a new book out, but I just can't bring myself to read it'. How totally closed-minded and stupid. And, without a doubt, his loss.
This is brilliant - read it!
Sarah's Book Reviews