- File Size: 1576 KB
- Print Length: 404 pages
- Publisher: Del Rey (January 20, 2009)
- Publication Date: January 20, 2009
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B001NLKS66
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,284 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Steel Remains (A Land Fit for Heroes Series Book 1) Kindle Edition
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- Book 1 of 3 in A Land Fit for Heroes Series
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"Bold, brutal, and making no compromises—Morgan doesn't so much twist the clichés of fantasy as take an axe to them."—Joe Abercrombie
"The award-winning author of Altered Carbon and Market Forces brings the same iconoclastic approach to his fantasy debut as he did to his sf technothrillers. . . . [Richard K.] Morgan's storytelling talent and his atmospheric, hard-hitting prose make this a strong addition to mature fantasy collections."—Library Journal
"Spellbinding . . . There's so much to like about the adventure."—Star-Ledger
"Morgan has taken traditional sword and sorcery tropes and given them a hard, contemporary kick. The antithesis of the cosy fairytale, this one is for big boys."—Times, London
"[A] dark, gritty tale . . . The well-developed characters and realistic battle scenes ring true."—Publishers Weekly
From the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The Steel Remains is the first book of the Land Fit for Heroes trilogy which is about the aftermath of a massive fantasy war. We get frequent reference to the war against the Scaled Folk, battles where dragons were slain, and all sorts of tales which indicate they had a very typical conflict between "Good and Evil." This book is not about that war.
Instead, The Steel Remains is about the aftermath of said war. The poverty, the classicism, the social changes, and the other consequences from a massive fantasy war. Ringel is a legendary military hero from the war as well as a nobleman but he's a homosexual and that puts him on the outs with the rising fundamentalist streak of society following the conflict. Egar Dragonbane is a barbarian hero in the Conan mold who finds exposure to civilization makes him ill-suited to return to his people. Archeth Indamaninarnal is a half-kiriath champion who finally answers, "So what happens when the elves finally DO leave?"
In a very real sense, The Steel Remains is a deconstruction of the Happily Ever After story and I can say I'm inherently biased towards it because that's a premise which I've tinkered around with myself (Wraith Knight). Real life is complicated because there's no such thing as a happily ever after. World War 2 was a defining moment for the Greatest Generation but they continued their lives for decades thereafter, shaping society and themselves in ways both great as well as bad.
I've been informed by fans A Land Fit for Heroes is one of the holy trilogy of grimdark. After you read George R.R. Martin you need to read Mark Lawrence, Joe Abercombie, and Richard K. Morgan to consider yourself an "expert" in the subject of grimdark. Given I've written plenty of essays on the subject, I naturally disagree but I've got to say their recommendation here is spot-on. Richard K. Morgan is definitely an author who deserves to stand with the others as well as gives a sense of what the aethstetics for a grimdark world should be. Indeed, using those books solely as a guide you can get a functional guide to the genre as: "What happens when classical fantasy stories function more like real-life history with all the ugliness and ambiguities?"
Indeed, a big appeal of the book is how it displays individual people being washed along with the tide of history. Ringel is a character not defined by his homosexuality but when dealing with many of his fellow warriors, that's the only thing they care about. Egar Dragonbane finds the simple noble savage life of fiction to be boring as well as offensive while they hold their ignorance as a badge of pride. Archeth's lesbianism doesn't come up nearly as much as her race because of her political ties but the very person who protects her from persecution is a selfish monster. Like if you were friends with Aragorn but his son was Joffrey yet Joffrey was the only one who actually listened to you.
That's a special kind of hell.
The story itself isn't complex: Ringil is hired by his mother to recover his cousin, who has been sold into sexual slavery because of her husband's debts. Egar is, meanwhile, being plotted against by his jealous siblings who consider him a disgrace to their religion as well as culture. Archeth, meanwhile, wants to investigate reports of an ancient godlike race of fairy-like beings who are apparently returning after the abandoning of the world by the Kiriath. The plot is really just an excuse to explore the wonderfully dark and gritty world the author has created.
Of the three major characters I have to say I approve of Ringil the most. Not the least because it's a good thing to see a complete badass who is also gay in fiction but also because he's such a complicated nuanced character. A nobleman who has embraced every nasty gritty stereotype because if he's going to be treated like dirt by his family, he might as well be dirty. He's a delightfully anti-patriotic character as he comes to hate what his country has done to its citizens. Honestly, a few centuries later and he probably would have been an outlaw biker. I also love Archeth as she struggles to reconcile the fact the perfect Kiriath didn't accept her but the human race (mostly) does despite them being a murderous bunch of ignorant savages.
Is the book perfect? Not quite. I was taken out of the story a few times by the way the characters moved from somewhat old timey and formal talk to guttural modern world swearing. Real life people in the Middle Ages were as, if not more, foul-mouthed than Modern man but the dialogue did seem to switch between types a bit too much. There's also the fact Egar's plot seems to be somewhat half-finished by the time he joins the rest of the group as with the events with his people seems like it should have had a bigger consequence than it did.
In conclusion, this is a great book and I have to say it's must for grimdark readers. It's a dark and seedy story with the backdrop of a war which should have initiated them all into everlasting glory but, instead, just meant they have to live in its shadow as what they fought for becomes unrecognizable.
As for the rest of the book, it follows three main characters, and alternates between their viewpoints. I quite liked Arceth, the last of an apparently scientifically advanced race and possibly the most rational person on her planet, but the other two, not so much. The aforementioned tribal chief is very crass (except for the nagging influence of culture from his old friends, which at least gave him promise), which was annoying, but the main character's development was most disappointing. I hated his final decisions so much that it made it hard for me to finish the book - true, his enemies were alien and monstrous, but I wasn't convinced that negotiation and persuasion would have been impossible. I looked ahead in the series to see if he turns out to become a bona fide villain, which would have at least explained his behavior here, but that doesn't appear to be the case.
Some good things: I did like how the main three characters felt connected despite not interacting until the very end, as they are always in each others' thoughts. The world is well-realized, though it's nowhere I'd ever want to visit. Being LGBT myself, I like my fantasy books to at least be something of an escape, but this was as bad as some of the worst places in the world are now. Realistic, perhaps, in its way, but as it didn't really have much to say about the persecution of gay people allegorically (other than that it's horrific), I didn't see the point of designing the world that way. At the end, the main character is asked why he bothers to defend the people of his world. Good question, I thought, but his answer was unsatisfying.
This is NOT for children.
It may seem cliche but think more Game of Thrones than Lord of the Rings.
Richard K. Morgan definitely has the same gift for dialogue, richly drawn settings, and complex characters (both good and evil) that George R.R. Martin has. I'm currently deep into the 2nd book of the series, The Cold Commands and loving every bit of it.
Top international reviews
Ringil is quite amusing and gets in a few good lines.
There is plenty of action and the pace is good.
There are dark and violent aspects to the plot which keep you guessing throughout.
It is slightly spoiled by two things: the first is that the romantic angle is over-played and seems a bit forced, the second is the use of the gods as a crutch, they aren't an integral part of the plot and although there are two involved the motives of one of them doesn't really make sense.
A good book but a little short of great.
It's like a 13th setting, but it could also be some time ahead. It is quite savage
and the words are very much up to-day and earthly as well.
Richard Morgan has had a good go though. Been a fan of his other novels so was intrigued to see what he would do in a fantasy setting.
Its dark, if you are looking for a jolly quest forget this book its not for you. I found it a real page turner, the lead character Ringel is a delight. Smug arrogant but with the ability to back it up, and did I mention homosexual, this is central to his character as it defines the way he views to world.
The other main characters Egar and Archeth play a minor roll in this first novel (yes its another trilogy) but even so I found them engaging and wanted to know more about them and how they fit in.
Cant wait for the rest.