The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
October 31, 2023 11:30 AM - Subscribe

A stupid-looking boy, an erudite cat, and a clan of intelligent rats taking the first steps in establishing their society travel into Überwald, to the town of Bad Blintz, to run their established scam: the rats infest the town as visibly as they can, and the boy acts as the Piper, leading them away in exchange for a good bit of gold. But the rats have been developing a sense of morality, and demand of Maurice that this be the last job of this kind that they take on, which may prove to be prophetic in any case... (Discworld #28) By Terry Pratchett

Hello hello and welcome once again back to the Discworld Book Club! We're currently trying to fill in the blanks I left behind in this series, which strictly speaking means that this entry should have been for The Last Hero, except that it's not on audible and my life has not been conducive to me reading something with my eyes these last few weeks, so we've jumped ahead to this one for now, and will come back to The Last Hero at some point in the hopefully near future.

The Color of Magic
The Light Fantastic
Equal Rites
Wyrd Sisters
Guards! Guards!
Moving Pictures
Reaper Man
Witches Abroad
Small Gods
Lords and Ladies
Men At Arms
Soul Music
Interesting Times
Feet of Clay
The Last Continent
Carpe Jugulum
The Fifth Elephant
The Truth
Thief of Time
Night Watch
Monstrous Regiment
Going Postal
Making Money
The Shepherd's Crown

Since I can't guarantee when I'll be able to get around to The Last Hero, let's assume the next entry will be for (I believe) A Hat Full of Sky

At some point in the recent past on the Discworld, something happened. Maurice, a cat, who had been simply an ordinary alleycat in the streets of Ankh-Morpork, suddenly became self-aware, and quite intelligent, and capable of speech. Moreover, so did a clan of nearby rats, though this was definitely a localized event, whatever it was, as the now-literate rats found themselves having to come up with a new term (keekees) to describe the mindless, panic-driven rats who they were once like.

Now in the present day, Maurice and the Rats have teamed up with Keith, a "stupid-looking"* orphan boy raised by the musicians guild, as they travel from town to town to scam them out of money that surely would have just been used for wars, by "infesting" the towns with the Clan rats and getting the town to pay Keith to Piper them away. It's a good scam, to be sure, but with the Überwaldian town of Bad Blintz on the horizon, the Rats have had enough of it.

See, they've been reading. Specifically, they've been reading from the children's book "Mr. Bunnsy has an Adventure," which depicts small animals and humans living in harmony, and have accepted it as kind of their Bible. Their spiritual leader Dangerous Beans (the rats could read before they knew what words meant, and took their names from words read off of tin cans and signs and stuff) has grown wary of their lives of deceit. His assistant and clan scribe, Peaches, is ready to see the clan forward towards a social future. Their leader leader, Hamnpork, is from the days before their transformation, distrusts "thinking," and is keenly aware of his advancing age and looming obsolescence.

And Maurice, shrewd though he is (he's a cat, after all) has trouble seeing any plan beyond the score right in front of him.

But in Bad Blints, they will meet the Ratcatchers already in residence, who have a scam of their own going on. They will encounter mysterious voices that could rip their newfound society apart. And they will befriend Malicia, the quick-witted, fairy-tale-obsessed daughter of the Mayor, who might let slip some hard truths about Mr. Bunnsy...
posted by Navelgazer (3 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In spite of having read more individual Terry Pratchett books than books by any other author -- I checked once -- I am not actually enamored of everything he wrote. It's just that, you know, dude wrote a *lot*, and most of it was at least pretty good. But I think he had his ups and downs as an author.

He wrote some absolute classics (I would rate several of the Night Watch books up there), and some books I thought were meh (which I won't name because they're bound to be *somebody's* favorite.) And a few like this, which occupies that spot where I can acknowledge its flaws, but love it deeply anyway.

Flaws it has. The storyline for the human characters isn't much -- and Keith, honestly, is barely a character at all. Malicia is a little more interesting, but still underdeveloped.

But Maurice! And the rats! And Mr. Bunnsy has an Adventure! I LOVE THEM SO
posted by kyrademon at 1:24 PM on October 31, 2023 [3 favorites]

I love all Mr P's books, and try not to have favourites, but there's a wonderful directness about the books written for a younger audience - this one completely knocked me for six when it came out dear God twenty-two years ago (similarly the Tiffany Aching stories and the Bromeliad trilogy (which this book has some thematic relationship to)).

Thank you for reminding me - I should read it again when I have time to read.
posted by Grangousier at 5:51 PM on October 31, 2023 [1 favorite]

This is a delightful read and unexpectedly heavy in its themes -- although really it would only be unexpected if you hadn't read any Pratchett.

They've made a movie that didn't seem to have a big US release. It looks kind of smug and annoying in a Dreamworks way, but that doesn't mean it's bad; I just doubt it will have much of what makes the book special.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:21 AM on November 1, 2023 [1 favorite]

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