20 July 2009

Book of the Week (23): "Nation" by Terry Pratchett

Mark Kermode, the film reviewer on Radio 5, has been complaining about the recent batch of super-hero films, because they spend the first half of the film looking into the hero's inner torment, before remembering that they're Hollywood blockbusters and reverting to robots hitting each other for the last hour. Terry Pratchett's Nation suffers from much the same problem. This is the most thoughtful book that he has written. Our hero's struggle with theological questions throughout the book is fascinating, particularly because, as we expect in Pratchett's books, when questions are asked of the gods, they answer. Is it easier to believe in a god when you can have a chat with him? Not necessarily. In this context, the big set-piece action sequences seem a bit out of place. I feel a bit bad splitting hairs like this, because it is a terrific read. I just wish Pratchett had felt he could get away with reducing the action slightly to concentrate on the development of the main character's beliefs, which were at the heart of the story.

Recommended by Anthony Reuben

  • More theology? Well, Big Questions anyway, along with dry wit and a great anti-hero... Try C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters: Letters from a Senior to a Junior Devil.
  • More adventure on an island? Try The Lost Island of Tamarind by Nadia Aguiar.
  • Or more Pratchett? Try all of his books really. The Discworld series begins with The Colour of Magic, or you could head for the riotous fun of Only You Can Save Mankind.

No comments: