[Marius]..”stepped away from the hull and found a small rise where he could lay back and knit his hands behind his head, and pretend he was lying in a field somewhere to rest off a particularly good drink, instead of waiting at the bottom of the ocean for an insane centaur with delusions of grandeur to finish beating up a ship full of nothing.” p 276
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had been waiting patiently for this book to land on my shelf for a good long while, my shelf’s owner having pre-ordered it well before the publication date based simply on the intriguing title alone. The corpse-rat of the title refers to one Marius don Hellespont, who makes his living by trawling corpses found on battlefields and relieving them of valuables that have become superfluous to their owner’s current station. It is on one of these sojourns that Marius is mistaken for a corpse and accompanied to the land of the dead, where he is promptly tasked with finding a dead king to rule over the domain of the dear departed.
Cue death, disaster and finally, destiny, as Marius does his level best to escape both the pesky dead and their pesky task while his body passes through varying states of decomposition.
I must admit that this gargoyle took a while to warm to this book, as the character of Marius is not altogether a likeable fellow – at least early on. The further I ventured with him though, the more he grew on me and by the halfway point, I found myself snatching snippets of time to plunge back into the story.
The book did not carry the tone that I imagined it might on reading the blurb. I was expecting something along the lines of Yahtzee Croshaw’s “Mogworld”, which also contains an undead hero, initially out for number one, whose only aim is to escape his current predicament by either (a) dying properly, or (b) returning to life. The Corpse-Rat King, however, was not, for the most part, light-hearted and the humour was far less flippant than in Croshaw’s tome. This I initially considered to be a negative aspect, but after finishing it, I am of the opinion that this book contains a much deeper story than Croshaw’s, and one which has been well-crafted to engage the reader beyond the amusing premise promised by the blurb. Certainly by the halfway point, the tone has lightened and the final chapters are replete with the cheerful calamity that one would expect of a group of protagonists that include two people in various states of undeath and a 7-foot tall royal skeleton.
The Corpse-Rat King is definitely worth a look in my opinion, not least because it is published by Angry Robot Books, who are fast becoming one of my “go-to” publishers when I am in need of a fresh take on sci-fi or fantasy.
Speaking of sci-fi and fantasy, as an end note, I have very recently become aware that the fifth book in the “Power of Five” series by Anthony Horowitz, “Oblivion” is due for release in the next month. I am utterly excited about this as it has been such a long gap between books four and five that I began to believe that I had hallucinated the idea of a fifth book, and that the story did really end with number four, but I somehow missed it. Stay tuned for a review of this one in the future.
Until next time,