on August 27, 2015
Great book! The usual to expect from Terry Pratchett.
on April 29, 2013
This is an awesome book even if you aren't a Pratchett fan. It is one of my favorites! It gives you something to think about in terms of how the food chain could work. Can the lowest creature's diet and experiences affect each creature who eats the next one on the food chain.
on October 30, 2008
I have always been told that, as a fan of fantasy and humor, I needed to read Terry Pratchett. And after reading THE AMAZING MAURICE AND HIS EDUCATED RODENTS, I now understand what everyone was talking about. Pratchett's style is simultaneously witty, entertaining, and incisive; he succeeds in this children's book in saying more about society than most adult books ever manage, and he does so while making you laugh out loud.
Set in an obscure corner of Discworld, the fantasy world in which Pratchett has written numerous other books for adults, a cat named Maurice discovers suddenly the ability to talk--and not just to talk, but to think and to reason. Maurice believes himself to be the only animal afflicted with this talent, until he discovers a group of rats living in the city dump who have also miraculously achieved the ability of speech and thought. As Maurice is emphatic about his promise to never eat anything that can talk, he and the talking rats get along rather well. Soon, along with the help of an orphan boy named Keith who was raised by a musician's guild, Maurice sets upon a scheme to make some easy money, and the rats go along in their belief that they may someday find a place where they will be free to live as talking rats without the fear of being hunted by humans.
Maurice's plan is simple. If the rats will go and infest a town, wreaking havoc for the space of a few days, the town leaders will be sure to call a rat piper to remove the rats from the town. Then it's Keith's job to show up, pipe the rats away, and receive a generous fee for his troubles, one that the rats and Maurice will share. Keith, Maurice, and the rats go like this from town to town...until they reach the town of Bad Blintz, and everything stops working as planned.
The story is populated by humorous characters that you can't help but take seriously. Maurice's sly cunning is undermined by the fact that he meticulously questions any rat he comes across before eating it, in order to keep up his first promise to the talking rats. The rats themselves are amusing individuals, self-named after the first things they could read in that city dump where they originated, so that the story is populated by creatures who go by Hamnpork, Darktan, Sardines, and Dangerous Beans. But under these hilarious names, they are at heart a people trying to figure out their own origins and explain the things they don't yet understand about their sudden ability to speak, and what that means for their future.
I would recommend this book to anyone who's not afraid to laugh, and anyone who's not afraid to think hard about the ramifications of being a person--or rat, or cat--capable of speech, thought, and reason.
Reviewed by: Candace Cunard
on June 3, 2003
From the first few pages of 'The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents', it was clear to me that this book was filled to the brim with wit and charm. Just the very premise is intriguing from the start, and I found myself laughing out loud at several moments throughout the reading of this book. Unfortunately, the book fails to explore of its possibilities, and when I had finished, I felt dissatisfied.
Set in Discworld, which anyone who has ever read a book by Terry Pratchett will be familiar with, a strangely clever tomcat by the name of Maurice moves from town-to-town along with his similarly educated rats, and, as the book often describes him, a Stupid-looking kid named Kieth.
What takes place on their arrival in each town is a scam durative to the familiar tale of the Pied Piper. The rats run loose through the town, being so utterly nasty, that the mayor of the town is only too willing to pay Kieth to lure them out of town with his music. Maurice takes the money, with the promise to split it later, and they continue to the next town--the perfect scam... that is, until they reach the town of Bad Blintz.
The Rats communicate with each other often throughout the book (they are, argueably, the main characters), and often bring up the 'ethics' of the scam they are helping Maurice pull-off--an unfortunate result of their newly aqquired knowledge. This prepared me for a possible revolt--possibly the Rats rising against Maurice and trying to thwart his scam before he can continue. Sadly, Mr. Pratchett avoids the difficult route, and ends the book with a rather long, drawn-out, somewhat anticlimatic ending. In the meantime, the book is filled with several subplots, none of which do the book any good.
'Amazing Maurice' has only its wit and charm to stand on--without it, it really isn't as amazing as you'd expect.
on April 23, 2003
This was a really cute story. Basically, a bunch of rats, snacking on wizardly refuse, attain sentience. They also hook up with a sentient cat. They can all speak, learn, and chat with each other, and at the Cat's devious notion, dupe a "stupid looking kid" to play the role of a rat-piper, moving from city to city where the rats act up, the Piper comes in and clears the rats out, and they all get paid.
This time, however, they've stumbled into a town where there's something really evil going on, and all the wisecracking cats, tapdancing rats, and stupid-looking kids in the world might just be in over their heads.
Well written, with a bit of whimsy in nearly every chapter, this was my introduction to the Discworld series, and I dare say I'll be back. The wonderful observations from the rats point of view are fantastic (there's a great part where one of the rats is asked something along the lines of: "Do you know what animal swarms into a place, breeds terribly, spoils everything they can't use and wastes everything they can until there's nothing left?" and the rat says, "Sure. Humans.")
The story gets a bit dark in places for a young reader, though a teen would probably get a laugh. And the mythology lover in me adores the play on the Pied Piper of Hamelin - like Orson Scott Card's "Enchantment" did for Sleeping Beauty, Pratchett did here for the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
on May 14, 2002
I really liked the book. I liked all of the names of the rats, especially Dangerous Beans and Hamnpork. It was really funny especially because they dragged around the book "Mr. Bunnsy has an Adventure".
on April 3, 2002
The latest in Terry Pratchett's wry, bizarre, exciting, and impossible to put down Discworld series, The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents is a humorous yet compelling story of a cat and his boy, as well as a tribe of rats who have all gained sentience due to the accidental side effects of wizardly machinations. The cat has also been blessed or cursed with sentience - for how is a cat ever meant to be capable of pondering the distinction between right and wrong, predator and prey? And now that the rats have the ability to think for themselves, they must find a new way of living, for they are no longer like ordinary rats in this superb, fascinating story that parallels "The Secret of NIMH" but with a closer reflection of true human nature - even as human nature can apply to cats and rodents. Terry Pratchett's Discworld series has been first-rate reading since its debut with "The Colour of Magic," and the latest in this proud, funny, and often insightful series does not disappoint. A "must" for the legions of Terry Pratchett fans!
on March 18, 2002
Once again Terry Pratchett reaches into is back of tricks and pulls out a rat named Dangerous Beans or another rat called Sardines (a dancing rat, mind you), or a street cat called Maurice, or a young woman named Malicia and even a boy named Keith. Keith? Must be a slip up. Let's see, the story all started when some ordinary rats got into the Magic College's trash heap and ate some thing that gave them brains. Well, a lot more brains than they had before.
And then a hungry cat ate one of the rats and suddenly it was getting regular headaches and making a point of not eating anything that talks. Maurice, being a practically minded cat, immediately saw the possibilities, and recruited Keith, who was a bit dumb looking but could play the pipes. Suddenly the troop was on the road, working the old pied piper scam, and making good money at it. Dangerous Beans was their spiritual guide, their thinker of Big Thoughts, the rest take care of undoing traps, spotting poison and widdling on things, etc. In no time, town after town was anteing up to get rid of their rats.
The only drawback was that one couldn't very well work the same trick in the same place twice, so eventually the gang found themselves in the town of Bad Blintz. And this town was just a bit different. For one thing the resident rats had eaten all the food, but there weren't any resident rats to be found. For another thing, the resident rat catchers seemed to be making rat tails out of shoestrings. And there is something really, really bad in the cellars beneath the city. Worst of all, Malicia the mayor's daughter also lives in Bad Blintz.
If the above description gives you a clear idea of what 'The Amazing Maurice...' is about I've done my job poorly. Suffice it to say that a group of rats that do a much better job of being people than people do find themselves in a battle to save the town and, perhaps, life as we know it. Once again Pratchett has created a morality tale out of sarcasm and parody. One that can surprise us by touching our hearts unexpectedly. In Discworld, where nothing works quite like it should, things still manage to work out well (well, most of the time... for some people).
This tale is funny and likeable. While intended for young adults it works just as well for old youngsters like me. Even the strange references to Mr. Bunnsey and Ratty Rupert are fun. Just don't eat that green wobbly bit.
on January 20, 2002
Maybe I'm getting TP jaded, but his earlier works are funnier. This was very good, but pretty much to the point. Need to keep that blend of humor and drama.
On the Discworld, even wizards produce leftovers. Their discarded garbage, however, is laced with traces of magic. Out on the tip, the rats forage in the scraps - apple cores, candle stubs [good carbohydrate source], dogends. Like any trace mineral, the magic builds up until the rats have changed, gaining new talents. Among those talents are speaking and reading. Speaking allows them to communicate better while the reading gives them words to use as names. They're an organized group now, and they have an ambition. They want to find a safe place for retirement. They have a mentor, Maurice, a cat who shares their talents, but has an extra one of his own - he's a con cat. And he has a story hidden away.
A street smart feline, Maurice has learned the value of money. He knows how humans use it, and he wants the independence it offers. To gain it, he's organized the rats and adopted Keith, a rather simple human, into his group. Together, they work the towns to create a "plague of rats" then provide a piper, Keith, to lure them away - for cash. Despite disputes over percentages, the team has scored many successful ventures. But Keith, and the rats, are having misgivings over the ethics of the con. They want to quit, and Bad Blintz will be the last place they work the con.
Every venture has its risks. Bad Blintz is clearly not a rich place. The villagers queue up for bread and sausages, which are in short supply. There are rat catchers who carry strings of tails, but the team can't find a live rat anywhere in the maze of cellars and tunnels beneath the town. In resolving this conundrum, team encounters a powerful new force - one that challenges all the skills given them by the wizards' residue magic. Their very survival rests on how they deal with the mystery. Its resolution is consummately Pratchett.
Terry Pratchett's books increasingly delve into philosophical questions, even moral ones. It would be nice to know if he actually intended this book for "children." You'll note above that the publishers call for "Reader Level Ages 9 - 12," but the editorial reviews say "12 and up." The disparity is typical Pratchett. Why the lack of consensus? One guess is that Pratchett thinks the adult mind set is too rigid to discern the point he's making. This book isn't a fantasy about "talking animals," it's a spur to stimulate thinking about the relationship of humanity to the rest of the animal kingdom. We're part of that kingdom, but we deal with our relations in ignorance. Children, and a few adults, are best suited to begin revising that approach. With human society devastating the habitats of so many creatures, a new way of thinking about them is required. Pratchett's conclusion shows that the process won't be simple and we have to start thinking now about how to do it. Who better to start with than children? They still have the capacity to learn.
It's almost superfluous to discuss Pratchett's writing. He's a master of language and a skilled manipulater of ideas. If you are new to his work, this is a fine place to start. If you're an established fan, there's nothing here to disappoint you. Add this book to your library and buy another for someone. Anyone. They'll surely be grateful.