The Rat – The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents

MauriceIdeas! That was their world now! Big questions and big answers, about life, and how you had to live it, and what you were for.

Let’s get the scarred illusionist in the room out of the way, shall we? By the time The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents was first published, in 2001, Discworld was beginning to be eclipsed by the Harry Potter series. JK Rowling’s fourth book was a genuine pop-culture phenomenon, effectively kickstarting the modern trend of adults dabbling in YA fiction (and why shouldn’t they?).

Rowling’s incredible success would cause cynics to raise an eyebrow at Pratchett’s first young adult book for the Discworld being published at a time when Potter fandom was rampant. But he praised the series as being “beautifully cooked”. And the Discworld has always had crossover appeal. Most fans I know were like me. The books were first picked up around the age of 12 or 13, and they didn’t leave our hands for a good few years afterwards. Pratchett did what any great author does, Rowling included – he never patronised the reader. If you wanted to read the Discworld, you were welcome. Continue reading →

The Opera House – Maskerade

maskerade-2‘A catastrophe curve, Mr Bucket, is what opera runs along. Opera happens because of a large number of things amazingly fails to go wrong, Mr Bucket. It works because of hatred and love and nerves. All the time. This isn’t cheese. This is opera. If you wanted a quiet retirement, Mr Bucket, you shouldn’t have bought the Opera House. You should have done something peaceful, like alligator dentistry.’

Something struck me part of the way through Maskerade that perhaps answers the slightly inconsistent nature of the past few Discworld novels. In Maskerade, Granny is bored, agitated and in need of a change. And it hit me that every novel since Lords and Ladies has been similar. Each has featured characters seeking a break from their old routines. Carrot wants to turn the Watch into something worthwhile in Men at Arms. Buddy wishes to save his soul by rock and roll in Soul Music. And Cohen is tired of raping and pillaging and wishes to settle down by running his own empire in Interesting Times. Continue reading →