In just a few short years, Richard K. Morgan has vaulted to the pinnacle of the science fiction world. Now he turns his iconoclastic talents to epic fantasy, crafting a darkly violent, tautly plotted adventure sure to thrill old fans and captivate new readers. The Steel Remains is the first of a trilogy-a stunning reinvention of the fantasy genre that places Morgan in the elite company of modern mythmakers like China Mieville and George R. R. Martin.
A dark lord will rise. Such is the prophecy that dogs the footsteps of Ringil Eskiath-Gil, for short-a washed-up mercenary and onetime war hero whose world-weary cynicism is surpassed only by the quickness of his temper and the speed of his sword. That sword, forged by a vanished eldritch race known as the Kiriath, has brought him unlooked-for notoriety, as has his habit of poking his nose where it doesn't belong.
Gil is estranged from his aristocratic family, but that doesn't stop his mother from enlisting his help in freeing a cousin sold into slavery. Grumbling all the way, Gil sets out to track her down. But it soon becomes apparent that more is at stake than the fate of one luckless young woman. Grim sorceries that have not been seen for centuries are awakening in the land. Some speak in whispers of the return of an all-but-legendary race known as the Aldrain, cruel yet beautiful demons feared even by the Kiriath.
Now Gil and two old comrades-Egar, a fierce warrior from the savage Majak tribes, and Archeth, a half-Kiriath fighter still mourning her departed brethren-are all that stand in the way of a prophecy whose fulfillment will drown an entire world in blood. But with heroes like these, the cure is likely to be worse than the disease.
Noir SF author Morgan (Thirteen) delivers a promising but obscenity-laden epic fantasy trilogy opener. As the Yhelteth Empire recovers from a devastating war, embittered veterans Archeth, Egar and Ringil embark on parallel but vastly different journeys. The emperor sends drug-abusing Archeth to gather details about a rumored invasion. Egar becomes a steppes clanmaster, but the other horsemen despise him for seducing teenagers rather than leading. Ringil attempts to locate and free a cousin sold into slavery. All three soon discover the dwenda, a race of magical beings thought long dead. Despite stereotypical plot elements, including a prophecy that states A dark lord will rise, the well-developed characters and realistic battle scenes ring true, as do some gruesomely explicit sex scenes. The intriguing conclusion to the dark, gritty tale will have readers hoping for a more plot-heavy and less visceral sequel. (Jan.)
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Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . Deal with It!
Posted May 13, 2010 by EricK , San DiegoI have to hand it to Richard K. Morgan. He's done a lot of research, obviously, one way or another. After giving readers some of the hottest hetero sex in science fiction, now he?s writing some frank and detailed depictions of man on man, girl on girl, and barbarian on concubine action. Somewhere along the line he must have drawn on something more than firsthand experience.
This is nevertheless good heroic fantasy, as good as if not better than current rave faves such as Joe Abercrombie, Ken Scholes, Patrick Rothfuss, Brian Ruckley, or Daniel Abraham, whom I love and recommend (don't get me wrong)?and far beyond any epic noir by George R. R. Martin and his ilk.
Which brings us back to all the gay sex in The Steel Remains. If you object to any depictions of sex in high fantasy, so be it, very little to be found on today's shelves is remotely chaste, and you might as well migrate to another genre such as religious fiction. But if you like high fantasy and have come to tolerate a violent rape and murder every other chapter because you're a man and you can distance yourself from the brutality then turnabout is fair play, imagine what it would be like to woman reading any of the typical two handed dickfest trilogies you've read in the past ten years. Then read The Steel Remains in penance for all the voyeuristic pleasures of which you stand convicted by any standard of civilized decency. If you're uncomfortable, bite the pillow, it will be over in a page or two and you'll be that much the wiser!
2 . Not enough action and too much gay sex.
Posted November 06, 2009 by Slav B. Shuravesky , East BrunswickNo, the title is not a joke, though I wish it were. I am not a homophobe, far from it. And I could deal with the main character of the novel being gay. But this novel is chock full of explicitly described gay sex scenes. And when I say gay I mean man on man...or man on almost man in some cases. A lot less explicit gay sex and a lot more explicit heroic sword play would have gone a long way to making this novel readable. As is, I wish I could get my money back. Because this was a huge disappointment.
January 19, 2009
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