Neil Pearson's Reviews > The Cold Commands

The Cold Commands by Richard K. Morgan
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's review
Nov 27, 2011

liked it
Read from October 28 to November 27, 2011

There was a lot of positive buzz about this being an improvement over "the steel remains" and while I think it is a stronger book it still suffers from many of the problems the first book had. One thing I did enjouy more in this book is that the three point-of-view characters all have their own story and they fuse together quite nicely towards the end. While Ringil is clearly the main character, I think Egar actually had some of the strongest scenes this time around.
In terms of the story and world it always seemed to come to life whenever it was dealing with the pseudo-science fiction/fantasy elements. Any scene featuring the helmsmen or the dark council members caused me to become far more interested in the story. Herein lies my problem with the book though, when not dealing with the weird science/magic elements the book feels very average in that I've read far better "gritty/mature" fantasy books over the last decade. This could be partly with the story itself as there are very few "big" moments and it focuses more on indvidual skirmishes. There are some well choreographed fights but it never seems to escalate into anything "substantial". I was also frustrated by how two-thirds of the book sets up a quest only for it to be abandoned or left for the next installment. In defense of Richard, he does make the reason why the quest is side-lined an organic consequence of one of his characters storylines so it may be a case of the character determining the plot.
I'll see the series through as there is only one book left but as it stands it feels like there is a lot of untapped potential within this series. For anyone who enjoys this style of fantasy, I think they'd get more enjoyment out of Bakker's "the darkness that comes before" series.

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