Friday, February 14, 2014

Review of The Steel Remains-Richard Morgan

The Steel Remains (A Land Fit for Heroes, #1)The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Writing 5/5
Imagination 5/5
Plot 4.5/5
Setting 4.5/5
Characters 4/5

My Overall Enjoyment 5/5

From Goodreads-
A dark lord will rise. Such is the prophecy that dogs Ringil Eskiath—Gil, for short—a washed-up mercenary and onetime war hero whose cynicism is surpassed only by the speed of his sword. Gil is estranged from his aristocratic family, but when his mother enlists his help in freeing a cousin sold into slavery, Gil sets out to track her down. But it soon becomes apparent that more is at stake than the fate of one young woman. Grim sorceries are awakening in the land. Some speak in whispers of the return of the Aldrain, a race of widely feared, cruel yet beautiful demons. Now Gil and two old comrades 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.
Add Richard K. Morgan to Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, and David Gemmell as a writer to be known for his prose as well as writing dark and gritty fantasy set in a large, vivid world. The writing was truly outstanding! This is one of the smoothest, page turning books I have read in a long time. There was only one quick part about 1/3rd in that I felt was a little slow/too descriptive but once I was past that it was back to non stop happenings, events moving the plot along, not needlessly defining and describing. The book had some memorable philosophical passages which strongly reminded me of Mark Lawrence and David Gemmell, two excellent writers. Two memorable passages here-

"But I’ve also learnt that the tongues of men are not much leashed by concern for accuracy or truth. It seems lies come very easily to your race. They lie to those they lead, to their mates and fellows no matter how close drawn, even to themselves if it will make the world around them more bearable. It is hard to know what to believe in this place."
"Humans, short-lived and locked out of the grey places for life, do not do well with uncertainty. If they cannot have what might, what could, what should, and perhaps most awful of all what should have been, then they will dream it up instead, imagine it into being in whatever twisted or beautiful form suits, and then drive their fellows to their knees in chains by the thousand and million to pretend in chorus that it is so"

This is no coming-of-age story. After a brief opening scene, involving "corpsmites", a scene which will be with me for a long time, we are introduced to the plot and thrown right in with the mercenary and former soldier Ringil on his mission to rescue his cousin who was sold into slavery. Relentlessly violent, although I really did not feel it was over the top, humorous, a dark and twisted world full of interesting characters and monsters, great lore/mythology, very cool magic which was extremely imaginative and also disturbing, I couldn't have asked for more in a fantasy book. To top it all off, there were strong elements of science fiction but I still consider this as fantasy, not science fiction. The mix was amazing and I would love to tell about these elements but it would probably be a major spoiler.

This whole book was refreshing for me and was another reminder of 1) why I am a compulsive reader, often putting down books which don't interest me and 2) why I usually give a book at least 2 chances before giving up. I tried this book a few months back and didn't really get into it. I thought it held promise so I tried again and it really blew me away.

If you are looking for something new and refreshing; rich, imaginative, and immersive; often dark and violent yet at the same time with a sense of hope and redemption, pick up this book. However, if you are overly sensitive, you may have a hard time with some of the materiel but give it a try anyway. Highest recommendation!

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Nathan (@reviewbarn) said...

I bounced of this one pretty hard. Loved the opening, one of the best in the genre. But it had a blend of sci-fi and fantasy that just wasn't working for me. I did like the devil may care attitude of the protagonist though.

philip witvliet said...

I can understand it not working for people that don't like their genres mixed or even this particular blend. But as I mentioned, it worked excellent for me.