The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Wednesday, 14 April 2010]

Review: The Steel Remains

The Steel Remains is a stunning reboot of dark fantasy.

After joining forces to fight a ruinous war to repel an invasion from a race of aliens, the kingdoms of humanity are back to squabbling amongst themselves while the hero of the war whiles his days away in a tiny hamlet, trading his reputation for drinks…

Richard K. Morgan is best known for his Takeshi Kovacs novels where he melded the grit of noir with science fiction. The Steel Remains is his interpretation of classic fantasy—most of the fantasy tropes are there, including a dark prophecy, warring kingdoms, and magic. Morgan overlays the classic elements with thick layers of ultra-violence, cynicism, profanity, and graphic sex. Including, it should be pointed out, graphic gay sex. Very gay, very graphic.

The result is stunning. The Steel Remains successfully brings the fantasy genre into more fully realized—and above all gritty—territory. The plot is turbo-charged, the characters walking the fine line of being interesting while vacillating between being cynics and completely amoral, and the world Morgan has created exhibits a lived-in vastness with lots of room to grow.

In a lot of ways, The Steel Remains reminds me of Joe Abercrombie’s fantastic First Law Trilogy—the same grit, harshness, noir sensibilities, violence and sex. Although Morgan does go one step further by bringing in the hot man-on-man action.

Best of all, The Steel Remains is the beginning of a trilogy, so there’s plenty more goodness to come.

If you’re ready for a fantasy novel that’s a kick in the nuts, The Steel Remains is where it’s at.

Highly recommended.

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