One rat, popping up here and there, squeaking loudly, and taking a bath in the cream, could be a plague all by himself. After a few days of this, it was amazing how glad people were to see the kid with his magical rat pipe. And they were amazing when the rats followed hint out of town.
They'd have been really amazed if they'd ever found out that the rats and the piper met up with a cat somewhere outside of town and solemnly counted out the money.
The Amazing Maurice runs the perfect Pied Piper scam. This streetwise alley cat knows the value of cold, hard cash and can talk his way into and out of anything. But when Maurice and his cohorts decide to con the town of Bad Blinitz, it will take more than fast talking to survive the danger that awaits. For this is a town where food is scarce and rats are hated, where cellars are lined with deadly traps, and where a terrifying evil lurks beneath the hunger-stricken streets....
Set in Terry Pratchett's widely popular Discworld, this masterfully crafted, gripping read is both compelling and funny. When one of the world's most acclaimed fantasy writers turns a classic fairy tale on its head, no one will ever look at the Pied Piper -- or rats -- the same way again!
For this outrageously cheeky tale, British writer Pratchett pairs a dynamite plot with memorable characters a group of intelligent rats sporting such monikers as Hamnpork, Big Savings and Darktan (they've been foraging in the University of Wizards' garbage dump and come up with "the kind of name you gave yourself if you learned to read before you understood what all the words actually meant"), plus a "stupid-looking kid" with a flute and a criminal kitty mastermind named Maurice. The motley con artists' pied piper scam is highly successful until the rats develop a conscience. Reluctantly, they agree to one final heist, but in the town of Bad Blintz things go horribly, hilariously wrong. First, they're twigged by Malicia Grim (granddaughter and grand-niece of the Sisters Grim), then they encounter a pair of conniving rat-catchers, a real pied piper and an evil something lurking in the town's cellars. They triumph, of course, and there's even a glimmer of redemption for the deliciously self-centered Maurice, who tackles the "Grim Squeaker" and bargains for the life of his rat comrade Dangerous Beans. In the end, while the others settle down, Maurice hits the road and is last seen approaching another "stupid-looking kid" with a money-making proposition. Could this mean more tales to come? Readers will eagerly hope so. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 30, 2003
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Excerpt from The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
One day, when he was naughty, Mr. Bunnsy looked over the hedge into Farmer Fred's field and saw it was full of fresh green lettuces. Mr. Bunnsy however, was not full of lettuces. This did not seem fair.
-- From Mr. Bunnsy Has an Adventure
They fought the dogs and killed the cats, and --
But there was more to it than that. As the Amazing Maurice said, it was just a story about people and rats. And the difficult part of it was deciding who the people were, and who were the rats.
But Malicia Grim said it was a story about stories.
It began -- part of it began -- on the mail coach that came over the mountains from the distant cities of the plain.
This was the part of the journey that the driver didn't like. The road wound through forests and around mountains on crumbling roads. There were deep shadows between the trees. Sometimes he thought things were following the coach, keeping just out of sight. It gave him the willies.
And on this journey the really big willy was that he could hear voices. He was sure of it. They were coming from behind him, from the top of the coach, and there was nothing there but the big oilcloth mail sacks and the boy's luggage. There was certainly nothing big enough for a person to hide inside. But occasionally he was sure he heard squeaky voices, whispering.
There was only one passenger at this point. He was a fair-haired young man, sitting all by himself inside the rocking coach and reading a book. He was reading slowly, and aloud, and moving his finger over the words.
"Ubberwald," he read out.
"That's 'Uberwald,'" said a small, squeaky, but very clear voice. "The dots make it a sort of long 'ooo' sound. But you're doing well."
"There's such a thing as too much pronunciation, kid," said another voice, which sounded half asleep. "But you know the best thing about Uberwald? It's a long, long way from Sto Lat. It's a long way from Pseudopolis. It's a long way from anywhere where the head of the Watch says he'll have us boiled alive if he ever catches us. And it's not very modern. Bad roads. Lots of mountains in the way. People don't move about much up here. So news doesn't travel very fast, see? And they probably don't have policemen. Kid, we can make a fortune here!"
"Maurice?" said the boy carefully.
"You don't think what we're doing is, you know...dishonest, do you?"
There was a pause before the voice said, "How do you mean, dishonest?"
"Well...we take their money, Maurice." The coach bounced over a pothole.
"All right," said the unseen Maurice. "But what you've got to ask yourself is: Who do we take the money from, actually?"
"Well...it's generally the mayor or the city council or someone like that."
"Right! And that means it's...what? I've told you this bit before."
"It is gov-ern-ment money, kid," said Maurice patiently. "Say it. Gov-ern-ment money."
"Gov-er-ment money," said the boy obediently.
"Right! And what do governments do with money?"
"They pay soldiers," said Maurice. "They have wars. In fact we've prob'ly stopped a lot of wars, by taking the money and putting it where it can't do any harm. They'd put up stachoos to us, if they thought about it."
"Some of those towns looked pretty poor, Maurice," said, the kid doubtfully.
"Hey, just the kind of places that don't need wars, then."
"Dangerous Beans says it's . . ." the boy concentrated, and his lips moved before he said the word, as if he was trying out the pro-nunciation to himself. "It's un-eth-ickle."
"That's right, Maurice," said the squeaky voice. "Dangerous Beans says we shouldn't live by trickery."