Books & Literature

Book Review: The Amazing Maurice, by Sir Terry Pratchett

MIDDLE-GRADE: Rats! They’re everywhere: in the breadbins, dancing across tabletops, stealing pies from under the cooks’ noses. So, what does every town need? A good piper to lure them away. That’s where Maurice comes in! A streetwise tomcat with the perfect money-making scam.

A riotous reimagining of the classic Pied Piper tale, as only the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett could have told it.

Feature image credit: Penguin Books Australia

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (currently titled The Amazing Maurice, to tie into the imminent cinematic release) was the 28th novel, as well as the first work of young adult fiction, set in Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld universe.

It follows Maurice (pronounced More-eese), a sentient cat and his Clan of equally (for the most part) sentient rats, who travel from town to town with Keith, a kind-hearted but naïve young man, preying on the town’s need to rid themselves of rats, Pied Piper style.

The key to the collective rodent sentience — and its link to the greater Discworld novels — lies in their original home, just outside of the Unseen University, in Ankh-Morpork, where they ingested magic-tainted material that gave them the power of thought. Maurice subsequently ingested one of the rats and the rest is history.

As the novel begins, they arrive in the town of Uberwald to run their latest scam. However, nothing goes according to plan, as they encounter the local ratcatchers and a mischievous girl named Malicia, and discover the existence of a powerful rat king. Over the ensuing pages, Maurice, Keith, and the Clan make some startling discoveries about the true nature of the town’s ratcatchers, their secret underground activities, and something of their own true natures and desire for stability.

Pratchett’s humour and use of parody shines throughout the novel. From the names of the rats, which they chose from labels on tins, to the structure and order of the Clan, which exceeds the general order of human organisation, Pratchett pokes fun at the insistence of mankind as a higher order of being and organisation.

Each chapter is also prefaced by a short extract from a book that the rats consider their Bible (Mr. Bunnsy has an Adventure) — simultaneously, a tale of animals that live like humans and the exact source material that forms the basis of the novel.

Celebrating its 21st anniversary in 2022, The Amazing Maurice is also now an animated feature film. So, if you’ve never delved into the Discworld, why not give this one a try.

The Amazing Maurice will be released in cinemas on January 12, 2023.

Reviewed by Glen Christie

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: November 2022
RRP: $16.99

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