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.
This one was my Christmas present to myself, and I’m so glad I snapped up the limited edition version, as I feel it captures the ‘mood’ of the book much better that the normal UK version, and certainly the US cover.
Mau, is returning the traditional coming of age ritual of his island nation. Meanwhile a young girl distant cousin of the King is making her way to join her father who has been posted to one of the South Pelagic islands.
A Tsunami changes both of their lives forever, everyone from Mau’s nation, has been killed by the wave, and Daphne is the only known survivor from the Sweet Judy, the ship transporting her across the oceans.
Together, they must first learn to understand each other, both in language and experiences, and then as others start to arrive, they must rebuild the Nation, and help shape it’s future.
Pratchett comments in his afterword, that the book contains “some thinking” and it most certainly does.
There are different ways to eat people, girl, and you are clever, oh yes, clever enough to know it. And sometimes the people don’t realise it has happened until they hear the belch!
This is a hugely philosophical book, and Pratchett touches, on tradition, nationhood, beliefs, customs, religion and death, throughout the book, so anyone expecting an out and out comedy should be aware, that some work from the reader is going to be required to fully appreciate the book, that’s not to say there is no humour, there is and plenty of it.
”Move, I said!”
They obeyed as wise men do when a woman puts her foot down…
But it is also, balanced with incredibly serious moments, the section where Mau, is clearing the island of it’s dead and sending them on their way, is gut-wrenchingly well observed, and I defy even the hardiest of souls not to be touched while reading it.
It takes a writer of Pratchett’s skill and experience to get this balance right, and I’d say it is one of the best things he has written. Period. Some may be funnier, some may be more entertaining, some may be more exciting, some may even contain ‘some thinking’. But as a package. this is stand out, excellent. and the first addition to my 2009 best reads list.
Mau and Daphne are wonderful main characters, and really grow as the story goes on, Mau is more of a man. by the end of this story than probably anybody on his island previously, despite what rituals they may have successfully competed, and without giving the end away, Daphne also grows in to exactly the person she needs to be.
“You are very clever,” said the man shyly. “I would like to eat your brains, one day.”
For some reason the books of etiquette that Daphne’s grandmother had forced on her didn’t quite deal with this.
This is easily my favourite Pratchett for many a book and I even get the feeling that this one will only get better with subsequent readings.
Other Reviews to Consider:
They saw that the perfect world was a journey, not a place.