Friday, August 24, 2012

REVIEW: The Corpse-Rat King by Lee Battersby

The Corpse-Rat KingThe Corpse-Rat King by Lee Battersby
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

CAUTION: Spoilers

This book bored me. It was off to a good start, exactly as how the blurb described, but then it got kinda confusing and then boring. By 1/3 of the book, I skimmed because the plot was going nowhere. By 1/2 of the book, I skimmed some more and faster with the goal to reach the end as fast possible while still getting the gist of the plot. That's how boring the book was.

When all the protagonist does is run and run futilely far away from his problems (in both the figurative and literal sense of the phrase), what interest in the plot is there to be had?

The Characters

+++ the protagonist

Marius is an admitted coward, which wasn't a big problem for me. A problem but not a big problem. No, the big problem was that he had no redeemable trait. He wasn't clever as he thought. His past wasn't tragic as he thought; if anything he was a spoiled rich kid in that flashback. There wasn't anything that made me like Marius, pity Marius, or really give a shit about Marius.

The character growth he showed late in the book was just that, too late. Too late and too small for me to give a shit. In any other book, Marius would be that side character whose purpose is to be killed off.

+++ the sidekick

Gerd was Marius's slow-witted apprentice. The blurb did directly say Gerd would die and I thought was well prepared to handle it. I wasn't. I got upset at how Gerd died at the beginning. As if that wasn't bad enough, I got more upset when I learned how he got pulled into Marius's crapfest. I felt more for Gerd the sidekick than I ever did for Marius the protagonist.

I got upset at Marius and the book and this dampened any little enjoyment I may have derived from reading the book. I felt emotionally manipulated in a bad way. Gerd may have a dull life, but at least he had a life in every definition of the word.

I did not like how things were resolved at the end with Gerd. Gerd may have forgiven Marius, but I sure didn't. This was the bumbling sidekick trope at its worst and a classic example of an abusive relationship.

The World Building

It was heavily lacking. Heavily. I couldn't tell if magic was something everyone is aware of or only those superstitious and real magicians are aware of. I couldn't tell if dead people walking around was normal or not either.

Places were thrown at me and I couldn't get a grasp on the geography.

The Writing

It dragged. Too much superfluous details that confounded me, too little relevant details that starved me of elucidation. I saw passages here and there that could be tightened. The prose encourages skimming.

The Plot Holes

As I mentioned before, I skimmed but I did get the gist of the plot. Got enough that I spotted plot holes.

+++ the love interest

Middle of the story, Bob realized Keth's unrequited love for him and promised himself that he'll return to resolve the matter.
He had a real mission now, one that sank into his bones with an urgency he had never before experienced. Getting back to the dead was only the first part. After that, he had to get to Keth.
—chapter 17
Yeaaaaah, he never did. In the last third of the book, Keth was completely forgotten about.

+++ alive again

At the end when Marius completed the dead people's demand for a king, we learned they couldn't returned him back to life. Turns out he was never dead to begin with and that he had the magic of disguise (or something like that, the book wasn't clear). Marius deluded into thinking he was dead because the dead people tricked him into thinking he was dead which made no sense at all.

Basically, the book's resolution of Marius's dead-state problem was a deus ex machina.

In Conclusion

The premise of the book was attractive, but its execution was awful. I was detached from the protagonist, detached from the prose, and detached from the plot. I may have skim a lot but I didn't need to read every passage to see that the plot didn't make much sense. I believed if I did read every passage, I would have spotted more plot holes.

I rate TCRK 1-star for I didn't like it. I do not recommend this book for readers who best prefer urban fantasy and occasionally venture into traditional fantasy. Readers who like traditional fantasy, I suggest giving TCRK a try but to borrow from library.

Amazon GoodReads

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