In the sixth chapter of The Amazing Maurice, Malicia leads Maurice and Keith to a headquarters, while Darktan and Hamnpork and Darktan duke it out. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
I haven’t figured this out, y’all. You can keep laughing at me.
I feel like Pratchett is doing so MUCH here, and I love it. Malicia is well-read and savvy, so much so that she sees tropes everywhere. Well, it’s not even that she’s able to recognize them; it’s that she anticipates them. Expects them. Believes that the world itself has to have these tropes or else something is wrong. And for a moment here, those tropes DIDN’T WORK. After she manages to pick a lock with a hairpin, I started to wonder if Pratchett was going to have all her trope expectations come true, despite how bewildering that would be for Maurice. Keith… not so much. He’s not as familiar with what’s going on with Malicia.
BUT! He’s the one who actually figures out the next major clue inside of the rat catcher’s shed. I suppose it’s odd to even think of it as a clue, but look, I’m human. I make stories out of the world, too, even if they’re not necessarily there organically. (OR ARE THEY.) After everything that’s happened in The Amazing Maurice, it’s impossible for me to believe there isn’t some weird shit going on here. All the signs point to it, and just because the rat catcher’s shed looked normal doesn’t rule it out. I still don’t have a theory, though, and I’m not even sure I have enough information to MAKE a guess.
But Malicia’s on the right track, isn’t she? She’s making this story happen, no matter what’s thrown her way.
Darktan and Hamnpork
I am just as invested in the greater mystery of the rats in Bad Blintz as I am in the complicated politics of the Changelings. Y’all, this is so COOL. In exploring the dynamics of these thinking, talking rats, Pratchett has unearthed a story I actually haven’t really read before, at least not like this.
Let’s talk about the rat they found alive first, since it will provide a good transition point to talk about OTHER THINGS. I had hoped that this would provide me with enough to make an educated guess about what’s going on in this city, but I am proudly reporting that I DON’T GET IT. The traps and the poison make sense, but that’s about where my understanding ends. I get the rat feeling frightened by the Changelings because she can tell that they’re not like the other rats she normally meets. But what’s with the sensation/smell of there being tons of rats in a single location? Are they being herded somewhere? If so, for what possible purpose? Why are the ratcatchers still posting up fake rat tails if they have access to so many rats? My only possible theory here is that these rats aren’t dead yet, but I can’t possibly imagine what someone would do with so many living rats. Hell, where would they even keep them?
But while the rats try to unlock this mystery, something else plays out simultaneously. I’m sure issues of seniority or hierarchy used to come naturally to them, and it’s why Hamnpork is having such a hard time adjusting to the fact that Darktan has become so good at being a leader. Hamnpork is older, and so it’s expected of him to be in charge. However, Darktan’s cleverness and creativity since the Change has pushed him forward, so much so that many of the younger rats now follow him without question. And it’s hard to argue with Darktan when we’ve seen all the ingenious ways in which he’s dealt with traps, mapping out new locations, and devising plans to solve the mystery of Bad Blintz. Yet he’s leaving Hamnpork behind, isn’t he? Not literally, of course, but Hamnpork is used to the older system, the older method of order and control.
So what happens now? Darktan defers to Hamnpork, but only in appearances. We all know—and most of the rats do, too—that Darktan is really the one making all the important decisions. He’s just patronizing Hamnpork, tricking him into think he’s in control when he’s not.
How much longer can that last?
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