Ringil, the hero of the bloody slaughter at Gallows Gap, is a legend to all who don't know him and a twisted degenerate to those that do. A veteran of the wars against the lizards, he makes a living from telling credulous travellers of his exploits. Until one day he is pulled away from his life and into the depths of the Empire's slave trade. There, he will discover a secret infinitely more frightening than the trade in lives.
Archeth - pragmatist, cynic and engineer, the last of her race - is called from her work at the whim of the most powerful man in the Empire and sent to its farthest reaches to investigate a demonic incursion against the Empire's borders.
Egar Dragonbane, steppe-nomad and one-time fighter for the Empire, finds himself entangled in a small-town battle between common sense and religious fervour. But out in the wider world, there is something on the move far more alien than any of his tribe's petty gods.
Anti-social, anti-heroic, and decidedly irritated, all three of them are about to be sent unwillingly forth into a vicious, vigorous, and thoroughly unsuspecting fantasy world.
©2009 Richard Morgan (P)2011 Orion Publishing Group Limited
I have long been a fan of Richard Morgan. Altered Carbon, Broken Angels etc, excellent reads. Morgan has never been afraid to add gritty realism to his characters and stories, often displaying a dirty underside which adds spice and life to his creations. The Steel Remains is not cyber punk, it is set as a more traditional style fantasy world. His writing is as enjoyable as ever, and as ever he doesn't shy away from violence or sex if he feels it is called for in the narrative. In this particular novel, one of the main protagonists engages in several graphically represented same sex acts. This is isn't simply shock value, the sexual orientation of the character impacts very directly on the plot and motives.
However it may gall me, I do think some readers should be warned about the graphic homosexuality in the novel, as many of the fans of the fantasy genre (I was going to say hard core fantasy but decided against it) may not expect to find content of this nature.
That being said, please do not get the impression that the novel is rife with sex. It is an excellent read/listen, well written, great story and great narration. I recommend it to any mature fans of gritty fantasy writing. Any Joe Abercrombie fans should also enjoy this novel.
The plot is ok, pretty good gritty fantasy. It soon turns out to be a real page-turner. The world is well-built and original, with elements of science fiction. Characters are good, even if this novel feels like it is mainly setting the stage for what is to come.
At first, I was impressed by his performance. He has a good voice and it is always clear who is speaking. However, he does this by assigning any number of accents to the characters (except the two male protagonists, who - despite coming from very different backgrounds - get to speak without accent). He also portraits women by speaking in falsetto, which is not only demeaning, but also quite tiresome.
These mannerisms are bad in themselves, but they are even worse in this setting, where the female protagonist is tough as nails, but consistently performed as speaking in falsetto, with a rather forced accent. Also, this manner makes it clear who the performer considers to be foreign.
After a while I got so irritated that I bought the book and read the last third.
I have already started reading (not listening to) the next part (The Cold Commands). This far, it seems even better.
Richard Morgan writes gripping novels, and The Steel Remains is no exception. He does "damaged dark hero" as well as anyone. In this series he takes the fantasy genre and makes it fresh.
Gil, the lead character, is complex. Sardonic, an aristocrat with many upper class prejudices, he is also an effective military leader and a consummate soldier. He is a loner, follows a warrior ethos, and also has a self-destructive side. He undergoes significant changes in the course of the novel and I look forward to the second part.
Simon Vance is an accomplished reader, and the two male leads were excellent. I was less excited by the female lead, as her accent, at least to my taste, was a little distracting. Too bad, as her character — half human, half alien, left behind — was fascinating.
I was compelled to finish the novel and have already cued up the second one.
Some have commented on the depiction of the lead character's homosexuality, which underscores the importance of reading the description and the reviews if you are easily offended. Interestingly, these same readers did not seem the least bit bothered by the equally graphic, equally frequent, depictions of heterosexuality. (In fact, the heterosexual relations depicted were often non-consensual, while the gay sex occurred between consenting parties. I guess raping enslaved women is less offensive than gay sex between equals.) Nor did they seem bothered by the continuous, and highly graphic, violence. Remember, following Dr. Kinsey, that one in ten sword-swinging gore-covered berserker warriors are, statistically, likely to be gay. Which puts a whole new spin on "hearing the lamentations of the women."
Violent, Grim, Spellbinding. I'm a Richard Morgan fan, but I hate fantasy novels, I could not put this down. Morgan Imagination seems to inhabit a different plain, a strange and scary world which will always surprise you.
The character should have been less hung up about being a homosexual, He just sounded like an angsty teenager rather than a 30 year old warrior.
The performance was good I just couldn't get on with the story.
To be honest I think the book needs a complete re-write.
Dont waste your money on this trash unless you like wet angst ridden characters.
I am fairly certain I would have enjoyed this story, and certainly Simon Vance's reading of it, if it wasn't for the unnecessary sexual details (both straight and gay) and the swearing (f*** and c***) which to me was not used for literary reasons. If these things do not concern you then it looks to be a great story of mismatched and complicated buddies. I just wish Rochard Morgan left more things to my imagination.
"Entertaining story, fantastic narration,"
Ringil Eskiath, wielder of The Raven’s Friend. Ask a half-dozen people to describe him and you'll get ten answers. Noble by birth; warrior by training; hero by accident; legend despite himself; perverted, degenerate, twisted abomination to many of his countrymen; outcaste and viciously proud of it; drunkard, because of all of the above. Every bit of it true, depending on who you ask. All HE asked was to be left alone. He’d done his bit. He’d saved his people... and then been rejected by them once the cheering died down. When his mother came to him for help, all of his instincts told him to run. He certainly didn’t want to go off on some stupid search for a missing cousin, sold into slavery and abandoned by her immediate family, simply because his mother felt guilty about it. He would have been even more vehement in his refusal if he had known exactly where the search would take him. But mothers always know what levers will move their recalcitrant children. And so begin his first steps into a world where myths and gods of ages past walk the streets.
I believe this is Richard Margan's first foray into fantasy and it is an excellent debut into the genre. I've read his SF for years, though I lean towards fantasy. Simon Vance's narration is perfect. There are a handful of audiobook narrators that can almost make me ignore the author & genre simply for the pleasure of listening to his narration. I lost hours listening to this and I suspect that reading the book would be one of those times when I start reading in the evening and realise that the sun is coming up just as I finish it. The sequel, The Cold Commands, is calling to me now.
So, to sum up... An entertaining story with excellent narration that kept drawing me into another world
I am enjoying this book very much. Simon Vance does an excellent job as usual of narrating the multitude of characters. The writing itself is excellent, lyrically descriptive in parts and the story is everything it should be in this genre - fast moving, complex, violent.
A word of warning however. The characters language is coarse at times, absolutely filthy at others and there are scenes of graphic homosexual sex which are probably a little overdone for their context. You wouldn't want your mother or children to listen to this book, which is a shame because it's a great example of the genre.
"Up there with Hoffman, Lynch and Rothfuss,"
I loved this book, it has the same edgy feel that Name of the Wind, Left hand of God and the Gentleman Bastard books have. It could have been sharper and allowed the reader more use of their imagination by restricting the long descriptions he is so fond of. With that said im going to start into his next book immediately. One of the few new Sci Fantasy authors that entertain without harking back to Tolkien. As one of the main characters is gay, this book is definitely not for the homophobic. it was good to see something different tried in this genre. hope the next one is as good if not better.
The themes, characterisation and narrative are very grown up. Homosexuality, bigotry and power are intrinsic to the story and often depicted graphically and uncompromisingly. In my view, this is utterly justified, as this is what gives the book such a edgy and for once, fresh take on a familiar story.
I say familiar but there are enough twists to keep me intrigued and keen to get book 2.
Simon Vance just terrific as always, he doesn't hold back at all and gives every expletive just the right amount of venom when it's being spat in a bad guy's face.
"Absorbing, unique, fascinating"
Where to start reviewing a story that is entirely unique?
Ringil Eskiath, a war hero, is a man with a rigid morality. This makes him ill equipped to cope with his society's lack of morality. He finds himself in direct conflict with virtually everyone around him. Society, in turn, is unable to understand him. Instead, he is censured for his homosexuality and is either dismissed as naive or villified as depraved. He's a sensitive man who can only survive by alienating himself and his superlative sword skill makes him a reluctant killer.
Brief synopsis: Ringil is asked to track down and retrieve a family member who has been sold into slavery. He stumbles into a deep laid plan by a mythical race of beings who intend to take back Ringil's world that they consider theirs by heritage. He is forced to carve his way through people and and problems with his sword.
The story twists, turns, doubles back, confuses and thrills.
A word of advice: listen very, very carefully. All three books are out now and I had to go back to the beginning to re-read. The entire story line contains clues that only become clear by the end of book 3. The story is not linear, so some actions taken make no sense until seen in relation to the entire story.
Richard Morgan has created a detailed, unique world that will catch and hold you tight till the very end. His characters are deeply sketched and nuanced. The support characters are just as carefully crafted as the main ones. The writing is superb and Simon Vance is an experienced, versatile narrator.
"Good in parts"
I have to confess to being very disappointed with what could quite easily be a very good book, the story line was good and some excellent dialogue, but sadly there was far too much explicit sexual detail that was totally unnecessary which had me pressing the fast forward button a number of times.
Having read altered carbon from the same author, I was full of expectation for a great book but i was disappointed. The performance is excellent but the story is below my expectation. I wish I bought something else with my credit. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
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