The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (Discworld)

by Terry Pratchett

Paperback, 2008



Call number

PB Pra

Call number

PB Pra

Local notes

PB Pra




HarperCollins (2008), Edition: Reprint, 368 pages


A talking cat, intelligent rats, and a strange boy cooperate in a Pied Piper scam until they try to con the wrong town and are confronted by a deadly evil rat king.



Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

4.4 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member pallavi11
I am sure there are many big, and important books about the nature of consciousness. I am sure they are full of big, and important ideas. And this is a little book. About rats, of all the things. And except for the swearing- in rat and cat languages- appropriate for kids.

What is it that makes us
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rat- or human? What happens when you die? What is there in the darkness? And what about the darkness behind your eyes?

What is courage? The great speeches, are they about heroes, or about leaders beguiling their men- or rats- to death? What is courage? Where do you find heroes? What is fear? Why do we fear the night?

What is the meaning of it all? Is there any meaning to it all?

And, what are stories? Can they ever be real? What does it take, to make them real?

And, where do you ask these questions?
Phillip Pullman, in an interview I once heard, said that grown-up books are about issues. My girlfriend left me, now what do I do? They can not ask the real questions. The children's books, on the other hand, do ask the real questions. Who am I? Where do I come from? What is my purpose in life?
And it's true. Growing-up is about finding the answers to these questions. And if you are me, you grow up and realize that The answer is 42, and all these questions are not the really interesting questions, the really interesting questions are, say, how do aeroplanes fly? Why are leaves green? Does smoking cause cancer? Do COX2 inhibitors cause MI? The interesting questions are the ones which have interesting answers. Or answers worth finding out. Or something. I am not sure. As far as I am concerned, the answer to is there a soul, is- who cares.

But all the other questions, the ones which don't have real, testable answers, there is a time and place to face them. And the time is at the begining, of life, as well as civilization.

So we have this story about rats, who suddenly find that they can think, and then try to come to terms with it, their newfound status as people. You get lots of cool characters, the ineffectual leader, who gets replaced by the great, inspiring one, the thinker, the unscruplous con-cat with a heart of gold, the girl who believes in stories, and awesome women. Really, Pratchett is the only writer whose female characters are always awesome. They always sound real, are sensible and practical, like real women, and smart, brave, and overall amazing.
So are his heroes. Actually, I think I said this before, but every Pratchett character is very good at what they do. And they are believable. Heck, even his prophets are believable.

He understands religion. He understands racism, bigorty, humanity. He understands dreams, fear, courage. And I have a sneaking suspicion that he understands love. He might be telling stories and building narrative tension, but mostly he talks about reality, and about what things really are, and not what they ought to be for his story to work.

'And, you know, I don't think there're any wonderful islands in the distance for people like us. Not for us.' He sighed. 'If there's a wonderful island anywhere, it's here.

He understands dreams, and stories, and how they change reality and get changed by them.

I left it incomplete, and now it is too late to complete it...
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LibraryThing member reading_fox
Another non-children's book. Anything that opens with "just a story about people and rats. And the difficult part of it was deciding who the people were, and who were the rats." Is not just a children's story.

Nominally it is a retelling of the famous bavarian fok tales of the Pied Piper of
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Hamelin. But viewed through the discworld's cyncically distorting lens in true Pratchett humour fashion it becomes a dark and disturbing tale of human cruelty, greed, ruthlessnes and how animals aren't much better. It features disturbing insights into the mind of a cat, and apparently true facts about rats.

Maurice is a cat, who owing to the Unseen Universities' rubbish tip can talk, and think. As can the local rats. A cunning plan is soon formed with the aid of a simple human, in order to provide sufficient funds to travel to an island where they can be Rats on their own. Then they arrive in Bad Blintz in the hills. Where the offical Ratchatchers guild already has a presence. And the town is starving. And the Mayor has a daughter who believes in stories.

Amusing, very cynical, a dark stab at human morality. One of Terry's best. If you've ever had rats in your house do not read this book. You will be even more disturbed then you were before.
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LibraryThing member setnahkt
The best children’s books are not full of sweetness and light and lollipops; they’re full of fear and death and monsters. So it is with The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. This is set in the Discword universe. Yes, there are talking animals; the titular Maurice the cat and a mischief
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of rats, victims/beneficiaries of a magical accident that left them sentient and intelligent. They setup a scam to make themselves rich enough to escape to a place where rats can live in peace – but their best laid plans go astray, and they’re confronted with fear and death (in this case, Death) and monsters. A particular part I liked is the older rats are portrayed as conservative and stodgy and authoritarian – rat Tories or rat Republicans - and it would have been an easy, cheap shot to turn them into villains. But, instead, when things go down they display traditional virtues; loyalty, bravery, and self-sacrifice. Recommended, even if you’re not a child. Especially if you’re not a child.
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LibraryThing member pwaites
This is a stand alone YA book. However, it’s also the twenty-eighth book in the Discworld series. You can read it as either one and find things to enjoy.

A talking cat named Maurice devises a scam: get his sentient rat friends to infest a city then get this stupid looking kid he found to play a
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pipe. The rats all leave, the kid gets a reward, and the money’s gets split. Perfect, right? Unfortunately, the rats have now learned the word “ethical,” and Maurice is forced to agree that Bad Blintz will be the last town they con. But Bad Blintz already has a rat problem, and beneath the streets they will find a nightmare world of traps and poisons, with something evil lurking in the shadows.

There is something very important about The Amazing Maurice. Are you with me? Because here it is: DO NOT DISMISS THIS BOOK JUST BECAUSE IT HAS TALKING ANIMALS. Yes, there’s a talking cat and rats. That does not in any way mean this book is infantile or for children. It’s possibly the most under appreciated novel in the Discworld series for this reason.

“The trouble with thinking was that, once you started, you went on doing it.”

If there’s one reason to read The Amazing Maurice it’s the rats. Having suddenly gained intelligence due to eating wizard’s garbage, the rats find before them a whole new world of ideas and thought. They have to figure out what it means to be rats, how to form a civilization without just becoming “little humans.” They begin asking questions like “What’s the part of me that dreams at night?”, “What happens after you die?”, and “Where did we come from?”. They begin forming their own myths and religion. In short, the story of the rats is the story of what it means to be people.

"So,” said the rat who’d raised the whole question about the invisible part, “when you wake up, where does the dreaming part go? When you die, where does that bit that’s inside you go?”

As always with Terry Pratchett books, I really love the characters. The rats include Dangerous Beans, a bright young rat who’s an explorer in the realm of ideas; Peaches, his argumentative assistant; Sardines, who dances his way through life; Hamnpork, the old rat alpha who’s not entirely comfortable with all this thinking nowadays; Darktan, the leader of trap squad who makes the tunnels safe for the clan; and Nourishing, young and with no confidence. All these individuals feel fully formed and realized, and I loved reading about them.

Maurice himself goes through quite a lot of character growth over the course of the story. He starts out a greedy conman and by the end he’s… well, still a conman but one who’s become more selfless. The weakest characters were probably Keith, the piper, and Malica, the mayor’s daughter, just don’t feel as fully developed as Maurice or the rats. However, Malica’s obsession with stories and the belief that she lived in one did lead to some rather wonderful quotes.

“If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.”

There’s a lot of darkness in The Amazing Maurice, from the menacing shadows of the rats labyrinthine tunnels to the impoverished town above. Humans and rats are at war. Can there ever be peace? But if there’s one thing I love about Terry Pratchett, it’s how his characters can be surrounded by darkness but not give into it.

“I am not so blind that I can’t see darkness.”

I would recommend The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents to everyone. If you want to try out a Discworld book, this may very well be the place to start.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page.
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LibraryThing member mattries37315
The piped piper comes to a town in Uberwald, but finds that he’s late to the show that features cats, rats, and stupid-looking kids talking to one another. The twenty-eighth and first young adult entry of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents finds the
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residents—new and old, human and nonhuman—town of Bad Blintz figuring out the fine line between real life and a story. The aim to bring the same Pratchett humor that adults love to a younger audience is on target.

A mixed troupe of “rat piper” con-artists arrive just outside the town of Bad Blintz lead by a streetwise tomcat, who a clan of talking rats and a stupid-looking kid named Keith on the streets of Ankh-Morpork. But everyone is getting fed up with just going around and doing the same old thing, the rats want to find a home to build their society and the kid would like to play more music. Maurice is just interest in money and hiding the guilty for how he gained the ability to speak, but he found more than he’s bargaining for in Bad Blintz because something weird is going on even his talkative rat associate find disturbing. Soon the troupe find out that they have stumbled into a long running conspiratorial plan hatched from a surprising source.

As always, Pratchett connects his humor around a well-known fairy tale or story then completely turns it on its head when the same circumstances happen on Discworld even as the characters fight their own preconceptions when comparing “stories” to “real life”. The fact that he ably brought his unique style to a young adult market without losing any of the punch from the jokes makes this a very good book. Although some of the sections of the book were somewhat familiar to a long-time Pratchett reader does take a little away from the book, it doesn’t necessarily ruin the book for first time readers.

Terry Pratchett’s first Discworld foray into the young adult genre is classic Pratchett through targeted at a younger audience. I found it as funny as the rest of his series, but some of the plot points were simpler than his usual work for obvious reasons. However this minor fact doesn’t ruin a very good book.
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LibraryThing member FicusFan
This book is a Discworld version of the Pied Piper. It is the start of Pratchett's YA series of life on the Disc.

Its not bad, but it also is not one of the great Discworld books. It has humor, whimsy and the Discworld way of looking at things. But in the end it fails to satisfy.

A group of rats live
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on a trash heap outside the walls and behind Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork, and of course the wizards throw their left-overs and failures over the wall. At some point the rats become aware. Yes, they become small people in fur suits with a rat outlook.

Maurice is a cat who prowls the area as well. He also becomes aware, and finds it a terrible burden for a cat. Eventually he ends up hanging with the talking rats because he has more in common with them than the other cats. He doesn't eat them, and he swears he asks his dinner if it can talk before dining.

The cat and the rats pick up an unprepossessing young man who can play a pipe and they are off on a life of low crime, in various small towns in the back of beyond.

There are funny moments, and the cat and the different rats are interesting and well done, though the cat is a bit cliched. I also enjoyed the twist they put on the function of a rat piper. The boy, Keith, is just not developed enough and doesn't really contribute to the story.

There are nasty human baddies, some good quirky local characters, especially Malicia, but it isn't enough to make the story complete. There are some evil rat baddies that are added, to make the book darker, but they only add distraction, and confusion. They live far from the wizards, so how did they become aware ? There is a feeble attempt to explain, but the whole sequence seems to be an added afterthought.

The book is also padded by using larger font, with more space, to make it a decent sized book.

It is s quick, fun, light read that can be finished in a couple of hours. It just isn't very memorable for a Discworld book.
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LibraryThing member cmbohn
I'm not sure if this is more of an adventure or a fantasy, but it was good fun! Pratchett is a master at taking a well known story and giving it a tweak or two until it becomes something completely unexpected. The story in question this time around is the Pied Piper. And the tweak is that the rats
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are in on the deal and agree to split the money with the piper. So much fun! I liked the cameo appearance by DEATH. If you're a fan of his Discworld books, this one is worth looking for in the kids books. But even if you've never heard of him, this is a great place to begin.
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LibraryThing member drrox
This is Pratchett's suitably offbeat-yet-thought-provoking spin on the tale of the Pied Piper, and yes the rats are the stars. In true Discworld tradition, these rats aren't just normal rats, they're magical rats. Or more accurately, rats that have spent too long poking round the Wizards' rubbish
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dump at the back of the Unseen University and have now found themselves "uplifted" - able to speak and read and think in a far more advanced manner than was previously the case. Pratchett uses this novel to explore - among other things - the notion that the reason humans stereotypically hate rats so much is because rats are just so much like ourselves, and he also explores and satirises the fairy tale / folk tale genre as a whole. So although this is ostensibly a kid's book there are some really deep and important messages bubbling away under the surface. It's a great story, as funny as you'd expect from Pratchett but with some very moving scenes too.

Speaking as a rat lover and owner of seven fancy rats I can say I was impressed: Pratchett had done his homework and although, of course, real rats don't talk and read and name themselves after words on tins, the way these rats behaved - particularly in their struggles between their rational "uplifted" thoughts and baser "natural" instincts - did feel very convincingly rat-like.
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LibraryThing member MrsLee
Maurice is a cat who suddenly finds himself "aware" and thinking. He meets some rats who are in the same predicament, and a boy who can play a tune on a pipe. Maurice is too clever by half. He has schemes. He may end by getting them all killed, or at least thrown out of another town by the Watch.
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wonderful story which examines what it means to be self-aware, and how many who should be in that state don't practice it at all. I finished this in one wonderful day.
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LibraryThing member ClicksClan
The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett is easily one of my favourite Discworld novels. I first read it in a rush because I was meeting the man himself and I wanted to have it finished before I met him. I managed to finish it in the coach on the way to the library where we
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were due to meet him.

I got my copy signed ('with cheese' is what he wrote) and had a lovely conversation with him about rats. At the time I had three pet rats, all white, just like the ones in the picture of Terry Pratchett on the back cover.

This one is actually the first in the Discworld series which is written for younger readers/children/whatever. It makes for a nice quick, easy read (and it's one that I'm plotting to get Mr. Click to read in the future considering he quite enjoyed Mrs Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H. considering he's a bit of a fan of rats). Plus it has pictures and a cute little fairytale about Mr Bunnsy running through the story as well. It's one of very few Discworld novels to have chapters as well, which does make it easier to find a place to stop when you have to sleep or go to work.

Now this review is blantantly biased, because this book combines several of my favourite things: Discworld, Terry Pratchett's sense of humour and rats. Seriously, it's like it was written just for me (had I met him before it was published, I would totally believe that it was). For one thing, the way that the rats behave and talk are exactly the way I could imagine my own rats being. Over the years I've owned (or at least supported the ownership of) twenty-four rats (obviously not all at the one time). Holly, Ivy, Carol and Bell were originally going to be called Hamnpork, Darktan, Dangerous Beans and Sardines until we realised that they were little girls rather than little boys and thought they needed something a bit more feminine (the former names are still on the cards for future rats).

Rereading this book always brings back good memories of the school trip we went on to meet Mr Pratchett. I ended up going on it completely by chance. It hadn't been advertised at school, only those people who the English teacher and librarian organising it knew to be fans were invited to go. I was taking a couple of books out of the library at school and the school librarian commented that she didn't know I liked Terry Pratchett. When I'd finished gushing about how much I loved his books, she told me that there was one space left on the trip and it was mine if I wanted it.

We went in a little minibus off to a library in (I think) Paisley. Listed to him talking about his books (one of which I now recognise as Monstrous Regiment, though at the time it hadn't been published yet) and then got to ask him questions. Then we got books signed, had our pictures taken, then the teacher and librarian took us to the cinema to see The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Clearly the best school trip ever!

With The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents every time I read it, I feel like I'm spotting something new. It's always the same with the Discworld books, there's always something there that I never noticed before. Of course, it causes problems when coming up with quotes to write in my book journal, because some of the things I'd like to quote begin on one page and are then summed or up returned to several pages later. I'd have to copy out several pages at a time to cover all of my favourite bits!

I think that this one would work really well as an adaptation. I'd love to see Sky doing it as they've done with the other Discworld stories they've adapted. I could almost see it being done in a similar way to The Tale of Desperaux, CGI-style. I realise that if they did, it could go one of two ways; either I would love it because they did justice to one of my favourite stories, or I would hate it because it didn't live up to my expectations. I still think it would make a brilliant film/TV version and would hopefully introduce some more readers to Maurice and his educated rodents.
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LibraryThing member punkypower
Until I saw a preview for Hogfather, I had no idea who Terry Pratchett was. I immediately got on LT to find out more about him. Imagine my pleasant surprise to find he has more than twenty books in his Discworld series.

I decided to start off with a book I had placed in my wishlist awhile back at
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someone suggestion, MahER.

Loved it. I'm a sucker for twists-on classics, and Pratchett does a great job here, giving us a new look at "The Pied Piper." Maurice, the suddenly talking cat, leads his kid and thinking rodents from town to town, making money off their fears. The rats talk Maurice into making Bad Blitz their last con. Will Bad Blintz con them?

I suggest this to any other Pratchett newbies. There is little connection to Discworld, and you can jump in from there.
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LibraryThing member slumberjack
With this book, Terry Pratchett returns to his earlier form. With a host of new characters to develop, and none of this usual standbys to fall back upon, he does in Maurice what he does best: turn classic literary and folk tales on their heads.

Having accidentally gained human awareness via magical
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spillover from Unseen University, Maurice and his rodent go from town to town, running a Pied Piper scam. The rats create havoc, creating demand for someone to get rid of them: enter Maurice and his well-trained piper. The rats, who are far more ethical than Maurice, want out of the scam, but Maurice convinces them to hit one last town. Unfortunately, the town they've just arrived in is different...

Although the Amazing Maurice is geared for children, it fits in quite nicely with the other books in the discworld pantheon. It's a measure of Pratchett's skill that the cynical Maurice only bears a passing resemblance to the cynical Vimes or the cynical Granny Weatherwax or the cynical Rincewind - or any of the host of cynical and world-weary characters that populate his books. All in all, a great read.
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LibraryThing member sara_k
Contrary to the title, Maurice belongs more to the rodents than they do to him. This clan of rats lived on the landfill behind a school for wizards and somehow they have achieved speech and higher thought. Maurice came by his speech and thought patterns second hand; he ate a speaking rat.

Wovin into
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a twisted "Pied Piper" the rats develop written language and struggle with ideas about souls, the afterlife, leadership, ethics, and morals. At what point do they put aside their rat nature in certain circumstances and what must they do to remain rats? or cat? Malicia, a seemingly silly village girl, turns out to have an important point: sometimes life is like fairy tales.
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LibraryThing member Nikkles
Maurice is a great character, exactly what a talking cat would be like. The story is an interesting spin on the story of the piper who plays the rats out of town that is set in Discworld. The story has the wit and humor that all of Terry Pratchett's books have. A really enjoyable read for kid and
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adult fans of Terry Pratchett. It also has a good moral about working together to solve problems, but really you could ignore that if you wanted . . .
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LibraryThing member Greatrakes
This is a book from the Discworld series, the first one is written for children. It's about sentience, ethics, and philosophical speculation. At least, for the rats it is, for the people it's about greed, stupidity and small town politics. It mixes elements of the Bromeliad Trilogy (Pratchett's
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children's series about four-inch-high nomes[sic]) and Moving Pictures in which animals gain unwanted human, speech, intelligence and self awareness.

It contains no characters from mainstream Discworld, except for a cameo by Death, and could be read easily as a stand alone children's story. It does have lots of jokes about fairy stories and folk tales - its main narrative thrust is based on the Pied Piper of Hamelin. I imagine that most children would enjoy it (I did). I think that Pratchett does a good job of moving children from a simple linear narrative structure to a structure with multiple threads and some flashbacks, he signposts flashbacks well and eases the story along.

The book contains lots of facts about rats that I wish I didn't now know.
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LibraryThing member callaliddie
A play on the fairy tale, The Pied Piper of Hamelin.
LibraryThing member gercmbyrne
Terry Pratchett is a god who walks among men. The entire Discworld series is a joy and only a strange mad creature cursed by gods and man would refuse to read and love these books!
LibraryThing member Amzzz
Quite amusing. I had to read it for Children's Literature at uni.
LibraryThing member jguy7500
Terry Pratchetts books are all brilliant. This one is aimed towards kids, so it's writing style is a bit simpler than his other Discworld books, but it's just as clever and entertaining.
LibraryThing member dogjeans96
Maurice is the employer of the Clan, a group of educated rodents. He has gotten a kid amazingly good at pennywhistle, and set up the stage for a rat infestation. The rats swim in the cream and everything a plague of rats would do. Then, a couple days later, the kid comes with a cat. He says that he
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will get rid of the rats. And he does. For a fee, of course. But all of that changes when they come to Bad Blintz. There is already a rat plague! Although when the Clan comes to the rat tunnels, there ARE NO RATS. So why do the rat catchers hang up rat tails in the center of town every day?
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LibraryThing member burningtodd
Whoever thought that a pied piper scheme could go bad? In this Discworld Children's novel the theme is explored. A Talking Cat, some talking rats and their musician move from town to town performing a pied piper scheme. All seems to be going well until they enter the town "Bad Blintz". In Bad
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Blintz, the rat catchers are already running a scheme to fleece the town, the town is in a panic about rats and there is an evil and intelligent rat king living beneath the streets and pulling everyone's strings. An enjoyable intelligent book that I recommend to everyone who is a Discworld fan.
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LibraryThing member benfulton
Terry Pratchett's young adult books are often better than his adult ones. This one is an example. One typical Pratchett gimmick is to take a traditional story like Macbeth or Cinderella and turn it upside down to see what happens, and this is what he does in Maurice, with the victim this time being
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the Pied Piper. What if the rats were the good guys, and the ratcatchers a bunch of underhanded goons? Thanks to the garbage heap at Unseen University, we get to find out. The story moves along quirkily, the romance predictably, and Maurice himself really plays out as a complicated character for a story of this type; his death scene could have been juiced into a real tear-jerker for anyone, I think, but is played pretty lightly for the benefit of the younger readers. At the end, a fair amount of consideration goes into the future relationships between Rat and Man, and it winds up almost as a thoughtful political essay that should inspire some consideration for the thoughtful student. Definitely a teachable moment, as they say. It reminds me a bit of Christopher Stasheff's Warlock series that I read as a teenager and was fascinated for the first time ever by the politics of the situation. Maurice is a good light read for adults and a thoughtful story for teenagers. Recommended.
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LibraryThing member macfly_17
This is a story about a cat and a group of rats who eat something magical and are able to speak and think. They team up with a musical boy and travel from town to town making money 'ridding' the town of rats. Until they meet their match in one of the little town.
LibraryThing member tundranocaps
I actually didn't know it was a Discworld Novel when I was reading it, and wondered about the familiar names, thought it was a book to kids set in a similar world, heh.And they are mentioned in another book! Like many other characters are mentioned in other books before they have their own books
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LibraryThing member SunnySD
Maurice, Hamnpork, Dangerous Beans and the rest - including the Boy - have a great scam going. The rats scare a few grannies, spoil a few pantry stores, dance across a few tables, and then Maurice and the Boy "play" the rat plague out of town. Sure, it involves lots of widdling, pantry raiding, and
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trap disposal, but they'd be doing that anyway, so what's the worry? But Maurice IS worried - not only have the rats decided to go straight, but this latest town is ODD.

In typical Pratchett fashion the story is never exactly what it seems. It may be written for a younger audience, but this is still Disc World - where anything can happen, and usually does.
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