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Broken Angels Paperback – March 2, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 171 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Critics have compared Richard Morgan's first novel, Altered Carbon, to the classic hardboiled fiction of Raymond Chandler. The comparison doesn't accurately describe Morgan's second novel, Broken Angels. Morgan's prose never approaches Chandler's metaphoric excess, and Morgan's antihero, Takeshi Kovacs, doesn't wisecrack nearly as often as Chandler's hero, Philip Marlowe. Also, Kovacs's far-future universe is considerably darker than Marlowe's noir world. In Kovacs's universe, high-tech implants called "stacks" record memory and personality; this means soldiers can be sent to their deaths, have their stacks implanted in new bodies, and be sent to their deaths again, and again, and again. Generals needn't quibble about wasting lives in massacres or nuclear explosions. The slaughtered soldiers will soon be back in action--unless their stacks aren't recovered. Then their consciousness will go mad, isolated in an indestructible, inescapable virtual reality. The proper term for the Takeshi Kovacs novels isn't "hardboiled." It's "brutal."

The Martians disappeared long ago, but they left behind their star gates, which have allowed humanity to spread across the galaxy--and bring warfare to the stars. As Broken Angels opens, Takeshi Kovacs is a lieutenant in humankind's most feared mercenary company, but rumors of an astonishing archaelogical discovery inspire his desertion. Humans have never found a Martian starship until, perhaps, now. If the rumors are true, and the ruthless Kovacs can take possession of the unprecedented relic, he will make his fortune. But if he fails in his quest, he may find himself imprisoned in high-tech hell for eternity. --Cynthia Ward

From Publishers Weekly

Despite its slick formulaic structure, Morgan's SF–hardboiled hybrid, the sequel to the well-received Altered Carbon, bursts with energy and intelligence. Protagonist Takeshi Kovacs is the product of a brutal future in which corporations and politicians fight for supremacy. Humanity has spread to the stars by deciphering charts left behind by the long-extinct Martians. Since people haven't discovered how the Martians surpassed the speed of light, however, they usually travel through space by broadcasting their digitalized personalities from one planet to another and having them installed in new bodies, a technique that gives virtual immortality to the most unscrupulous individuals. One such is Kovacs, a young sociopath whom the interstellar government transformed into a super warrior before he went freelance. Kovacs resembles a smarter and deadlier Mike Hammer; part of the pleasure is watching him not only use his skills and conditioning but also struggle past his limitations to develop empathy for other humans. The few people Kovacs gets close to are the team that accompanies him on an expedition to claim the ultimate Martian relic—a functioning FTL starship. Morgan is good at presenting Kovacs's mastery of high-tech weapons and other gadgets, as well as his reactions to disturbing alien artifacts. The mystery aspect of the story is also well handled, always hovering in the background of the violent action as Kovacs gathers clues. It all adds up to a superior, satisfying cyberpunk noir adventure.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; 1st, First American Edition, Cover Torn edition (March 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345457714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345457714
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (171 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
_Altered Carbon_ wasn't a fluke. Richard K. Morgan is one _helluva_ writer.
This book has been available in the UK for the better part of a year, and having been thoroughly impressed with Morgan's first book, I've been eagerly awaiting the US release of his second. I am _so_ not disappointed.
You'll recognize the backdrop; it's the same corporate-controlled dystopian future we've seen in pretty much every cyber-nano-crypto-geno-neuro-psycho-techno-noir SF novel since Phil Dick founded cyberpunk and forgot to insist on receiving credit for it.
But Morgan isn't just recycling familiar themes here, any more than Beethoven imitated Bach by using some of the same notes. Morgan has his own outlook, his own themes, and his own voice.
If you've read the introductory plot summaries elsewhere on this page, you already know everything I could tell you without spoiling things. Suffice it to say that Takeshi Kovacs is back and in excellent form. Here, he's initially serving with Carrera's Wedge, deployed on Sanction IV against an uprising led by one Joshua Kemp, when he's approached with -- and accepts -- a surprising offer.
_Broken Angels_ not only has a fine plot of its own but fills in some more of the backstory for _Altered Carbon_. Nor is it a rehash of its hardboiled-PI predecessor; this one's military SF, more along the lines of _The Forever War_, with which it shares some abstract themes and narrative flavor.
That narrative flavor alone makes the book worth reading. Morgan is such a powerful writer that even if you get bored with the action (not likely), you can enjoy yourself by just sitting back and watching the prose crackle. (But don't look away for even a single paragraph; you'll miss something.)
In short, _Broken Angels_ will appeal to readers who liked _Altered Carbon_ but who don't expect Morgan to keep rewriting the same book over and over. _Very_ well done, and it belongs on the very shortest shortlist of good recent SF.
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Format: Paperback
Last year I read Richard K. Morgan's first novel, Altered Carbon, and was blown away. Such smart, edge-of-your seat darkness is hard to come by. But it also meant that Morgan set a very high standard for himself in his debut.
Broken Angels is a wonderful book and I recommend it. It's a page-turner, but I have to say it isn't as hard-hitting as Altered Carbon. Still, to say that it is not as good would be unfair because the two books can't be compared. Where Morgan's antihero, Takeshi Kovacs, was ex-special-ops-turned-private-eye-by-circumstance in the first book, this time he returns to his military roots as a mercenary fighting a planetary rebellion. The mystery novel is a genre that lends itself to the twist and turns that makes Altered Carbon great. Morgan (perhaps smartly) avoids comparison by choosing a much more subdued wartime setting for this adventure.
One thing that remains constant is the darkness; you can't get more noir than this. While Morgan's consciousness-digitizing technology was cool and mind-bending in the first book, here it is dehumanizing and bleak. In one scene, Kovacs goes to a "souls market" where piles and piles of "stacks" (digitized personalities of real people) could be bought. Death is no longer the worst punishment possible; centuries of torture can be inflicted on your digital self. War and the attendant death have lost meaning. All this and the zero-sum power games played by governments, corporations, and guilds seem to contribute to Kovac's increasingly nihilist worldview.
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Format: Paperback
I have now read Broken Angels and Morgan's first book Altered Carbon, and although most other reviewers seem to like AC better, I think the 2nd book is actually better. Altered Carbon was a brilliant book, but many of its concepts have already been done. It was the setting and character of Takeshi Kovacs that made it so outstanding. You should however go right out and read it if you have not yet done so.
With Broken Angels Morgan is moving into a different territory. There is still the "great mystery" that is the subject of just about any book of this type, but Morgan does a better job with the characters and plot. The one thing that I actually like that seems to upset other reviewers is that he does not always explain the 'cultural artifacts' that he inserts. I like how he references some idea, only to move on, leaving it for future exploration or your own imagination of how it ties into his world. In particular, I love the Quellist quotes that lay throughout both books. I'd love to see him write a "biography" of Quellcrist Falconer and hope its already planned. Given the big revelation at the end of the book, he certainly intends to continue with the Quellist involvement in the books.
Just as a possibility, by looking at the acknowlegements section of this book, it should be clear that he leans towards a feminist/evil government/evil corporation world view and it impinges upon his writing. I think in many ways he is trying to do for these subjects what Andrew Vachss has done for child abuse with his books, but he's not quite as good an author as Vachss.
Anyway, please go out and read both of these books. They deserve to be read as some of the better sci-fi with cyberpunk overtones that have been published in a while. I'd have to rate them as my most favorite books since Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.
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