Richard Morgan’s first novel, Altered Carbon, was a rather splendid hardboiled cyberpunk detective story, followed by four other sci-fi (or sci-fi-ish, I haven’t picked up the near-future Market Forces yet) books. Now he’s turned to fantasy; New Odd High Weird Old Noir Low Epic Fantasy, to be specific, in The Steel Remains.
The easiest comparison that springs to mind is Joe Abercrombie, not least ‘cos there’s a quote of his on the back, and Joe’s review (plus excellent unexpurgated version of the cover quote) is well worth a read. Like Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy, The Steel Remains is a gritty, down and dirty (in many senses) book with lashings of sex n’ drugs n’ rock n’ roll (only with the rock n’ roll replaced with bone-crunchingly visceral violence). Following three main protagonists, heroes of a previous war, getting to grips with a new world through three viewpoints took a bit of getting used to, then I got really caught up in their separate stories. As the three are pulled together at the end, though, it feels a little hasty; as the first book of a trilogy it strikes a balance, there’s enough of an ending that it could stand alone, it doesn’t just stop in the middle of a larger story, but there are plenty of loose ends to be picked up in future books that make it ultimately slightly unsatisfying on its own. Good introduction to the world and characters, though, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.