Nation, Terry Pratchett's latest novel for younger readers, starts promisingly: with the creation myth of an island people in the South Pacific – sorry, in Pratchett's alternative world, that's the South Pelagic Ocean. Then Mau, a boy of the Island people, returns from a solitary ordeal on a neighbouring island to find his whole nation wiped out by a tidal wave. He loses his faith in the Nation's gods – though they will keep jabbering to him in his head – and braces himself to deal with an influx of refugees from the tsunami, including Daphne, daughter of the heir to the British throne. The stage is set for a clash of cultures.
So far, so good: Pratchett's customary light touch enlivens his big themes of religion and imperialism, and the two main characters are likeable. But – and it's a big but – the story loses impetus as it goes on. The pace of events slows, and there are pages of over-explanatory dialogue and arguments in which characters carefully spell out their positions. If the second half was as good as the first, we'd be looking at four stars, not two.Reuse content