When boasted as being “…one of the most unique novels you will have ever read…,” it piques one’s interest to challenge such a statement. However, Lee Battersby’s novel The Corpse-Rat King certainly fits the bill.
The style and flow of The Corpse-Rat King has a very author-specific and definitive edge to it, in which Battersby utilizes his distinctive voice to craft out such an atypical fantasy story. The storyline is pure brilliance and the world, characters, and imagination superb. But I found myself questioning the main character, Marius Helles, several times. As I never give out spoilers I won’t divulge too deeply in to this and it was my only qualm within the novel. In short, I found Marius to be a much too conflicted and diverse individual, his former roles and life experiences a tad too expansive for my liking.
That being stated, nothing beats a fresh and exciting fantasy novel, The Corpse-Rat King included. The rest of the cast play their parts admirably, especially the grateful or not-so-grateful dead. Dead villagers, dead mad kings, dead regal kings, lots of dead things in general and most of them seem somewhat confused of their deadness, including Marius and his somewhat of a companion, Gerd.
The majority of the conflict within this book lies with Marius trying to save his own skin and run away as far as possible from the task he has been anointed for by the unguided dead. They need a king to lead them and Marius is tasked with finding them one. Whether or not he finally wakes up from his self-serving ways and completes this task, you will only be able to find out when you pick up Battersybee’s Novel and read it yourself.
Other elements within the novel worth noting are the underground backwater ways, pagan witchcraft on a guano-infested isle, gambling in a secret underground venue, the guttersnipe language of the streets, and the simplistic ways and beliefs of the working class peons. Each have their own passionate vibrancy brought to life as Marius journeys from one uncertain venture to the next.
I try not to focus on a story’s ending as much as the entire piece as a whole. Naturally, though, one tends to gravitate more towards the coup de grace – as it’s so vivid in your memories. That said – the last three-fourths of this book are beyond spectacular. Lee Battersby definitely saved the best for last in this unforgettable tale of death, dead things, and more awesome dead stuff. I knocked a few Liams off due to the over-the-top complexity and diversity of lead character Marius, but The Corpse-Rat King still merited 7 out of 10 Liams.
(Liam is trying to cover up his deadness like Marius don Hellespont with a bathrobe.)