In the second half of the tenth chapter of The Amazing Maurice, THIS IS SO HEAVY. WHAT’S HAPPENING. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
This is so dark and so serious and emotional and it all still fits within the story, too??? THIS IS A LOT, OKAY!!!!!!
While Darktan is off recognizing the importance of Dangerous Beans to the Clan, Dangerous Beans is having doubts. And who can blame him? After he witnessed members of the Clan turning back into “rats” in the face of danger, he can’t escape the idea that at the end of the day, none of them will be able to transcend being a rat. And that’s particularly difficult for Dangerous Beans to handle because he so fiercely believed the opposite. His belief was challenged by something that undeniably happened. So how do you rectify that? How do you continue you believe in the kind of growth that Dangerous Beans spoke of when you see it disappear so quickly?
So it’s fascinating that Darktan and Dangerous Beans—in their own ways—both come to face the great evil that is the Rat King. Darktan gives a rousing, meaningful speech to motivate the rats as they fight against the Rat King’s rats, and HOLY SHIT, it’s so good? Part of the entertainment came from the fact that I can safely say that I have never read a scene like this from the perspective of rats. (Though, was anyone else reminded a bit of The Secret of NIMH while reading this? They are vastly different stories, but both deal with rats and SUPER SERIOUS THEMES.) And it’s so raw: Darktan talks about the Dark Wood. About legend and mythology. About why this fight MATTERS. Like, can we talk about how HARD this goes?
“And afterward,” he said quietly, “People will say, ‘They went there, and they did it, and they came back out of the Dark Wood, and this is how they know their own.’”
OKAY, THIS IS SO EPIC. Right?
Yet it’s Dangerous Beans’s complicated philosophical argument with the Rat King that dominates this chapter, and y’all, IT’S SO GOOD. I know I’ve used the word “dark” before, but I also know that it isn’t always the best descriptive word for a work of fiction. Dark how? Relative to what? Plenty of the Discworld books have gone to places that aren’t necessarily what you’d expect from fantasy or humor. But the Rat King is a temptation, a threat of domination and subjugation. So the philosophical battle is over agency, over free will, over the right of the Clan to choose their own Destiny.
Which isn’t to say that the Rat King doesn’t have anything to say. I was blown away by the inclusion of the Rat King’s desire for revenge. It’s not like the Rat King is wrong in that regard; humans are the greatest threat to rats. But is the solution provided by the Rat King what they need? Is it what Dangerous Beans wants for the rest of the Clan? I JUST ADORE THEIR INTERPLAY. Dangerous Beans, who started this chapter doubting himself and doubting the Clan and doubting the possibility of all the Change, utterly rejects the Rat King and his horrifying philosophy. It reminded me a whole lot of the multiple confrontations we saw in the Star Wars series that revolved around temptation to the Dark Side. Here, though, I think Pratchett is a little more subtle here, imbuing the conversation with a depth that probably will take a couple reads to fully appreciate. But it’s fascinating to me to see how the Rat King tries to manipulate Dangerous Beans and how many times Dangerous Beans fights back against him. I LIVE FOR IT. I LOVE IT.
One other thing: How horrifying is the wave of rats that attack Keith and Malicia? CANCELLED. HORRIBLE. THE WORST.
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