Morgan’s gory fantasy delves deep into the war-torn world introduced in 2007’s The Steel Remains. Three veteran warriors, briefly reunited, split up once more to take vastly different paths. The semi-immortal Archeth, disillusioned and apathetic, wearily continues serving her emperor as he slowly adjusts to the news that humanity’s ancient rivals, the magical dwenda, have returned. The tribesman Egar fidgets restlessly in his self-imposed retirement, and the powerful sorcerer Ringil is off slaughtering slaver caravans in an attempt to atone for his failure to rescue his cousin. When the three heroes meet again, they uncover the dwenda’s new, subtle plot. Vivid, bloody battle scenes and enthralling, multifaceted characters are more than adequate to prop up the sagging story line, and the slow pace is at least forgiving to readers new to the series. (Oct.)
Swordsman Ringil Eskiath and his companions Egar Dragonbane and Lady Archeth set out on a dangerous journey to a mysterious isle in search of the Illwrack Changeling, a human raised among a demonic race whose dark magic threatens the world. This sequel to The Steel Remains delves deeper into the psyches of its heroic trio, whose members conquer their inner demons even as they battle to save their world. Morgan brings a fresh approach to epic fantasy, giving his world a hard edge and blending in such sf elements as machine intelligences and extraterrestrial races. VERDICT Morgan's protagonists, with their tough outward demeanor and lofty ethics, lend depth and seriousness of purpose to high fantasy and should appeal to fans of George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series.
Sequel to Morgan's well-received dark fantasy, or perhaps far-future science fiction, The Steel Remains (2009), following a string of innovative cyberpunk-style sci-fi novels. Morgan's world is a dark, dank, dismal place, haunted by ghosts, gods, evil magic, invading lizards and the specters of vanished super-beings, where life for most tends to be nasty, brutish and short. Ringil Eskiath, war hero, tired, middle-aged and gay in a world where homosexuality is anathema, attempts to rescue an escaping young slave, thereby earning the enmity of the outraged slave-trade magnates, who put a large price on his head. Worse, the Salt Lord, one of the gods--the sort you don't want to mess with--seems to be taking an interest. Ringil returns to the city Yhelteth, where his black-skinned friend Archeth, last of the immortal Kiriath race, advises the sadistic Emperor Jhiral. The rest of Archeth's race, volcano-born and with powerful magic or perhaps unimaginably advanced technology, have all gone--somewhere. Archeth has just dispatched Egar the Dragonbane on a secret mission. Meanwhile, an object falls from orbit, to impact in the desert; it turns out to be an irascible and enigmatic Kiriath Helmsman, Anasharal, a sort of organometallic morphing robot with a knack for spinning very bad news into something that sounds enticing. Violent, intense, atmospheric and highly textured, Morgan's narrative slips rapidly and unnervingly from past to present tense, sometimes in the same sentence, while present action whirls into past recollection with scarcely a drawn breath, and the dialogue crackles with expletives. Add in the subtexts within subtexts, religious, political and philosophical, not to mentions bouts of explicit gay sex, and the whole thing becomes addictive, or repulsive, or both, depending on your viewpoint. A full-immersion experience, uncompromising and bleakly magnificent.