Discworld/The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

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The 28th Discworld book, and the first written for young adults.

Imagine a million clever rats.

Rats that don't run.

Rats that fight...

Maurice, a streetwise tomcat, has the perfect money-making scam. He's found a stupid-looking kid who plays a pipe, and he has his very own plague of rats—rats who are strangely educated, so Maurice can no longer think of them as "lunch". And everyone knows the stories about rats and pipers...

But when they reach the stricken town of Bad Blintz, the little con suddenly goes down the drain. For someone there is playing a different tune. A dark, shadowy tune. Something very, very bad is waiting in the cellars.

The educated rats must learn a new word.

EVIL.

It's not a game any more. It's a rat-eat-rat world down there. And that might only be the start...

Tropes used in Discworld/The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents include:

Malicia: How come a cat knows a word like that?
Maurice: Everyone's got to know something

  • Laxative Prank: Malicia puts laxative powder in the Rat Catchers' tea, then tells them they've been poisoned and holds the antidote hostage until they do as she says. The "antidote" is laxative powder too.
  • Loveable Rogue: Maurice.
  • "Mission Impossible" Cable Drop: Darktan performs this stunt to safely disarm a rat trap, suspended from bits of string.
  • Monster Protection Racket: The educated rodents make themselves known and the stupid-looking kid gets paid to lead them out of town and into the nearest river. People never check whether the rats are good swimmers...
    • The Ratcatchers themselves have a variant going, extorting money from the town to "get rid of" a plague of rats that don't exist, except in their own rat-breeding cages.
  • No More for Me: Seargeant Doppenpunkt, after seeing two rats band together and attack another rat. And then give him a salute.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Some details about rats, mentioned in the author's notes.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The ratcatchers. No 2 has to make an effort to sound grammatically incorrect.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Maurice swears he will never eat prey that can talk but is afraid he learned to speak by eating one of the intelligent rats (who had a speech impediment).
  • One Last Job: Bad Blintz was going to be this.
  • Only Sane Man: Maurice.
  • Pardon My Klingon: The Clan and Maurice swear in Rat and Cat. Apparently as a result of spending so much time with the Clan, Keith (the stupid-looking kid) also swears in Rat.
  • Picky People Eater: Make sure you don't eat the green wobbly bit
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Poor Hamnpork, not so much leading as being pushed.
  • Reality Ensues: Used positively at the end: rather than the humans simply accepting the rats and going into a Happily Ever After ending, the rats (with Maurice as their agent) have to broker a complex set of contracts, peace treaties and amendments to the town charter to ensure that this human-rodent cooperation is going to work.
    • Plus in general, this is always going to crop up with someone as Wrong Genre Savvy as Malicia around the place.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The Ratcatchers acting under the Rat King's influence try to breed larger and larger rats for their rat-coursing pit.
  • Rousing Speech: Darktan and his fresh wound.
  • Running Gag: Don't eat the green wobbly bit.
  • Shout-Out: Dangerous Beans' dream of moving the Clan to an island to live without stealing is what the rats in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH set out to do, also because of emergent ethics.
    • The large medical kit and the small medical kit come from Tomb Raider and probably other similar games.
    • Malicia suggets the perfect time to go solve a mystery...

Malicia: Of course, it would be more... satisfying if we were four childrenand a dog.