How should I describe this book? It is a lovely story about speaking animals with a darker spin and serious tone, yet, light and funny. Now go and read it. That is all you need to know. To those who are fans of Discworld novels, this is definitely a Discworld book. There is no doubt about it.
But read on if you want to hear my thoughts. Terry Pratchett has outdone himself with this book. He has gotten the mood just right. As I wrote before, it is fun and light, yet, dark and serious. But you can easily ignore the last two and enjoy the well-written story of personal growth. Growth of both the Amazing Maurice, the rats, and their relationship to the humans. The only one who is not changing at all is the weird-looking kid, but that is okay, he is already who he should be, and the reader gets to know him better as the story progress.
The book has everything for everyone. A hint of love. A whole lot of adventure and courage. To those who like to ponder more profound things about the nature of humans and rats and how we all are entangled in this world, is like a treasure map, nuggets hidden here and there. It shows how cruel humans are and can be, that dark tone you might have been looking for. It moralizes a bit if that is something you don’t like, but I’m one who comes from a generation of those who enjoy moral stories in their work of fiction, especially if such a conviction is well-argued.
About the content: Darktan’s (rat) battle speeches and the conflict of leadership with Hamnpork and how it plays out is such a beauty. Dangerous Beans’ visions for the rat clan are good contemplation about how civilizations should be organized and how we relate to each other. How the other rats react, is just right. That is how we act, but luckily not all the time. Sometimes rebellious thoughts get in and there is change. All those points Pratchett brings to life with his side notes, which made me have that soft smile on my face and a giddy feeling inside even when he is talking about cannibalism, lying, stealing, questioning who should rule, asking who deserves and what, who has a consciousness and who hasn’t, who to eat and who not. But he wrote it all in so well that this is still a children’s book and you can read it without the fear of contamination.
My only complaint is how he handles I and you question of animals. There has been a lot of studies done that animals have a concept of self-hood, the mirror test and other complex ones. The idea that human speech brought the concept of I to the rats and Maurice is too restricting. But luckily the book doesn’t leave it there. Pratchett writes about the keekees (the normal rats) and how they should be treated and Dangerous Beans makes a point through the book called Mr. Bunnsy Has an Adventure that all rats are important and are due respect. The whole concept of speech and what it did to the rats and Maurice will get more interesting towards the end, but no spoilers. Sorry about getting excited. This book is so good for both adults and young, thinking of buying this for my nephew as a birthday present.
Thank you for reading and have a ratty day!