In the second half of the eleventh chapter of The Amazing Maurice, Keith faces down the rat piper. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
HOW ARE THERE SO MANY BADASS SCENES IN A SINGLE BOOK, Y’ALL???
I just want to state definitively that I love this name. A lot.
It seems that Pratchett is quite fond of the fact that all Watch guards everywhere are, in some small or large way, exactly the same. Or, rather, that the same three or four archetypes appear in all Watch members across the Disc. It’s not hard to believe that this chapter would unfold in exactly the same manner if we swapped out Doppelpunkt and Knopf with Colon or Nobbs. RIGHT. TOTALLY THE SAME STORY.
The Rat Piper
Y’all. This character is written here as an aggressively horrible combination between an assassin and a rock star. THAT IS THE BEST DESCRIPTION THAT I COULD COME UP WITH. In many ways, the Piper inspires fear, and that’s mostly because of the stories that follow him. He’s built an aura of terror around him through this sort of mythology, and I would guess that all of it is untrue. I don’t think he can do any of the things that people believe he can do. Is he going to correct that perception? Oh, most certainly not. Why would he??? He’s got a reputation that makes people LITERALLY COWER IN FEAR when they are around him! And that’s where I got the “rock star” comparison. He makes demands—like the demand to bring the mayor to him along with a VERY SPECIFIC BREAKFAST—because he knows people will do it.
I say this because before I moved into doing critical analysis shit online, I was involved in the music industry. I’ve seen band riders. I’ve witnessed people in “popular” groups or with massive careers make absurd demands as if they are perfectly reasonable. I’ve seen some folks make demands knowing they are unreasonable, but they did so because it was a power play. In this situation, the piper is absolutely obsessed with power. He knows he has a talent or a service that people need; he knows that he has leverage due to the fear folks have of him; and he knows that in the end, no one will challenge him.
No one, that is, until Keith.
Keith & Malicia
We’ve witnessed the transformation of the rats and the incredible redemption of Maurice, which felt truly impossible at the start of this book. And now, with the help of everyone, Keith gets his moment to shine. After the Mayor fails to deal with the piper’s agent (I CAN’T BELIEVE HE HAS AN AGENT EXCEPT I TOTALLY DO), Keith makes his final stand with Malicia at his side. She’s here because the story demands it. Who else would be able to point out to the piper that he’s walked into a trap?
“We all know what happens when a mysterious orphan turns up and challenges someone big and powerful, don’t we? It’s like being the third and youngest son of a king. He can’t help but win!”
Indeed, this feels designed that way, and IT’S SO MUCH FUN. Because of course Keith wouldn’t charge Bad Blintz a penny for clearing the town of rats if he won. That’s not who he is. (I imagine he’s got another plan up his sleeve anyway.) Instead, he has the rats—his friends!!!—on his side, and he’s thinking of them. He wants them to be safe, and he wants this piper gone, and thus, THE GREATEST PLAY EVER UNFOLDS. Sardines dances comically for Keith, and the rest of the rats utilize cotton to stuff their ears so they won’t be affected by the piper’s playing.
AND I’M SO GLAD MALICIA IS HERE.
“You’ve done something,” he hissed.
“Oh yes?” said Malicia, loudly. “What could he have done? Told the rats to stay underground with their ears blocked up?”
BLESS YOUR HEART. It all unravels from their. The piper is only able to lull MR. CLICKY from beneath the city, and the piper concedes defeat. It’s because of this, though, that the curtain is pulled back, and the piper’s characterization is revealed to be… a character. A fake. An image that he gives to towns so that they believe the magic of the piper. So I admired that Keith wanted to keep that magic going for the townsfolk… well, some of the townsfolk. In a neat twist, Keith reveals to the Mayor that the rats can talk and think and initially, it was a little confusing. Why? Why reveal this? On the one hand, I saw it as a means for the Mayor to realize that maybe his daughter was obsessed with stories for a reason. It was a form of validation for Malicia. But unlike Maurice in the early parts of this book, Keith deeply cared about the rats. And it was worth the risk to reveal the truth about the Changed creatures because they could negotiate.
This is the endgame, isn’t it? This is how they’ll find a way to co-exist, right??? I NEED MORE.
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