I read Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon a little while back on the recommendation of a friend. I loved it. It’s a very excellent science fiction book that I would add to any “must read” type of list.
A few weeks ago, I was at the library with the kids and saw that Richard Morgan had a fantasy novel in the new releases section. I decided to see how well a gifted sci-fi author could transition to fantasy. The book is called The Steel Remains.
The plot of the book takes places after the humans have fought an epic battle to rid the world of some really powerful lizard creatures. In the aftermath, there are various power struggles and political pickering going on in the world. A few of the heroes of that last war are now trying to move on with their lives with varying degrees of success.
As the plot unfolds, we learn that there is another non-human group that is causing trouble and three of the old heroes will have to help organize another stand for humanity.
The characters are not your average everyday fantasy dungeon warriors. Two of the characters (one man and one woman) are homosexual. And they are all emotionally scarred from what has happened to them in the last war.
They also like to say “fuck” a lot. Profanity in a story rarely bothers me except when it seems added for shock value. In fact, I once had to edit a short story in my high school creative writing class for a few too many “fucks” in a story that was supposed to be read out loud to the class. But if that sort of thing bothers you, well you’ll probably have many other things in the book that would bother you and you should just stay away.
Just like in Altered Carbon, there is a fair amount of very graphic sex in The Steel Remains including a couple scenes involving one of the homosexual stories. Again, if that kind of thing will make you angry then you should stay away from this book.
The fight scenes were frequent, violent, vivid and brutal. There was a lot of focus on smaller one-on-one or a couple people against a small group. Since the book is the first book of a trilogy, it will be interesting to see if the plot opens up to larger scale battles or stays with the smaller fights. I actually prefer the smaller fights because the big battles in books tend to drown out a lot of the actual characters in my opinion.
The overall writing in the book is very gritty. It is hard to imagine the story without picturing lots of grays and sepias. It is executed beautifully to fit the mood of the characters and the mood of the civilization they are living in.
All in all, I would recommend The Steel Remains anybody that likes edgy writing. I will definitely be checking out the next book in the series when he gets around