The Amazing Maurice

A Story of Discworld

The twenty-eighth novel in the Discworld Series

Winner of the 2001 CILIP Carnegie Medal

 UK hbk: Doubleday, jacket & ills. by David Wyatt, 1 November 2001 (0-385-60123-9)  Some copies of the ‘first printing’ were printed in Australia.
[Announced in advance Transworld/Doubleday catalogues as Maurice and his Amazing Disappearing Rats.]
Bookproof: 430 copies. 21 June 2001

Bookclub: BCA, May 2002 (CN 104554)

Educational: Heinemann/New Windmills series, 2004 (0-435-13100-1)

Large print: Isis, May 2005 (0-7531-7389-1) ; pbk, Isis, 1 February 2006 (0-7531-7390-5)

Pbk: Corgi, 7 November 2002 (0-552-54693-3) Some copies of the ‘first printing’ were printed in Australia.
B-format black & Gold cover, June 2008 (978-0-552-15783-4) Initially sold exclusively through Waterstones, their copies having a white circular‘Exclusive Waterstone’s Edition’ label on them.
New edition with Kidby cover: Corgi, 26 May 2011 (978-0-552-56292-8) Some copies have AMZING MAURICE on the spine. These were withdrawn.
B-format, with Kidby cover: Corgi, 6 June 2013 (978-0-552-55202-8)


USA
hbk: HarperChildren, cover illus. Chris Gall, 6 November 2001 (trade: 0-06-001233-1; library: 0-06-001234-X)

Bookproof: July 2001

Bookclub: Bookspan

Pbk: HarperTrophy, 1 May 2003 (0-06-001235-8) Contains opening pages of The Wee Free Men as ‘teaser’ at end.
Revised pbk, containing TP’s acceptance speech on receiving the Carnegie Medal, and an interview, as well as the extract from Wee Free Men: new cover art by Bill Mayer, HarperCollins, 2008 (978-0-06-001235-9)

Brazil: O Fabuloso Maurício e seus Roedores Letrados, trs. Ricardo Gouveia, Conrad, 2004 (85-7616-007-2)

Bulgarian: Изумителният Морис и негоите Образовани Гризачи, trs. Katia Ancheva, Vuzev, c.3,000 copies, c. October 2005 (954-422-085-2)

Chinese simplified [mainland]: 1. Mao He Shao Nian Mo Di Shou, trs. [unknown], People’s Literature Publishing House, c.2006 (7-02-005227-4)
2. Dook

Chinese complex [Taiwan]: [translated title: The Fairytale of A Cat and His Mice], trs. Chi-Chun Hsieh, illus. Chien-Fung Wu, Global Kids Books/Commonwealth, 4,000 copies on 10 May 2004 (KLB03. 986-417-302-2)

Croatian: Marjan Tisak, 2002 [not seen]

Czech: Úžasný Mauric a jeho vzdĕlani hlodovci, trs. Jan Kantůrek, Talpress, 4,590 copies on 29 September 2003 (80-7197-180-4) The title page has under the title a note about the pronunciation of the cat’s name, proposing the name ‘Maurek’ as the best version for the translation, as in Czech the similar Mourek means a small dapple-grey (or quite striped) cat.

Danish: Mageløse Maurice og hans rådsnare rotter, trs. Svend Ranild, Borgens, November 2004 (87-21-02161-9)

Dutch: Mirakelse Maurits en zijn Gestudeerde knaagdieren, trs. Venugopalan Ittekot (pseud. of Ruurd Groot), Uitgeverij M (De Boekerij), 2003 (90-225-3741-2)
Reissued under the Mynx imprint, 2009 (978-90-8968-128-7)

Estonian: Hämmastav Maurice ja Tema Öpetatud Narilised, trs. ?, Varrak, April 2003 [not seen]

Finnish: Mahtava Morris ja sivistyneet siimahännät, trs. Leena Peltonen, Karisto, September 2002 (951-23-4350-9)
Pbk: Karisto, c.February 2005 (951-23-4635-4)

French: Le Fabuleux Maurice et ses Rongeurs Savants, trs. Patrick Couton, L’Atalante, November 2004 (2-84172-292-9)
Massmarket pbk: Pocket, April 2008 (978-2-266-18202-7)

German: Maurice, Der Kater, trs. Andreas Brandhorst, Manhattan (Goldmann/Bertelsmann), January 2004 (3-442-54570-6)
Pbk: Goldmann, November 2005 (3-442-45513-8)

Bookclub: Zeitverlag Gerd Bucerius, 2009 (978-3-938899-39-7)

Greek: Ο Εκπληκτικσ Μορισ και τα σοφα τρωκτικα του, trs. Anna Papastaúpou, Psichogios, `April 2008 (978-960-453-342-8)

Hebrew: Sial Logistics, 2013? [not seen]

Hungarian: Fantasztikus Maurícius és az ö tanult rágcsálói, trs. Veronika Farkas, Delta Vision 12 August 2014 (978-963-395-037-1)

Italian: Il Prodigioso Maurice e i suoi geniali roditori, trs. Maurizio Bartocci, Mondadori, October 2003 (88-04-52301-8)
reissue: Mondadori Oscar bestsellers, February 2005 (88-04-54312-4)

Japanese: [ Tenoneka mo-rizu kenoinaka ko ], Asunaro Shobo, 30 April 2004 (4-7515-2351-1)

Korean: Sigongsa/Eya, 2010? [not seen]

Latvian: Morisa de kas, trs. Uldis SÌlis, Zvaignzne, 2,000 copies on 21 April 2006 (9984-36-902-1)

Norwegian: Magiske Maurits og hans Gløgge Gnagere, trs. Torleif Sjøgren-Erichsen,  Gyldendal, 2002 (82-05-30705-9)
Pbk: Gyldendal, 2005 (82-05-34114-1)

Polish: 1. Zadziwiający Mauriycy i jego uczone szczury, trs. Dorota Malinowska-Grupinska, Prószyński i S-ka, 2004 (83-7337-621-6)
2. New translation: Zadziwiający Mauriycy i jego Edukowane Gryzonie, trs. Piotr W.Cholewa, Prószyński i S-ka, 2011 (978-83-7648-625-3)

Romanian: Uluitorul Maurice şi rosǎtoareke lui Educate, trs. Mirella Acsente, Corint Junior, 2006 (973-7644-40-9)

Russian: Eksmo [contracted but not yet published]

Spanish: El asombroso Mauricio y sus roedores sabios, trs. Javier Calvo, Plaza y Janes, November 2010 (978-84-01-33906-6)
Pbk: Debols!llo, April 2012 (078-84-9989-474-4)

Swedish: Den makalöse Maurice och hans kultiverade gnagare, trs. Mats Blomqvist, Wahlströms, c.November 2003 (91-32-32929-6)

Thai: Nanmee Books, 2003? [not seen]

Turkish: Muhteşem Maurice Ve Değişmiş Fareleri, trs. Niran Elci, Tudem, 3,000 copies in October 2007 (978-9944-69-130-7)

 

Background illustration © and by courtesy of Paul Kidby 

 

Reviews

The Amazing Maurice is, by any terms, an astonishing novel. Pratchett takes a simple scenario: a talking cat, a number of newly-intelligent rats and a ‘stupid looking kind’ go from village to village pulling a pied piper scam – and then takes it places. The self-aware rats invent, or discover or evolve, writing, ethics, and religion – the Big Issues – not to mention negotiation. (In Pratchett’s fiction the wars are easy. It’s ending them that takes wisdom.) People learn hard lessons, and the book gets darker and deeper as it goes.
I marvelled at the ferociousness of the humour, and the willingness to go into dark places: the book uses humour to illuminate, rather than to satirise. People learn. Some people die. And people, some of them four-footed, need to understand what it is to be human.
There are ratcatchers in it, and a rat king, a piece of cruelty made by ratcatchers as a masterpiece – a word that Terry uses in the book in its precise and original sense: a work presented by craftsman, to a guild in the Middle Ages, to qualify for the status of master….
Were Terry not demonstrably a master craftsman already, The Amazing Maurice might be considered his masterpiece. It demonstrates, if there was any doubt, that he is, unquestionably, a master.     Neil Gaiman, in Weekend FT

Satiric adult SF superstar Pratchett (The Last Hero, p. 1254, etc.) resets the Pied Piper tale on Discworld, with predictably unpredictable results. Here the rats themselves are pulling off a profitable scam, masterminded by Maurice the cat.  The animals, their intelligence accidentally magically enhanced, infest town after town, until the desperate inhabitants pay their human accomplice to pipe them out.  But the rats have developed consciences; and when they agree grudgingly to just one more ‘plague’, they run up against an evil combining the worst of human and rat natures – and that only human, rat, and cat together can defeat.  Much of the charm here resides in the way the animals remain true to their natures – the rats, each with a distinct personality, still fight, steal, and stink, while Maurice is as self-centred as only a cat can be – yet still remain far more appealing than the foolish humans around them.  Pratchett hasn’t blunted his wickedly funny pen for younger readers; the only apparent concessions to a teen audience are the adolescent humans abetting the rats, and the story’s relative brevity.  He retains the lethal combination of laugh-out-loud farce, razor-sharp satire, and the underlying passionate idealism unique to the confirmed cynic that makes his adult Discworld series so popular.  A lot is packed in amidst the humour: ruminations on good and evil, dreaming and doing, leadership and compromise.  But this is at heart a story about stories, so necessary as consolations, inspirations, and guides, but also so dangerous when allowed to replace independent thought.  Excruciatingly funny, ferociously intelligent. (Fiction. YA)  Kirkus Reviews

… The Amazing Maurice is an object lesson in why he’s so successful. It’s because he’s so damn good. He can write a killer story full of great characters, non-stop jokes and still put the rug out from under you with fear, suspense and almost shocking poignancy. Couple that with a step by step lesson in Pratchett’s particularly humane view of humanity and you’ve got something that all children should have read to them at bed-time, which the the reader will enjoy every bit as much as the child.                      Albedo S.F.Magazine (Ireland)

Oh dear. The world divides between those who love Terry Pratchett and those who absolutely can’t stand him. This book may change the minds of a lot of people in the latter category. It did mine, possibly because one of the main characters is a thinking, talking and absolutely adorable cat, Maurice, who, like all cats, is most obviously concerned about himself but can’t help getting caught up with others. Or perhaps because the story is such a brilliant and bizarre reworking of that well-known folk tale about the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Or perhaps it’s because of the girl, Malicia, who thinks in stories and talks in stories, conjuring up consequences at every turn of event. Surely it couldn’t be because of the rats! Or could it? These rats (the thinking ones as opposed to the keekees) are talking heroic rats and, in all the horrible and extraordinary things that happen as they pit themselves against the nasty rat-catchers of the town of Bad Blintz, they cause you to laugh, weep and admire. So now I’m going to have to eat all previous dismissals of Terry Pratchett and go and try him again.    Mary Medlicott in School Librarian

A smart retelling…[that] delves into weighty issues but keeps its sense of dark humor. USA Today

Clearly destined for great things…deeply pleasurable and a wonderful and entertaining read.  Bookseller

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.                                  Publishers Weekly

The Amazing Maurice also targets genre cliché, but it soon takes some surprisingly dark turns where brutality, horror, and bravery in the face of adversity play major roles…. Neither setting nor characters seem designed strictly for the Discworld milieu and no familiar (um, ‘faces’ is not the word) figures show up until the very end. But the book offers a wry, extended meditation on the motifs and foibles of fairytales and children’s fantasy, just as The Last Hero [reviewed together with this work] tackled Sword & Sorcery. …. Manages to be hilarious, moving, scary, impishly vulgar and wickedly wise, sometimes all at once. Don’t hand it over to your 12-year-old (or not without a struggle); keep this one to savor for yourself.   Farren Miller in Locus

Maurice the cat is the brains of the operation.  The rats create the plague – widdling in the jam, doing the backstroke in the cream – then the stupid-looking kid (Keith) pipes them all out of town for a fee, to be shared by all conspirators.  But the rats, newly sentient after ingesting some magical refuse, are beginning to get scruples, and the town of Bad Blintz turns out to have worse problems than a few rats. The town’s rat catchers are running a scam of stealing food and selling it downstream, while they’re breeding extra-large rats for use baiting terriers in a rat pit—but there’s an even more awful and secret evil lurking behind them.  Three rats, Darktan (a trap-hunter and safety expert), Sardines (a tap-dancing plaguester), and Dangerous Beans (a philosopher who guides the others through the pitfalls of self-awareness), lead the other rats in rooting out the evil, aided by Keith (not as stupid as he looks), Malicia (mayor’s daughter, storyteller, royal pain), and Maurice the cat (who begins to get a few scruples himself).  Pratchett’s absorbing, suspenseful adventure is speeded along by the characters’ wisecracking patter and deepened—as when Darktan emerges alive from a trap with new ideas about the afterlife, or Dangerous Beans formulates his Thoughts for changed rats—by a willingness to tackle the questions of existence.   Anita L. Burkam in The Horn Book

Satiric adult SF superstar Pratchett (The Last Hero, p. 1254, etc.) resets the Pied Piper tale on Discworld, with predictably unpredictable results.  Here the rats themselves are pulling off a profitable scam, masterminded by Maurice the cat.  The animals, their intelligence accidentally magically enhanced, infest town after town, until the desperate inhabitants pay their human accomplice to pipe them out.  But the rats have developed consciences; and when they agree grudgingly to just one more “plague,” they run up against an evil combining the worst of human and rat natures—and that only human, rat, and cat together can defeat.  Much of the charm here resides in the way the animals remain true to their natures—the rats, each with a distinct personality, still fight, steal, and stink, while Maurice is as self-centered as only a cat can be—yet still remain far more appealing than the foolish humans around them.  Pratchett hasn’t blunted his wickedly funny pen for younger readers; the only apparent concessions to a teen audience are the adolescent humans abetting the rats, and the story’s relative brevity.  He retains the lethal combination of laugh-out-loud farce, razor-sharp satire, and the underlying passionate idealism unique to the confirmed cynic that makes his adult Discworld series so popular.  A lot is packed in amidst the humor: ruminations on good and evil, dreaming and doing, leadership and compromise.  But this is at heart a story about stories, so necessary as consolations, inspirations, and guides, but also so dangerous when allowed to replace independent thought.  Excruciatingly funny, ferociously intelligent.
(Fiction. YA)  Kirkus Reviews  Starred review

Background illustration © and by courtesy of Paul Kidby