Sunday, 21 September 2008

Nation by Terry Pratchett

Mau is a boy just finishing his initiation to manhood, leaving his soul behind on a small island - when he canoes back to his home - Nation - he gets a man's soul. But on his journey he, and the rest of the world, face a tsunami that wipes out the world as it exists. He gets back to his home (by luck) to find it completely destroyed and he has to carve a life for himself.

Meanwhile the daughter of an ambassador is the only survivor of the wreck of the Sweet Judy - which also wrecks on the Nation. Setting the scene for a clash of cultures when the trouserman girl Daphne and Mau meet.

This is a wonderful exploration of the human spirit, the way individuals cope with disaster, rebuild their lives, their civilisations and work out their new societies and their belief systems; which makes it sound deadly dull, and of course it is far from that containing many flashes of Pratchett humour and slightly cock-eyed logic. The period is Victorian and the world similar but not entirely like our own - I believe the tsunami is probably based on the fallout from the Krakatoa eruption. Includes some wonderful and readable scientific deduction - Daphne is a science devotee. Read it for fun, and let it make you think too.

Blade of Fire by Stuart Hill

The second volume in the Icemark Chronicles - and again a hugely involving saga with battles of the various allies and the evil Polypontian General Bellorum. The action takes place 20 years after the first volume. Thirrin and Oskan now have a family - and three of them take part in the battles that ensue - possibly the battles to end the Icemark. Charlemagne the youngest has had polio, and is to be the regent in the country many of the population are evacuated to. The other sister Medea has her father's skills but is particularly drawn to the darker side of her skills - never quite being on the same side as the rest of the family.

This is such a gripping roller coaster of a ride, with the wonderful images of the mixed species allies working together and collaborating (not always so smoothly as one might expect.) Gives you the flavour of the sagas in an easily readable, gripping, un-put-downable book.