“Sex, drugs and violence” – Those would be the three words I would use to describe ‘The Steel Remains’.
The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan is his first book in fantasy. Morgan is known for writing Sci-Fi but as we all know, there can be a lot of overlaps in both genres. Joe Abercrombie quotes the book as ‘Bold, brutal, and making no compromises’. I would have to tend to agree with this quote. The characters are harsh, the way they speak and the way people treat each other, it makes a hard to stomach read at certain points.
The story follows several characters, but the main one is Ringil. A hero of sorts after the last war against the Lizard men, but now just another person getting by. One day, his estranged mother comes and finds him, to tell him that his cousin’s husband went into debt and she got sold into slavery. He must get her back. At first he doesn’t want to, this bucolic life style suits him, but every part of his body is screaming to do it.
The other “main” character is a female called Archeth who early on the book we learn is someone mysterious and is of a dangerous and powerful race. She’s on the other side of the country as Ringil. She serves her Empire because her people are dead and/or have left her. Emperor Jhiral finds her useful and uses her to his advantage.
I haven’t told you much have I? That’s because really there isn’t much to tell. This book really felt like watching the first series of ‘Lost’. I had no idea what was going on, every chapter was new information but it begged more questions. Each chapter answered one question but asked three more. While doing so, it is using crass language. Everyone is swearing, high born, low born, super-natural. The f-bomb is as natural in this book as it is breathing. Just when you think you’re desensitised to it…BAM! Morgan shoves some balls down your through. Oh yes…I said that. Remember the top quote. The first word was SEX. Morgan doesn’t skimp on this and he doesn’t skimp on the details too. A lot of it is male on male. I’m not sure of the reason, but perhaps because it is more shocking to the reader. I mean, when was the last time you read about someones balls…oh never mind. Let’s keep it PG shall we.
Morgan writes all this like it is the norm and it isn’t. If his goal was to shock me, then yeah he did it. Very graphically. Yet while shocking my system, as I said before, he leaves me begging for answers. I’m drawn to him like a train wreck, I can’t turn away. I’ll need to read The Cold Commands. If you like sex, drugs and violence then this is the next stop. All aboard the train wreck.