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Cover of the Nation Collector’s Library hardcover edition
Collector’s Library edition cover by Joe McLaren
AuthorTerry Pratchett
Audio read byTony Robinson (abridged)
Stephen Briggs (unabridged)
IllustratorJohn Duddle
Cover artistJohn Duddle (original)
Bill Meyer (US pb)
Laura Ellen Anderson (2019 pb)
Joe McLaren (Collector’s Library)
Publication date
Awards2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature
2009 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction and Poetry
2010 Brit Writer's Award Published Writer


2008 edition

Finding himself alone on a tropical island when everything and everyone he knows and loved has been washed away in a huge storm, Mau is the last surviving member of his nation. He's also completely alone - or so he thinks until he finds the ghost girl. She has no toes, wears strange lacy trousers like the grandfather bird and gives him a stick which can make fire. Daphne, sole survivor of the wreck of the Sweet Judy, almost immediately regrets trying to shoot the native boy. Thank goodness the powder was wet and the gun only produced a spark. She's certain her father, distant cousin of the Royal family, will come and rescue her but it seems, for now, all she has for company is the boy and the foul-mouthed ship's parrot. As it happens, they are not alone for long. Other survivors start to arrive to take refuge on the island they all call the Nation and then raiders accompanied by murderous mutineers from the Sweet Judy. Together, Mau and Daphne discover some remarkable things - including how to milk a pig and why spitting in beer is a good thing - and start to forge a new Nation.

As can be expected from Terry Pratchett, the master story-teller, this new children's novel is both witty and wise, encompassing themes of death and history/memory, while being extremely funny. Mau's ancestors have something to teach us all. Mau just wishes they would shut up about it and let him get on with saving everyone's lives!

2019 edition

'Terry Pratchett's masterpiece - a desert island story of epic and hilarious proportions. Now available in this brand-new, stunning edition.’

Widely thought of as the best book Terry Pratchett ever wrote, this is a story of a Nation, a story of a friendship, a story of growing up and the truths we must learn. It is epic in every sense...

Prepare for the world to be turned upside down...

For Mau, halfway between boy and man, it happens when a great wave destroys his entire village. For Daphne, it’s when the same wave crashes her ship into the island that was once Mau’s home. Everything they once had is now so far away, lost to distance and time.

But when Daphne stops trying to shoot Mau (she did apologise for it), and instead uses a salvaged invitation card to invite him to tea, they discover a new home can be theirs.

And then people start arriving on the island – some very good, some very bad. And it’s soon clear that Daphne and Mau must fight for their Nation.

Then a discovery is made that will change the entire world forever...

Podcast episodes

Major appearances

These are episodes primarily devoted to discussing this book.

Date Show Episode External link
2021-03-08 Pratchat “The Adventures of Crab Boy and Trouser Girl”
2024-03-31 The Truth Shall Make Ye Fret “Never Windsurf on a Crocodile” (1/3)
2024-04-07 The Truth Shall Make Ye Fret “Trousers All the Way Down” (2/3)
2024-04-14 The Truth Shall Make Ye Fret “The Final Form of the Haunted Sword” (3/3)

Other appearances

These are episodes that contain some important or interesting discussion of the book, but it’s not the focus.

Date Show Episode External link
2024-02-01 The Island of Brilliant “Christopher Edge”[1]


  • Adapted for the stage by the National Theatre in London; it was not well reviewed. (Pratchett’s own experience of watching it is recounted in one of the pieces collected in A Slip of the Keyboard.)

External links


  1. Co-host Frank is about to discuss his recent re-read of Nation, but when he mentions Truckers and discovers co-host Nadia has never read it, ends up chatting mostly about Truckers instead.