Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Review - The Corpse-Rat King - One Hell of a Novel !
The Corpse-Rat King by Lee Battersby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was outstanding! The author, Lee Battersby should be proud to have written such an amazing masterpiece of imagination, sarcasm and fantastic inventiveness. The tale kept my interest from start to fnish without a hitch. Battersby is an author to watch for great things to come. The narrator sets the tone for the novel, which is sarcastic - just like real life, or at least like the life of my friend and I. I enjoyed this book immensely. No matter what you thought was going to happen, you were wrong. The author took you on a quest wth Marius in the driver's seat to places unknown, peopled by exotic characters who you would never have guessed existed along the normal course of existance. What a ride!
THE PLOT: Marius and his apprentice Gerd are scavenging a battlefield after a battle, when they come upon the dead King of Scorby. Marius takes his crown and puts it in his shirt. A dead man mistaking Marius for the King, takes Marius down to the land of the dead after Gerd has been killed by a guard. The dead want to make Marius their King. When Marius shows them that they've made a mistake, they send him on a mission to find the dead a King which is where our story really starts rolling. There are: travel, sea voyages, murders, sharks attacks, cannibalism, prostitutes shocked, crooked poker games, bandits, dead men walking, skeletons speaking, plans in action, natives, mourning, Kings swimming with their horses, prisoners executed, Captains extorting, nobles cheating and Kingly bones escaping as well as so much more. This plot is sepentine in its' twists and turns. You will never know what will happen next. The plot is literally built, layer by layer - like a faux finish, at the end you have a beautiful result, but in the middle, you're not sure how it's going to turn out. That is exactly how this book is. Will Marius get the dead their King? Will they dismember him and send him to some Under Hell if he does not? Read the book and find out! I give this plot a 10/10
THE CHARACTERIZATION: The characterization was so fantastic it was a masterwork all by itself. As the narrator, we get to see all the characterization through Marius' eyes, which makes it that more fun to have each character described. His sarcastic wit is so polished that with few words he can sum up another character and you know just the type of person he is describing down to his dress, facial features, behaviours, flaws and everthing else. Marius himself is fully three dimensional and human and as a character, changes the most over the course of the novel than any other character - making a full 360 degree turn about in ideals, morals and prinicles, though the sarcasm remains intact - Thank God! There was no, one character that Batterby did not pay loving attention to through Marius' description which made the book a very rich reading experience. As a narrator, Marius added not only color, but his observations were spot on, that he raised the level of the book's tone from simply a 4 star book to a 5 star book, easily. He made all the difference. Marius made the book, simply put. If we weren't in Marius' brain throughout the book, the book would not have been the same. He was not only my favorite character in the novel, he is one of my favorite characters of all time. For characterization, I give this novel, a 10/10.
THE DIALOGUE: The Dialogue in this book was at one time hilarious, at an other is was sarcastic, at others, it was formal, depending on if a King were present. The dialogue fit the situation. As Marius took on and put off different faces and personalitites to fit different situations, his dialogue matched his faces. Some were humorous in the extreme. Other were obsequious. Other still were pompous. Whatever fit the bill. All were credible. As an example, he is knocking on coffins, to find a King to take back to the dead, but he must find one that is not ashes, so he knocks on each coffin he says " Hello you Majesty. Are you in there?" in his most servile voice. The responses are quite hysterical, as he got more than one. For Dialogue, I give this novel a 10/10
THE GORE SCORE: The Gore Score for this novel was not really difficult. While there are people dying and limbs and other bits flying, the focus in not on blood and guts at all. The most bloody part was at the front of the book when they are playing corpse-rats, picking over bodies on the battlefield, finding something that they can sell after the battle is over. For the Gore Score, I give this novel a 5/10.
THE IMAGERY: The Imagery in the book is quite excellent. As Marius and Gerd travel different continents - either together or separately, they are in what is likely to be somewhere analagous to our Middle Ages. The images that represent this time, the people and their clothing, the dress, and their housing is wonderfully described. There is one example where a dead King has combined with his dead horse on the bottom of the sea - they now share characteristics that make them both the same. Now picture this in you head. The King lets out a big Neigh and shakes his head underwater. He shakes his boney tail and gallops off down onto a sandy stretch of sea bottom, while Marius looks on and shakes his head thinking "How am I going to sell this guy as King of the Dead?" This is one of the images that just tickled me. For imagery, I give this novel 9/10.
THE PACING: From the minute you hit the first entence, it is like the shot rang out at a horse race - and they are off! You have started at top speed, so hold on because you are on the back of something that only knows how to run full out. Until you reach the finish line (which is the end of the the book), you will be hanging on for dear life, so just enjoy the ride, because the ride is over half the fun. When you get to the end, you know you've won by at least two lengths, because nobody could be close. It was too good of a ride for anyone to touch you, much less come close. Closing the novel, with sadness and an equal sense of triumph, you walk from the field a winner, having gone through the experinence with the sheer pleasure and enjoyment that you experienced over the last few hours. What can compare to that? Don't tell me. The pacing gets a 9/10.
THE ENDING: The ending of the book came as a big surprise to me. Never would I have guessed the ending in a month of Sundays. I thought he had it hammered halfway though the book, then it was just the case of getting the King back, but I was wrong. It wasn't the other King either. WOW! Who could believe it? Will it be any of them? Marius has to get one of them to work or his future is bleak. What will happen? Will Gerd actually help him? For the ending of the novel, I give it a 10/10.
THE UPSHOT: The upshot of this novel is that if I could give it 6 stars, I would do it in a heartbeat. This novel was outrageous, hysterical, imaginative, inventive and outstanding all mixed up into a masterwork of a novel. I recommend it to everyone who reads English on the planet. Yes, it is that good. Even if you don't like fantasy, the human interest story that runs through the book is interesting enough to hold you attention, while you forget about the reanimated bodies and the other things. Sideline them, don't make them the main focus - focus instead on Marius and his view of the world. Think of it as a historical novel with some quirks. That way when you are reading it, just think that the fantastical parts are things that just happened during that time and no longer happen now. That should get you through the novel in one piece. This novel is definitely worth the price of admission, and I would recommend to all of my friends and relatives along with everyone who has a pulse who reads English and any other language it will be translated into - just buy the book and read it. It is well worth it. Trust me....
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