When a giant wave destroys his village, Mau is the only one left. Daphne a traveler from the other side of the globe is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Separated by language and customs, the two are united by catastrophe. Slowly, they are joined by other refugees. And as they struggle to protect the small band, Mau and Daphne defy ancestral spirits, challenge death himself, and uncover a long-hidden secret that literally turns the world upside down.
The heart of the book is Pratchett's serious examination of the roots and utility of religion. He's clearly a skeptic, and at times Nation reads like Philip Pullman, but with less anger and more jokes, and a bit more ambiguity…It's a wonderful story, by turns harrowing and triumphant, and Mau and Daphne are complicated and tremendously appealing characters. And since it's a Terry Pratchett novel, there is also a small army of vivid minor characters, including some colorfully venal British mutineers, a hilariously dry civil servant named Mr. Black and, in a cameo appearance from Discworld, Death himself, who appears here as a god called Locaha. It's a book that can be read with great pleasure by young readersand not a few of their parents, I suspectas both a high-spirited yarn and a subtle examination of the risks and virtues of faith.