Rat Queens: Sass and Sorcery (Vol 1) by Kurtis J. Wiebe – Review

Rat Queens Vol 1

Book Jacket:

Who are the Rat Queens?

A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all god’s creatures for profit.

It’s also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

Collecting Rat Queens #1-5.


You want to know why I love this book? Here, I give you page five (where, after an epic bar brawl, the mercenary teams involved are punished with the following Quests:

Rat Queens Vol 1 page 5

Basically, if you can’t chuckle at a team of mercenary dudes sporting serious hightails who call themselves Brother Ponies, or at a goth elf team that calls itself Obsidian Darkness, then this is not the book for you.

But, if you are chuckling at both the gleeful love of fantasy and silly fun those names imply, then buckle up, because this is most definitely your kind of ride. Really I just can’t remember the last time I smiled this goofily while reading a fantasy piece, as Wiebe both laughingly subverts and yet pays homage to some of the most enduring tropes of the genre (ogres, goblins, magic, mercenaries, assassins, orcs, quests), while all the while turning what should be archetypes – I mean, they’re sword-slinging mercenary chicks, for cripes sake – into personable, sympathetic people, in and of themselves. The Rat Queens are no walking stereotypes – they have families and problems and imperfect love lives, and a real, tangible sense of camaraderie as they go about kicking ass and taking names. Plus, the sly silly fun laced lovingly throughout is downright irresistible – for instance, take Dee, who isn’t just a magician, she’s the daughter of N’Rygoth cultists, or as she puts it: “I, Dee, a reformed acolyte from the blood drinking squid worshipping sect of N’Rygoth, will not lead us in prayer. So, for the love his grotesque and misshapen ballsack, dole out the damn food.” Or take Hannah, the necromancer of the group, who reminds Dee: “Look Dee, no matter how amazing the relics I own may seem, just try to keep in mind that they’re infused with the tortured souls of the dead by the hands of two seriously demented necromancers.” To which Dee replies: “Parents are that bad, hey?” “Your blood drinking relatives would be polite company in comparison.”

I mean, really, how can you not love it? Plus, the art – the art is PERFECT. And with a crazy tonal mix such as this, that is an insanely astounding feat.

So yes, the team, the friendship, the backstories and love lives that develop along the way – not to mention the madcap action and bloodletting galore – all in all make for a ridiculously fun read. So, if you’re sick of chain mail bikinis and every other sexist trope that has slunk into high fantasy over the years, this book is the perfect antidote – so just take a swig and smile.

Byrt Grade: A

As Levar Burton likes to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Talking Comics says:

It isn’t a book about kick-ass female mercenaries but instead it’s a book about kick-ass mercenaries that happen to be female.

The BibloSanctum says:

NetGalley let me partake of this glory early in exchange for an honest review, which basically goes like this: Why the hell aren’t you reading Rat Queens already? #FLAIL