Monday, March 2, 2009

Review: The Steel Remains

Fantasy has grown up and many aren’t going to recognize nor are they going to like the man it’s become. You try so hard to raise ‘em well but eventually they become their own man. They cast off the shackles of their elders as you won’t find poetical prose and happy go lucky elves in Richard Morgan’s The Steel Remains what you get is a nihilistic, immoral, depraved joyride that leaves you feeling like a good shower is in order.

I pride myself on having a thick thin. There’s not much that makes me feel uncomfortable however The Steel Remains left me uncomfortable throughout. Some novels allude to sexual intercourse The Steel Remains is not one of those. Both homosexual and heterosexual intercourse is written about in graphic detail. I was cringing as I read whole passages about the main characters Ringil’s carnal appetites.

As well if you’re offended by the use of fuck, cunt, bitch, slut, shit, faggot then this is not the novel for you. The word cocksucker is used as much in this novel as it is in the show Deadwood, which means its used quite a lot. So if you don’t like your fantasy full of sex and foul language avoid this one.

If you do however enjoy your fantasy full of sex and foul language you’re in for a treat. This is by far the most adult fantasy I have ever read. There are a number of complex issues that are dealt with throughout the novel such as the aforementioned homosexuality. Also religion, family, slavery are all dealt with in a manner which makes you reflect on each issue and may even make you question your own beliefs. The author pulls no punches in his writing. It is abrasive and puts things in your face that are going to make you uncomfortable.

Ringil, the main protagonist is a homosexual but Morgan does an admirable job of not letting this one small facet of Ringil’s life become his defining characteristic. He fleshes out Ringil with so many other facets of his personality that his homosexuality while ever present doesn’t overpower his other personality traits. Ringil is the asshole friend you have. He’s clearly an asshole but he does have just enough redeeming qualities for you to like him and root for him to succeed.

The world of The Steel Remains is an interesting place as they have fought and defeated the great evil which encroached upon their lives but now with the evil defeated they’re at a loss of what to do now. Life goes on, but for many the scars of the great war they fought will never heal and it has left a generation of humanity feeling very lost and confused. The world they fought so hard to defend isn’t what they believed it to be. Its this common link and nihilism that runs throughout this book that makes it so dark. Even when humor is mixed in, the darkness is always there just under the surface.

Richard Morgan set out to write a fantasy novel for adults and he’s succeeded. This is one that is going to stick with you for awhile and it’s not going to be an uplifting experience. It is an experience I think any reader however should embark on. This novel is going to push your limits when it comes to good taste and in my opinion it’s always good to see just where your own limits lie.



  1. Our co-blogger Trin just read this book and enjoyed it quite a bit. With her, it wasn't a question of good/bad taste...her, seeing things from a woman's perspective, gay sex and all that jazz didn't bother her at all (she even rooted for it...i know, i was there :)). Great review mate, short and to the point.ž


  2. I was just picturing in my mind's eye her rooting for more gay sex and found it hilarious. I definitely wasn't rooting for another gay sex scence.

    I was more "Oh...oh not another gay sex scene, oh geez what's going on now."

    I can see how it would definitely be easier for a woman to read some of the more graphic passages. As a straight male I just haven't been exposed to writing like this ever so that may be why I found it somewhat difficult to get through. As a whole though the novel was excellent.

    Thanks for the kind words.

  3. Great review Harrison, as usual! I've had this one towards the top of my list for a while now and hope to get to it sometime fairly soon.

  4. Thanks Pliny,

    I have a feeling you're gonna like this book.