One of the things I’ve always thought was very clever about the Discworld is that it’s an entire world. It’s big enough, and like the real world, diverse enough that it can cover virtually any type of story. Certainly you can parody gothic horror, classic fantasy, crime fiction and on and on. I mention this because sometimes the only connection between one Discworld novel and the next is that it’s set on the Disc.
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents is a bit like that. It’s the Discworld’s first ‘YA’ novel and it’s basically a riff on the idea of the Pied Piper, from the point of view of the rats (er and a cat called Maurice). For all that it contains talking animals and a little magic it could easily take place in a generic fantasy world rather than the Disc per se.
Maurice as I said is a cat and a talking one at that. He travels with a band of also talking rats and a ‘stupid-looking’ boy called Keith. Together they perpetrate a scam whereby they turn up at a town, create a very visible nuisance of themselves until Keith offers to play his pipe and lead the rats away, for a reasonable fee. This usually goes very well until they arrive in a town that already seems to have a very serious rat problem and some pretty effective rat-catchers. Soon Keith, Maurice, the rats and a girl they meet along the way are uncovering what’s really going on and it’s not pretty.
When I first started this book I was very aware that the language was aimed at a YA audience. However that faded fairly quickly as I became engrossed in the story. I will say that this is quite dark for a book for younger readers. It does have some disturbing scenes. However the humour is there as are the likeable characters.
I know I often complain that Pratchett has apparent difficulty ending a book and there’s really only two endings here, which is not that many compared to some, but I would have preferred a single show-down/climax and then a coda. That said I enjoyed the book overall. There’s some interesting thoughts here about leading/following, the need for and dangers of stories.
7/10 – a good story that works for old-not-so-YA-ers like ne.
TBR is up again to 255 (from 254) because I had a Christmas Amazon gift token to spend.