Pabkin’s just finished reviewing The Corpse-Rat King and we’re stoked to be hosting the author Lee Battersby!
Marius dos Hellespont is the lead character in the novels ‘The Corpse-Rat King’ (Angry Robot Books, 2012) and ‘The Marching Dead’ (April 2013) by Lee Battersby. Cad, rogue, and general all-round coward, he’s the last person you’d want to send on a quest to save the world. And he’s definitely not the man you want to save it again when it all goes horribly wrong. But sometimes, if you can’t win, and you daren’t lose, all you can do is cheat. And Marius is very, very good at cheating.
THERE ARE RULES,
a conversational essay by Marius dos Hellespont.
There are rules to being a corpse-rat. Never steal what you can’t swallow. Any movement is better than none. Always have two exits.
Never get involved.
Never get trapped.
Never get greedy.
Never grow roots.
Never get attached.
It’s easy, when you start out. You’re young, you’re running away from something—con men and charlatans are always running away from something—you’re out to prove to your parents, the world, and most importantly, yourself, that you don’t need anyone. You can make your own way. You can stand on your own feet. You can take on the world and wrestle it to its knees. By yourself. You’re not as lazy, stupid, aimless, take your pick, as you’ve been told your whole lazy, stupid, aimless life. You can do this. You can.
I lasted a week before I was mugged, conned, and generally beaten out of everything except my socks and a broken walking stick.
I threw the stick away. I filled the socks with stones. I became the mugger.
I lasted a week before I was arrested.
And that’s when you learn your first real lesson in life. Because, quite apart from what you might wish to believe, you are that lazy, stupid and aimless. Because if you weren’t, you’d be shagging your mother’s maid and overcharging moron merchants from Tal and Taslingham and Scorby City, just like your Dad, and going home to silk sheets and snifters if Belleq port in the evening. And you wouldn’t be learning the second real lesson of your life: you can’t do it by yourself. Not you. Not when it comes to breaking out of the Borgho Oubliette and slithering your way between the stones of the City walls to freedom, you can’t.
And that’s what really sets you on your way.
Life is a succession of partnerships, and if you’re clever, if you don’t lose sight of what really matters, they’re all temporary, and they’re all just a means to a majority share. In my quieter moments, when I’m sitting alone, watching the skin on my hand change from healthy, living pink to grey and back again, when the voices of the dead fade into the background, that understanding rears up and bites me in the brain. Over and over and over again.
I met Keth when I was nearly thirty. I fell in love.
Because I met Keth I tried to do right.
Because I met Keth I wanted money for two.
I got attached.
I got greedy.
I got trapped.
I got myself a permanent partner, and tried to teach him the ways of my profession.
I got him killed.
And then I got myself killed and sent on a quest to find a King for the underworld, and poor, dead Gerd was set to watch me and make sure I did what I was told.
And I’ve never been good with doing what I was told.
Because I met Keth I found love, and companionship, and friends, and money, and purpose, and destiny, and everything I’ve ever wanted. And all I had to do was lose everything I had. Again. They didn’t even leave me my socks.
But I can steal it all back. I didn’t have much to take. And you should never lose what you can’t steal. And never steal what you can’t swallow. You see, the problem with ‘happy ever after’ is that you stop moving.
And any movement is better than none.
Lee Battersby is the author of over 70 stories in Australia, the US and Europe, with appearances in markets such as “Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror”, “Year’s Best Australian SF & F”, and “Writers of the Future”. He lives in Mandurah, Western Australia, with his wife, writer Lyn Battersby and an increasingly weird mob of kids. He is sadly obsessed with Lego, Nottingham Forest football club, dinosaurs and Daleks. He’s been a stand-up comic, tennis coach, cartoonist, poet, and tax officer in previous times, and he currently works as the Arts Co-ordinator for a local council, where he gets to play with artists all day. Website |Twitter
Find the dead a King, save himself, win the love of his life, live happily ever after. No wonder Marius dos Helles is bored. But now something has stopped the dead from, well, dying.
It’s up to Marius, Gerd, and Gerd’s not-dead-enough Granny to journey across the continent and put the dead back in the afterlife where they belong.
‘Marching Dead’, the second novel in the series, is released in April 2013. The books have been described as “an entirely satisfying duology, firmly establishing Marius dos Hellespont as one of the finest – and funniest – reluctant heroes in the history of fantasy.” (Beauty in Ruins, March 2013)