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Richard Morgan’s third entry into the fantasy genre again downplays the explicit scenes that were so prominent in the first book. I am trying to be discrete here. It is evident that there has been a conscious decision to be a little less in-your-face on such gratuitous scenes at the end of this series. Here the events of the trilogy are allowed to unfold without too much of the rainbow desensitization techniques he employed so copiously in the first installment—and for this I am grateful. What we are left with is a quite mundane sword-and-sorcery novel. The three main characters are back again and live up to their nicknames in every sense. It is fun to see them in action. And nobody does action better than Morgan.
At the end of the day I think that I failed to fully engage with this series because of the aforementioned salacious elements and so have not really much cared what happens to the characters. There is a dearth of redeeming social value here. As a result I just let the audio play out and tried to follow the plot, which at times was difficult because the action seems focused more on the grubby details of mercenary life than it does on the grander story arc with the fate of the world at stake. This is not, therefore, an epic fantasy by any means. The unfolding Duenda war feels like little more than a manufactured crisis to allow the characters to misbehave. Alfred Hitchcock would call this the MacGuffin—the thing the characters in the story care about who facilitate the action that the audience cares about. The characters want to save the world and we in the audience want to witness them hacking and slashing their way to victory. So, while this series may have broken ground in introducing the genre to a sympathetic portrayal of an openly gay main character, it is pretty standard Sword and Sorcery fare otherwise. Knowing the dizzying heights that Richard Morgan is capable of hitting in his Science Fiction novels, this is a bit of a letdown.
Simon Vance is a little too subdued for my tastes in his reading of this book. With such flamboyant characters the story would have been better served with a more emotional rendering in the dialog scenes. Vance is excellent in translating the words on the page into sounds in your ear. For the most part he is unobtrusive and this makes it possible for him to become the sub-vocal voice-in-your-head that every reader experiences when reading a book on your own.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
I've been a fan of the fantasy genre since my youth and have read a sizable number of fantasy books over the last 20 years. I find that Morgan writes as no other, with hard uncompromising and funny characters; each with their own huge flaws. In other words, no squeaky clean heros. In this third book the saga continues, and you are revealed some of the worlds mysteries, but you feel that there are a lot more stories to tell and even more to be revealed. I want and hope for Morgan to feel the same way about the world and the characters he has created for our, and hopefully his, enjoyment
1 of 1 people found this review helpful