NationNation is Terry Pratchett's first non-discworld novel in a long time. I have never really read anything other than his Discworld novels, and was interested to see whether I would enjoy something a bit different. The result was certainly a success.
Nation is set in a slightly alternate universe to our own, in th 19th century where Britain dominates the seas. However, the focus is set on a small island in the middle of the pacific where a boy, Mau, is about to become a man, only to be met with a tidal wave, destroying his civilisation, and leaving him the only survivor. What follows is an enjoyable study of loss as he discovers the results of the wave, followed by the main theme of the book, belief in the face of disaster. Wonderfully, and a little bit unusually, Pratchett lets each side have their say- a priest soon appears, who, while initially coming off as unlikeable, is quickly shown to be very human.
The value of belief is questioned throughout, and Mau, now a newly declared atheist, realises that sometimes people need to not have their belief crushed by what he believes to be the truth. There are some elements of the supernatural in this book- the voices of the dead play a small, and somewhat humorous part, and death itself, voiced by the rather unpleasant Locaha plays a role in many of Mau's conversations, but the gods themselves do not get a voice.
While this book is definitely an ode to science in many ways, it certainly seems to argue that science can co-exist with faith, although doesn't explicitly say how. There are many Pratchett stand bys in this book. There are certainly characters who exist to be reviled and defeated, and great pleasure will be had in their departure, but on the whole most introduced characters are allowed to be human rather than the villains often portrayed.
All in all, this was an enjoyable read, and I hope Pratchett makes some more non-discworld books of the same level of quality.