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The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan

The Steel Remains (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Richard Morgan

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1,177606,846 (3.74)69
Title:The Steel Remains
Authors:Richard Morgan
Info:Gollancz (2008), Edition: Export Ed, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:source: Better Read

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The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan (2008)

  1. 00
    Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook (dClauzel)
    dClauzel: De la fantaisie noire, avec des sorciers à la volonté impérialiste, des guerres menées par des mercenaires, des révoltes opprimées dans le sang, et un sentiment éternel que de toute façon au final rien ne pourra changer pour le mieux, donc autant essayer quand même.… (more)
  2. 00
    The Iron Wolves by Andy Remic (bj)
  3. 00
    The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie (imyril)
    imyril: Two very different authors tackle fantasy stereotypes and subvert them with glee. Abercrombie focuses on antiheroes - the coward, the torturer, the berserker - whereas Morgan takes more traditional heroes and then soaks them in noir. The results are delightfully wicked, blood-soaked and utterly readable.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
It's not terribly often a book makes it onto the tiny list of "things I loved like breathing" on the first go-around. Usually it takes a couple of re-reads before I realize that yes, this is one of them, this is a book I'll tell everyone I know to read with all the passion of a newly besotted lover.

This was an exception to the standard.

I sit here basking in the afterglow of this book, counting down the seconds until tomorrow when I can pick up the next one, and probably in no more than the four days this one took, I'll be fiending for the third. After that is something I'm not really ready to contemplate, which is parting ways with Gil and company, and this fascinating place that Morgan has conjured for us. This is the tl;dr. I loved this book and I hope you will too.

What's to love? Well, a lot. We can start broad and get smaller.

Let's touch on the elephant in the room, first: the genre. Grim-dark fantasy kind of has a rep for trying too hard, and frankly a lot of it does exactly that, leaving you rolling your eyes at how "edgy" everything has to be, picking your way through prose littered with absolutely unnecessary swears. Does this book have prose littered with swears? Oh you betcha. Are they unnecessary? Maybe sometimes, but mostly not. They suit the mood. Where it really shines in the genre is simply by not trying too hard. The story is what it is, it doesn't feel like anything has been tacked on just to shock or appall you.

The prose is not overly flowery, but Morgan does have a way with words. The action scenes are frankly my favorite out of any book I've ever read. Usually in books these are parts I skim, because it's difficult to paint a clear enough picture for me to imagine it, and without that they're pretty dull. Morgan makes them interesting and exciting, without getting too overly into all the horrible details. This is grimdark fantasy, so they're present, but he doesn't overdo it.

Morgan's world-building is top-notch, in my opinion. He gives you a lot without telling you what it is, and then slowly unveils details and information in a natural way. You are left confused at first, and it gives you sense that you should know, because everyone else seems to, and this actually works really, really well. You feel like a traveler in a strange place, waiting for things that make perfect sense to the locals to come clear to you. Since you're only an observer you can't ask; you have to wait and watch for all the pieces to come together.

Morgan is also not afraid to sprinkle a little of his scifi roots in his fantasy, and this is another thing that I think works very well. There's touches of realism in unexpected places, like characters' awareness that time marches on and that this medieval fantasy lifestyle cannot persist forever. Technology will change, swords will be outmoded. Too often a fantasy novel resists these things, as if afraid that bringing them to light will spoil the escapism. It could, but Morgan handles it deftly, and instead we are given the vision of a place that doesn't just exist in the time of the story, but will continue to exist after it's done.

Plot is not something I usually give much attention to in books, and that's kind of a good thing here, because the plot in this one flirts with anticlimactic. It's very clear that this is just setting the stage for where the story goes later, without having to one-up something tremendous that happened at the very beginning. It starts slow, and doesn't really pick up the pace until about 3/4ths in, by which point, well, time to wrap things up. I'm okay with that, not everyone will be.

For me the plot is a vehicle to deliver interesting characters and dialogue, and this is definitely my favorite part of the book. Dialogue is very well done, and not once did I have to roll my eyes because people don't talk like that. There's not too much of it, and not too little. Morgan managed to make it just right.

Every character you meet clearly has a past, and you're not always privy to that, because hey, you just met these people. They have their own inside jokes and their own relationship dynamics, which just like the world building, are doled out to you in natural pieces, uncovered through watching characters interact with each other, the world around them, and often themselves. There's clearly more to dig up, and that's one of the aspects of the sequels that I'm looking forward to most.

Oh, and Gil is gay, and while nobody else seems to be okay with that, he is, and that's really what matters. Having a gay male MC in mainstream fantasy is a bold move, and I was ecstatic to see it handled so well. Gil is definitely not a stereotype, and he won't hesitate to make anyone suffer for trying to paint him as one. ( )
  LuckBe | May 10, 2017 |
I galloped through this book over a year ago, loved it, put the next in the trilogy on my wish list, and then when that arrived I found I couldn't recall the first book clearly, so, time for a re-read.
And now I wonder why I could not recall it... partly I suspect it is because there are many similarities between this & Abercrombie's First Law trilogy, partly I suspect it was eclipsed by Patrick Rothfuss' Name of the Wind. The characters work, the story works... but something about the book blends into generic fantasy myth, which is not a bad thing, only it shows up my faulty memory. Ringil is a complicated bloke, as is Kvothe, but in a way that is not clear so far... looking forward to The Cold Commands though, plenty more for me to find out about him, and Archeth, and the other bordering worlds... ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
I like to read Fantasy books when I am in the mood for light reading. The book failed to hook my interest in the first thirty or forty pages. I therefore abandoned the book as a waste of my time. I usually don't add to LibraryThing books that I have "abandoned" reading, but I wanted to avoid acquiring accidentally this book again. ( )
  NLytle | May 18, 2016 |
Basically, this book takes high fantasy tropes and screws with them. This is not a parody; it's not so facile. But the author has clearly read and loved a great deal of fantasy in his life, and knows the basic stories well. And when he grew tired of the easy answers and Light vs Dark epic battles, he created this.

The elves have left Middle Earth--but they were actually aliens, driven half-mad by their flight across the stars, and the half-Elven Princess they leave behind them is a black lesbian with a drug problem. (I found Arceth to be the most fascinating character of all. Her eldritch family taught her modern concepts of morality, but she's been stuck in a feudal society for hundreds of years--her high-minded ideals are beginning to wear thin.)
The "elves" also left behind a magical sword, wielded by war hero Gil. Like many war heroes in fantasy novels written lately, Gil has become a washed-up mercenary, only pulled back into the Epic Battle for Civilization by the danger posed to a long-lost female loved one. But uh, Gil is gay, and his main resistance to helping is that the *last* Epic Battle turned into a slaughter of civilians, and his city tortured his lover to death before his eyes.
His former sword-brother, the barbarian Egar, is also pulled into the fray. Egar is a great play on the usual "savage tribe" trope.

This book is not a criticism of High Fantasy--it takes it to the next level. The queer characters, the characters of color, the atheists, the questions of consent and privilege, the logical next step for a country that's just defeated their Big Foe...Morgan uses all of it. And the adventure is better for it. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |

Took a long time to come together, but was good (if brutally gritty) when it finally did. I was, however, seriously disturbed by the exceedingly modern language that in no way matched the time/world of the book. But in the end I liked it enough to read book two. ( )
  SadieSForsythe | Feb 24, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard K. Morganprimary authorall editionscalculated
Chong, VincentCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rostant, LarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'I think you look on death as your friend,' she murmured. 'That is a strange friend for a young man to have.'
'The only faithful friend in this world,' he said bitterly. 'Death is always sure to be at your side.'

Poul Anderson
The Broken Sword
This book is for my father, John Morgan, for carrying me past the seaweed.
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When a man you know to be of sound mind tells you his recently deceased mother has just tried to climb in his bedroom window and eat him, you only have two basic options.
"Forget the law. It isn't going to help. They'll cite it where it suits them, ignore it where it doesn't. They're clerics, Archeth. They spend their whole fucking lives selectively interpreting textual authority to advantage."

Emperor Jhiral to Archeth, p.325
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345493036, Hardcover)

A dark lord will rise. Such is the prophecy that dogs Ringil Eskiath—Gil, for short—a washed-up mercenary and onetime war hero whose cynicism is surpassed only by the speed of his sword. Gil is estranged from his aristocratic family, but when his mother enlists his help in freeing a cousin sold into slavery, Gil sets out to track her down. But it soon becomes apparent that more is at stake than the fate of one young woman. Grim sorceries are awakening in the land. Some speak in whispers of the return of the Aldrain, a race of widely feared, cruel yet beautiful demons. Now Gil and two old comrades are all that stand in the way of a prophecy whose fulfillment will drown an entire world in blood. But with heroes like these, the cure is likely to be worse than the disease.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:27 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Fantasy fiction. 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. Where he will discover a secret infinitely more frightening than the trade in lives. Anti-social, anti-heroic and decidedly irritated, Ringil, Archeth (pragmatist, cynic and engineer, the last of her race) and Egar Dragonbane (steppe-nomad and one-time fighter for the Empire) are about to be sent unwillingly forth into a vicious, vigorous and thoroughly unsuspecting fantasy world. Called upon by an Empire that owes them everything and gave them nothing. Richard Morgan brings his trademark visceral writing style, turbo-driven plotting and thought provoking characterisation to the fantasy genre and produces a landmark work with his first foray.… (more)

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