The Corpse-Rat King by Lee Battersby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When battlefield scavenger Marius mistakenly winds up in the Kingdom of the Dead, he's given a chance to win his life back. All he has to do is find them a king...
After a series of disappointing books, The Corpse-Rat King is just what I needed. Marius is from the
Cugel the Clever/Drake Douay/Rincewind school of loveable cowards and his quest had me smiling a great percentage of the time.
On the surface, the plot doesn't seem all that complicated, and it isn't. What makes the Corpse-Rat King such an enjoyable read is that Lee Battersby is nearly as hilarious as a Monty Python marathon. He's like a mean-spirited Terry Pratchett. He's also Australian. I lost count of hilarious one-liners. "As mad as a ferret in a bucket of honey" was one of my favorites. I also love that one of the more colorful locales visited was The Dog Crap Archipelago.
Marius's semi-dead condition lends itself to a surprising amount of comedy. The bit with the old fortune teller was one of my favorites. The humor is a combination of Monty Python and Terry Pratchett with some of Sam Raimi's Hercules: The Legendary Journeys thrown in. Bruce Campbell could easily play Marius if this was made into a movie.
The supporting cast was an interesting bunch. Gerd, Marius's dead and dimwitted sidekick, Nandus, Scorbus, the pirates, all of them were fairly memorable. The story came to a satisfying conclusion but was open-ended enough to allow for a sequel. Please, let there be a sequel!
I don't really have anything bad to say about The Corpse-Rat King. The ending wasn't what I was expecting. I was thinking it would end in a cliche with Marius becoming King of the Dead but it didn't go down that way. I guess my only complaint is that I wish it would have been longer. Four easy stars.
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