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Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents -Terry Pratchett

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Author: Terry Pratchett / Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    16 Reviews
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      07.01.2011 11:04
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      best in the series

      The amazing Maurice and his educated rodents is Terry Pratchett's 28th Discworld Novel. The book's main character is Maurice who is a cat. Not just any old cat but one that can talk and probably take over the world. His character reminds me of Puss in boots with only one difference he has rats as both friends and accomplices. Maurice has not always talked and has not always been friends with rats. Its only when your food starts to talk that it kind of puts you off eating. The rats started talking at the same time as Maurice and also have the ability to think. Maurice is the smart one of the group followed by a rat named Dangerous Beans. Dangerous beans got his name from a tin can. I felt Dangerous Beans was a good name but his other rat friends could have had different names. I know their names are meant to be funny but calling a rat Peaches or Hampork just does not appeal to me. Peaches is the kind of character in my opinion that could be a leader. It is only because he scared that everyone might beat him up that he keeps quiet. He is the first to raise a question about anything and as well as he likes to point out the very important flaws in any of Maurice's plans. I have really enjoyed everything in this book and especially enjoyed the rat trap disposal squad. (A team of rats set out to remove all rat traps. Darktan who is the leader of the rat disposal squad could have been named Rambo Rat as he would have fitted the same description and made that part of the book funnier. It took me a while to figure out how the book Mr Bunnsy had a role in the story. The book starts off with quotations from Mr Bunnsy but only later does it mention that the rats are reading from it. Conclusion This has been the best book in the series and every character is likeable even the minor characters.

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      29.07.2010 14:10
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      A great read for children and adults

      Meet the Kid. He doesn't really have a name, because he's all mysterious and all that. He makes a living going around town and piping away the plagues of rats that are swarming the streets, making everyone uncomfortable. It's a living, albeit a not very honest one. Those aren't ordinary rats. They're educated, and go wherever the boys takes them. It's a fantastic scam, and no one's caught on yet. And to think he's not even the mastermind behind it - his streetwise, talking cat Maurice is. The rats aren't too happy about this trickery, and agree to do one more before quitting, in the village of Bad Blintz. But things are different in Bad Blintz. The townsfolks are starving, despite their somewhat expensively built buildings, and the town seems to have a much stronger policy on rats. Something dark and dangerous is happening in Bad Blintz, and it's up to Maurice to find out what before he, his rats and his boy are the ones hunted. -- The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents was the first book Pratchett wrote targeting a younger audience. The book is considerably shorter than his others (with the exception of Eric), going at around 250 pages only. However, this makes for a much more concise story and it doesn't mess about with much, sticking just to the plot. It's a great story, though, filled with plot twists and turns. Although we see the story through the eyes of the boy, for the most part we have a much more interesting point of view - from the rats and Maurice and we're treated to life of the town as seen from the sewers and the small places humans can't go. It's really quite interesting as, although the rats are educated, they are still just rats. Throughout the story we get treated to an interesting ideals of ethics from a species we often associate with being disease ridden and almost evil. Here they question morality, and base their beliefs from the only book they've read, a sort of Discworld equivalent of Peter Rabbit. As is usual with a lot of modern writers, especially of fantasy, the themes and ideas of the book are a lot darker than we'd be otherwise used to, which I think is great as nothing isn't too mature for children, but offers a much more different view on the sorts of stories they're used to. They might have heard of the Pied Piper stories, but never like this (in fact, the ending of Pied Piper was pretty dark in itself. What on earth was he doing kidnapping all those children?). Not only does this make it more interesting for the child to read but also makes the story so much more accessible to adults. Overall it's a great story, if sometimes not appearing to be set on the Discworld. It's funny, witty but also filled with mystery and threat.

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      07.01.2009 12:39
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      Think you know the legend of the Pied Piper? Think again....

      A Discworld novel aimed at a slightly younger audience that the rest of the series, Maurice takes an irrevelant and often satirical look at the legend of The Pied Piper. Maurice is an intelligent cat- and not just in the cutesy-wutsey-aww-just-look-at-him kind of way. Maurice can talk. As can a select group of rats in whose company Maurice chooses to reside in. Together along with a young piper they have brought into their social circle , though admittedly it is more Maurice's idea than the rats, the group have organised a very clever and lucrative scam; upon entering a small town, the rats put on a show of force and misbehave in people's kitchens. Then along comes the young lad and Maurice and, for a small fee of course, the pair rid the town of their supposed rat infestation. The rats are trying to earn enough money to get to a small island where they can start their own ratty civilisation; Maurice is just doing it for the scam and as for the kid...well presumably he doesn't have anywhere else to be.... How are the rats able to think and talk? Well, they used to feed on the rubbish at the Unseen University, home of the Ankmorpork wizards. As for Maurice- well thats a mystery, innit guv? When the group reach the township of Bad Blintz in Uberwald however, things don't entirely go to plan. First of all there are the Ratcatchers who don't appear to have two brain cells to rub together but who are part of an extensive scam. Then there is the Mayor's daughter who is fond of telling stories and knows exactly and precisely how adventures are supposed to go. And who fits right in with Maurice and his band of brothers. And then there is the fact that there would appear to be no native rats in the town....it is up to Maurice and his group of educated rodents to discover just what exactly is going on but first they have to stay alive.... This is one of Pratchett's cleverest books to date that can be enjoyed by both youngsters and older readers as well. Satirical jabs are aimed not just solely at the Pied Piper of legend but also at traditional fairy tales (as written by the Sisters Grimm in Pratchett's world) and even good 'ol Enid Blyton gets a look in too! What makes this all the more poignant is that Pratchett has been recently diagnosed with Alzheimers which means future Discworld novels may become a bit of a rarity. It is such a tragedy that one of our most prolific and amusing authors should be crippled in such a way and, on the evidence on this novel, his absence from the literary world will be solely missed. If you've never read Pratchett before, you should think about giving him a go. Although set in Discworld, no previous knowledge is required for enjoyment of this novel and Maurice and his amazing rodents ends up being a very clever social commentary that never fails to delight and amuse.

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      09.12.2008 16:15
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      worth reading

      ____Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents -Terry Pratchett____ *About the author* If you haven't read Terry Pratchett you don't know what your missing. He is the author of the immensely successful Diskworld series and i would say that he is one of the most popular authors around. *The book* Maurice isn't like other cats he can talk and so can the rats that live near him on the streets. With being able to speak comes brains,something Maurice isn't used to having and he comes up with a money making scam-to go from town to town getting rid of the rat problems these towns have, first by giving them a plague of rats and then with the help of a kid that can play the fiddle he gets rid of the towns "rat problems",splitting the money between them. Things go well for them and they decide to do one last scam before Maurice goes into retirement . Something evil is already going on and what started as a bit of fun has turned into something very serious indeed. Who will survive? This book is fantastic-you can totally connect with all the characters and picture them in your mind. They all work well together. Maurice-acts all tough but is a softie insde. This book is aimed at teenagers but i think Terry P fans off all ages will like it.

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      13.09.2008 19:13
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      Pied Piper turned on its head

      Take a talking cat, some talking rats & a funny looking kid who turns out to be called Keith. It might not sound like much when said like that but throw in a tap dancing rat, A girl whose Aunts wrote fairy tales and who is convinced every life should tell a story and 2 crooked Rat Catchers who have done a really stupid thing in a town thats almost starving from lack of food. The rats are great characters and their gradual discovery that the book they thought was factual turns out to be a childrens story. A mayors curious daughter who spends her time searching for stories that she is sure must exist. This book has a great outcome, a brilliant match of who is the greatest Rat Piper with Keith managing to win using a trombone (which has keys if you own a 1st edition but has been corrected to not having keys in later reprints).

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        18.09.2006 03:57
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        A great book. Pratchett at his best. And remember, don't eat the green wobbly part.

        --- SECTION 1 - THE AUTHOR --- Terry Pratchett is... well, a very strange writer. That is probably the best way to describe him. Strange. Strange in a sense that his books all take place in the land of Discworld and towns named after spoiled Jewish food. Strange in a sense that some of his characters name themselves after things they see on soup cans. And strange in a sense that he totally kicks ass! As I vaguely pointed out in my last review over the Metallica album "Load", I like things that are different. And "The Amazing Maurice" is DEFINETLY DIFFERENT. Classifying this book in the Intermediate Fantasy genre is like classifying Einstein under the "guy" genre. Of course that's what it is... but it's also a lot more than that. All Terry Pratchett books are. This just happens to be my favorite one. Terry was born in Beaconsfield, where his first published work, called "The Hades Business" appeared in his school magazine when he was just thirteen (this was later republished in Science Fantasy Magazine and something else I can't remember). In 1965, he became a journalist for the Bucks Free Press. During this time, he was sent to interview Peter Bander van Duren, the co-director of a publishing company called Colin Smythe Limited. While he was there, he mentioned that he had written a novel of his own, The Carpet People, which was published in 1971. From there, the Pratchett legacy expanded, a formidable force indeed. His unique style and often humorous tales have sold him over 40 million books worldwide, which, in 2003, placed him in second place in the UK fiction sales total, right behind J.K. Rowling herself. Pretty impressive if you ask me. --- SECTION 2 - THE STORY --- In this particular Discworld adventure, a cat by the name of Maurice tricks towns into believing that there is a terrible rat infestation, along with the help of his band of educated rodents. As for how they got educated, I'll leave that for you to find out. Maurice, the rats, and a kid named Keith go from town to town and start setting off traps, taking food, dancing across tables in funny little hats, etc. until word reaches the governor and they call a rat piper. Then Keith comes out, plays a little tune, their signal to split, and the rats follow him out of there. Keith is, of course, payed for his services. As Maurice tells the rats, it isn't exactly stealing. You know, just because it's all an act, a few of the clan rats believe it is illegal and immoral, but Maurice assures them otherwise. But Maurice has this weird little ability to convince the educated clan of rodents that anything he tells them is true. Because he says if they didn't take the money, the government would use it to "start wars". All was going well... then they hit Bad Blintz. "'S called Bad Blintz," said the kid, referring to the guidebook. "Ahem...should we be going there if it's bad?" asked Peaches, looking up from the counting. "Hah, it's not called Bad because it's bad," said Maurice,"That's foreign language for bath, see?" "So it's really called Bath Blintz?" said Donut Enter,"Sounds like some kind of soap." "Nah, nah, they call it Bath because -" the Amazing Maurice hesitated, but only for a moment "- because they got a bath, see? Very backward place, this. Not many baths around. But they got one, and they're very proud of it, so they want everyone to know. You pro'bly have to buy tickets even to have a look at it." So they carry out the usual preparations as always. Rats get in, get messy, get out. Hoppity-skip, everyone's happy... usually. Yeah, but not this time. This time, another scam is discovered by Keith and the governor's daughter, Malicia. As it turns out, someone was already trying to convince Bad Blintz that they had a rat infestation - the rat catchers. Bad Blintz hates rats out of their minds. Food is disappearing all over the place, and in their frantic search for a solution decide that a rat infestation would be the most logical answer. Maurice began to grow suspicious when he realized they looked at him like he was Jesus Christ walking down the street or something. Trust, in a place like this something's bound to go awry. --- SECTION 3 - THE MAIN CHARACTERS IN DETAIL --- --Maurice-- The Amazing Maurice is an expert con artist and the ringleader of the entire Pied Piper operation. A fair dose of spontaneous education taught him the concept of money - and he liked it. Slick as snot and clever as is possible for a cat, Maurice uses his knowledge to scam money out of any village he crosses by, perhaps for reasons beyond those which he shares with his rat friends. --- "Let's leave 'em amazed," said Maurice, "Rats? They think they've seen rats in that town? After they've seen us, they'll be making up stories!" --Keith-- Often referred to as "the stupid-looking kid", Keith is the piper that Maurice uses to gather the rats up after they go on their little widdling spree. Though he may appear unintelligent at first glance, there could be a little more to him than what first meets the eye. --- "I am," said the kid,"I want to go on playing my flute in the future. It doesn't cost anything to play. But maybe the rats are right. We've had a couple of narrow squeaks, Maurice." --Malicia-- The slightly erratic daughter of the governor of Bad Blintz that believes that life is exactally like stuff you read. Although at one point in the book her rambling comes in handy, she's was obviously inserted to (successfully) add humor and, I think, is a bit... touched. --- "Abandoned orphan is good," said Malicia. "After all, a prince can only grow up to become a king but a mysterious orphan could be anybody. Were you beaten and starved and locked in a cellar?" --Dangerous Beans-- The wisest of the rats, and also the smallest, is the half-blind Dangerous Beans. The older rats were used to being regular rats their whole lives and never bothered coming up with questions about life - but there are quite a few forming in the little white rat's head that most others would consider best left unasked. --- "Yes," said Dangerous Beans quietly. "We can think now. We can think about what we do. We can pity the innocent one who means us no harm. And that's why it can stay." --Hamnpork-- The clan leader. One of the rats who dicourages the whole "thinking" scene. --- "I've widdled on everything since I was out of the nest," said Hamnprk, "Now they tell me it's not right. If that's what thinking means, then I'm glad I don't do any." --Darktan-- Tough, moody and agressive, Darktan is not one to stick around humans willingly. His naturally imperious atmoshphere, endurance, and take-no-crap attitude is what really brings the rats about in the end. And by then, he still hasn't quite forgiven humans for the what they put the clan through. A bad-ass in rat form. --- Darktan opened his mouth to say : Like you? No, we just don't hate you enough. We're not friends. But... Note: There are a TON more characters in books, but the above are the ones I felt were most important. --- SECTION 4 - WHAT I SAY --- I loved this book. Though it is generally intended for younger audiences, it's enjoyable for folks of all ages. 340 pages of hilariousness built around a solid storyline with (almost) believable characters and detailed descriptions of settings, feelings, etc. It's kinda hard to get into at first, because you have no idea what's happening, but read on a little and you won't be able to put it down (you may also want to go back and read the beginning again to see if it makes more sense the second time around, I know it did for me). As previously stated, it's different. Different is good. Can't exactly call it 100% original but that doesn't lessen the enjoyability of the book. Since American keyboards don't have the "pounds" symbol on them, I'll just say you can get the paperback version for a very decent price. Definetly one to look out for next time you visit the local bookstore or library. You'll understand the story even if you haven't read any of the other Discworld books. Trust me - this was my first one. And just wait until you see what happens at the end - wouldn't that be awesome in real life? --- SECTION 5 - CONCLUSION --- I highly advise you to check this one out, either for a good read or to shut the kids up. Hehe...

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          16.03.2006 17:42
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          Lovely and entertaining, an easy flowing read. Enough twists and turns make it unpredictable.

          An interesting take on the old Pied Piper of Hamlin story. With, as usual, Terry's tongue planted firmly in cheek. He must need chiropractic treatments for that as it's his usual writing position. I unabashedly love all Terry's works, so perhaps I'm a bit prejudice - I assume everything that leaks out of those talented fingers will be wonderful and entertaining. I'm forever laughing out loud about every half a page. Sometimes wiping away tears or running to the lou from laughing too hard. I love characters that people in the story "don't get" right away, if ever. But thankfully, SOMEone always does (usually the only important one that matters, in the end) and pays them their rightful due. Thank you Terry - for contributing to my happy reading life. The offer of bearing your children (nod to your lovely wife) is still open. <wink, wink>

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            28.02.2006 13:32
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            Pratchett does it again... a great story for children and adults alike.

            The Amazing Maurice is a cat, and His Educated Rodents are… um… rodents. What is a cat doing with educated rodents, I hear you cry. Well you see, not only the rats are educated, but Maurice himself is educated and more than a bit cunning. The rats have no idea how they came to start thinking, while Maurice has a suspicion that he hopes is not true. Anyway, cat, rats. Add into the mix one stupid-looking kid and you have the perfect scam – rats invade town, rat piper shows up and leads rats away (for a small fee, of course), everyone’s happy. Everything’s going well but they seem to be developing consciences,,, very inconvenient, especially for cats. So they decide that this town will be the last one they do… but in this town they find something new… EVIL… and they are the only ones who can stop it. The rats call themselves “The Clan”, distinguishing themselves from rat packs. They long to be more than just rats… I’m not going to give away any more of the plot, but here are some of the characters you meet along the way: The Humans ---------- Keith – a stupid-looking kid who only wants to play his pipe. Except perhaps he’s not as stupid as everyone thinks… Malicia – the mayor’s daughter whose relatives were the famous tellers of grisly stories, the Sisters Grim. She has acquired their story-telling ability – or so she thinks. Life is but one big adventure story to her… The Rats -------- Hamnpork – the clan’s leader, who’s getting a bit old and rather grumpy – doesn’t really agree with this new-fangled “Thinking” business. Sardines – a rat who had a brief stay in the theatre. Creates panic in towns due to his singing and dancing. Darktan – the trap-buster. Can disarm a trap at 50 paces. Peaches – one of the few rats who has learned to read. Dangerous Beans – the real thinker of the clan. And of course... ---------------- Maurice - the cat who always has a plan (and several back-ups). He knows where he’s at, all right. But his conscience is bothering him of late… ---------- You might be wondering where the rats all got such funny names from – it’s because they learned to read before they learned what the words meant, and chose as names those words they liked the sound of. It’s ironic humour like this that makes Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents such a joy to read (as is the case with most of Terry Pratchett’s books). The humour is always there, and the way that the rats struggle to come to grips with the world around them is a joy to read. There are plenty of funny and interesting characters throughout the book, the characterisation is perhaps a tad on the shallow side. (Given that this book is primarily aimed at children, that can be easily forgiven.) The set pieces don’t disappoint and the plot has enough twists and turns to keep the page-turning quotient up nicely. Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents is a Story of Discworld, which means it’s set on the Discworld but isn’t written in quite the same way as the Discworld novels, which are intended for adults. The simple and humorous writing belies the fact that this is a very intelligent social satire in its own right (don’t worry though, the kids won’t realise – probably – so it won’t upset them too much! :-D) Kids of all ages from 10 to 80 will enjoy this book immensely. Each chapter is introduced with an excerpt from “Mr Bunnsy Has An Adventure”, the significance of which will become clear as you read the book. However there are a couple of things that hold me back from giving it 5 stars. The first isn’t really a fault of the book in itself, but having read so much Pratchett before, including his books written primarily for children and the majority of the Discworld novels, some of the themes and humour just seemed a little too familiar. (Not that they weren’t still funny, but somehow I got the feeling I’d been here before.) Also given that it is aimed at children, some of the scenes were, I felt, a bit on the brutal side, and likely to upset some children. The above are not really major concerns and Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents certainly does have a charm of its own. All Pratchett fans will love this (irrespective of age), and many who find themselves unmoved by his Discworld novels may well find themselves being drawn into the story here. Very highly recommended, but not quite brilliant. ------------ Availability ------------ Available... well, pretty much any decent-sized bookstore I would have thought. Amazon have the paperback for £5.59 and the Audiobook CD for £12.99 (read by Tony Robinson). This book won the Carnegie Medal for children's literature in 2001. (See http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/carnegie/rec_win.html)

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              20.10.2005 10:20
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              Pratchett for teenagers and adults alike.

              Terry Pratchett is a story teller, a story teller well capable of enthralling adults and children alike. Maurice and his Amazing Educated Rodents is aimed at the young adult target group of readers, but I am sure many older adults (like me) enjoy reading it too. Maurice is a very intelligent cat, who happens to be able to talk. He bumps into some talking, thinking mice and a nice, simple, young man with a penny whistle thereby creating an intricate con in his sharp but lazy cat-brain. When you have a ready made, easily instructed plague of rats and an easily manipulated music maker, it becomes incredibly simple to make lots of money. (Hint - think Pied Piper and it all becomes clear.) The rats, on developing morals, insist to Maurice that they can’t continue cheating people any more, but Maurice, having the morals of a cat, persuades them to try just one last town, then they can run off with their money to a human free island in the sun. This last town is Bad Blintz. They already have a terrible, terrible Plague of rats, yet when Hamnpork and his band of rubbish-named rodents (I’m not being insulting, they chose their names off the rubbish at the junk yard) arrive, there isn’t a rat to be seen, how strange. If you’re expecting a long list of Discworld celeb appearances, you’ll be disappointed. Apart from the Death of Rats (Death gets everywhere!) there’s no watch, no witches and no wizards either. However, I personally didn’t miss them at all. This is a good, well rounded story filled with new, interesting characters and plenty of the social commentary you’d expect from Terry Pratchett. This book is all about morals, discovering your own personality and basically, growing up. Perfect for the teens it’s aimed at. It isn’t heavy though, it’s not like those cartoons that announce at the end, “And the moral of today’s show was…” it’s much more subtle than that. Through the Rat’s struggle to accept their new found knowledge and intelligence, I remembered the struggle I had to find out who I was throughout my teenage years and how it continues even now. If you’re looking for a complex, up and down ride of a book like Hogfather or Soul Music, you’d be better off reading one of the aforementioned titles. This story is simpler, more linear and a little bit more predictable than Pratchett’s other works. However, that doesn’t distract at all from the book. As the characters, places and situations are described in infinitely beautiful language, you do feel as if you’re down the rat holes with Dangerous Beans at times. If you’ve not read anything Pratchett before, then this would be a nice little introduction to his work. It eases you in to his funny, fast paced style without swamping you with it. I also think if you’ve read one of Pratchett’s Discworld novels and been put off by his jumping around, manic style, that you would enjoy this particular tail, oops, I mean tale. Don’t rule it out just because it’s Pratchett. It’s been a while since I was reading young adult books, so forgive me for not knowing and specific teen writers to compare Pratchett too. However, Maurice and his Educated Rodents has the same kind of hilarious fairytale magic as any of the Roald Dahl books, but sometimes I feel Pratchett doesn’t quite reach the level of child fantasy understanding that Roald had. So, should you read The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents? "You can think and you can fight, but the world's always movin', and if you wanna stay ahead you gotta dance." If you like flowing language, a simple story and lots of humour, yes you should. “Humans, eh? Think they're lords of creation. Not like us cats. We know we are. Ever see a cat feed a human? Case proven.” Do you own a cat? Then you’ve got to read this, you’ll find lots of places where Maurice acts just like your beloved moggy. “A good plan isn't one where someone wins, it's where nobody thinks they've lost.” When your story finishes, you like to think you’ve been challenged to think and discovered a moral or two, well then, you’ve really got to read the Amazing Maurice. So now, where can you get Maurice and his mates? Well, £6.99 will buy you a brand spanking new copy from WH Smiths or Waterstones, but look online and you can get new copies for £3 from Amazon and used copies from only a pound. This is worth a fiver of anyone’s money, be they Discworld fans, filling their collection or not.

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                05.08.2005 10:34
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                No room for the fantastic, said the man to the rat...I like it

                "Hey, Mum", says Darling Daughter (DD), "the school library has two whole shelves of Terry Pratchett - do you want me to bring any home?" "Oh, yes" say I, "Please." Fast forward one day (I read fast). "So, Mum, what's The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents about?" queries DD. "Well," I answer, "It's about one cat, and a whole slew of rats who can talk..." "What, you mean to each other?" asks DD. "Well, yes, and to anyone else who will listen...it's kind of a twist on the Pied Piper of Hameln." "The what??" Ah. I found this exchange interesting. One, that DD did not know the story of the Pied Piper, and two, that she made the assumption that the cat and rats talked only to each other a la Watership Down or much of Peter Rabbit (which is also alluded to The Amazing Maurice...), but were simply dumb (in both senses of the word) animals to human beings. For Maurice (the cat) and the cast of hundreds of rats can and do talk and understand both each other AND folks like you and me. And a stupid looking kid named Keith. And a girl called (the daughter of a mayor, no less), rather interestingly, Malicia. And a highwayman. Plus a couple of dense ratcatchers...and a city council. Oh...and one of the rats tap dances, and a few have a nifty synchronised swimming routine. But I get ahead of myself. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ But is it Discworld? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Normally, at this point, I'd explain to the uninitiated that Terry Pratchett's Discworld is a disc that sits atop four elephants, who in turn rest on the World Turtle. I'd explain that magic here is real. That the Discworld is a world of gods and magicians, DEATH as a personification (a seven-foot-tall skeleton with a scythe), and even the DEATH of Rats carries a wee scythe, and wears a black robe that no doubt has a little label inside that says 'extra EXTRA small.' (Actually, I made the label bit up). Thing is, though, you don't really need to know that to read The Amazing Maurice. The book is ostensibly aimed at younger readers (say around 10-13), and calls itself not a Discworld novel, but rather 'A Story of Discworld'. You really DON'T need any knowledge of the previous Discworld books to understand and enjoy The Amazing Maurice. What you do need, and indeed, what you will soon understand whilst reading it, is that it's the NARRATIVE that's important. The story is all. Things happen purely for dramatic purposes - when a dresser full of plates falls, one plate inevitably "roll[s]...spinning round and round and getting lower on the floor with the groiyuoiyoiyooooinnnnggg sound you always get in these distressing circumstances." Well...mostly. Real life does insist on interfering with Malicia's insistence (and our expectations) on DRAMA. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Confused? OK, OK, THE PLOT ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Take one very bright, and very mercenary, talking cat (Maurice). To the cat, add a load of unusually named rats, who also can talk. Combine, and slowly add one stupid looking kid, who plays a mean pipe. The mixture gives you one nifty scam. Maurice conceived this little, mostly harmless con - he, the rats and Keith (the boy) enter a town. The rats do what rats do best - widdle on the cheese, frighten housewives, gnaw on the bread, and perform a little tap-dance (thanks to Sardines, the tap-dancing rat). ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ As an interlude, I should add that the rats named themselves after words they'd seen in the rubbish tip on which they lived and fed. You see, the rubbish tip was behind the Unseen University - the university for wizards. Who KNOWS what wizards chuck out - and how the detritus has been altered by magic. Eating that stuff causes...A Change. Of course, Maurice himself isn't certain what Changed him...after all, HE didn't eat from the tip... ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ANYWAY, Keith offers to pipe the rats away for a small fee. Keith pipes, the rats follow. The mayor pays off the kid, and everyone is happy. Or that's how it's supposed to work. And that's how it did work, until they enter a town with rich buildings and poor people. Maurice may be well aware that the Bad in Bad Blintz means 'bath', but really, there is something VERY bad happening in Bad Blintz. Something very bad indeed. For a start, the tails the very well-fed looking ratcatchers proudly display appear to have aglets. And our Clan of rats notice something else very odd...for despite the clear shortage of food for Bad Blintz's residents, there are no rats - or rather, there are no wild, dumb rats. Oh, there are plenty of traps, and there's lots of poison. There are rat-runs a plenty. Just no...rats...besides themselves. Until, of course, they find the cages... And there's the darkling voice. Maurice hears it in his head. It's not a nice voice. It's really not. It says to Maurice "I can think for EVERYONE. I will always be with you". It doesn't mean that nicely. Clearly it's up to Maurice the cat; Dangerous Beans, Peaches, Darktan, Hamnpork the rats; Keith the 'stupid looking boy', and Malicia the mayor's daughter - the granddaughter of the sisters grim - the girl who believes everything is a STORY, to do something. And I'll leave the rest to you to read. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Matty's Thoughts, Recommendations and all that jazz ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Oh, I did like this book - far more than I thought I would. "A Discworld book that isn't really Discworld," I thought, "what's the point?" But there IS enough of Discworld in there for the hardened fan (DEATH and the DEATH of Rats both have small cameos), yet it is stand-alone enough for the young person (or the young of heart) who has not yet experienced the joys of Pratchett's fertile imagination. Since The Amazing Maurice is ostensibly aimed at younger readers, it doesn't have the layers of complexity that other books in the series do - but this isn't really a bad thing. In some of his later books, Pratchett got almost TOO complex and convoluted - for example, in Thief of Time. Here, he goes back to the simple, humorous style. Yet, as is typical with Pratchett, it is still poignant in places - Darktan speaks to the mayor about the responsibilities of leadership: "'It's just all a lot more complicated than I ever thought it would be!' said Darktan, bewildered. 'Because after you've learned to shout you have to learn not to!'" There are observations about teamwork, about responsibility (both of leadership and of sentience). There are observations too about, how shall I put it...getting along? Here, rats and humans will learn to get along, at least for one lucky town...but it will take time. After all, they are so different - different cultures, different written languages, different sizes and colours...different number of feet... And, of course, there is the nearly final ironic observation about the power of the story, and where it fits in: "'Stories are just stories. Life is complicated enough as it is. We have to plan for the real world. There's no room for the fantastic' 'Exactly,' said the rat. And the man and rat talked, as the long light faded into the evening." Um...yeah. No room for the fantastic, said the man to the rat...I like it. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Price & Availability ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The copy (from, if you recall, the school library) is hard back, and carries a cover price of £12.99. The paperback cover price is £5.99. You can no doubt get it cheaper on line (Amazon are selling it at £4.79). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Last Word(s) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents is highly recommended (by me) for Discworld fanatics and virgins alike.

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                  15.06.2003 08:48
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                  This is a rather unusual offering from Terry Pratchett, in that it's set on Discworld, but is said not to be one of the Discworld novels because it is instead 'A Story Of Discworld' for younger readers. Not that that put me off reading it of course, but then I've always found Terry's children's books every bit as entertaining and clever as his 'grown-up' ones. In this, I know I'm not alone, though interestingly enough, there is also a lot of crossover traffic from (technically) younger readers to the Discworld novels, so I suppose it all works out in the end. THE PLOT. Maurice, the rats and the stupid looking kid (Keith) have devised the perfect scam. That is to say, Maurice has devised the perfect scam which just happens to involve the others. Maurice is the streetwise cat who, for no good reason that anyone can think of, has undergone a remarkable change. The same remarkable change as the rats. They've all got intelligence now. They can think and talk and have developed self awareness. The rats probably picked it up eating from the rubbish heap next to Unseen University. Well, wizard's rubbish isn't exactly the same as everyone else's, is it. But Maurice certainly doesn't eat rubbish. It's a real poser alright! Nevertheless, Maurice has got intelligence as well, and he's going to put his to good use, in his opinion at any rate. This involves the rats, the stupid looking kid and a lot of money changing hands, or rather, changing from hands to claws if everything goes as Maurice plans. And so they travel through various towns and cities. The rats go into a town first and make their presence felt by widdling in the flour and leaving creamy footprints to bear witness to their passing (passing water in the case of the flour). Then, when the town is suitably hysterical, by a stroke of immense good fortune there appears a piper in the town. Everyone knows about rats and pipers. If you&# 39;ve got rats, you need a piper to play them out of town and preferably into the nearest river, thus solving the problem. The fact that rats can swim has never held any bearing on this story (well you don't want to go spoiling a good story with obvious facts after all). And so, with the rat plague thus dealt with, the happy townsfolk gladly pay the piper's fee, leaving him, his ever present cat and a plague (small group) of rats to quietly move on to another town or city and another plague (small group who get around a lot) of rats. Sooner or later though, someone had to cotton on. And so the merry band are looking for a town in an out of the way place, where people haven't yet heard rumours of convenient rat plagues which are linked to a piper and his cat, in which to pull their scam one last time before retiring. Uberwald (that's pronounced Oooberwald) is out of the way. It's so far out of the way, it risks being in the way from the other side, and so the group comes to the town of Bad Blintz (suitably Germanic. Think Hamlin of Pied Piper fame here). And that's where it all starts to take a more sinister turn. First there's Malicia Grim. Not that she's sinister of course, but there is something scary about her and it's not just the fact that she sees everything as a story. For seasoned Discworld fans, this girl is one of those Granny Weatherwax types in the making. She's convinced she's never wrong and she wouldn't admit it if she was. Not that she ever is, you understand. At least not in her eyes at any rate. And she is unbelievably single minded. She's an organiser of other peoples lives whether said person wants their life organised or not. It's not her fault they're too dumb to see that her way is better. Are you starting to get the picture. On entering the town, Keith and Maurice find things are not what they expect. Rich, ornamental buildings are contrasted wit h lean, hungry looking people who are subject to severe food rations. Bad Blintz is apparently already suffering from a plague of rats. Of course the new faces in town stir up interest, but frankly, people are taking just a little too much interest in Maurice. Yes he can talk, but they've always kept this fact well hidden from the populace at large (highwaymen not withstanding). Not that it takes Malicia long to trick Maurice into talking. Here, his brain has come up against its equal, or possibly even its superior, in deviousness at any rate. Meanwhile, under the town, in the tunnels and sewers which inevitably exist, the rats are also finding Bad Blintz is not quite as it should be. For one thing, there are a disproportionately large amount of traps and poison. The rats have devised ways of disarming the traps and they even have antidote for some of the poisons, though not all. But where are all the other rats. They eventually find one in a trap designed not for killing rats, but simply for catching them alive. This rat is terrified, not of the new rats, or of the traps and poisons, but something much darker and more malevolent. This is all very disconcerting and the fear and tension among the rats begins to build. Let's look at the rats for a moment or two. Hamnpork is the chief and he's beginning to feel his age. He and some of the older ones have found the change much more difficult to cope with. They don't want to embrace the new ideas of Dangerous Beans. They just want to be rats, but can't any longer because now they've got intelligence. Dangerous Beans does all the rats philosophical thinking for them. He's white and almost completely blind and yet can out-think the rest of the group. He's even starting to come up with rat laws. Peaches is his aide de camp if you will. She can do a mean bit of thinking herself. She doesn't trust Maurice and has already had to point out to him that although letting them keep the gold pieces while he kept the silver ones was fair, he had in fact got a bit mixed up, and the silver pieces were the moon coloured ones, not the sun coloured ones, as he'd claimed. Darktan is in charge of trap disposal and has found a way of using tools to help him. Sardines is a major part of the team who frighten the townspeople because of his own peculiar talents, which are wearing a straw hat and tap-dancing (don't ask). Oh, and they all got their names from various signs and labels around the rubbish heap. And then there's the rat-catchers. A decidedly dastardly pair. If you cut them in half, they'd have villain written through them like a stick of rock. Why are they carrying rats tails which have aglets on them (for those of you who, like me, always thought aglet was probably some kind of medieval woodworking tool, an aglet is the metal bit on the end of a bootlace). What are they up to and more importantly, who thought of it for them, because these two are definitely from the stagnant end of the gene pool and there's no way they do their own thinking. But most of all, what is the evil that lurks in the cellars. They can all sense it. But can they beat it to give us the happy ending all stories are meant to have. So, should you buy it or not? There is a decidedly darker side creeping into Terry Pratchett's later books. Most obvious in the recent Nightwatch, it is nevertheless hinted at even in this story. We get the sense that we are no longer guaranteed a happy ending. We might get one, and then again we might not. Death is no longer just the amusing anthropomorphic personification of the earlier novels, but now a shadow on the edge of consciousness which we all begin to feel as the years roll by. There's an edge to these later works, which wasn't there in the earlier stuff, even in the most life threatening of situations. So now you're wondering whether it's suita ble for kids after all. Very much so. Kids think they are immortal, or at least if they're not, it's a very long time until they get old (25), and hundreds of years after that before they need to worry about dying. They're not the ones who'll be traumatised. That much I guarantee. Terry Pratchett's gentle humour is again, much in evidence although, I fear many of today's children will actually miss the allusions to the Pied Piper of Hamlin. So much for modern education. The streetwise Maurice is such an appealing character. He's a hustler, the archetypal likeable rogue. For a cat, he has some very human qualities, not least of which is his ability to look at a situation and wonder what's in it for him. "No!" I hear you cry, "We don't want our children emulating someone like that!" or words to that effect. Be at your ease good people. Like The Pied Piper, this is a story with a moral, which will not be lost on younger readers. Maurice may not be perfect, but when he comes up against real evil, he knows which side of the bread his fence is buttered, believe me. Terry won the Carnegie Medal for children's literature for this book. And mighty well deserved it was too. This is more than just a scaled down version of an adult's book. Descriptions are kept to a minimum length with a maximum amount of information contained. Of course this is one of Terry's strengths in any of his writing. The ability to create, with words, a picture in our minds of the story. We see it for ourselves rather than following a second-hand narrative. The words used are generally understandable to all. They are not over simplified, but at the same time they are not from the Will Self school of advanced dictionary management. Any that are more complicated are usually immediately understandable from the context they are set in. The whole thing is structured within chapters (an unusual feature for Terry), and nicely paced. At the beginning of each chapter we are given a small passage from Mr Bunnsy Has An Adventure, which clearly leans towards Beatrix Potter's stories. To the rats, this is a kind of bible. It has inspired them in their search for an island (did I mention they wanted money for a boat to take them to an island where they could live happily ever after. Dear me. Forget my own head next). So if it's for kids, will the adults want to read it? I should say so! For one thing, I refuse to submit to having a deprived childhood, just because fate has decreed certain time anomalies in it mean it happens 20 or more years late. For another, this book will be just as much fun for adults as it will for kids. If you like Terry's humour that is. If you don't then clearly this is a non starter. Other than that, I'd say it has a wide appeal and thoroughly deserves a place in the book collection of anyone aged between 9 and 90. Available from good old Amazon priced £10.39 (List price £12.99) for the hardback - http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385601239/qid=1055600209/sr=2-2/ref=sr_2 _3_2/202-1223768-1951006 or £4.79 (List price £5.99) for the paperback - http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0552546933/qid=1055600209/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2 _3_1/202-1223768-1951006 . If you'd also like The Amazing Maurice wallpaper on your computer, try this link: http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/childrens/9_11booksofthemonth/9_11booksofthemonth.htm # Thankyou for reading.

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                    19.06.2002 08:31
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                    As a huge long term fan of Terry Pratchett's fabulous Discworld series, I was drooling with anticipation about this next, junior-sized addition to the saga. I got a copy yesterday, and I finished it this afternoon, and I loved it to pieces. 'Maurice' is less dense than the 'adult' Discworld books, but in no way is it less entertaining. Terry Pratchett makes no concessions in wit, style or substance. Much of the intertextual referencing is concerned with things younger readers will recognise ... but I had no trouble understanding these little in-jokes, -- which says something about this reviewer, I suppose -- and I still laughed myself silly at them. In addition, in classic Terry Pratchett style, there is much to provoke thought for adults, as well. This will be a great book for the classroom. In a light kind of way, this is actually a very deep book with some very heavy issues being handled ... but so deftly that you never feel like you're being preached at, which is a downfall of many young adult novels. My favourite character has to be Maurice, followed closely by Malicia. When you read the book, you'll know why ... There's a fabulous appearance by two of the Discworld's favourite characters, as well, and lots of other sly references to previous events elsewhere on the Disc that will have regular readers of the series chuckling. But the good thing about this book is that you don't have to read any other Discworld books to enjoy it ... in fact, this might well be a great introduction. There are chapter breaks in this one, which is out of style for Discworld, but they're headed by hilarious and relevant quotes from a children's adventure book. Fabulous. I look forward to another Junior Discworld novel.

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                      07.03.2002 04:29
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                      Having been a Pratchett fan since 'The Colour of Magic' I wasn't going to let the fact that this book was aimed at a younger market bother me. After all, I thoroughly enjoyed Truckers. The first thing that any Pratchett fan will notice (apart from the great cover picture) is chapters. I know a Discworld book with chapters if like Corporal Carrot with a guilty conscience but they work very well. Each one begins with an extract from the book 'Mr Bunnsy has an Adventure'. Like a lot things the author does, they don't make sense to start with but become a very important part of the story. So what is it about? Friendships, moral dilemmas, the battle between good and evil, the struggle to improve oneself, a search for dreams. Oh, and a Cat and some Rats! Maurice is a smart feline, and we aren't talking about being able to open a fridge to pinch the chicken here. He is a streetwise, intelligent, self centered con artist with the ability to talk and often to manipulate people. The rats are also intelligent but are struggling to come to terms with their new found intellect. Does the fact that they can talk and reason make them better than keekees (normal rats)? Throw in a dopy looking kid who plays music and Maurice comes up with the 'perfect' con. Go to a small town, get his friends, the rats, to make a nuisance of themselves and then get the dopy kid to lure them out of town. After all, everyone knows about pipers leading rats out of town. All goes well until they try it in Bad Blintz. Something is lurking beneath the cellars. Something that Maurice and his educated rodents hadn't expected... This book may be aimed at a slightly younger element but I haven't met an adult yet who didn't enjoy it just as much as the other Discworld novels. Personally I would put it down as one of my favourites along side 'The Last Hero' because of it's refreshingly new approach. It is also quite dark in p laces and hilariously twisted. Overall, it's well worth buying no matter what your age. Just remember 'don't eat the green wobbly bit'!

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                        15.01.2002 23:11
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                        This is the first Discworld book that has been written for younger readers, if you hadn't been told this before you started reading it though you might have found it hard to notice. The book definitely feels like it has been made easier to read than other Discworld books (which were already very easy to pick up and read), characters feel more like they fit into a children’s book (although are made no less real by this) and chapters have been added (Discworld books don't normally have them). The humour in the book also feels a bit different to other Discworld books. The basic jokes which are obvious to almost everyone reading the book are still there as are many of the observation type jokes (the type of joke that describes something that really exists/happens and makes you see how stupid it really is) but it feels as though there are less jokes that you really have to think about and may easily miss. This makes sense as most younger readers might easily miss some of the jokes/parodies that are in other Discworld books but it is also a shame as one of the things I liked about other Discworld books was that no matter how many times you read it there was always something that you've missed but that once you do you'll wonder how you ever missed it at all. Reading the book for the first time was just as good as many Discworld books (though not as good as the best ones) but I do feel that the book may not be as good as other books on subsequent reads. The story, surprisingly enough, follows Maurice and his educated rodents. Maurice is a streetwise tomcat who was always more intelligent than most other cats but has suddenly found himself with the ability to talk, more able to think and (worst of all) a conscience (he always asks his food whether it can talk before eating it at least). Soon after finding this new ability he met a number of rats who'd been living near the dump by the Unseen University and found that eating things that Wizard's have been throwing away can have side-effects, in their case the ability to talk and think. He's also found a stupid-looking kid (also known as Keith) who can play a pipe and set up a money-making scam, afterall he does have a plague of rats with him and everyone knows the stories about rats and pipers... After a few cons they head for Überwald, partly because it is full of small, isolated towns but mainly because it's a long way from the Commander of the Watch who's threatened to boil them all alive if he ever sees them again. The rats (sorry... educated rodents) have started to develop more of a conscience than Maurice and have started to feel that conning small towns out of all their money is wrong, this is to be their last con and they plan to make it a big one, unfortunately there is something new and something very, very bad waiting for them in the cellars below the town... Before anyone says I might have given away too much of the plot I'll just say that I haven't given anything away beyond the first chapter and the cover of the book. The story manages to do something that recent Discworld books have failed to. It introduces entirely new characters, in fact other than very brief mentions you won't see any familiar characters here (except for the usual guest appearance by Death and the Death of Rats of course), it also puts these characters in a setting that, though slightly familiar, has never been seen before either. Because of this it manages to bring something original to the Discworld, something that hasn't been seen for a long time as recent books have used either existing characters, familiar settings or both, not that I'm complaining as I've really enjoyed all the books, it's just nice to see something that feels almost entirely new for a change. The characters are all great too and manage to change your first impressions as you read the book. Maurice comes across as very cat like, intelligent in a cunning way and good at manipulating people but also uncat like in how he often thinks and acts due to his new abilities, he's definitely a character that has more to him than you'd think at the start of the book and he provides many of the funniest moments in the book too. Each of the rats feels different and unique and I particularly liked the names (chosen from words they liked the sound of before they knew what they actually meant), it's surprising how used you can get to the idea of a rat called Dangerous Beans, Sardines, Peaches, Darktan or Hamnpork by the time you finish the book. There is also an interesting contrast between the older and younger rats, the older rats being used to simply being a rat for their entire life and not really understanding the new ideas the younger rats are having. While the animals are easily the most interesting characters here the humans are well described, Keith changes from being what seems like a stupid character to someone who is actually fairly intelligent while the only other main human in the book (Malicia) is there mainly for humour, which she provides well due to the believe that life is exactly like all the stories she's read in the past. There is also a mini-story contained within the main story, which is presented at the start of each chapter and also mentioned a large number of times throughout the book. The story is "Mr Bunnsy Has An Adventure" which is a book full of talking animals that also talk to humans. Humans see this as a fiction book for small children while some of the rats think it is real, overall though it acts like a dream that the characters have for the future and also manages to fit it's own storyline in with the main one. It's a nice little addition to the book and manages to provide a bit of humour too. Being the first book for younger readers it assumes that you haven't read any other Discworld book before but also manages to add things to the book that will be familiar to people who have. One thing that can be annoying in books like this is having information that you already know from other books repeated to you as the author assumes you haven't read their other books, this is avoided here though and the few times old information does need to be provided it is shown from a different angle which helps make it feel new again. While the book is written for younger readers it probably still isn't suitable for very young children as it contains a variety of things that could be unsuitable. While no humans are really hurt in the book, after reading for a while you start to think of the rats (or Educated Rodents as they prefer to be called) as people and many of the things they encounter can be unpleasant. Nothing is described in detail and in most cases there is a happy outcome but even so there are situations such as death, rats being starved to the point where they start to eat other rats, poisons that have unpleasant effects and a number of other things. Overall there have been 2 new Discworld books recently that have been surprisingly better than I thought they would be. Out of the 2 though this is definitely the better story and not at all like I first expected from a Discworld story written for younger readers. It manages to be better than many other Discworld books, has a story that kept me interesting until the end, characters that became more real as the book went on and plenty of humour. Forget about this being written for younger readers and read it, even if you haven't read a Discworld book before this is a great introduction and a book I'd recommend to almost anyone. Quotes: 'Talk to the paw, mister, 'cos the whiskers don't want to know!' 'There's some milk that's not gone hard yet and a couple of fish-heads,' she said, peering inside. 'Sounds good to me,' said Maurice. 'What about your human?' 'Him? He'll eat any old scraps.' A voice from out of the darkness said, 'Are there are Wizards in there?' The occupants looked at one another in puzzlement. 'No?' said the kid, the kind of 'no' that means 'why are you asking?' 'How about any witches?' said the voice. 'No, no witches,' said the kid. 'Right. Are there are heavily-armed trolls employed by the mail-coach company in there?' 'I doubt it,' said Maurice. There was a moments pause, filled with the sound of the rain. 'OK, how about werewolves?' said the voice eventually. 'What do they look like?' asked the kid. 'Ah, well, they look perfectly normal right up to the point where they grow all, like, hair and teeth and giant paws and leap through the window at you,' said the voice. The speaker sounded as though he was working his way through a list. 'We've all got hair and teeth,' said the kid. 'So you are werewolves, then?' 'No.' 'Fine, fine.' There was another pause filled with rain. 'OK, vampires,' said the voice. 'It's a wet night, you wouldn't want to be flying in weather like this. Any vampires in there?' 'No!' said the kid. 'We're all perfectly harmless!' 'Oh boy,' muttered Maurice, and crawled under the seat. 'That's a relief,' said the voice. 'You can't be too careful these days. There's a lot of funny people about.' A crossbow was pushed through the window, and the voice said, 'Your money and your life. It's a two-for-one deal, see?'

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                          05.01.2002 17:29
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                          Amongst the presents I received on Christmas Day was this little beauty – The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett. What a great title for a game of charades! I have been really getting into Pratchett in the past year or so and had been looking forward to this one, because I’m a big fan of rats! I have kept rats on and off since 1989. We currently have three – two white ones (Sabrina and Salem) and a black and white one (Hattie). So this subject matter is perfect. Pratchett is a wonderful author, a classic storyteller in the old tradition. Of course, you get well-developed characters and bucketloads of humour, but the story is always central. This is especially true with this book which – being primarily aimed at children – is sharper than some of his other novels, it’s less waffly, more concentrated and yes, physically shorter at 270 pages. I love my books, whether they’re brand-new, second hand or many hands. I like smelly old battered tainted stained wrinkled books or shiny pristine stiff-backed sparkling new ones. This one is new and probably the best ‘presented’ book I have seen for a long time. Every detail seems to have been covered. The jacket is slippery and shiny, dark with a splash of bronze on the front which shows an intelligent-looking but crafty feline above a bunch of rodents. The most noticeable part of the picture must be the eyes, green cat eyes, piercing, alive. Then you suddenly realise that one of the rats has a hat on and you just know it’s going to have all the trademarks of a Pratchett classic. The back cover has a rat drawing on it and a pencil (the relevance of which becomes clear in the story), but the texture of this is strange. While the jacket itself is a dull slipperiness, the picture feels different, as if it were 3D and you could pick up the pencil and draw some whiskers on. Inside, the novel is j ust as carefully crafted. We have little silhouetted cat faces at the top of the pages, whiskery rats at the bottom. Each chapter begins with an extract from a book called ‘Mr. Bunnsy Has An Adventure’ and this is another clever little device – we follow the Mr. Bunnsy story through the snippets at the start of each chapter and it can be seen as just that – a story. But it also relates to what the rats in the Maurice story are experiencing too. This is one of those stories you can analyse for hours. I can just picture a load of university students sat around a few empty bottles, debating the parodies and metaphors they found here. How the ‘message’ is that anything can be achieved if you all work together and pull in the same direction. Yes, that’s all here too, but basically, it’s a jolly good romp through traditional storytelling skills with more than a sprinkling of modern-day humour. It is based on the legend of the Pied Piper, but with a twist. Thanks to scavenging from a load of rubbish discarded by wizards, one cat and a whole scrapheap of rats become Changed. With a capital C. They can think, talk, reason, debate – and one of them can even do a rather impressive one-rat song and dance act! Maurice is the cat and not being the same as non-changed cats, he doesn’t eat rats. Well, there was that one time when … But he’s altered now. Oh yes. He ALWAYS asks them if they can talk, before taking his first nibble. You see, the rats are part of his great moneymaking scheme. The rats move into a town and make a nuisance of themselves – which usually involves lots of widdling! Then a stupid looking boy (He’s called Keith) turns up with his cat (Maurice) and offers to play his pipe to rid the town of the rats. Keith plays, the rats leave, the town pays up and everyone is happy. But Bad Blintz is different. This looks like it could be make or break time. The town is poor, bread is rationed and the only people who seem to be doing well are the evil pair of rat catchers. With the help and/or hindrance of the mayor’s daughter, Malicia, Keith, Maurice and the educated rodents try to solve the mystery of the disappearing food. Not to mention the apparent absence of ‘keekees’ (non-changed rats). Oh and a strange powerful voice in the cellars… This book is probably aimed at children aged eight or over. There are a lot of clever bits that might go over the heads of the youngest readers, plus a few deaths and some violence. But they’ll love it – just as I did. Because yep, it’s also a book adults will love too and one that you won’t have to hide in a brown paper bag in public. Hold your head up high! Like J.K. Rowling, Pratchett is another author that adults should be proud to read. Just to whet your appetite, here are a couple of my favourite quotes… (p. 60) ‘At last!’ said Malicia, shaking the ropes off. ‘Somehow I thought rats would gnaw quicker.’ ‘They used a knife,’ said Keith. (p. 231) ‘… when I woke up there was a rat dancing on my dressing-table. Tapitty, tapitty, tap.’ ‘That’s odd,’ said Sergeant Doppelpunkt, giving his corporal a strange look. ‘And it was humming There’s no Business like Show Business. I call that more than just “odd”!’ ‘No, I mean it’s odd you’ve got a dressing-table. I mean, you’re not even married.’ Enjoy!

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                          Terry Pratchett returns to children's stories and to his infamous Discworld with Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, a clever spin on the Pied Piper fairytale with a lavish sprinkling of the Practchett magic.