Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review of Richard Morgan's The Cold Commands on Mythopoeic Society

I've written the piece many (some? none?) of you have been waiting for: a review of Richard Morgan's The Cold Commands, book two of his A Land Fit For Heroes trilogy. It appeared today over on the Mythopoeic Society website. Linkage here.

You might remember my previous critical posts about Morgan. I still utterly disagree with his statement that The Lord of the Rings is for children/a simple tale of good vs. evil (see Gollum, Denethor, Boromir, Frodo's "failure" and its implications, etc. for numerous examples to the contrary). I was surprised to have Morgan actually drop by and comment on the latter post, which was unexpected and in good form, I thought.

As I stated in my review I do give credit where credit is due: With The Cold Commands Morgan wrote a pretty good sequel to The Steel Remains. Not great, but an improvement, and a solid work of fiction that belongs firmly to the swords and sorcery tradition, even though it is the middle book of a planned trilogy and thus breaks the traditional S&S short form. I'll certainly read book three to see where this all ends up.

The Cold Commands is very much Grim and very Dark, so if that's not your cuppa tea stay away. But as I state in the review there are signs of something developing beyond the series' apparent philosophical core that everyone is equally shitty so life is equal to shit/we fight purely for mercenary, selfish reasons/etc. Though the jury is still out.

My review of The Steel Remains is here.


Lagomorph Rex said...

It's a good review, but it almost feels like you forced yourself to read it. Maybe I'm projecting or taking something out of context.. but it really doesn't seem as if you enjoyed the book.

To be honest with you, I have never had any interest in reading anything this guy's written.

Though in fact I would likely read one of Morgan's books before ever considering purchasing one of R.Scott Bakker's... Who is from what I've read even more deranged in what he writes about.

Brian Murphy said...

Hi Lagomorph, that's a perceptive comment. I honestly don't know if I enjoyed this book. I certainly appreciated its artistry and style, but I couldn't identify with the motivations of the characters, and several scenes left me rather disoriented and queasy. Sounds like fun, eh?

I've said it before but this style of grim, bleak writing works for me occasionally, but is not something I would read as a steady diet.

Tom Simon said...

I came away from your review wanting to write a parody of that kind of fiction, with an antihero named GrimDark Darkgrim. Is that wrong?

Brian Murphy said...

That's actually an interesting idea Tom. GrimDark could use a lampooning similar to Bored of the Rings.

Lagomorph Rex said...

I'm kind of hoping the new GRRM lampoon will do a bit of it.. But I think part of what is missing from "Grimdark" is what the original source of that phrase has... namely, a firmly tongue in cheek approach to the horrors of the 41st century.