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The Steel Remains


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#1 Tom the Merciful

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 11:54 PM

I just can't believe that I'm opening this thread with so many people who read it before me.


Well, we got here a story, didn't we? Despite what Pat said, I found this one to be quite original. Both Dwenda and Kiriath strike me as well developed concepts. What to say about Helmsmen - bio computers in a fantasy novel? If that's not original, what is?
But, true, there are some things we've seen before. Firstly, a disillusioned war veteran. Despite being gay in this story, we've seen the character. Secondly, the whole race takeover issue reminds heavily of Erikson. Thirdly...well, there are some more borrowed things.

I'm kinda reluctant to write down my question, despite this being marked as a spoiler thread. So I'll mask it as a spoiler still:


SPOILER: Ringil
Do you think he's becoming the Dark Lord?


I mean, despite quite clear implications in the end, it would be a strange twist with him being ethical centerpoint of the novel, so to say. On the other hand what can "dark" mean in such a society as depicted here? We'll have to wait for the sequel, I assume. And, TBH, I'll wait eagerly for this one.

#2 kmgrey

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 01:02 AM

I found it kind of disappointing. It was a fun read but I liked it the least of the Morgan novels I have read (everything except for Market Forces). So while I'll read the rest of the series, I can't help but wish Morgan stuck to "normal" SF instead of going with fantasy.

My favorite aspect of the novel was the way the sorcery was strongly hinted at being just insanely advanced technology and it seemed like Morgan was implying that the world of The Steel Remains was really the Earth thousands of years into the future.

And, yeah, it definitely seemed like he set Ringil up
SPOILER: Ringil
to be the Dark Lord in future books. Which makes them sound much more interesting than this one.


#3 shortstark

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 09:12 AM

I liked it, its a strange blend of fantasy mixed with sci/fi, i get the same vibes when reading about the kiriath like i did when reading about bakkers inchiroi, though in this case the kitiaths are good guys. Ringil and Egar are characters we have seen before in different guises..

Archeth now i liked, the best part of the books for me was anything having to do with the kiriaths and their story, like Tom said the Helmsman kinda blew me away, what i found perplexing was the fact that there is only one of Archeth type a kiriath human mix, very unusual...

The dwenda's while cool underperformed for me, for creatures with such fearsome reputations that the helmmen got nervous talkin about them, they got taken down rather easily by ringil and co.

The heavy foreshadowing that ringil is going to be the DarkLord has to be an attempt at misdirection, way too obvious (are you listening Morgan?)..

I am lookin forward to book2 but mostly to get more of the backstory than to find out what ringil and co gets up to, that indicates to me that i am not so involved with the characters......

#4 Kat

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 02:45 PM

Just finished this book this morning and I liked it a lot. I do think I like Morgan's sci-fi better, but I also thought this was a very promising fantasy book.

The dwenda's while cool underperformed for me, for creatures with such fearsome reputations that the helmmen got nervous talkin about them, they got taken down rather easily by ringil and co.



The way I saw it, that was explained by Ringil's speech near the end, when he was talking about fear of the Other. The Helmsmen doubtlessly sympathize with the Kiriath, and the Kiriath fear the Dwenda in the same way that the Dwenda fear humans and Kiriath. Reputations are all trumped-up interspecies xenophobia in some way.

I'm hoping the Dark Lord thing turns out to be Morgan blasting away the idea of prophecies once and for all. Also, could it be a POV thing? After all, the fortune teller was one of the marsh-dwellers, who are supposed to have Dwenda blood and in some way sympathize with them. So, if Ringil is going to take on the Dwenda, from their point of view, he could be a "dark lord".


The book definitely gave me vibes of both Bakker and Erikson. The worldbuilding was more reminiscent of Bakker, while the ancient rivalry between two races is, as previously mentioned, more like Erikson. But considering this story is supposed to be contained within 3 books, it's really not like either of them. ;)

#5 Tom the Merciful

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 10:21 PM

I'm hoping the Dark Lord thing turns out to be Morgan blasting away the idea of prophecies once and for all. Also, could it be a POV thing? After all, the fortune teller was one of the marsh-dwellers, who are supposed to have Dwenda blood and in some way sympathize with them. So, if Ringil is going to take on the Dwenda, from their point of view, he could be a "dark lord".


The book definitely gave me vibes of both Bakker and Erikson. The worldbuilding was more reminiscent of Bakker, while the ancient rivalry between two races is, as previously mentioned, more like Erikson. But considering this story is supposed to be contained within 3 books, it's really not like either of them. ;)


Yep, I thought the same about the whole Dark Lord thing. But these "flickers of blue light" kinda trouble me.

Bakker and Erikson seem to be evident impact. However, it seems to me that Morgan is more efficient with sending out messages. He really seem to do it effortlessly.

#6 Willie McBride

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 03:21 AM

Just finished the book. I liked it, I'm not completely blown away as I was with other books (not many, a dozen at most), but I'm not even disappointed, I will buy 'The Cold Commands' next year.

I liked especially how Morgan put the great epic war in the recent past: a dying land, a whole race moving, victory or death, a great alliance of all men and alien races... yeah, the war ended and five minutes later business as usual and the fighters came back to find their families sold in slavery or deported by other men. Also, the jab to "the One God who has made Himself known in the One True Revelation", but maybe the 'true gods' where the old gods and the Revelation is just bullshit.

SPOILER: Rengil, Dark Lords and blue lights
we know that Rengil comes from a marsh-dweller family with Dwenda blood, we know that the women with strong Dwenda blood are barren but we don't know as this affects the men, we know that most men would've be destroyed by a long voyage in the grey places but Ringil managed to keep (most of) his sanity and somewhere in the last chapters there was a speculation, by Rengil IIRC, that sounded something like "the Dwenda fall like men, maybe they were men". So I don't know exactly what Rengil's becoming, but I wouldn't be surprised if he managed to move through the grey places by himself.

Edited by Willie McBride, 07 September 2008 - 03:24 AM.


#7 Brady

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 06:40 PM

I finished it last night, and I was really impressed. Along with LAoK, I think this is one of the best books I've read this year. The dwenda and the kiriath are very interesting creations.

SPOILER: TSR

Ringil is definitely set-up to become the 'dark lord' the marsh-woman prophesied, and I think the Sky Dwellers are manipulating him into that position. Firstly, it was the Dwellers that manipulated Egar into leaving the steppe and going to Enishim (sp) so he could run into Ringil. It was also the Dwellers that are seen hovering around Ringil - Kelgriss is the girl that gives him the tea, which he throws in Kaad's face, which leads to the duel, which leads to Grace making a deal with Seethlaw to protect Ringil, and so on, which leads finally to Ringil murdering two men he had a lot of feelings for (Seethlaw and Grace). The question is, what are the Dwellers? Whatever they are, they certainly aren't gods, and seem to find the fact that they are worshiped as gods kind of amusing. They reminded me somewhat of the Inchoroi from Prince of Nothing.

Did anyone else get the impression that the 'band' is actually the remains of a moon? Did the Dwellers once live on the moon maybe? They seem to have some link to the 'Sky Road', as the Majak call it.

I'm wondering what further role Egar and Archeth will play. I have a feeling they might end up opposing Ringil. One line in particular hinted at some sort of rift or tragedy in the relationship, it went something like "Later, tears would squeeze from Ringil's eyes when he remembered how Egar reacted", implying that in the years to come, the memory of Egar's unthinking and absolute loyalty to him was cause for great sadness.


#8 Richard

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Posted 17 September 2008 - 09:06 PM

Wow - I can't tell you how flattered I am that the book has kicked off all this speculative discussion; for me it's the ultimate proof that I did my job, that the diorama stands up, that the thing has come to life. So, uhm, thank you....

I'm not going to get too involved here, mainly because now the book is out it belongs to those who read it at least as much as it does to me. And to be honest some of these ideas are cooler than anything I'd thought of myself to date (though that doesn't make them necessarily "true" in the sense that I'd agree with them or that you'll see them vindicated in later books). I'm just enjoying seeing the (breadth of) response.

So - only one brief comment, for shortstark, regarding the dwenda and their failure to live up to previous fears: bear in mind that fighting a war against the dwenda is not necessarily the same thing as fighting a skirmish against a small advance party of dwenda scouts and spies. For analogy, imagine how America and Americans might be perceived by (1) a Vietnamese peasant in the early seventies on the receiving end of napalm, B-52 bombing raids, and My Lai-type troop incursions on the ground (2) a couple of French post grad students of the same era who get in a dumb pub brawl with another couple of US post grads they meet in some London night club. In each case, a conflict has occurred, and in each case those who live to tell the tale will carry away an impression of their opponents - but those impressions are partial and particular, and they aren't necessarily going to match up (and nor will either impression necessarily tell any kind of broader or usefully accurate truth about the hinterland culture that has produced both those encounters.) I'm not a big fan of absolute truth in my fiction, I like the way ambiguity and incomplete knowledge add flavour to the mix, and in fantasy it seems to me there's massive opportunity to do far more with those factors than in other forms of fiction, because so much is in doubt for the characters of a fantasy universe; things are misty with myth and superstition, records are unreliable, education and erudition are scarce. In those circumstances, how can we possibly know what is and is not true - and how incredibly fascinating is the resulting mess?

#9 Gormenghast

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 03:14 PM

Oh yeah.

There are three HUGE deus ex machina in the book.

One is pointed and laughed at by the characters themselves, one is openly referenced, and one comes last like a freaking epiphany and kept well hidden.

I came to the board to check if anyone had taken it up and saw the poster here above did.

What a chill :)

I like how it makes you think the book is over and then kicks something alike to Fight Club in the last five pages.

#10 Brady

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 06:35 PM

Gormenghast - very nice review, some nice insights.

#11 Lupigis

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 09:03 AM

One is pointed and laughed at by the characters themselves, one is openly referenced, and one comes last like a freaking epiphany and kept well hidden.


I'm sorry, but I don't get this. Would you mind spelling out which three deus ex machinas you are talking about?

#12 Gormenghast

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 09:30 AM

1- Takavach. He saves Egar's ass, makes so Archeth stays in the village. Both Archeth and Egar discuss openly about this one.

2- Not exactly a deus ex machina in the way it affects the plot, but I see still in this role the fortune teller that talks to Ringil and the various prophecies about what was going to happen, up till the dark lord. I don't know if this is directly connected with the scheme of things, but it seems so.

3- Page 339. The girl with the tea. As Brady explained here above, she's Kelgriss (I figured out the role, but I didn't figure out who she was exactly myself, also because these Sky Dwellers may as well be just one person under many disguises). She has an important role as she gives Ringil the tea that he will throw at Kaad and lead to various consequences.

Basically all the plot seems driven by an "invisible hand". The plot of this first book was about humans Vs Aldrain, but it's obvious how all things were being moved (also in a way that implies a degree of omniscience), and that in the future this invisible hand will have to come out.

P.S.
My "review" is here.

Edited by Gormenghast, 22 September 2008 - 09:34 AM.


#13 MinDonner

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 10:16 AM

The sf-crossover elements were what really made the book for me. And I thought the Band was like the Milky Way, though on reflection it could be any number of other things... looking forward to the next one.

#14 Tom the Merciful

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 12:03 PM

Isn't deus ex machina a plot device that comes out of nowhere and "saves the day" in an unpredictable way, i.e. resolves an issue? Classic example being Azath house in Gardens of the Moon and eagles in almost every Tolkien's book? My favorite being police in Monthy Python and the Holy Grail.

None of the three listed I see as deus ex machinas in my definition. Takavach was there and he already stated his wish to have Egar alive.
Fortune teller is not resolving anything, she's there to add the spice of prophecy, so common in fantasy books.
Girl with a tea is indeed coming out of nowhere, but again she doesn't resolve anything. BTW, if this was Kelgriss, than she shares goal with Takavach. This is somewhat strange as Kelgriss initiated killing of Egar.

I might be very wrong about this if my definition is incorrect. However, it's how I understand the term.

#15 Gormenghast

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 01:08 PM

If there's an invisible hand that moves the pieces on a chessboard, that's a deus ex machina. It may be more or less justified, but it still is one.

Even a fortuitous encounter or a last minute save is a deus ex machina from my point of view. A way to bend the natural flow of a plot.

It's quite obvious that in this book there's that invisible hand that moves the pieces around so that things happen in certain ways. Since it's a "divine intervention", or an intervention from outside that bends the plot, it is a deus ex machina.

Even the Azath house in Erikson's book has its own purpose.

#16 Barnes

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 01:53 PM

Finished the book last, a little short, but liked it. I'd like to hear more about the War against the Lizards, perhaps a prequel.

#17 Calibandar

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 04:27 AM

There's a synopsis of sorts on Amazon UK for The Cold Commands, due on September 17th.

Ringil, Egar and Archeth are back. In a world still cursed by slavery, a corrupt aristocracy and a vicious church justice is still in short supply. Ringil, Egar and Archeth will fight for it but they need to fight for survival first. Archeth's position in court is still tenuous and the secrets of the departed Kiriath are casting a worrying light on the present. Egar is still caught between his tribe and his memories of life in the Empire and facing the challange of a jealous shaman. And Ringil, struggling with his own identity still faces prejudice and the horror of a prophecy that could put him at the centre of evil. And all the while the demon Takavech plays his game with mortals. And have the Dwenda really gone?



#18 Myshkin

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 10:02 PM

I'll cross-post this from the November Reading Thread:

Just finished Richard Morgan's The Steel Remains. It was a good book, but I had some major problems with the writing. Firstly, the style (especially early on) seemed to be some kind of half-assed stream-of-consciousness, like Morgan was either trying and failing to get that stream-of-consciousness feel, or he just accidentally ended up with over-long sentences and sometimes simply forgot what tense he was writing in. Secondly, the swearing, especially the word "fuck". I am not a fucking prude by any fucking stretch of the fucking imagination, but at times it fucking seemed that Morgan was fucking just randomly fucking inserting the word "fuck" into his fucking manuscript. Really, it just seemed like he would write a paragraph, and then add the required ratio of "fucks" to total word count, and it really served to break up the flow of the narrative. Also, there were at least five times where one of our heroes would insult some nobody and said nobody's response would be "hey, fuck you", which just seemed childish and lazy to me. I don't mind profanity at all, but it should at least sound good. I suppose you could say I liked the book despite the writing.

Two more gripes I left out of the other thread:

1) I forgot to mention in my "fuck" rant that the word fuck was actually italicized about 50% of the time. It was like Morgan really wanted us to know he was saying fuck. This just seems to me like shock value, which is kind of a pet peeve of mine. Profanity (as well as graphic depictions of violence and sex) is used in literature as a means of injecting realism into the narrative. After all, profanity is an everyday aspect of most people's live in the real world. But there comes a point, a saturation point if you will, where the use of profanity in a manuscript goes beyond realism and enter the realm of shock value. A point where fuck or shit or cunt or prick or whatever is being used so often that it becomes unrealistic, and starts to interrupt the flow of the narrative. IMO this happened in The Steel Remains.

2) We had two front and center non-human races in this novel; the Kiriath and the Aldrain, both of which were far older and far more advanced than the human race. I liked the idea of these two races, but I felt that Morgan failed to pull them off as well as he could have. Mainly this is due to the fact that both races talked, thought, and acted in exactly the same why as their human counterparts.

Like I said earlier, I liked the book, but I had some major problems with the writing. I'll be picking up the next one in the series, and I'm hoping (based on what I saw in the last 50 pages or so) Morgan smooths out some of the wrinkles.

Edited by Myshkin, 07 November 2008 - 12:31 AM.


#19 pat5150

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 10:17 PM

Just posted the two Vincent Chong endsheets for the limited edition of TSR which will be published by Subpress.

Don't know about you, but I think they are the shit!

Patrick

#20 Werthead

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 10:21 PM

Don't know about you, but I think they are the shit!


Negative. I believe they are, in fact, 'the fuck' :smoking: