The Amazing Maurice is in essence a retelling of the pied piper, but with a slight twist to it.
Maurice, a talking cat, leads a group of rats and a flute-playing child (the “stupid looking kid”) from town to town; first convincing the town they have a rat plague and then ridding them of said plague. The town of Bad Blintz is supposed to be their last gig, but it quickly turns into their most risky adventure ever..
This was my first foray into Terry Pratchett’s fiction. Ana recommended this one as a children’s novel that is a standalone in the Discworld series. I admit that reading this book has left me curious for more of Pratchett’s work, but at the same time I didn’t feel this book was absolutely perfect.
The Amazing Maurice is a good example of one of the things I particularly like in fantasy: it uses a fantasy setting to explore larger questions about life in general. In this case the uses of storytelling, morality, what it means to be “civilised”, what it means to accept who you are and how this relates to who you wish to be. The talking rats in particular provide a lot of food for thought with their philosophical conversations. Loved that.
I liked how the story invited me to divide my sympathy across the board of characters (though perhaps Maurice himself wasn’t a favourite at the beginning of the story – he’s shown to be quite selfish there). The rats and the humans (the flute player and the girl they meet at Bad Blintz who thinks of everything she encounters as a story) both appealed to me. Especially the girl reminded me a little bit of my own escapism into stories at times (though I admit her “I’m looking at everything as a story!” was a bit over the top at times).
The humor is unusually clever and subtle, and works really well.. I especially liked the ratnames. And yet there were times when I grew a little bit tired of the humor. Perhaps this had to do with the fact that I read the whole thing in under 1,5 hours (that should tell you something about its general compelling character). There were moments towards the end that I was left thinking “ah, if you look at it that way, it’s funny” instead of an instant reaction.
Perhaps what made me less-than-love, but still very much enjoy, The Amazing Maurice was the appearance of rat-kings. *shudder* These passages are meant to be scary – I felt them to be almost claustrophobic. Even more so when you look at them in the context of individuality vs. being part of a system. Eek.
In conclusion you may say that The Amazing Maurice is a very cleverly executed book and I enjoyed reading it very much. I certainly hadn’t expected there to be so many questions raised. Pratchett lost me a little with the overall “carefree” humorous tone though. I did enjoy the humor in the book in general, but it wasn’t a perfect fit for me throughout the novel (I really hope I am still making sense).
I am looking forward to reading more by Pratchett though, as his clever storytelling did appeal to me.
So, which Terry Pratchett book should I read next?
I read and reviewed The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents as part of Fairy Tale Friday and my personal Fairy Tale Project. Click over to the hosts of Fairy Tale Friday: Books 4 Learning and Literary Transgressions for more fairy tale themed posts.
Other Opinions: BirdBrain(ed) Book Blog, A Reader’s Journal, Becky’s Book Reviews, Jennifer’s Book Blog, The Written World, tiny little reading room, nothing of importance, Inkweaver Review.
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