Mark Harding's Reviews > The Steel Remains

The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan
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's review
Mar 20, 2011

really liked it
Read in March, 2011

My respect for Richard Morgan as a writer increases. In a way he’s taking the piss. I always thought the body ‘sleeves’ in the Kovacs novels were treated in a very unlikely manner, and in Market Forces the main conceit of the novel is a joke. But he gets away with because his writing is so gripping. The Steel Remains is a further extension: it’s almost as if he’s doing everything he can to annoy a huge section of the readership of sword and sorcery novels. While at the same time following all the genre conventions.

* Ringil the broadsword wielding hero is an aristocrat and war hero
* Ringil likes fucking men and boys - and there’s no shortage of bum action in the novel
* The Empire is homophobic and religiously intolerant. It persecutes ethic groups and religious sects, has legalised slavery and stole the wealth (and families) of the soldiers returning from a great war that saved humanity from another species.
* Most of the hero characters support the Empire directly, and even Ringil, who is the most scathing and cynical fights to save the Empire from the latest threat.
* The system of nobles, high priests, serfs, servants and slaves is unremittingly shown to stink to high heaven. But the novel gives no glimmer of hope to change this. Humans are portrayed as appalling creatures. There are hints things might get better, but not for centuries.
* Everybody believes in magic and magical creatures but there probably aren’t any in the novel. Really it’s far future science fiction.

The book is really quite savage about mankind. It’s also very exciting, with morally complex characters, ingenious, very page turning and full of violence and sex (of various kinds). A cracking read.

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