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Nation (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

Nation (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

4.3 103
by Terry Pratchett

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When a giant wave destroys his village, Mau is the only one left. Daphne—a traveler from the other side of the globe—is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Separated by language and customs, the two are united by catastrophe. Slowly, they are joined by other refugees. And as they struggle to protect the small band, Mau and Daphne defy ancestral spirits, challenge


When a giant wave destroys his village, Mau is the only one left. Daphne—a traveler from the other side of the globe—is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Separated by language and customs, the two are united by catastrophe. Slowly, they are joined by other refugees. And as they struggle to protect the small band, Mau and Daphne defy ancestral spirits, challenge death himself, and uncover a long-hidden secret that literally turns the world upside down.

Editorial Reviews

Thirteen-year-old Mau has almost completed the initiation rite of his Pacific island culture. Only one part of the ritual remains, but Mau worries that he will never be able to complete it. A devastating tsunami has wiped out his entire island, leaving only Mau and the British governor's daughters as survivors. Of course, what follows is far more poignant than any quiet South Pacific ceremony. A thoroughly engaging teen novel about identity, community, and resilience by fantasy wizard Terry Pratchett.
James Hynes
The heart of the book is Pratchett's serious examination of the roots and utility of religion. He's clearly a skeptic, and at times Nation reads like Philip Pullman, but with less anger and more jokes, and a bit more ambiguity…It's a wonderful story, by turns harrowing and triumphant, and Mau and Daphne are complicated and tremendously appealing characters. And since it's a Terry Pratchett novel, there is also a small army of vivid minor characters, including some colorfully venal British mutineers, a hilariously dry civil servant named Mr. Black and, in a cameo appearance from Discworld, Death himself, who appears here as a god called Locaha. It's a book that can be read with great pleasure by young readers—and not a few of their parents, I suspect—as both a high-spirited yarn and a subtle examination of the risks and virtues of faith.
—The New York Times
Michael Dirda
Nation remains at heart a novel of ideas, a ferocious questioning of vested cultural attitudes and beliefs. In form it is a classic "Robinsonade," that is, a book in which characters are marooned on a desert island and there create a little civilization of their own…While Nation occasionally moves a little slowly, it soon develops great momentum, and we come to care and worry about Mau, Daphne and the others. Moreover, this being a Pratchett novel, the writing is always a pleasure…It's a terrific, thought-provoking book, and it ends wonderfully.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

In Carnegie Medalist Pratchett's (the Discworld novels; A Hat Full of Sky) superb mix of alternate history and fantasy, the king of England, along with the next 137 people in line to the throne, has just succumbed to the plague; the era might be akin to the 1860s or '70s. As the heir apparent is being fetched from his new post as governor of an island chain in the South Pelagic Ocean, his daughter, the redoubtable Ermintrude, still en route to join him in the South Pelagic, has been shipwrecked by a tsunami. She meets Mau, whose entire people have been wiped out by the great wave (he escaped their fate only because he was undergoing an initiation rite on another island). She and Mau each suffer profound crises of faith, and together they re-establish Mau's nation from other survivors who gradually wash up on shore and rediscover (with guidance from spirits) its remarkable lost heritage. Neatly balancing the somber and the wildly humorous in a riveting tale of discovery, Pratchett shows himself at the height of his powers. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

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Children's Literature - Renee Farrah
Mau's right of passage ritual was supposed to prepare him for the transition from boy to man, not the wave that washes over his island village, leaving him the sole survivor. Facing the massive loss, he must focus on rebuilding his own life, preserving the traditions of his people, and becoming a leader to other survivors that find their way to the Nation. One survivor in particular has survived more than the wave. Daphne, whose father is one hundred and thirty-eighth in line for the throne, became free from the role as a proper young lady, and shunned her given name Ermintrude after the boat she was traveling shipwrecked on Mau's island. The reader learns the rituals of the island culture with Daphne, and discovers new parts of the island with Mau. You will find the story etched in your mind when you are going about your day. There are familiar elements in this story such as Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, and the friction between religion and science as represented in Daphne's traditional grandmother and modern father. There are so many levels of thought in this book; it would be great for discussions. A true adventure and survival story outside of Pratchett's Discworld, his humor and depth still shine through. There is no better way to show both genders coming of age than with an island adventure that touches every emotion. Leadership, fear, questioning authority, and a sense of wonder all come together to make an unforgettable journey. Reviewer: Renee Farrah
VOYA - Jennifer Miskec
Young Mau is stuck between two identities, boy and man, when his rite of passage into adulthood is thwarted by a deadly storm that wipes out the rest of his island nation. As fellow survivors from disparate places and cultures begin to converge on his home, Mau must not only work to negotiate his own identity, he must also lead these strangers through their own recovery. Mau's closest ally is Daphne, a "ghost girl," British royalty whose ship crashed onto the island during the storm. Despite language and cultural differences, Mau and Daphne manage to connect and lead the others by sharing and merging cultural histories, sometime listening to and other times ignoring the loud voices of their ancestors. Although most of what Mau knows has been ruined and much of what Daphne has been taught turned on its head, their leadership forges a new nation, as old truths are questioned and revised. Again Pratchett creates a magical yet familiar world full of fantastic images and difficult decisions. There is a lot going on in the novel-this reviewer could not help feeling as if she were missing something-but there is something to be said for Pratchett's respect for the young reader whom he imagines can keep up with and find pleasure in the difficult worlds he creates. Dark and sometimes funny, this complex tale asks the reader to consider a variety of issues, from identity and tradition to faith and prejudice. Reviewer: Jennifer Miskec
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
A tidal wave washes away Mau's village while he's off on a manhood rite of passage, and the young teen returns to find himself the only remaining member of his community. Grief-stricken but resourceful, Mau discovers he's not alone on his tropical island when he comes across Daphne, a white-skinned "ghost girl." She's the sole survivor of the shipwreck of the Sweet Judy, aside from a vile-mouthed parrot. Refugees from other places affected by the tidal wave soon start arriving on the isle they call the Nation, and Mau and Daphne are kept busy taking care of the newcomers, which involves everything from milking a pig to learning to make beer. Then raiders arrive, accompanied by nasty mutineers from the Sweet Judy, and Mau and Daphne must fight to protect their new community and its inhabitants. This funny, wise commentary on the meaning of nationalism, set about 150 years ago, isn't part of Pratchett's beloved Discworld fantasy series, but his many fans as well as adventure-loving YA readers will eat up this appealing tale. The theme of carrying on despite grief and in the face of death seems especially poignant and apt, as Pratchett has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. Racism, feminism, and what it means to be a man are themes that are also addressed, along with the role of religion: Mau is angry at his gods, even while questioning their existence. A classic survival tale that offers laughs and much to mull over, this is a wonderfully entertaining novel for YAs. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal

Gr 7-10

In this first novel for young people set outside of Discworld, Pratchett again shows his humor and humanity. Worlds are destroyed and cultures collide when a tsunami hits islands in a vast ocean much like the Pacific. Mau, a boy on his way back home from his initiation period and ready for the ritual that will make him a man, is the only one of his people, the Nation, to survive. Ermintrude, a girl from somewhere like Britain in a time like the 19th century, is on her way to meet her father, the governor of the Mothering Sunday islands. She is the sole survivor of her ship (or so she thinks), which is wrecked on Mau's island. She reinvents herself as Daphne, and uses her wits and practical sense to help the straggling refugees from nearby islands who start arriving. When raiders land on the island, they are led by a mutineer from the wrecked ship, and Mau must use all of his ingenuity to outsmart him. Then, just as readers are settling in to thinking that all will be well in the new world that Daphne and Mau are helping to build, Pratchett turns the story on its head. The main characters are engaging and interesting, and are the perfect medium for the author's sly humor. Daphne is a close literary cousin of Tiffany Aching in her common sense and keen intelligence wedded to courage. A rich and thought-provoking read.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City

Kirkus Reviews
Pratchett's latest masterpiece chronicles a lad's struggle to survive, and far harder struggle to make sense of the universe, after a tsunami wipes out his entire people. Along with the lives of everyone he has ever known, the devastating wave sweeps away Mau's simple, happy soul-literally, he believes. Fortunately, though much of his angry quest to find something to replace his lost faith in the gods is internal and individual, he acquires company on his tropical island, in the form of the shipwrecked, repressed-but-not-for-long daughter of a high British government official and a ragged group of survivors from other islands who straggle in. 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-one of which involves deeply religious cannibals. 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. (Fantasy. 11 & up)

Product Details

Demco Media
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.10(d)
NC790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


Chapter One

The Plague

The snow came down so thickly, it formed fragile snowballs in the air that tumbled and melted as soon as they landed on the horses lined up along the dock. It was four in the morning and the place was coming alive and Captain Samson had never seen the dock in such a bustle. The cargo was flying out of the ship, literally; the cranes strained in their efforts to get the bales out as quickly as possible. The ship stank of the disinfectant already, stank of the stuff. Every man who came on board was so drenched in it that it dribbled out of his boots. But that wasn't enough; some of them had squelched aboard with big, heavy spray cans that spat an acid-pink fog over everything.

And there was nothing Captain Samson could do about it. The agent for the owners was right there on the dockside with his orders in his hands. But Captain Samson was going to try.

"Do you really think we're infectious, Mr. Blezzard?" he barked to the man on the dock. "I can assure you—"

"You are not infectious, Captain, as far as we know, but this is for your own good," shouted the agent through his enormous megaphone. "And I must once again warn you and your men not to leave the ship!"

"We have families, Mr. Blezzard!"

"Indeed, and they are already being taken care of. Believe me, Captain, they are fortunate, and so will you be, if you follow orders. You must return to Port Mercia at dawn. I cannot stress enough how important this is."

"Impossible! It's the other side of the world! We've only been back a few hours! We are low on food and water!"

"You will set sail at dawn andrendezvous in the Channel with the Maid of Liverpool, just returned from San Francisco. Company men are aboard her now. They will give you everything you need. They will strip that ship to the waterline to see that you are properly provisioned and crewed!"

The captain shook his head. "This is not good enough, Mr. Blezzard. What you are asking—it's too much. I— Good God, man, I need more authority than some words shouted through a tin tube!"

"I think you will find me all the authority you need, Captain. Do I have your permission to come aboard?"

The captain knew that voice.

It was the voice of God, or the next best thing. But although he recognized the voice, he hardly recognized the speaker standing at the foot of the gangplank. That was because he was wearing a sort of birdcage. At least, that's what it looked like at first sight. Closer to, he could see that it was a fine metal framework with a thin gauze around it. The person inside walked in a shimmering cloud of disinfectant.

"Sir Geoffrey?" said the captain, just to be sure, as the man began to walk slowly up the glistening gangplank.

"Indeed, Captain. I'm sorry about this outfit. It's called a salvation suit, for obvious reasons. It is necessary for your protection. The Russian influenza has been worse than you can possibly imagine! We believe the worst is over, but it has taken a terrible toll at every level of society. Every level, Captain. Believe me."

There was something in the way the chairman said every that made the captain hesitate.

"I take it that His Majesty is . . . isn't—" He stopped, unable to force the rest of the question out of his mouth.

"Not only His Majesty, Captain. I said 'worse than you can possibly imagine,'" said Sir Geoffrey, while red disinfectant dripped off the bottom of the salvation suit and puddled on the deck like blood. "Listen to me. The only reason the country is not in total chaos at this moment is that most people are too scared to venture out. As chairman of the line, I order you—and as an old friend, I beg you—for the sake of the Empire, sail with the devil's speed to Port Mercia and find the governor. Then you will— Ah, here come your passengers. This way, gentlemen."

Two more carriages had pulled up in the chaos of the dockside. Five shrouded figures came up the gangplank, carrying large boxes between them, and lowered them onto the deck.

"Who are you, sir?" the captain demanded of the nearest stranger, who said:

"You don't need to know that, Captain."

"Oh, don't I, indeed!" Captain Samson turned to Sir Geoffrey with his hands open in appeal. "Goddammit, Chairman, pardon my French, have I not served the line faithfully for more than thirty-five years? I am the captain of the Cutty Wren, sir! A captain must know his ship and all that is on it! I will not be kept in the dark, sir! If I cannot be trusted, I will walk down the gangplank right now!"

"Please don't upset yourself, Captain," said Sir Geoffrey. He turned to the leader of the newcomers. "Mr. Black? The captain's loyalty is beyond question."

"Yes, I was hasty. My apologies, Captain," said Mr. Black, "but we need to requisition your ship for reasons of the utmost urgency, hence the regrettable lack of formality."

"Are you from the government?" the captain snapped.

Mr. Black looked surprised. "The government? I am afraid not. Just between us, there is little of the government left at the moment, and what there is is mostly hiding in its cellars. No, to be honest with you, the government has always found it convenient not to know much about us, and I would advise you to do the same."

"Oh, really? I was not born yesterday, you know—"

"No indeed, Captain, you were born forty-five years ago, the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Bertie Samson, and christened Lionel after your grandfather," said Mr. Black, calmly lowering his package to the deck.

Nation. Copyright © by Terry Pratchett. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Terry Pratchett's novels have sold more than sixty-five million (give or take a few million) copies worldwide. In January 2009, Queen Elizabeth II made Pratchett a knight in recognition of his "services to literature." Sir Terry lives in England with his wife.

Brief Biography

Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Date of Birth:
April 28, 1948
Place of Birth:
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

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Nation 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 103 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although this is not a part of his Diskworld series, Terry Pratchett has written a wonderful book filled with his personal brand of humor and poignancy. It has been classified as a children's (or young adult) book, but there is plenty for adults to enjoy. In fact, adults may understand more of the humor in some parts than children, or at the least, I hope so. The story is based around two young characters: a boy from the Pacific Islands who has lost his tribe, and an English girl shipwrecked on the island with him. It is ostensibly a story about growing up and accepting people for who they are, instead of where they were born (or whether or not they wear trousers, for that matter), but it could just as well be a story about pelicans that drink beer and octopuses that climb trees. There is adventure, a bit of horror, plenty of fantasy, and a touch of rommance - namely, enough variety to satify most any reader. The story may be dissapointing to the romantics in the crowd, but cynically, life will be disappointing to them as well. The story ends right where it should, but like most good stories, you are left with the disappointment that it is over. To make a long story...less long, go buy this book, and read, no, TREASURE it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is based in "our" world, not Discworld, but it is still written with similar style and feel, and has the same warped look at politics, religion, and relationships that those books have. A good read, very funny, full of action at parts, and how people REALLY think when they're going through the motions of being a hero. Historical fiction in nature, taking place in an equatorial island setting.
Falling-books More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. As it was my first book of Terry Pratchett's, I didn't know what to expect and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I like the way this books sucks you in and you never know what to expect (though a few things were a given, but not enough to bore you). An unusual read that surprisingly does not remind me of any other books that I have read, and that is a rarity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It was sad in the right parts and funny and romantic in all the others! Mao is so sweet and 'Daphine' is independent! The only part that was dissapointing to me was the end! but at least it worked out for some people!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Your day of greatest joy becomes your worst nightmare if you are an island boy where your manhood ceremony becomes the day of your tribe's destruction. This is haunting story about surviving, building trust, and sceaming at the gods you believed in just to keep on going. Excellent read for young adults without that love triangle stuff that seems to be everywhere and plenty of themes to keep adults interested, too. Good job.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is the only one way to describe w/o spoiling yhe epicness. Even nonreaders will enjoy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For any one who has ever asked "WHY?" For any one who has never been satisfied with "BECAUSE!" for those that take the world on their backs ,yet still find solace in " THE MOMENT " MOSTLY , FOR EVERYONE .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't change a word.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While not his usual fare, this was one of rhe best reads I have had in years
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little slow at the beginning, it rapidly picks up pace and doesn't let you go. Wonderful storytelling from a wonderful author.
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Nation is the best book I have ever read. After I read Nation by Terry Pratchett I would recommend this book. It is revealing and full of surprises and many discoveries are made. The book is also fiction so if you love fiction you should read this book. Nation author is Terry Pratchett he has written many books I have read a few they all are very exciting they make you feel like you are in the book.The criteria in Nation was very mind blowing it stayed interesting and as you read on it just got more intense. The setting of my book is an island that got hit by a tsunami. The mane two characters a Mau and Depane. Mau is a youg man who is the chief of the island. Depane is a girl who gets washed on the island in a boat named the Sweet Judy. My over all evaluation is that it is one of the best books you well ever read . With all of the surprises that accrue you well never think twice about not finishing the book . When you read it you can feel the emotion and mood in the story. The thing I like the most is how you can see the pictures in your head. My over all evaluation is that it is one of the best books you well ever read . With all of the surprises that accrue you well never think twice about not finishing the book . When you read it you can feel the emotion and mood in the story. The thing I like the most is how you can see the pictures in your head.
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socraticparenting More than 1 year ago
In his young adult novel Nation, British fantasy author Terry Pratchett explores coming of age when laws and social structures cease to exist. A Tsunami in the fictional Pelagic Ocean strands a native boy, Mau, and shipwrecks on the same island a girl named Erminitrude from someplace akin to Mid-Victorian England. Surrounded by death and destruction, Mau and Erminitrude overcome their fear and distrust of each other and work together to save themselves and other survivors and misfits who arrive on the island in the wake of the great wave. Mau assumes the position of chief, not through force or manipulation, but purely through service. He sacrifices his own well-being for the good of the weakest individuals within the group and courageously defends his new tiny Nation against pirates and cannibals. Erminitrude changes her name to Daphne and begins to appreciate the nobility of those she once dismissed as “uncivilized” and recognizes the savagery of some supposedly civilized people. The novel is rich with allusions and a humor that appeals to teens and adults alike. There are some mystical/fantasy elements and an occasional scene with mild profanity or nearly profane slang. The book begins with the native creation myth of Mau’s people, including an introduction to the ancestral gods of life and death. Through the myth, the reader gains exceptional insight into Mau’s thoughts and motives and the gift of examining traditional western values and ideas from a different point of view. The first chapter feels slightly confusing until the worlds of Erminitrude and Mau converge on the island. From that point forward, Nation builds momentum by blending high-seas adventure with thoughtful contemplation. Overall, Pratchett offers an enchanting tale of self-discovery and triumph of the human spirit. Laurie A. Gray Reprinted from the Christian Library Journal (Vol. XIII, No. 1, April 2009); used with permission.
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I didnt realize how attached I was to the characters till the end. An amazing tale of adventure and science.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didnt like it very much, it was ok at some parts but i wouldnt buy it