The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan
29 December, 2010
I’m slowly getting through the books I’ve been trying to finish up all year. Yay! Especially this one. I started The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan in 2009. I downloaded it onto my Sony e-reader and took it on holiday. But although I found using the e-reader easy and inoffensive, somehow I just gravitated towards proper books and soon forgot to continue reading it. I think I must have started from the beginning a couple of times but I just couldn’t continue it. Not because it was boring. I’m not really sure why.
It was only this week when I’d finished A Very Great Profession by Nicola Beauman and hadn’t taken a spare book to work that I realised I could access my e-books from my office computer. Score! So I started reading it from the Reader Library on my computer and can I just say how easy it was to read on screen. Of course, Morgan’s story made it easy because it is brilliant. And I ran eagerly home to charge my e-reader again to continue reading.
The Steel Remains is one title that kept cropping up all over the sff blogosphere in 2009 with some incredible reviews. So I was dying to see what the fuss was all about. I’d hit an sff drought some years ago as my favourite authors were completing their series until I’d discovered Scott Lynch, then Steven Erikson, George R.R. Martin and R. Scott Bakker in the last few years so I was on the lookout for some new names to get my teeth into. The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan fit the bill nicely.
It is ten years since the scaled folk were repelled by the human-Kiriath alliance and peace, with its inherent conflicting politics, has settled on the land. The Kiriath, a black-hued race with an advanced knowledge of machines far outstripping the humans have also left leaving behind the half-human Lady Archeth at the court of the Yhelteth Emperor. Elsewhere, her fighting comrades from the lizard wars, the aristrocratic Ringil Eskiath disowned by his family for his homosexuality and Egar Dragonbane a Majak steppe lord no longer happy at the traditional ways of his people, are also feeling discontent. When Ringil’s mother calls upon him to find her cousin who was sold into slavery to pay her late husband’s debt, she sets in motion a series of events that will expose the fragility of their society. And targeting this fragility are the dwenda, the magical alien folk that vanished centuries ago and who are itching to get back into power.
Although Morgan’s book isn’t as complex in its storytelling as Erikson or Bakker’s, it’s fast-paced with a lot of action without overloading you with too much history and back story, although the reader is made aware that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes. Which I rather liked. But it also made me wish the book was longer and that Morgan had shared a little more with the reader. But, saying that, there is a sequel and I really cannot wait to read it.
I really liked the characters and wanted to get to know them a little better. In some ways it’s an easier read than either Bakker’s or Erikson’s books because the evil characters were not overwhelmingly evil (which can make uncomfortable reading) except perhaps for the dwenda who remain mysterious. But Morgan’s prose is easy to read and he knows how to suck you into the story.
The sequel, The Cold Commands will be out at the end of next year.