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REVIEW: The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett

(For a complete list of Pratchett reviews, see The Great Pratchett Reading Project Table.)

REVIEW SUMMARY: Funny and surprisingly meaty.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A talking cat named Maurice, a human kid and an army of talking rats aim to con a town via a Pied Piper scam.


PROS: Humorous, laugh-out-loud funny; excellent characterizations; dark tone.

CONS: Some slow parts.

BOTTOM LINE: A funny and worthwhile read, but not for younger kids.

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents is my first Terry Pratchett book. (I know, I know…I just have to read a Discworld book.) I suppose I started with this title because, well, I was looking for something a little lighter than my last read and this young adult title seemed to fit the bill. This was definitely lighter, but in no way did that mean it did not contain some adult themes and even, lo and behold, some morals.

The story takes a conniving talking rat named Maurice, an army of talking rats and a human kid name Keith. Maurice devises a scheme to enact the Pied Piper folk tale on an unsuspecting town – an easy feat to accomplish when you are in collusion with a bunch of intelligent rodents. They are all set to pull their last big score on the town of Bad Blintz but soon realize that something is very strange: the town is devoid of the usual rat population and it is home to a particularly nasty creature whose goal is to destroy all humans. Will our roving band of ne’er-do-wells save the day?

Several things make this a compelling story.

First, Pratchett lives up to his reputation for humorous writing. There were many funny lines (mostly dialogue) and some of them even caused me to laugh out loud. It’s just a funny book.

Second, although this is marketed as young adult fiction, it’s dark, dark tone probably makes it unsuitable for younger kids. That said: it’s a surprisingly entertaining dark tone fit for older kids and adults.

Third, the anthropomorphism of the cat and rats, which I expected to be on the eye-rolling side of believability was not only believable, it was excellent. The animal characters are depicted so well, they are more three dimensional than the human characters in many other books. Maurice’s repartee was quite funny and gave him a lot of personality. (Also, Maurice has a firm rule about never eating a rodent that can talk.) All of the main characters, in fact, had some quality about them that made them three-dimensional, whether it was Dangerous Beans, the near-sighted white rat; Peaches, the rat who encourages ethical and moral behavior (outside of pulling Pied Piper scams apparently); Sardines the dancing rat; or Darktan, the young, tough militaristic rat. (Note: The rats named themselves after words they read off of discarded tin cans and such on the junk pile where they underwent The Change that made them able to talk.) Even the humans were great characters; Keith with his matter-of-fact innocence and Malicia, the Mayor’s daughter, with her penchant for applying story tropes to real life. But then again, her relatives are the Sisters Grim, after all.

Fourth, the story contains spurts of meaningful discussion on such topics as ethics, morality, souls, death and working out your differences. This caught me off guard since again I was expecting a lighter read. It was very welcome, though, and added depth to the story. Yes, very meaty, I’d say.

The narrative mostly moves along a fast pace but unfortunately there were a few slow parts. The action sequences, however, were very well done and sometimes page-turning – like when the rats in the dog-fighting pit, or when the thinking rats go to war with the native rats. And not to be left out of the action, Keith even gets a showdown scene with a real piper.

In the end, The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents is a funny and worthwhile read, just not for younger kids.

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

15 Comments on REVIEW: The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett

  1. If you liked this one, then you’ll enjoy the Discworld novels. Maurice is typical Pratchett, if aimed at the younger set. That’s not to say that all the novels are at this level, they aren’t. But they do contain copious amounts of humor and the signature Pratchett traits of interesting characters and societal commentary using the skewed worldview of the Discworld denizens. I’d start where it all started with The Color Of Magic. (Yes I know Strata introduced a world that looks like the Discworld, but it isn’t really about it. And its a very early Pratchett novel and is uneven but still a good read.)

  2. This book takes place on Discworld so in effect you have read a Discworld book 🙂 I find Pratchett to be laugh out loud funny since he is able to combine timing and wit to create some really hilarious moments. It might also be that many of his characters have a sarcastic streak in them that makes it so humorous to me – but not enough evil – gonna need to work on that :-@

  3. 😛 WELL!!this book iz a very……i mean interisting book n we r also using it in our school course…but even then this iz 1 of best book that i had read

  4. Aamir khan // November 9, 2006 at 8:59 am //

    by writting this book u have make my life horrible

  5. Well, Aamir, John did not “writt” that book. Terry Pratchett did. But, I’m sure we’ll be happy to claim credit for making your life horrible. By the way, have you ever heard of “spell checking”?


  6. Hamza Raza // August 17, 2007 at 11:39 am //

    :O:) This book is a great encourage to all of the rats.People say this book is not for young ones, i need a strong reason for that if anyone have!!!!

  7. Anonymous // November 5, 2007 at 7:45 am //

    😛 this book is soooooooooooo amazing … i love it… the best book ever and we r also using it in our school course. i seriously enjoyed it .:D

  8. This book is so cool:-P i loved reading it and now we are reading it in our english class and it have been great fun reading it. GOOD JOB!

    KEEP IT UP! and u rock

  9. Hey U completely Rock N i Wish To READ it again n Again:D loved your idea it is soooooooooooo amazing!

  10. I weep for the future of the human race.


  11. What other rat names could u think of. I was thinking of something with the word cherry in it? :-$

    But anyway it is a good book.:)

  12. This was my first Terry Pratchett book- I found it very interesting. The characters were complex and realistic, even though most of them were animals =}. Some parts freaked me out a little though, so I really wouldn’t recommend it for kids who don’t like a teaspoon of horror in their stories, or for someone under 11. (I was thirteen when I first read it.)

  13. Hi

    This play is very excellent.I like this play but i was finding the information about maurice. I can,t find that the character sketch of maurice.So,i have a request that please send the characters sketch of muarice on my email address.i hope that u will send.ok bye

  14. Hi,

    This play is a marvellous piece of literature written by Terry Prachett.I really liked this play.So,i have a request that please please send me the character sketches of DEATH,RAT KING,DANGEROUS Beans and DARKTAN.I hope you will send these.ok bye………… 

  15. Heeyyyy 😀

    Yeahh this book is okayy,, i have to say,, its not the best,, i had to read it in my english class,, its okayy,, but still not the books i lyk,, coz ism not a book person.. yeahh… i get bored,, byee,, 🙂

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