With The Steel Remains, award-winning science fiction writer Richard K. Morgan turned his talents to sword and sorcery. The result: a genre-busting masterwork hailed as a milestone in contemporary epic fantasy. Now Morgan continues the riveting saga of Ringil Eskiath - Gil, for short - a peerless warrior whose love for other men has made him an outcast and pariah. Only a select few have earned the right to call Gil friend. One is Egar, the Dragonbane, a fierce Majak fighter who comes to respect a heart as savage and loyal as his own. Another is Archeth, the last remaining daughter of an otherworldly race called the Kiriath, who once used their advanced technology to save the world from the dark magic of the Aldrain - only to depart for reasons as mysterious as their arrival. Yet even Egar and Archeth have learned to fear the doom that clings to their friend like a grim shadow... or the curse of a bitter god.
©2011 Richard Morgan (P)2011 Tantor
Yes, the main character is homosexual, and there are graphic details about his preferences in bed. Book also contains a lot of graphic violence and colorful language.
Richard???s writing is sharp and edgy. Narrative keeps the reader interested. However, it seemed that story was a little distorted at times. Few details, though entertaining, could have been omitted.
Simon is one of my favorite narrators, and he does an excellent job again. In wrong hands, this book would have been difficult to listen.
I recommend this book, and look forward to the future books by Richard.
The Steel Remains was the first Richard K. Morgan book I ever read, and it hooked me from the start. I'm happy to say that The Cold Commands has firmly cemented my new addiction.
Morgan has a gift with prose writing. I mean really, who can resist lines like "the blade tore sideways through the pliant lips of the scabbard, made a blurred arc around and down off his shoulder, was there at guard in front of him, like steel laughter in the light.". Couple that prose with fascinating characterization and intense action, and you've really got a book worth reading.
The Cold Commands is obviously a "second" book, the middle of a trilogy. It is clearly setting up action for the grand finale. Nonetheless, it also has plenty of action and plot in its own right. All three of the main characters expand and develop from their beginnings in The Steel Remains, and we especially see more of what Ringil is becoming -- whether he wants to or not. I won't post spoilers here, but I shuddered at some of the suffering Morgan inflicts on Ringil in this one -- and I can't wait to see how Morgan finishes up the series in the next book!
There is still quite a bit of explicit violence, some moderately explicit sex, and plenty of swearing in this book, so those who were offended by The Steel Remains (TSR) should probably steer clear. But anyone who appreciated TSR should love this volume as well. Also, Simon Vance does just as good as job with The Cold Commands as he did on TSR, so his narration was a joy to listen to and definitely adds to the reading experience. I own both the text and audio versions of both of these books, and each enhances the other.
Oh, finally -- for fans of the Takeshi Kovacs books -- read carefully, and you will find multiple references to Takeshi and his universe. You don't need to catch the references to enjoy the book, but they provide some fun insider entertainment if you do!
If it weren't for Audible I'd never get any reading done.
This is the 2nd of what will apparently be a trilogy in the Land Fit for Heroes series. If you like Morgan's heroes, their Philip Marlowe cynicism matched with occasionally super-human powers with an astounding capacity for violence, this is at least as fun to read as anything else he's written. If you're easily frustrated with complex plotting and stories based on a made-up mythology that no one could ever follow without a guide (not that one exists yet), then this isn't for you.
Sex is never far from the minds of the author or his characters. There are a few gay sex scenes between the hero and a couple of minor players, plus a lesbian one for his best friend, an immortal soothsayer. But unlike in The Steel Remains, it's not a important plot point.
Simon Vance gives another terrific performance. I don't love all of his character voices, but his rendering of Morgan's heroes' internal thoughts is, as always, masterful.
Entropy: it's all downhill from here
Gil took me completely by surprise in The Steel Remains, but I hung in there and ended up totally enthralled despite the genre busting change from hard science fiction, subtly introduced by my least favorite of his books, Market Forces, now on my list for a second hearing, and then teased away by the wonderful Thirteen, which I have personally requested of Mr. Morgan that he consider another two books based on that book's fascinating protagonist.
I had a hard time initially wrapping my head around The Steel Remains, as did quite a few listeners, and I decided that despite the excellent narration, the book was, as is this one, truly meant to be read in print first. The names are difficult, the number of characters hard to remember, especially since this sequel took a while to show up,,,perhaps because of the negative reactions to there being a gay hero (really, people, get over yourselves! Are you really going to politicize fiction?), which neither bothered me or particularly interested me; the play's the thing, right?
While I am still having some difficulty hearing and remembering all the names of people and places in The Cold Commands, a wonderful sequel which I hope is the middle of a new trilogy, I can't say enough about how well Morgan has made the transition from hard sci-fi to electrifying fantasy. Morgan has an amazing range when it comes to imagination, one which the Takeshi trilogy did not prepare us for at all. If you are wondering if you can bring yourself to plunk down a credit or some cash for this book and you were at all interested in The Steel Remains, I heartily recommend that you continue with Gil's story. With a narrator whom I consider to be the epitome in the field of narration, you just can not go wrong. I wish that Simon Vance had been chosen to read all of Mr. Morgan's work!
Mr. Morgan has a sterling future ahead of him even if he chooses to rest on his well earned laurels, but I do hope he's got at least a trilogy up his sleeve to complete Gil's story and dig deeper into the eldritch end of his adventures...I was thinking even a prequel would be most satisfying, not to mention my wish for more of the Thirteens and a rumored possibility that "there may be a story left in that old bastard" Kovacs ("it's Kovash"). I certainly hope so!
When I read or listen to an audiobook, what I look for is how well the story flows, how the world around them is given form and life by it's author. this book will not be an easy book to read or listen to, because of the complexity and writing of the plots how they intercept and break apart.
The Cold-Command was well written; the three main characters had their own issues, pace of performance and plot.
Ringil for the most part is still as confused has he was in book one, going were the tides take him sometimes literally; with all the power he as attain; whatever he is becoming, he still allows himself to be lead by others. A hero and an anti- hero rolled into one.
In this book the myths and legends were explain more clearly, giving the reader a better understanding of that broken world.
Love the characters and the story line, the references to the downfall of a whole society being caused in part by religious fanaticism is fitting for our current world politics. My only complaint is sometimes the story got hard to follow. But maybe it deserves a re-listen.
Great conclusion to a trilogy, left the slight hint of a door open for a spinoff, but left no doubt that this part was over.
leaving blank to avoid spoilers
Great conclusion to a great series. The prompts from Audible don't really fit, but enjoyed this series all the way through!
A very worthy successor to the first book, but the first book is superior.
I love all of Morgans books. He is a very talented author ta making believable hard-edged anti heroes.
Simon Vance never does a bad job. This was excellent as always.
Increasing my ops tempo by allowing storytellers to whisper in my ear(buds).
The story is now hitting its stride. The three main characters from book one are back. Ringil is on a vendetta that he has made personal to take vengeance for his cousin who was taken in slavery in the first book, and Egar the Dragonbane is fending off internal power struggles. It has the feel of a middle novel in that the story is allowed to stretch out its legs. It seems that in this second installment of The Land Fit for Heroes trilogy that the exigencies of plot preclude explicit diversions. They are, at least fewer in number and shorter in length than such scenes were in book one. It is my guess that one of two circumstances conspired to bring this situation about: Either Morgan had finished making his point concerning diversity or the buzz caused by the first book was becoming negative to an uncomfortable degree and concern for the bottom line persuaded both author and publisher to tone down the in-your-face nature of the first volume. We may never know. I, for one, am glad that Morgan seems to have spent more of his efforts on developing the story. It is a better book than the first.
Jack Vance is a fine reader for this book. I appreciate the way his British accent makes the dark underbelly of this story a little easier to hear. As I mentioned in my review for the first book, sometimes, particularly when portraying female voices, I think he is channeling the characters of Monty Python in the Medieval worlds of The Holy Grail or Jabberwocky. He brings some much needed, if unintentional, comic relief to the brutal grimy mercenary world in which the story takes place.
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