Terry Pratchett – The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents

Before I get on with this latest entry in the Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon, I must digress. Nothing new there, I hear unicorns bigfoot regular readers say. Anyway, there is a bit of continuity wossnameness going on here.

When this book was first published in 2001, it was billed as the first Discworld novel for that curious marketing concept known as “younger readers”, and for years afterwards was listed, with some other books which we’ll come to in due course, in a separate section of the ever-growing list of books at the front of each new Terry Pratchett book. But after a while, there was a Great Change, and the “books for younger readers” were inserted into the main sequence[1] of Discworld stories where they, in my not even slightly humble opinion, belong. After all, plenty of those “younger readers[2]” were quite happily reading the other books[3], and most of what I suppose we’d have to call “older readers” were quite happily reading this book.

Anyway, that’s quite enough digressing. Let’s get on with the book. Oh, hold on – I’ve got another slight digression – the title of this one started as a throwaway gag in Reaper Man, as a slightly cynical take on the old Pied Piper story. In this story, we learn all about Maurice. For a start, he’s a cat who has developed the ability to think and speak under slightly mysterious circumstances.

What’s less mysterious are the circumstances that led the Educated Rodents to develop similar abilities. Rats will eat most things[4], and these particular rats ate some wizards’ leftovers, and were not talking uneaten pies. The intelligent rats have teamed up with Maurice and a “stupid-looking kid” to work their little scam in numerous small towns. Rats appear, cause mayhem, kid arrives with pipe and leads them out of town, for a suitable fee.

The only trouble is that, having developed intelligence, the rats are now developing morals and consciences, and conclude that conning people is a Bad Thing, and they should stop. And so, in the finest traditions of Story, they all agree to do One Last Job.

And of course, in those fine Story traditions, that One Last Job gets a wee bit awkward. Something is a wee bit wrong in Bad Blintz. And as time passes, it only gets wronger.[5]

There’s danger, adventure, and much more.

“And if there’s no rats under the town, but the rat-catchers are nailing up <word removed to avoid spoilers>, I smell a rat,” said Malicia.
“Sorry,” said Sardines, “I think that was me. I’m a bit nervous–“

And in the usual Discworld way of having odd resonances here and there, it’s a happy thought that there’s a watchman in Bad Blintz called Sergeant Doppelpunkt. I’ll give you a moment to think about that, if you didn’t get it immediately…

So, it is written in a slightly different style – it’s even got actual chapters, but it’s full of the usual warmth and wit, and should definitely not be missed just because it’s labelled as “for younger readers”. Just tell yourself you’re younger than some other people[6]. Or younger than you’ll be next week. That should do it.

[1] Err, isn’t that something to do with stars?
[2] Younger than whom, exactly? There seem to be increasing numbers of people younger than me these days, for instance. I’m sure it used to be the other way around…
[3] And explaining the jokes to their parents, no doubt.
[4] Including other rats
[5] Possibly not a proper word
[6] But don’t mention my age, thankyouverymcuh

3 thoughts on “Terry Pratchett – The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents

  1. Pingback: The Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon | Losing it

  2. Pingback: Terry Pratchett – Night Watch | Losing it

  3. Pingback: Terry Pratchett – The Wee Free Men | Losing it

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