Literature / King Rat

For the James Clavell novel, see Asian Saga.

King Rat is a novel by China MiévilleAnansi Boys on more crack and a lot of downers,

King Rat is about Saul, an average guy who has had a bad few days. First his dad dies. Then he's arrested for killing him. And then he's broken out of a holding cell by a ratlike man who can climb up walls and squeeze between the cell bars, and things get a little strange . . .

Features the Pied Piper of Hamelin from a rat's perspective and plenty of Blue and Orange Morality.


Includes Examples Of:

  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: A small segment from near the end of the story is from the perspective of one of the rats Saul dispatches as scouts. Described as one of the strongest and bravest of the Rat nation he follows his mission long after all the others had given up or forgotten. He even succeeds in finding the Piper and the kidnapped Natasha and Fabian... and then is promptly and unceremoniously squished by the Piper.
  • Black and Grey Morality: The Piper is a lunatic who thinks people and animals exist only to dance to his tune. King Rat is, well, a rat—with all the Blue and Orange Morality you would expect from an actual rat.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Saul and Anansi have a conversation about it, in fact, where Anansi admits that he will never understand basic human concepts and visa versa.
  • Bittersweet Ending and/or Downer Ending: Most of the main characters are alive and (sort of) okay, but Anansi is killed or at least discorporated, Loplop is deaf and mad, Saul won't give King Rat's throne back and the Piper may return at some point.
  • Building Swing: Anansi travels across the city this way, which is absolutely terrifying for saul when he's Bound and Gagged and hauled along for the journey.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Loplop was driven insane by the Piper in the past and isn't wholly recovered. he reverts after Saul has to burst his eardrums to save him from the Piper's control - he spends the rest of the book screeching and screaming, unable to even rally his birds for the final battle
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Tied in the middle of a train tunnel and left there . . .
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: All of the various Kings' fights with the Piper in the past as they literally are unable to fight him once he starts a tune happens literally to Anansai in the final fight, the Piper makes him lie down then stomps on his skull
  • Dirty Coward: All of the animals and Kings have a little of this at heart as they have a strong urge for self preservation. Saul falsely paints King Rat as one of these when telling the rats of the battle with the Piper to strip King Rat of any chance of regaining his power.
  • Driven to Madness: The Piper did this to Loplop in the past.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: The Pier Piper is fucking scary for a rat. As if it wasn't bad enough already!
  • Inspector Javert: DI Crowley
  • Magic Music: The main type of magic, aside from the animals' magic—which is just being what they really are.
  • Neck Snap: The Piper snaps the neck of a police officer around 180 degrees.
  • Past Victim Showcase: A variation; the victims showcase themselves.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Played with. Saul thinks so, and it's why he won't give King Rat his throne back. King Rat, being essentially a smart rat in human shape, is bewildered and enraged by this.
  • Super Strength: Saul gains this after tapping into his rat side, King Rat, Anansai and Loplop possess it to a greater degree. And the Piper is stronger even than them.

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