In just a few short years, Richard K. Morgan has vaulted to the pinnacle of the science fiction world. Now he turns his iconoclastic talents to epic fantasy, crafting a darkly violent, tautly plotted adventure sure to thrill old fans and captivate new readers. A dark lord will rise. Such is the prophecy that dogs the footsteps of Ringil Eskiath - Gil, for short - a washed-up mercenary and onetime war hero whose world-weary cynicism is surpassed only by the quickness of his temper and the speed of his sword. That sword, forged by a vanished eldritch race known as the Kiriath, has brought him unlooked-for notoriety, as has his habit of poking his nose where it doesn't belong. Gil is estranged from his aristocratic family, but that doesn't stop his mother from enlisting his help in freeing a cousin sold into slavery. Grumbling all the way, Gil sets out to track her down. But it soon becomes apparent that more is at stake than the fate of one luckless young woman. Grim sorceries that have not been seen for centuries are awakening in the land. Some speak in whispers of the return of an all-but-legendary race known as the Aldrain, cruel yet beautiful demons feared even by the Kiriath. Now Gil and two old comrades are all that stand in the way of a prophecy whose fulfillment will drown an entire world in blood. But with heroes like these, the cure is likely to be worse than the disease.More
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Overwrought and unconvincing
After reading and enjoying no less than 5 other Richard K. Morgan books, I had high hopes for this one, but I'm sad to say that it did nothing for me. Everything just felt a little overwrought. I was excited about the prospect of a gay hero, but found that Ringil's character fit into Morgan's usual mold of hyper-masculine protagonist - only much more so, and to the point of being just being an asshole. With all that his character has been through due to his sexuality, much of his rage is justified, but he's just such an asshole to *everyone* that he's hard to sympathize with. And some of his one liners are just painfully over the top. For example:
""Simple enough," he whispered. "A cheap fuck doesn't need to have a name. But I like to know what to call the men I'm going to kill.""
All the fantasy elements - the hard to pronounce names and places, titles, weapons, mythologies - felt forced. It's possible that listening to it in audiobook form with a less than stellar narrator had something to do with it, but there are plenty of books I've listened to in this format that didn't leave me nearly as weary.
I think Simon Vance is great at voicing tough-guy male characters (as he did in Richard K. Morgan's "Thirteen") but when it comes to female characters, they all sound equally wispy and sibilant and ineffectual.
This isn't your father's gay hero!