Book:The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
|The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents|
|Publication date||1st November 2001|
|Main characters||Maurice, Rats, Keith the Piper, Malicia Grim|
|All data relates to the first UK edition.|
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents is the 28th book in the Discworld series, and the first for young readers. It was released in a smaller hardback format than the previous Discworld novels, a format which was used up to and including A Hat Full of Sky.
- Imagine a million clever rats.
- Rats that don't run.
- Rats that fight...
Maurice, a streetwise tomcat, has the perfect money-making scam. He's found a stupid-looking kid who plays a pipe, and he has his very own plague of rats who are strangely educated, so Maurice can no longer think of them as 'lunch'. And everyone knows the stories about rats and pipers...
But when they reach the stricken town of Bad Blintz, the little con suddenly goes down the drain. For someone there is playing a different tune. A dark, shadowy tune. Something very, very bad is waiting in the cellars.
The educated rats must learn a new word.
It's not a game any more. It's a rat-eat-rat world down there. And that might only be the start...
Terry Pratchett leads readers from tale to tail in a darkly imaginative and fiendishly entertaining story, the first for young readers set in the Discworld universe.
Maurice the cat operates a money-making scam with a group of rats and Keith, a teenage boy. The rats gained human intelligence by eating rubbish from the Unseen University, while Maurice became intelligent after eating one of them. They inflict a plague of rats on every town they visit which only ends when Keith is paid to lead the rats away. The gang are not entirely harmonious - Dangerous Beans, a nearly-blind rat who acts as a guru, dreams of starting a rat civilisation based on the children's book Mr Bunnsy Has an Adventure, and along with the scribe Peaches, has ethical concerns about their scam. Hamnpork, the rats' nominal leader, does not get on with Maurice and there are rumours that Darktan is contemplating taking over as leader.
The gang agree to carry out the scam one last time in the town of Bad Blintz, Überwald. The townspeople have already been complaining about rats and a lack of food, but as Darktan leads the Trap Disposal Squad around, they find the rat tunnels are empty except for traps and poison. Keith and Maurice meet Malicia, the mayor's daughter, who believes herself to be the heroine of a fairy tale. Maurice reveals that the rat catchers have been using bootlaces as fake rat tails. They decide to investigate the rat catcher's house, where they meet with Darktan's gang and find that the rat catchers have been hiding the food which was supposedly eaten by rats. They also discover cages of rats who are being bred for coursing. The rat catchers arrive, lock Keith and Malicia away and take Hamnpork away for coursing.
Maurice senses a voice which tries to enter his mind and causes the rats to start behaving like normal rats ("keekees") to the dismay of Dangerous Beans, who is also depressed to learn that Mr Bunnsy Has an Adventure is just a children's story. Dangerous Beans and Peaches rescue Keith and Malicia, while Darktan leads a group out to rescue Hamnpork. Hamnpork is rescued after being severely injured in the coursing ring, while in the process Darktan has a near-death experience after being caught in a trap. Hamnpork dies of his injuries soon after and Darktan takes over as leader.
Malicia tricks the rat catchers into thinking they have been poisoned by slipping laxative in their drink. In return for an 'antidote' (actually more laxative) the rat catchers explain that they created a powerful 'rat king' called Spider by tying the tails of eight rats together, who can control the minds of other rats. Dangerous Beans confronts Spider in his burning lair. Spider is interested by how Dangerous Beans can resist him and offers for them to rule jointly and go to war against humans. Dangerous Beans refuses and resists Spider's attempts to kill him, until Maurice arrives and reverts to normal cat behaviour by pouncing on him. Maurice collapses after escaping the fire and in his near-death experience, he tries to stop the Death of Rats taking Dangerous Beans. In the end, he strikes up a deal with Death that he will give away one of his nine lives in return for Dangerous Beans being spared, in addition to losing another life for nearly dying in the fire.
With Spider defeated, the rats still have to deal with another piper who is due to arrive the next day who like Keith, supposedly has a magical pipe which can be used to charm rats. The rats respond by rounding up the keekees and locking them in the rat catcher's cages, then wearing ear plugs to prevent themselves from being charmed. Keith challenges the piper to a duel. Using a borrowed trombone (his pipe was broken by the rat catchers) Keith is able to attract a single rat, while the piper fails to attract any. The piper then reveals to Keith that his pipe can play a secret note which humans can't hear, but which drives rats crazy. Keith then leads all of the rats out of town, to the applause of the townspeople.
The rats then reveal their intelligence to the townspeople and offering to reveal to them where the stolen food and money was located in return for being allowed to live peacefully with them. Keith stays on as the town's piper and the "well-trained rats" become a tourist attraction. Maurice, however, moves on, looking for another human to "coach".
- The Clan
- Keith the Piper
- Malicia Grim
- Spider, a Rat King
- Death of Rats
- Ron Blunkett
- Billy Spears
An abridged version of the novel was read by Omid Djalili over BBC Radio 7 in four parts in 2002.
BBC Radio 4 broadcast a 90-minute dramatisation in 2003, adapted by Peter Kerry and directed by Chris Wallis, which was repeated on BBC 7 on June 2, 2007 and April 27, 2008. The character of Dangerous Beans was voiced by David Tennant. Darktan's voice was a spoof version of Sean Connery's Scottish burr. The narrator in the adaptation was Maurice himself, describing to Dangerous Beans how they arrived at the perilous situation near the end of the plot. Quotes from Mr. Bunnsy Has an Adventure, which appear as chapter heads in the book, were read by the character Peaches. To mark the occasion of Terry Pratchett's knighthood, it was broadcast on BBC 7 again, along with other dramatisations of his work, in February 2009.
- Harry Myers: Maurice
- Tom George: Keith
- Annie Rowe: Malicia Grim
- David Tennant: Dangerous Beans
- Joanna Monro: Peaches
- Sean Prendergast: Darktan, Ron Blunkett
- Michael Fenton Stevens: Spider, Billy Spears
- John Rowe: Death
- Charlie Norfolk: Nourishing
- Finetime Fontayne: Sardines
- Rod Arthur: Hamnpork
The novel was adapted into a stage-play by Stephen Briggs in 2007.
Adapted into a school musical-pack by Matthew Holmes in 2011.
The Amazing Maurice is an animated film adaptation of the book produced by Cantilever Media and Ulysses Filmproduktion; it is currently in development.
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