Richard Morgan's THE STEEL REMAINS

This from Richard Morgan via Simon Spanton at Gollancz:

THE STEEL REMAINS

A new epic fantasy from

RICHARD MORGAN


Ringil, Archeth and Egar - Comrades in Arms

What do you do when an evil arises in the West, and you stand and fight, and throw it back into the sea it’s come from – and then watch as your victory gets pissed away in naked political opportunism, squalid border disputes and brutal ethnic cleansing? What do you do when, in the absence of anything decent left to fight for, the same internal desperation and rage that sent you screaming up against those suicidal odds a decade and a half ago starts instead to tear you apart from within? What do you do when you’re a hero to anyone who doesn’t know you, and a corrupt degenerate to anyone who does, and nowhere that resembles home can ever accept you back as you really are?

Simple – you go back to the shit-hole mountain town you once saved from destruction, back to where the thin lie of your heroism is just about coin enough to buy tolerance for your degenerate urges. And there you hide.

Which Ringil Eskiath, scarred hero of Gallows Gap and wielder of the
kiriath blade Ravensfriend in the war against the Scaled Folk, has been doing ever since he walked away from the post-war mess. Too bad, then, that a family member has come calling with an offer he can’t refuse, a job only he can do, and a chance to crank himself back up to the same pitch of fury and purpose that sustained him like a drug all those years ago. Too bad because it’s a thankless task, not one he especially wants or even believes he has much chance of carrying to a successful end. But the truth is, as he’s forced to admit, to himself if no-one else, he really doesn’t have anything much better to do, right now or at any other foreseeable time in what remains of his hollowed-out life. It’ll be good to have something to fight for again, and if it kills him, well, it won’t much matter.

*

Drug problem, war veteran nerves, general sense of failure and loss? Absolutely no faith in the current fuck-up son of the ruling dynasty you’re supposed to owe allegiance to? No family, no friends, no-one you can really trust anymore – and a job you hate and don’t really know how to do? Welcome to the life at court of the lady kir-Archeth Indamaninarmal, abandoned kiriath half-breed, and last remaining advisor to the Yhelteth Empire on an equally abandoned kiriath technology she only half-way understands herself.

A decade and a half ago, she came home from the war against the Scaled Folk as disillusioned as most of her comrades from the faltering human alliance, and with some of the same damage. But beyond that, she at least believed the Empire had been worth saving. Now, as the new Emperor squanders his father’s legacy, as a new priestly caste arises to preach holy war and ethnic ascendancy against Yhelteth’s neighbours, and as everyone at court trades in governmental concern for paranoia and self preservation, she’s having a hard time remembering why she ever cared one way or the other.

Which makes her a far from ideal candidate to take charge of the investigation when a new and apparently sorcerous enemy begins making violent inroads on the Empire’s borders. Then again, ideal or not, she’s the only one even remotely qualified for the job.

*

And then there’s Egar. Egar the steppe nomad, Egar the Barbarian – or at least he would be, if he could just forget what it was like to have once lived in a place with decent cuisine, hot water bathing and clean shaves; what it was like to learn to read and write, and find it not only useful but surprisingly enjoyable; what it was like to fight as a mercenary for the reputedly decadent but really quite civilised Yhelteth Empire, what it was like to bring down a dragon for them single-handed in the war against the Scaled Folk – and end up an imperial citizen in good standing for his trouble.

Those things are gone now, dropped back over the steppe’s horizon to the south where he first found them. Ekar the Dragonbane has come back home to his people in triumph a rich man, a respected warrior and a natural choice for tribal chief. But a decade on, the triumph is wearing a little thin; he can’t settle, his fellow Majak herdsmen are driving him up a guy rope with their superstitions and their ignorance and their general lack of interest in anything but the world they know – and above all he could really, really use a hot-water shave.

Fortunately, Egar won’t be stuck here much longer with these exercises in nostalgia. Rivalries within the Majak are stirring, and out on the steppe, the Majak chief’s enemies have found allies of no human kind. If he wants to survive the confrontation that’s on its way, Egar’s going to have to swallow a life-time of instinct and run long before.

*

These three erstwhile comrades in arms will find themselves flung back together again as the hard fought and soured peace they helped to win is brought once again to the brink of war. Dark, unnatural forces are stirring, an ancient order has been summoned back to life and something very unpleasant is coming to call.


Is it me, or does this look like it's going to be one good read!?!;-)

12 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Depends on whether Morgan can keep from filling page after page with his self-loving resentment of the United States, George W. Bush and organized religion. I voted for the other guy, twice, but Black Man/Thirteen made me cringe when I wasn't setting it aside out of boredom.

Anonymous said...

I like the interesting take; it's a direct, barely veiled assault on numerous cliches that the characters are sick of as much as the readers are. If he can sustain the book with broader humour in the same vein that isn't only constantly dipping in the "I hate this stupid quest I'm reluctantly pursuing" well, then this could be really good. I'd hope he explores how they'll try to make things turn out differently for themselves this time, versus fatalistically anticipating the same morose outcome.

Anomandaris said...

Yeah, sounds like something I could enjoy. Any idea when this is going to hit the shelves?
Oh and how about you show us such a synopsis for the fantasy-book you are going to publish, Pat?! ;-)

Andrew said...

This is the same guy who did Altered Carbon and Broken Angels? Cool, I was wondering what his fantasy would be like...

Graeme Flory said...

Nice! I'm with you Pat, I think this is going to be a good read :o)

Anonymous said...

This sounds really great! Of course I'm a total RKM fan anyway...

Will Gollancz give us any tease of a release date?

Robert said...

Richard K. Morgan is one of my personal favorites so I can't wait to see what he brings to the fantasy genre :D I have pretty high expectations...

Anonymous said...

"resentment of the United States, George W. Bush and organized religion?" Count me in!

No, seriously, this sounds really interesting. sort of a new-Battlestar Galactica-style gritty take on fantasy. Look forward to it.

Ed S. said...

Politics aside, Black Man/Thirteen was a very poorly written book with not much happening through most of it. The main characters pretty much flounder around clueless until about page 470 when one of the bad guys finally sits down and explains everything to us and things pick up a bit from there to the end. What really surprised me though wasn't so much how bad this book was but rather the highly favorable reviews that this dog got in so many blogs.

Anyway, I loved Morgan's previous books and I look forward to this fantasy. In bouncing back from a stinker this should be pretty good.

Binder of Demons said...

I loved Altered Carbon and Broken Angels so I'm really looking forward to this.
My one slight concern is that in trying to buck the traditional fantasy trends, that it might seem a bit forced.

I really liked the weary, cynical tone of the Kovacs character, and the black humour in those books so there is definite hope.

Fingers crossed.

And yeah, like Anomandaris said above, when will we get to see a sample or synopsis of your work Pat??

weenie said...

I'm impressed - loved Morgan's Kovacs books, yet to read Black Man and wondered what he'd be like at fantasy. Looking forward to it!

richard said...

erm - what IS "self-loving resentment" exactly.....