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THE COLD COMMANDS By Richard Morgan – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2013 by stanleyriiks

I read the first book in this series around two years ago, and you know what, I can barely remember any of it. I remember the three main characters (after my memory is jogged reading about them again), who are all here, present and correct. I vaguely remember feeling like the book ended on a cliff-hanger and feeling a little bit cheated, but I still enjoyed it enough to put the second book in the series (trilogy?) on my Christmas list for Santa to buy me. So in amongst my stacks of drugs and porn and alcohol (ok, so it was pretty much all books that Santa brought me!), I found this SF/fantasy novel (and it’s got a nice cover which always draws me in) and sat down to read it.

Ringil Eskiath is a true antihero, although we find him rescuing slaves after his cousin was imprisoned by a slave-trader. He’s a tough, no-nonsense S.O.B. who demands your attention, a mean man with a massive alien sword.

Archeth is a half-alien female who works for the new emperor, a paranoid young man intent on ridding his empire of enemies by having them flayed alive by octopi.

Egar the Dragonbane is having an affair with the wife of a war hero, but his adventures into a religious fortress will bring the three old friends back together, whether they like it or not, with magic, death, and betrayal to get in their way.

This book (I think like the first, my memory is not what it once was!) takes a long time to gather speed, there are almost three hundred pages of build-up as the story meanders along, setting everything up for the inevitable climax. When it does comes there’s plenty of action and intrigue, although Ringal is a little too superheroic and never appears in danger of being hurt, let alone losing a fight. He’s a bit too invincible, like Judge Dredd with a sword.

Morgan’s writing is good, he manages to draw you in without you realising, the atmosphere and world are vividly portrayed, but there’s a lingering sense of missing something. Perhaps it’s been too long between instalments, but I felt like I missed the oft-referred to war (did it appear in the first book?).

Despite confusing the hell out of me, the grey lands are strange and mysterious and make everything seem a bit too easy at the end. I couldn’t help but enjoy Egar’s tough steppe barbarian, Archeth’s frustrated diplomat and Ringal’s menacing killer. The characters are really what make this book, and Morgan has done a first rate job with them. I’ll be back for more despite my misgivings, fantasy doesn’t get much more original or compelling than this.

THE STEEL REMAINS By Richard Morgan – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2009 by stanleyriiks


Ringil is an aging hero, hiding out in the country years after his glorious victory at Gallows Gap which earned him a reputation that he’s living on, where he helped save the world from the scaled invasion of the lizardmen. He enjoys his life of drunkedness and having sex with boys. Your quintessential hero, sort of. But he’s given the task of finding his cousin, a job he can’t refuse as it’s his mother asking for the favour. So Ringil barges back into the city where his father rules, intent on making as much trouble as he can whilst visiting home, and goes in search of his cousin, slaughtering the slave peddlers as he goes (his cousin having been sold into slavery by a ruined husband).

There are a couple of others, a savage dragon-slayer whose brothers gang up with a shaman to depose him as clan leader, and a Kiraith, an ancient and alien race that fled from the world many years ago, leaving only Archeth the half-breed.

Ringil is really the hero here, although almost equal time is given to the other two. The story is fairly basic sword and sorcery, except that the sorcery is vaguely alien in nature and feels very SF in style.

Ringil is great fun, and he really should have taken a much larger part in the book. The other alien race, the dwenda, are strange and their world is weird, taking us away from the story to bring in a larger world invasion plot that is just an excuse for a big battle at the end. The dwenda don’t really fit, it feels like the SF elements are a bit forced.

This should have been an epic tale of brutality and debauchery, instead it’s finished fairly quickly, with the characters just about introduced. The sequel is already underway, and hopefully the second novel will see a lot more Ringil action.