Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book: Richard Morgan's "The Steel Remains"

I've reviewed a few books on Homer's Travels and, generally, I've been able to recommend them all ... some more than others, of course, but they were all readable.  I'm finding it hard to recommend my latest read.

I read Richard Morgan's "The Steel Remains" because of three of the author's other books that I've read.  The Takeshi Novacs books were gritty, post-singularity, noir, science fiction with punch.  These books were violent and often quite graphic.  They also felt fresh and interesting as Morgan pushed the boundaries.  In "The Steel Remains" he jumps to another genre and pushes the boundaries once more ... this time too far.

"The Steel Remains" is a fantasy book.  Fantasy as in swords and sorcery, elves and dragons, quests and adventures.  Morgan, unfortunately, thinks that the fantasy genre also means sex.  Here I have to say I am uncomfortable.  The main character of the book is gay.  This is not a problem as long as sex is not the primary mover of the story.  Making the main character gay simply gives him a different back story than most fantasy novels.  A good story can overcome many excesses.  I can ignore the explicit gay sex as long as it does not interfere with the progress of the story.  Then came chapter 23.

In a prior chapter our hero, better described as an anti-hero, battles an evil being called a dwenda.  At the end the dwenda hovers over the hero preparing to take the mortal blow.  Then came chapter 23.  The dwenda transports our hero to an alternate dimension and, essentially, falls in love with our hero and proceeds to make love to him.  Gee, the dwenda is gay too.  It reads like a bad porno plot.  Man battles monster, monster defeats man, man is spared when monster falls in lust, man and monster screw each other.  It reads like some bad pool boy scene.  Chapter 23 killed the book for me.

The rest of the book gathers the heroes together (All fantasy books have a band of do-gooders who come together to fight evil) so they can stop the dwenda invasion - a battle that lasts a chapter or two.  A battle that is so anti-climactic I almost missed it.

In my lifetime I have failed to finish some three or four books.  I came close to not finishing this one.

If you have to read Morgan, read his Takeshi Kovacs books (I reviewed one here).  If you want good fantasy read early David Eddings (The Belgariad) or Patrick Rothfuss' "The Name Of The Wind".  Whatever you do, avoid "The Steel Remains".

2 comments:

  1. You like Eddings? I have to recommend the Redemption of Athalus then. It's in my opinion, one of the better stories :)

    I love the Belgariad too. There's something so comforting in the story. Lots and lots of traveling though.

    I'm sorry this one took such a silly turn for you. I like the idea of a gay hero, cuz that's really different, but even hetero fantasy books don't usually have such graphic sex. :(

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  2. I read the entire Belgariad in about a week ... the week before finals if I remember right. Unfortunately the new Eddings books has been disappointing.

    I knew about the gay character before I bought the book. Wasn't a problem to me. Then the explicit sex started ... real turn off.

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