The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents - Terry Pratchett

I originally intended to read Martin Amis's Money during this chemo cycle, but it turned out to be... slightly harder work than expected when being dosed up with cytotoxins! A Discworld novel, in retrospect, seemed more my speed. Not just a Discworld novel, but a Young Adult one at that.

How bad could this be? Well, I enjoyed reading Truckers and friends back at the time, but... I was very specifically in the target market when I first read it! How would I find reading this now?

Terry's Young Adult (Who are we kidding? We're talking early teens at best. Anyway.) writing voice is clearly distinct from his full grown-up writing, and not as fun. Generalising from a set of two things, there are a lot of patterns shared with Truckers. We have tiny creatures trying to get along in the world of humans. The rats Peaches and Dangerous Beans look very much like copies of Grimma and Masklin, although the latter's role moves to Dark Tan later on. The nomes, sorry, rats, are trying to discover a world of ideas beyond plain survival, with the leads working out how to gently take leadership away from the elders lost in a new world. And there's the light probing of the ideas of religion.

The Young Adult nature goes beyond the simplified themes. The key viewpoint rats are young grown-ups, but the key humans are literal kids. The Discworld, in this novel, is an almost normal place, with a light smattering of magic that is just what everyone's used to. Maybe this is partly because it's set in the Uberwald, without the intensity of Ankh Morpork. We are close to, but not quite at "no-one dies". This is not a Vimes novel.

Having said all that, the key plot is a decent Terry Pratchett one. The hook is that they're fake rats for a fake Pied Piper, introducing and relieving towns of rat plagues for a very reasonably price, but it quickly moves beyond that to investigate the multi-layered mysteries of Bad Blintz. I do not feel short-changed in the plot department, even if the usual joy of reading isn't there.

Following this in Young Adult Discworld novels is the Tiffany Aching witches sequence. In the past I've enjoyed the witches books, so I'm really hoping the YA version is a little more inventive than this book.

Posted 2023-06-03.