I can’t say that volume 2 of Rat Queens, The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth picks up right where the first volume left off, but it comes about as close as you can get. Sass and Sorcery ended with a party celebrating the Rat Queens’, with the aid of several allies, victory over an invading horde. The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth starts the morning after that party.
Given how that party went it is no surprise that the ladies are not alone in their home when the story opens. Each of them wakes up next to someone. Well, each of them, except for Dee, that is. That’s kind of sad really since Dee seems like the one who’s best suited for a relationship, in many ways. Or maybe I just think she’s the hottest.
In any case, what immediately follows is a nice little slice of the Rat Queen’s life and a demonstration of what makes this series so good. While the Rat Queens are wielders of forces both arcane and unholy and masters of both martial and subtle arts, they are also four close friends and roommates. So, there is a great deal of very believable joking, teasing and taunting that is not exactly friendly but is all the more proof of their friendship because of that. After all, you can’t insult strangers like the Rat Queens do each and expect to get away with it. Especially when those strangers might be able to behead you, suck your soul out of your body, stab you without you knowing they’re there or wreath your body in black fire.
It’s not long before this sort of slice of life action fades and the action action portion of the story gets started, though. Volume 2 not only starts right after the first volume, but also continues the story that started there. Anyone who has read volume 1 knows that the bad guy from that story was nothing more than a dupe. A dupe with her own agenda, but a dupe, nonetheless. The real bad guy is revealed in The Far reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth. And, as is common in Rat Queens, he is someone from their past.
In fact, that may be one of the most impressive and interesting parts of Rat Queens. The story has a history. As readers, we don’t feel like the story is springing up as it’s being written. Instead, it feels like we’ve come into the story in the middle. In almost every issue we are shown something from one or more of the Rat Queens history and, every few issues an issue is entirely, or almost entirely, a flashback to one of their pasts from before the series started. That happens in The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth as well. In this volume, the flashback is the story of Violet leaving her home (which is not unlike the plot of the movie Brave, though it is a little more mature.)
Compared to the story in the first volume, the one in the second volume of Rat Queens is larger and is literally world threatening. As might be expected given the title, beings from an alien realm come into the material dimension to destroy it. Although, I’m never entirely sure HOW they’re destroying the material dimension. There are lots of dead bodies lying around but it’s never shown exactly how or why they’re dying. It’s possible that they’re hallucinating to death since the Rat Queens experience the creatures’ attacks and basically suffer flashbacks, one of which is quite lewd. In fact, there is more nudity in this volume and it pushes the limits of what would be considered “mature” and what might be called “adult.”
Given the source of the threat in the story, one might expect Dee to be at the center of the story. It is minions of her god, after all, that are being summoned to destroy the world. Instead, the story is very much focused on Hannah. In fact, Hannah slowly becomes the focus of the entire story, starting with volume 2. While the other queens are not sidekicks and certainly not supporting characters, they are definitely secondary characters in the plot.
Much like the end of the first volume, the second one ends with a massive battle and, again, the Rat Queens are joined by the other mercenary/adventuring companies that operate in their hometown of Palisade. Or at least the remains of the other mercenary/adventuring companies join them. If these 2 stories have taught us anything, it’s that being an adventurer in Palisade is an exceptionally dangerous profession. Not everyone makes it out of this battle alive, either. If things keep going like they are, Palisade is going to need new adventuring groups. Though they definitely give better than they get and the army they face is pretty much wiped out by the end of the battle.
The second volume does not have as happy ending as the first one did. There’s no raging party to celebrate their hard won victory. Given how devastated the city is after almost being the epicenter for the end of the world, it would be a little distasteful to throw that kind of party. Not to mention how difficult it would be to find people to attend the party.
The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth suffers from some of the problems that many 2nd stories have. While it could, theoretically, stand on its own, it is much better when viewed as the completion of the story from Sass and Sorcery. On the other hand, Sass and Sorcery could stand on its own much better than this story can. While there were some strings left loose to be picked up in this story, Sass and Sorcery could legitimately have been a standalone story.
It also benefits from some of the advantages that many 2nd stories have. Since all the characters have already been introduced, they can all be investigated further. They don’t have to be established for the readers so they can be expanded as characters.
The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth isn’t the kick in the door style adventure that Sass and Sorcery was. It is a much more expansive story than the first was, though. The Rat Queens aren’t just saving their town this time, they’re saving the world, but they still do it with all the attitude and skill that showed up in the first story. Far from a disappointment, the 2nd trade paperback of the Rat Queens only whets your appetite for more.