One thing I didn’t really take into consideration when I decided to take some time off after Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog was the possibility of falling behind on my reviews. I woke up this morning thinking “Oh, hey! It’s release day! Everyone can finally go buy Seven Wonders and Mockingbird!” This was immediately followed by the thought “Crapcrapcrap, I totally forgot to review The Corpse-Rat King, which is ALSO OUT TODAY!” What? These aren’t the things you guys usually think of immediately upon waking? Hm.
Anyway, Lee Battersby’s The Corpse-Rat King. I downloaded the eARC and started it shortly after it became available for the Robot Army. The blurb sounded promising, and it was another pretty, shiny cover. That’s one thing I can always guarantee the Angry Robot folks will get right, a cover that will suck me in, because – yes, I admit it – I’m totally shallow that way.
Marius don Hellespont is a corpse-rat. He hangs around battlefields, waiting to pick the pockets of the people who weren’t lucky enough to survive. We learn not long into the book that this is just one of the many hats Marius has worn throughout his life. One of the pockets he picks is that of a king, and due to a misunderstanding (in which Marius pretends to be dead to avoid capture AND lets his apprentice be taken captive and killed) the dead of the underworld think HE’S a king and can take over the job of ruling them. Cos, they need a king in the underworld, what hey. Obviously, Marius is no king (even if he’s got a crown in his pocket) and convinces the dead they need to let him go to find them a REAL KING – something he has no intention of doing.
If you click the image above, you’ll be taken to the goodreads review page and can see that almost all of the other reviews absolutely LOVED the beginning of this book, which made me feel like maybe I was missing something. I thought it was okay, but not great, and almost put this book away for good without finishing it. I read two or three other books while I was trying to decide whether or not I was going to finish before I heaved a great sigh and decided to pull up my big girl pants and soldier on.
I’m glad I did.
While I found the beginning slow (to the point of almost adding it to my DNF shelf) and had a difficult time overcoming my aversion to what I thought was overuse of the world “whilst,” (sorry, that word bugs me like no other) the rest of the book makes up for the shortcomings of the first few chapters.
How could I fail to like something that features inadvertent cannibalism and a mad (dead) king that loved his favourite horse a little too much? I couldn’t – fail to like it, that is.
Seriously, I’m glad I kept reading because it really did get better after what I thought was a slow beginning. I LOVED the final third. Again, though, if you take a look at the other reviews, you’ll see that most people seem to agree that the beginning was good, no matter their opinion of the rest of the book. Maybe I was just taking too many Contrary Pills the day I started, or something. I don’t know.
It’s not a perfect book, and I’m not running to add it to my favourites shelf, but it was definitely good enough that I’ll read the next book by Mr Battersby.
You can read an excerpt from the book and find pricing and sales information over at Angry Robot. Like I said at the beginning of this rambling review, The Corpse-Rat King is out today in the US and will be available everywhere else Sept. 6.
3.5/5 stars – I laughed quite a few times and enjoyed the references. The flolloping made me happy.