Book: The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
Strangely, this little novel doesn't appear to be counted amongst the Discworld series, despite the fact that it IS set in the Discworld...world. I have seen reviewers say this book is too simplistic, a side effect of apparently having been written with younger audiences in mind. I dispute this, however, as the truth is this story isn't much more simple than the simplest of the older Discworld books. Pratchett also manages to maintain a good level of suspense for much of the book, the fine details of the plot not coming through until right near the end of the book. And the story? here goes:
The eponymous Maurice is, in fact, a cat. But not your ordinary household domesticated cat, oh no. Y'see, on the Discworld, there are areas of high magic where anything that enters the areas gets affected by the magic. And so, Maurice can talk like a human. He also travels with a bunch of rats who, you guessed it, can talk like humans. Both cat and rats seem to have developed extra intelligence, too, and they travel the countryside from one village to another, playing out a Pied Piper-esque story they've come up with, in order to scam said villages out of a good amount of gold. Their latest target village, though, may turn out to be harder to scam than they expect
I can see why some reviewers have said it's not on a par with the rest of the Discworld novels. This only really takes one story as it's base, whereas the average Discworld novel takes three and tqists them nearly beyond recognition. But it does have its dark moments, there's no lack of humour (as you'd expect from a Pratchett book) and it's actually a damn good read. My only gripe is that, for the price, it's a little on the thin side. In fact it's about half the size of a good deal of other books (including some discworld ones) that can be bought for the same price, but I should think this is more to do with the publisher than Pratchett.
Anyway, it's a good story, set in the Discworld, but completely standalone, and so if this is the only Pratchett book you get, there won't be any bits, however small, you don't understand because they reference other books (which could be a problem with some of the other Discworld books). I don't usually give an actual rating in my reviews, as i feel it doesn't really help - if someone can't decide from the text of my review whether something is worth their while then a numerical value being put on it won't do much to persuade them either way. Here, however, I'm having difficulty explaining this book; i'd say if you're a fan of the Discworld then it's worth a 4/5, if not then 3/5.
Hardback (with illustrations)