on 25 July 2005
Yes, the best Richard Morgan yet.
Yes, a tale that helps us understand Kovacs' behaviour in this and previous novels, without you necessarily agreeing with many of his actions. This is despite his own (and Morgan's ??) attempts to justify them.
Yes, a book that seriously rewards re-reads, as I for one tore through it first time and missed some key content. Morgan's prose really claws you along.
What really opens the character is his interaction with past friends, as in previous books despite some "romance" he has been the violent loner par excellence. Here, Takeshi explores old (and some new) relationships with more humanity and credibility, not least with his younger self !
Because of the above, and the fundamentally more complex and fulfilling plot, I would recommend reading Altered Carbon and Broken Angels first.
My only reservations are that it is fairly simple to spot the numerous plot/sci-fi influences, but hey, they are so well woven-in that you just don't care.
Personally, if this is Takeshi's send-off, it's a great one. There are no doubt more places he can go, and more beings/objects he can obliterate, but I hope Richard Morgan doesn't do a "Culture" with this series and begin to retread ideas....
on 5 May 2005
After thoroughly enjoying the first 2 "Cortical Stack universe" books I was thrilled to find a third in the pipeline.
While Woken Furies seemed, to me at least, a little slower and more ponderous than the first two it was still highly entertaining.
While Altered Carbon and Broken Angels were mostly standalone I would recommend having read at least one of the other books to establish some of the technology, terminology and characters before approaching Woken Furies, there is a fairly steep learning curve otherwise.
I felt the violence had been toned down somewhat, it can be difficult to tell if its the text or just me getting used to people being splattered over walls, the whole mood of this book is Political, while there is a thread of Politics in each AC-Universe novel (Quellism, Family bloodlines etc) this one is motivated by shifting powerbases and fighting for control.
It is also a new chapter in Takeshi Kovacs' personality, we see him meeting up with friends only hinted at previously and his overall mood seems to be broody and tense, a reflection of the author or possibly (hopefully) a deliberate portrayal of how Kovacs time apart from the Envoys and 'normal' life has changed him. Questions regarding his reasons for leaving the Corp. and his purpose in life make this less of a gun-fest and more philosophical (with guns of course)
If you have not read any of these books I recommend you get them all, if you enjoy Sci-Fi and futuristic weaponry with layers of politics, betrayal, bio-tech, near-immortality and fluid, visceral prose then you can't say no to Takeshi Kovacs.
on 8 March 2005
Morgan does it again. Another tautly written, tense thriller set in the world of Takeshi Kovacs, body sleeves and virtual death. As usual, there are plenty of high tech toys and the usual helpings of sex and violence to keep the cyberpunks happy. But Morgan's strength is his use of language to develop a powerful atmosphere and to create a believable world populated by real characters, married with a well-crafted story-line. The intensity of the story keeps you gripped from the first few pages, and the twists and turns of the plot will keep you guessing.
Welcome to Harlan's World. Welcome to deCom.
on 18 March 2005
I wasn't sure if Richard Morgan could continue the precedent he set in Altered Carbon and continued in Broken Angels. What me worry? He has made me proud. An awesome book, that kept me gripped from beginning to end with so many twists, I could hardly keep up. Amazing detail, well written and nice to found out more about Takeshi and his home world. I will be re-reading it, as I am sure I've missed out on a lot. Highly recommended. If you haven't read the first two, I'd suggest you do. You won't regret it.
on 14 December 2006
Before I read the last 100 pages of this book, I would have given it 3 stars. Woken Furies suffers from a common affliction among many sci-fi series: same-samey-ness. Once you're introduced to the world, the technologies, the aliens, whatever, unless the author can keep the creative curve balls coming (Peter Hamilton often has the ability to keep things fresh), the joy and surprise of discovery quickly fades. And so it goes with Woken Furies. Two thirds of the way through and I thought Harlan's World just wasn't different enough from Venice Beach to keep me riveted. And assembling the deCom team, going into battle, using the cybertech - I might as well have been re-reading Broken Angels, Morgan's best by far.
BUT! Just when I was resigned my disappointment, the last few chapters cranked the book out of its nose dive. Morgan lets loose with some Big Ideas, and the final showdown is spectacular fun. Sci-fi writers often have problems ending their books (Stephenson, Gibson anyone?), but Morgan always ends with a satisfying crunch, and this one wrapped up the nicest of them all.
A word of warning - this is by far the most violent book I have ever read, and that includes Morgan's previous books. If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. And Morgan's graphic sex scenes seem gratuitous and perfunctory to the point of being boring porn.
In Morgan's favor, as usual his prose is taut as a drum and hits hard. Characterization has always been his strong point, and this is perhaps his best: Kovacs's anger seethes off every page. The self-loathing loose cannon may be a cliché, but with Kovacs you can feel it, to the point where character is basically a psychotic serial-killer, and you're right there with him.
I think Morgan was wise to retire Kovacs with this novel. One more and the sameyness would have made the series a bore. (I've given up on Hamilton and Reynolds for that reason - I get it already.) If you're a fan of the Kovacs books, this is definitely worth some tedium (albeit entertaining tedium) to get to the payoff. I'm looking forward to what Morgan will do next.
on 30 August 2006
Richard Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs novels are a visceral blend of William Gibson and Iain M Banks, with a few extra vats of gore slopped in for good measure. Sometimes it seems to border on horror.
The universe that Morgan has created is huge, brutal, seemingly uncaring, but heartwrenchingly and depressingly familier. Despite the alien worlds, hypertechnology and superweapons, underneath it all this is still a very human story, where mankind has stretched itself out to the stars, yet has taken the very same problems with it, and amplified and reciprocated such problems across hundreds of worlds. The concept that the human race 'does not belong in the stars' is echoed many times throughout the series.
The latest (and hopefully, not final) book in the series sees Tak return to his homeworld - Harlan's world - which is still scarred by it's revolutionary past. Tak is seemingly drifting in an ever widening sea of psychosis, but as the book progresses, it reveals more and more of the reasons for Kovaks' behaviour, which are often a lot deeper and more complex than is initially apparant.
I'll cut to the chase and say why this book is good.
Firstly, the depth and care that has gone into the design and rendering of the deep technological, political and social tangle that is Harlan's World. More than any of the worlds in the Kovacs series, it is by far the most detailed, most lifelike, and most interesting. From the Mimint-infested shores of New Hokkaido, to the Weed Expanse and the surfer settlements of Sourcetown. From the heaving, overcrowded port-metropolis of Millstown to the endless seas and their terrible, unpredictable storm systems. And then theres socio-political tangle as well, the aristocratic First Families and the Harlans, Quellists, New Revelationists (kind of like a futuristic hardline Islam), yakuza, pirates, small time criminals and the downright poverty stricken. They're all mixed up together across the various continents, seas and environments. Surrounded by long-dead Martian architecture, and above it all, the orbital Martial weapons platforms, which are far from dead.
Secondly, Kovacs has to be one of the most interesting characters ever created in sci-fi. On the surface, he seems to be psychotic and contraditory, but once you get inside his head, you realise he has a very intelligent and reasoned world view. In fact, the only people that die by his hand are people who are either a direct threat to Kovacs, or (in the case of the Beards) people who have hurt or damaged him in some way. The harsh, unforgiving and captialist conditions of the Protectorate further blur the lines of the 'is Kovacs a psycho?' discussion, because the same discussion could equally be had about most of the characters in the book. What I like about this book is that here, Morgan finally starts to address these questions directly, using (amongst other things) the double sleeving plot device. Kovacs is, quite simply, a classic anti-hero. The difference is he is only flawed by our standards. By the standards of this future dystopia, his head is almost screwed on straight.
This is definitely a book I will have to read again - I get the impression that there is so much that I have missed first time round. It reads somewhat like the first book - detective style, with clues to each impending plot twist laced throughout the text. In some ways, too much happens in such a small number of pages, but it certainly leaves you feeling a bit breathless and sits you right on the edge of your seat.
on 6 May 2007
For those who are new to the world of Takeshi Kovacs, it's well worth reading the previous two novels in the trilogy (Altered Carbon and Broken Angels). Nevertheless, this book can be read on its own as a "standalone" novel.
The story is set about 500 years in the future and takes place on Harlan's World, a lush planet several light years from Earth. Technology is so advanced that people have achieved a kind of immortality. Their minds can be digitized and backed up on disks, then downloaded into new bodies following their death. This can lead to its own unique problems, however, which becomes clear as the novel progresses.
Without giving anything away, the plot centres around Kovacs - a man who once belonged to a group of elite soldiers known as the "Envoys" but is now on the run, having been involved in a number of incidents. The story follows him on a series of heart-stopping chases around the planet, during which he encounters a number of characters from his past, including one extremely important woman whose presence could change the world. There are various subplots, which ultimately converge and lead to a thrilling climax.
Overall, I loved this book, just as I loved the previous two novels in the series. There are some fascinating twists and turns, betrayals, and unexpected appearances from various people. The action scenes are particularly good, and this is where Richard Morgan really excels. In fact, I can't think of another writer who describes action scenes as well as he does. His style is excellent.
If you love sci-fi with a nice blend of action and dialogue, then you'll love what this novel has to offer. There are tons of original ideas and concepts here, futuristic technology, cool characters, breathtaking chases and surprises, interesting cities and locations... all of which make for a very absorbing setting. Takeshi Kovacs is violent and often flawed, a kind of anti-hero - but at the same time you're really rooting for him throughout the story.
on 24 March 2005
This is the third outing for Morgan's anti-hero Takeshi Kovacs and here he certainly hits his stride.
This time we get to learn the protagonist's origins, we see him in his home territory and find out just how he became the man he is.
You can only be new once, so this is not as startling as Morgan's debut.
It is better.
If you've read Richard Morgan before you can guess that this is a tensely plotted, extremely violent science fiction thriller.
You may also expect an intricate and clever plot.
He delivers in spades, giving startling, plausible twists and shock revelations.
What you may not expect is that it has a philosophy, a political philosophy, no less. And that gives it the kind of heart and depth hinted at in Morgan's previous Kovacs novels Altered Carbon and Broken Angels. Anyone who dismissed these books as lightweight will be pleasantly surprised at just how serious, relevant and resonant to the times that Woken Furies is.
If Altered Carbon was a toy for the boys, the Woken Furies is something grown ups of varieties can appreciate.
Takeshi Kovacs resurfaces on his bleak home planet of Harlan's World in a novel which marks a terrific return to form for Richard Morgan after the rather disappointing Market Forces. Woken Furies mixes violent action, incredibly cool high-tech gadgetry and political philosophy in a story which is somewhat convoluted in its first two thirds but picks up and straightens out nicely later on. Great news for those of us who enjoy our futuristic toys, contains profanity and violence which may put off some. Has its thoughtful moments which lift the book well beyond the category of mere actioner. Highly recommended!
on 8 July 2009
I've read all 4 of Richard Morgan's novels now, having just finished the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy, and while I found the books extremely hard to put down, I have finally come up against a wall in this last novel. The depth of the characters has improved with each part of the trilogy and even the far fetched SF concepts are given a life that many, if not most SF would love to create for themselves. The background of an ancient all pervasive alien culture is very well done, being used as both a plot device in the latter two novels and as a texture to the trilogy in general. The final novel paints a very detailed picture of the world his characters are on, which gives one, I think, a feeling of experiencing something lived in, not a sterile SF world, almost, but not quite Gibsonesque in detail.
All three novels are incredibly violent, and Richard Morgan's deep and biting political cynicism shows its head in each one of them, finally coming to the fore in this final novel where the hero gets caught up in a 300 year old revolution with digitally reincarnated revolutionaries, main characters dying with almost predictable regularity, only to be revived and then in some cases killed again. Richard Morgan doesn't take the easy road with his characters and it is a tribute to his skill as a writer that the dysfunctional morals and ethics of the hero, Takeshi Kovacs, and his inability to even remotley come to grips with his past made me feel an active hatred for the character, wishing by the middle of the book that he would finally just die, as all the other characters in the novel seemed to wish for.
While Richard Morgan's hard realism - ugly, violent corrupt people are standard fare - in the last novel I almost found that I was seeing too much of what I call English hard man politics shining through, very similar in its way to Neal Asher's brand of depicting the corrupt abuse of power. It gets tiring, I feel. Similarly, there is a lot of very graphic violence and a lot of very graphic sex. I have to be honest here in that I felt that the author was almost on a kind of mastubatory trip at times, and I couldn't glean any real difference in the women the main character was having sex with, except that he would have done well in hard-core porn and that the women were all "long-limbed" and that almost every woman character in the novel who wasn't lesbian wanted to and ended up also having sex with the hero. I found it somehow gratuitous.
As with his forth novel Black Man or 13 (in the USA), I couldn't escape the feeling in this one, that the author had gotten some of his ideas from other SF authors, in the case his Martian Ascension reminded me somehow very much of Iain M Bank and his subsumed societies having ascended to a higher plain.
All that said, I liked thebook and the series immensely and can recommend it to anyone with an open mind and a strong stomach.