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The Corpse-Rat King

(Marius don Hellespont #1)

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  555 ratings  ·  132 reviews
Marius don Hellespont and his apprentice, Gerd, are professional looters of battlefields. When they stumble upon the corpse of the King of Scorby and Gerd is killed, Marius is mistaken for the monarch by one of the dead soldiers and is transported down to the Kingdom of the Dead.

Just like the living citizens, the dead need a King — after all, the King is God’s
Mass Market Paperback, 410 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Angry Robot (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  555 ratings  ·  132 reviews

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Dan Schwent
Sep 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: angry-robot, 2012, funny
When battlefield scavenger Marius mistakenly winds up in the Kingdom of the Dead, he's given a chance to win his life back. All he has to do is find them a king...

After a series of disappointing books, The Corpse-Rat King is just what I needed. Marius is from the
Cugel the Clever/Drake Douay/Rincewind school of loveable cowards and his quest had me smiling a great percentage of the time.

On the surface, the plot doesn't seem all that complicated, and it isn't. What makes the Corpse-Rat King such
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc
When I finished this story last night, I contemplated what to write about in my review. The only thing that my cold riddled brain could come up with was this story is like a hot Scottish man reading a grocery list.


That is something I could listen to for hours, I am sure I am not alone in this.

Reading this book is a treat. The words, people, the words are oh so pretty.
Each sentence is a dessert more decadent than the last.


This is where I found I was looking for the forest among all the trees.
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-heroic
There is almost nothing better than looking forward to an upcoming release from a favourite author, getting a chance to give it an early read, and finding out that it not only lives up to all your expectations, but completely exceeds them. The satisfaction is almost immeasurable.

I say almost, because there is one thing that really is better - stumbling across an upcoming release from an author you've never read before, picking it up entirely on a whim, starting the read with absolutely nothing
Experiment BL626
Jul 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Full Review:

Corpse Rat King by Lee Battersby is full of wonderfully macabre atmosphere and attitude. Marius don Hellespont makes his gory living by wading through battlefields, liberating the dead of their valuables (in other words, he is a corpse rat). Our story begins as Marius and his lackwit assistant Gerd are interrupted as they are making their latest collection.

One thing that I need to make clear about this book, is Battersby writing skills are top
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adventure, favorites
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 ...more
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Right, *this* is the book that you should compare to Scott Lynch.

Marius Helles is a thief, a liar, and currently hard up for cash. That's why he's picking over battlefield corpses for rings, gold teeth, and spare change, accompanied by his not-too-bright apprentice Gerd. Unfortunately, the remaining soldiers notice them. Ten minutes later, Gerd is disemboweled and Marius is... in the Land of the Dead.

Turns out the dead want something. They want a king. They send Marius back upstairs to beg,
Aug 09, 2012 rated it liked it

Full Review originally at Fantasy Book Critic

ANALYSIS: The Corpse Rat King is Lee Battersby’s debut and one, which intrigued me strongly with its blurb. The story seems to be a curious mix of dark humor and even darker shade of fantasy. In the end its an odd book to describe but not hard to review thankfully.

The story begins with Marius don Hellespont who is a person of considerably shaky morals. Currently looting a field of corpses along with his apprentice Gerd, Marius is almost done with
Sep 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Lee Battersby is a talented writer. I've never read anything else he's written, but an Angry Robot rep convinced me to try The Corpse-Rat King.

The book is an interesting mix, starting with the very cover. The image is really neat -- I'm consistently impressed with AR's packaging. The title, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired.

Likewise, the story itself has its ups and downs. Battersby's prose is engaging and entertaining. Though many jokes fall flat, several more connect in
Scott Bell
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
The first third of this book was terrific. The middle third started lagging. By the end, I just wanted it to die. Mr. Battersby is in love with his own wit, and seems to believe dragging the reader through endless asides, rabbit holes, and diversions from the main plot will add complexity and depth to his novel. Instead, they just add tedium. Humorous, in places, The Corpse-Rat King could have been much better told with 60k fewer words. Even the deliciously wicked, and often hapless reprobate of ...more
Kitvaria Sarene
This is hard to review... I kinda liked it, but it also kinda annoyed me at times...
It is a bit grim, but also a lot of funny. The main character is chosen by the dead (living underground, can be reached via graves) to be their new king. When they notice he want an actual king even alive, just stole a crown in a battle field, they send him back up to fetch them a real dead king. As incentive to do so, they steal his heart beat, which shall be given back when he succeeds.

The main character is a
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Originally posted at my blog.

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
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
I picked this book up on a whim when I was at B&N recently. I mention this because this isn't something that happens all that often these days, to be honest. I'm rather loathe to pay full price for a book, especially one I know nothing about outside of the blurb, and I tend to get most of my books from the library these days. But this caught my attention and then held on... though, technically, the second book did that, as I saw that one first, in the new release section, and then ...more
Mikki Crisostomo
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm going to be completely honest and say that I didn't like this book for at least the first half of it. I don't mind admitting that I bought it on the strength of Juliet Marillier's review on the back of it. Marius was a thoroughly unlikable protagonist. He was selfish, amoral, seedy, and really the worst kind of weasel there was. I did like how clever he was, but it wasn't enough.

The only way I managed to slog through the first half was imagining him as Mark Sheppard, and surprisingly it
Venetia Green
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wow. I've never come across a writer with such an amazing way with words. Battersby completely out-Pratchetts Pratchett. I wanted to give this book 6 out of 5 just for its hilarious and brilliant descriptions and one-liners.
Why then did I rate this book at 4, you may ask? Plot, pace and character. At first glance, there was nothing lacking here either. The plot is nicely convoluted and off-beat, there is plenty of forward-moving action, and the main character, Marius, is warped and engaging.
Michael Reitema
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
I'm going to try to be civil on this one, because, for all intents and purposes, this isn't a terrible book. It's just not any good. And it hints that the author, once he gets a few more under his belt, might be quite good.

Let start simply: This novel is over 400 pages long. It is labeled as a humorous and action-filled fantasy story from a debut novelist whose previous credits are all short stories. So far, nothing wrong. Also, he's compared (on the book jacket) to Joe Abercrombie. More the
Tim Martin
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
So you are a con artist, a man who has liberated people from their money the length and breadth of your world, impersonating everyone from soldiers to chefs to courtiers, all to in order to make a fast coin or two. Kings, captains of ships and in the army, powerful merchants, lowly soldiers, barmaids, and pig farmers, gamblers and lords of crime, you’ve conned and (mostly) outwitted them all.

Can you con the dead?

That is the position that our protagonist finds himself in, one Marius don
Aug 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, fantasy
One of the books signed out of last year's inaugural Angry Robot Open Door Month – and a book picked by Amanda Rutter, whose taste rarely leads me wrong – Lee Battersby's The Corpse-Rat King was always going to be of interest to me. Add to that the rather awesome cover and an interesting synopsis and you could be sure I would be along for the ride. Unfortunately, my ride wasn't as smooth as I could have wished. Partly this is completely due to my own head space: when I started this book I wasn't ...more
Martin Livings
Dec 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Corpse-Rat King was a thoroughly enjoyable read, which is hardly surprising as it's come from Lee Battersby, one of Australia's best writers of short fiction. It's about damn time we had a novel from Lee, and this one doesn't disappoint. Some are saying it's similar to Terry Pratchett, but I personally think it has more of Harry Harrison's DNA thread through it, particularly his Stainless Steel Rat novels. They share the concept of a reluctant anti-hero who operates on the wrong side of the ...more
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Marius follows other people to their battles, then raids the corpses afterwards for loot. It may seem like a low down job, but you have to be clever because soldiers are none too fond of people robbing their mates. Clever doesn't help Marius much when he gets pulled down to the land of the dead and given a mission to find a king for the dead or else be returning to enjoy their company permanently.

This book really wants to be a black comedy, but its tone keeps shifting all over the place. My
Sep 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Marius don Hellespont and his sidekick, Gerd, are battlefield looters. But they run into trouble and Marius gets mistaken for a king and is brought to the underworld and told that he is now the king of the dead. It's not a job he wants and he needs to find a replacement. But first he's just going to try running away from the dead.

I got completely sucked into the story in the first hundred pages. I lost a bit of steam in the middle section of the book but I didn't lose interest. It's a bizarre
Mary Robinette Kowal
May 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, gave-away
The prose in this is really lovely. Lee has a good sense of character and dialogue.


But I stopped reading at about the halfway point, because the handling of the female characters was really upsetting.

A list of all the female characters in the novel by page 239
-2 prostitutes with hearts of gold, 1 of whom gets fridged in a flashback after knowing the main character for a quarter hour.
-Main character's mother, who has reported lines but no actual dialog.
-A nubile native girl, intent on
Jason Fischer
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. I always enjoy a good picaresque novel, and The Corpse-Rat King delivers this with gusto. Battersby gives us the story of a great scoundrel, forced to aid the underworld. All the while, he is looking out for himself, trying to turn the tables on a universe set against him, and generally being a scumbag. There are some truly hilarious moments in this book, and I recommend it highly. Protagonist Marius Don Hellespont is like the bastard love-child of Cugel the Clever, Severian the ...more
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It took me a while to get into the swing of this, but wow, once I did I couldn't put it down! A unique take on the undead, in a high fantasy setting, an unlikeable but loveable protagonist and a very difficult quest. Loved it!
(note, I am friends with Lee, and he does mention me in the acknowledgements, which was very nice of him - doesn't change my review one bit though!)
Jim Kerr
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
That was fun!
[x] well conceived fantasy setting
[x] anti-hero who could only be portrayed by Bruce Campbell
[x] undead hordes
[x] deliciously absurd humor
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This novel is like taking your least classy friend to the ballet - there is as much joy in watching responses from your selected audience as there is to watching the show and both can be a delight. When a very living corpse rat - that is, a thief who picks the wealth off of the dead in battlefields - is mistaken for a king that can lead the dead, things get complicated. The book is like my opening line because the protagonist just does not seem to care about social order- he originated from ...more
Oct 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Finally got back to finish this one. Busy, busy......
Marius and Gerd are Corpse Rats. They steal from the dead and scavenge battlefields looking g for trinkets, coins or baubles to line their pockets with. Marius has fallen a great deal, from once being a courtier and fine fellow of means. He has found Gerd, a hulking farm boy to be his protege. Things go down hill when they discover upon the battlefield, the slain corpse of the King of Scorby. In of course taking his valuables, they are spotted
Nicole Luiken
Anti-hero, rogue-type main characters aren't my favourite. If they are yours, you may well enjoy this more than I did. Strong opening and a good ending, but I bogged down for weeks in the middle as Marius ran from his troubles and got into some wince-worthy situations. Humour is a very individual thing and this one didn't always mesh with mine.

Fave part: Nandus
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it
An alright book. The story slowed to a crawl until about 2/3rd of the way in then it finally took off again. The ending left me wanting a little more explanation about a certain condition.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
You know, I'm not usually a stickler, but there isn't a single named female character in this entire book who isn't a prostitute. Also it's a vulgar book about a total asshole and not really in a funny or interesting way. It picks up quite a bit in the last hundred or so pages, but I still wouldn't recommend it.
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Lee Battersby is the multiple-award winning author of the novels 'The Corpse-Rat King' and 'Marching Dead' (Angry Robot, 2012, 2013) as well as the children's novel 'Magrit' (Walker Books, 2016) and over 70 short stories, many of which are collected in 'Through Soft Air' (Prime Books 2006). He has appeared in markets as diverse as Year's Best Fantasy & Horror Volume 20; Year's Best Australian ...more

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Marius don Hellespont (2 books)
  • The Marching Dead
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