I’ve had this on my shelf for about a year and I hadn’t got around to reading it until yesterday. I don’t know why but I’ve been on a fantasy/ sword and sorcery binge for the past few weeks, probably brought about by my 500th rewatch of the the Lord Of The Rings films. So after wading through the harry potter franchise and not really wanting to start something that would take me another week to get through, I picked up my copy of Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery.
The story follows the eponymous Rat Queens, a mercenary band made up of magic wielding elf Hannah, the hipster dwarf Violet who unironically shaves her beard, the hippie halfling thief Betty, whose idea of a good meal is a big bag of drugs and candy and the agnostic cleric Dee, whose parents happen to be Lovecraftian monster cultists.
Like most mercenary groups, they like to drink and have a good time, and if you expect this not to lead to violence and sex, then that’s a little sexist of you. The story opens with the residents of the Rat Queens home town becoming sick and tired of mercenary bands of the cities continually brawling and endangering the town. So the residents set up a plan to send the various mercenary groups on missions which will end in their deaths. The Rat Queens survive and then set about to find who wants them dead.
Its a story which is pretty simple, but the way its written makes it a good one. Basically is a story that relies on the banter, that back and forth between friends, that in many cases is actually borderline abuse, I mean my closest friendships are defined by how well we can insult each other.
The art (by Roc Upchurch) is a little on the cartoony side, but that actually works quite well as it kind of shows that this is a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a little parody like whilst being its own thing at the same time, in much the same way that Terry Pratchett did with the Discworld Series (a higher praise I could not give).
It is cool the way that it subverts the traditional fantasy tropes and makes these young women act in a way that would seem perfectly normal if it were Conan or Kull and its about time that someone did it. There are a couple of LGB issues that the book features, mainly how difficult playing the game can be for an inter species lesbian couple. Casual drug use crops up. And so do issues of racial (or species?) and religious identity.
It is a good read, and when I have a little cash (so it’ll probably be a while) I will pick up the next two volumes of Mr Kurtis J. Wiebe’s series.