The Steel Remains: Hardcore Fantasy

If Richard K Morgan had written Lord of the Rings, Bilbo would have had a steamy one night sex fest with Galadrial, told Samwise to man the fuck up, and Gandalf would have made a whole lot of orc heads explode through the judicious application of magic fireballs. The saga would have ended with Bilbo gruesomely decapitating Golem, shoving the one ring into Golem’s eye socket, drop punting his head into the fires of Mount Doom while shouting “whose birthday is it now motherfucker?”

So you can kinda guess where Morgan goes with “The Steel Remains”.

Morgan’s writing has the attitude of that dude who revs the crap out of his V8 at 3am before depositing six inches or rubber on the road outside the front of your house. It isn’t fancy pants elves singing songs of the enchanted woods, it is fantasy of the sit down, shut up, strap in and hold on school of writing.

If you don’t like the liberal use of expletives, you are going to hate this book.

If you don’t like a bit of gore in the descriptions of your sword fights, you are going to hate this book.

If you only like laid back narrative arcs that move sedately along their own meandering paths, you are going to hate this book.

What may surprise some readers is that Morgan’s lead character is gay. Well that isn’t all that surprising, but what will surprise some and that Morgan doesn’t shy away from the explicit shenanigans detailed in his earlier books just because there are two dudes involved. He dances around it for a while and the other characters all get on with the business first, but it is still a bit unusual to see a mainstream novel be explicit about such things. Probably a little less unusual now that Morgan has knocked down that particular wall with all the subtlety of an asteroid impact. Morgan is throws a lot of stereotypes out the window and a big one he chucks is the idea that the biggest, baddest, coolest dude in the kingdom might prefer princesses to princes.

The Steel Remains is apparently the first in a trilogy, though enough gets wrapped up by the end of the book that it doesn’t feel as though you are left hanging. More a “okay, what is going to happen next” rather than “damn, I wish I didn’t feel as though I’d been hit by a great big “too be continued” at the end of the book. I enjoyed it and I think that we’ll see a lot more of this type of “gritty pedal-to-the-metal hardcore fantasy” in future.


8 Responses to “The Steel Remains: Hardcore Fantasy”

  1. mickH Says:

    “…while shouting “whose birthday is it now motherfucker?”

    ROFLMAO! I love it!

    May have to get this one too

  2. Guru Bob Says:

    I like Richard Morgan’s sci-fi books but I know of a certain Kansas resident who hates him with a vengeance…

  3. chazfh Says:


    GB, wouldn’t happen to be a guy who teaches history would it?

  4. BrianC Says:

    Damm it i just finnished this book and i was going to review myself…

    I have to agree with eveything you say though it wsa fun. But i cant help wonder if the indeed graphic and sometimes predatory nature of the homosexual scence might cost him a few readers. Im no homophobe but theses scences where so well written that i found myself skipping over them because… well while i dont watch gay porn, i do think queer as folk (us) had some of the best character writting in the history of tv, it just requires judicial use of the skip button on your dvd player.

    This was a good book, and it was certainly less preachy than his last book Thirteen / Blackman, and the narritive was just so easy to get lost in, i didnt know id read nearly the whole book till i poped my head up to answer a question my partner aparantly had to ask 3 times.

    Im reading the lies of locke lamora now so bagsies

  5. HAVOCK21 Says:

    Orin, this sounds like its MY KINDA BOOK, not a bad hash up either brother.

    OH, has anybody sent a link and book link to KCM yest. I want to turn down the head set when it happens.

  6. mickH Says:

    Just bought it…

  7. mickH Says:

    Well I just finished it.
    Yep certainly different and it held my interest. I will read the next ones as I like where it’s going.

    A warning to anyone who is even a little homophobic. Do not read this book!

    I have to agree with Orins review and I now want to re-write LOTR! LOL

    I think that all the sex and drugs and rock…oh sorry no rock n roll, fits the genre perfectly. All adult fantasy should be written this way. It makes it very realistic.

  8. Blarkon Says:

    I was surprised that a lot of reviews sort of danced around the homosexual aspect of it. I had no idea about it going in (then again I just saw Richard Morgan and thought “must get”). It isn’t something the author dances around – he just puts the boot straight in and goes with it.

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