In the fifth chapter of The Amazing Maurice, Malicia readies herself for a mystery, and Darktan accepts that this town is their deadliest venture yet. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
AHHHH SO MUCH IS HAPPENING ALREADY, I HAVEN’T FIGURED THIS OUT YET.
It’s clear Pratchett is having a whole lot of fun with the heist-like nature of these scenes. Twisted through the Discworld lens, though, they’re just so delightfully strange. These rats devised a complicated system with RATS AS COUNTERWEIGHTS in order to lower Darktan into traps, and that’s just the start.
But rather than geek out over the details of this whole system the rats have, I found myself way more intrigued by the rats’ growing sense of self, by their transformation into something resembling humanity. Despite that we didn’t see the Change actually happened, since it occurred before The Amazing Maurice even started, Pratchett is still managing to put much of the transformation on the page itself. In the first scene with Darktan in this chapter, we watch the disabling of the trap, but we also see how he uses his expertise to try and impart knowledge to Nourishing. And it’s not just that he’s trying to give her wisdom, but the manner in which he does is significant. He uses sarcasm. He toys with her specifically so that she knows not to be flippant about traps, and it’s in response to her saying that Little Snapper traps are “easy.”
It’s all so very human. Darktan has more options available to him due to his newfound intelligence, and it’s fascinating seeing how they manifest along with each rat’s personality. The same goes for the second major scene with Darktan at the end of the chapter. Darktan is both a bit of a joker—he clearly has fun taunting Nourishing—but then he gets deadly serious once he’s brought to the new, unknown trap that claimed the life of Fresh. And for what it’s worth: yes, this book is making me feel incredibly sad about rats dying. Fresh’s death is also particularly gory, especially for a Discworld book. (It doesn’t help that the rats have multiple conversations about which part of Fresh they can eat. OH MY GOD HELP.) But Darktan’s reacton to Fresh’s death helps the reader understand how dire this situation is. The rats are used to death, but not this kind of death. They’re also not used to having to think about what death means and what might come afterwards. So much has changed for them, and that was BEFORE they ended up in one of the strangest towns imaginable. What the hell is happening in Bad Blintz???
I am way into Maurice’s parallel journey, since he’s also adjusting to the change. Aside from turning into one of the shadiest cats ever, he’s also experiencing guilt. Guilt! He feels guilty about eating! He’s lived with a sizable pack of rats who can all talk to him and think like him. So what happens when he has to eat and his meal happens to be a mouse?
Oh lord, does he EVER overcompensate. I love how completely uninterested Keith was in this display. He doesn’t care! He know Maurice needs to eat. Why would he judge? OH GOD, HOW MUCH MORE RIDICULOUS WILL MAURICE GET.
I love that I’m getting more of a confirmation of Malicia’s relationship to stories. She is obsessed with them, her father is concerned about her because of this, and it’s absolutely going to play a part in how this mystery unfolds. I mean, the fact that she even recognizes that this is a “mystery” to be solved is significant, especially because she immediately begins to project her expectations over reality. She knows exactly how this is going to go because she’s read all of it in books! It’s… disconcerting, yes, and I am definitely worried that Malicia will be disappointed to find out that while stories might be based on reality, reality can and often does deviate from these norms and tropes. And to get a little meta here, it’s why I love doing what I do. Talking about tropes, archetypes, narrative structures, and stereotypes allows us to see these patterns both in the media we consume and in real life, too! I think they’re helpful, meaningful tools to have!
So… how are they going to deal with Malicia’s certainty? I’m worried. I’ll say it again: What is going on in this town?
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