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3.8 out of 5 stars
52
3.8 out of 5 stars
The Cold Commands (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
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on 6 July 2017
I initially thought this would be better than the first book in the trilogy, since it gets on with the story relatively quickly, rather than indulging in more world building. About 20% of the way through I changed my mind.

There was a really long wait between the publication of the first book of the trilogy and this one, the second – and it appears that the author did not think about it at all in the intervening period. The overall story is not moved any further forward, at all. The ‘teasers’ from the first book mostly aren’t addressed. The protagonists are not developed any further. We learn nothing more of significance about the villains and their aims. While the original plot lines lie fallow, some new stuff is introduced (satellites?) to give the appearance of narrative development, but it is not taken anywhere. A final battle is pulled out of nowhere as a finale. And that’s it.

The whole is very slow and grotesquely padded out.

This book left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It felt like the author did not actually have a book and just threw some stuff down on paper because volume two was overdue. But I paid money for this, and spent time reading it, and that is not okay.
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on 20 September 2015
The second part of Morgan's trilogy is a steady buildup to events that I presume will unfold in part 3. Ringil Eskieth is such a fascinating character, that he is fast becoming one of my favourites in fiction. The world of a Land Fit for Heroes is grim,dark and compelling. The violence and torture are often horrific and not for the faint of heart. The book picks up a rapid pace at the end to deliver a great finale. Richard Morgan is a formidable talent and when I finish this series I will try out his sci- fi.
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on 26 March 2017
I am an avid fan of Richard Morgan's takeshi kovacs series so I though I would give this a go. Excellent books, well written in a visceral flowing style. You could easily see how the main protagonists came to know each other and became intertwined. The language was raw but well used and gave it a more modern feel to many of the fantasy books I have read before bit wasn't distracting.
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on 16 August 2017
Best fantasy I've read in a long time
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on 22 March 2015
i did not like part one. only read this because i had bought both parts together.
it is a better story then part one. only one or two sex scenes, still lots of drugs, but more realistic storytelling. ringel is growing up. but why only 3 stars?

*******spoilers********
i was looking forward to the journey, on which the new helmsman was trying to send archeth. this does not happen and story ends before it.
egar ends up doing john rembo stuff in the same city as ringil and archeth. it was good in the end but i can't even remember why he went on the temple raid, other then the fact that he was bored. the author kept changing pov at annoying times.
the mythical grey places or the world of possibilities was used again. ringil meets his future lover, but remembers him. the dewinda that was his lover/enemy last time, is still there. ringil gets taken there again, is hurt/tortured badly but gets well again. a bit of a let down. i was dreading and looking forward to reading how ringil would cope with is injuries and still be the hero. but all that was taken away by a twist.
ringil's true identity, clues that he is a powerful magician and is beginning to use his abilities was exciting.
some good bits but still not brilliant. this should have been part one.
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on 27 November 2011
Richard Morgan is one of those authors I feel I can rely on to entertain me. And that is the real purpose of buying books, for me. This sequel to The Steel Remains returns to the world of Ringil and his violent comrades and foes. But as witht he earlier book there is a hint of magic which may not really be magic. Morgan's titles can be read in several ways and this indicates the puzzles in the book that kept me reading. The Steel Remains could read as a weapon is the last resort or final argument, or it could read that steel remains in the ruins of a civilisation. Both would be appropriate. Likewise the title Cold Commands, and I won't spoil it by revealing the double entendre. I suggest if you like Alasteir Reynolds then you might like this Richard Morgan novel.
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on 13 January 2013
Readers familiar with Richard K. Morgan's Takeshi Kovac books (Altered Carbon, Woken Furies, etc.) will be relieved to hear the author has made a seamless transition from Sc-Fi to fantasy. A closer reader will surmise that he hasn't made a transition at all, but 'nuff said there.

Although The Cold Commands lacks the narrative punch of the first in the series (the Steel Remains), it expands the cultural and political backdrop of the setting, and deepens the excellent characterizations established with the first book. It also continues to tie together the fates of the three protagonists.

Readers of the Game of Thrones series will find much to appreciate here. Morgan's work lacks the majestic scope of Martin's Game of Thrones, but his characters are every bit as compelling, and the series has a unique "fantasy noir" feel that recalls the work of Michael Moorcock's "Elric of Melnibone" series, the Theives' World books, and Frutz Leiber's "Fafhard and the Grey Mouser" series. The same moral ambiguities and pallor of doom pervade in both, though Morgan's is more of the post-modern, slow tramp into catastrophe rather than Moorcock's looming, apocalyptic feel.

What I find most interesting about this particular work of his is that all the characters seem to be struggling with the issue of age and nostalgia. Each feels that they are somehow past their prime, and becoming increasingly irrelevant in a landscape where they or their people once reigned high and mighty. They all feel that they have at least one more great adventure ahead, one last chance to make a legend in a world increasingly ruled by petty politics, cruelty, and greed. It's that issue, a very human dilemma, that really drives the novel more than the high adventure, violence, and "sorcery" elements, though those are all _very_ well done.

As with all his other works, I find that I couldn't put this one down until the end. I imagine most discerning readers will feel the same way!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 25 October 2011
This book was a complete let down for me. I have read all of Richard Morgan's books so far. I loved the 5 scifi ones, blood, violence, graphic sex and all. I found the Steel Remains, while original in some respects, was no more than ok. The Cold Commands, however, was another step down the slippery slope. I found it slow and boring, especially the first 150 to 180 pages or so.

Ringil's dreams, memories and hallucinations seemed to be a poor ploy for padding. The same goes for the over numerous and over-graphic sex scenes, whether straight or gay. I don't mind about sex scenes. However, I do get annoyed when this becomes a substitute for a good story. As another commentator once wrote when reviewing one of Richard Morgan's previous books, I have little interest in who is doing what and in whose holes and I am quite sure that I am not alone in holding such a view. I would also say that, in this book, the scenes do not not add much (or anything?) to the story. At best, they are just another way to fill up a few pages - more cheap padding.

The narrative jumps from one character to another (Ringil, Archeth, Egar) and this left me (and maybe will also leave you) rather confused. I also get a bit tired of Ringil staring down everyone and looking permanently Oh so dangerous! This feature is somewhat overdone and so are many other features of other characters, just as if the author hadn't bothered in drawing them fully out. Even the Helmsman was unconvincing. His story told to the Emperor and Archeth seems to be an attempt (and a rather obvious one!) to give the reader some background and context to the whole story, context which is utterly missing, even for someone who has read the first installment. Instead, much of the Helmsman speech is confusing (and pompous, but perhaps this is intended). It doesn't make sense to the reader, or at least it didn't for me. For future volumes, one idea might be to provide again the map that was present in volume 1, together with a 5-10 page summary of the continent's history/mythology. For instance, who are the Aldrain? What is the Dark Court? Who are its members? Where did the dragons and lizards come from? Who are the Kiriaths? Who are the main Gods in both Yeltheh and Trelayne? Which are the cities that make up the League? What are the main historical events in the history of the the Empire and of the League? etc...

There is a huge potential in this Fantasy Continent but, up to now, very little detail has been provided, which I find a pity.

As others have also mentioned, it looks like Richard Morgan's venture into Fantasy was not just a foray: he is there to stay. Good for him and why not? But if his next installment of Ringill and alii adventures does not improve significantly, he may lose a large number of readers, starting with myself. That would be a shame for someone who was such a promising author...
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on 27 November 2011
There was a lot of positive buzz about this being an improvement over "the steel remains" and while I think it is a stronger book it still suffers from many of the problems the first book had. One thing I did enjouy more in this book is that the three point-of-view characters all have their own story and they fuse together quite nicely towards the end. While Ringil is clearly the main character, I think Egar actually had some of the strongest scenes this time around. The emperor still manages to steal every scene he is in again as well.

In terms of the story and world it always seemed to come to life whenever it was dealing with the pseudo-science fiction/fantasy elements. Any scene featuring the helmsmen or the dark council members caused me to become far more interested in the story. Herein lies my problem with the book though, when not dealing with the weird science/magic elements the book feels very average in that I've read far better/similar "gritty/mature" fantasy books over the last decade. There just isn't anything to make it stand-out when it's not delving into the weird. This could be partly with the story itself as there are very few "big" moments and it focuses more on indvidual skirmishes. There are some well choreographed fights but it never seems to escalate into anything "substantial". I was also frustrated by how two-thirds of the book sets up a "quest" only for it to be abandoned or left for the next installment. In defense of Richard, he does make the reason why the quest is side-lined an organic consequence of one of his characters storylines so it may be a case of the character determining the plot. I know the author isn't a fan of his books turning into phonebooks but I think this story could have really benefitted from having a bit more occur - such as the quest.

I'll see the series through as there is only one book left but as it stands it feels like there is a lot of untapped potential within this series. For anyone who enjoys this style of fantasy, I think they'd get more enjoyment out of Bakker's "the darkness that comes before" series.
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on 29 October 2011
Having loved his SF, I read The Steel Remains with some trepidation. I loved it, so I was really looking forward to Cold Commands. I waited and waited. Publish dates being put back. No worries, I had complete faith in Richard Morgan to produce a cracking sequel. I won't say that I feel cheated, but I'm really disappointed that he couldn't have produced something a bit more interesting. The plot is slow, probably laying the scene for the next book, and takes an age to come together. Of course it doesn't help that this sequel was so late being published, so references to characters from the first book, left me a little lost. The book has all the graphic bloodletting and sex scenes (hetero and homo) as the first book, but somehow they fail to shock or engage.

My biggest gripe is the fact that Morgan seems to drift in and out of love with this book, whether or not he was distracted by other projects, it's difficult to say, but certain passages seem to be written with care, whereas others seem to be rushed (approaching deadlines?). One example of this is the incredible way (yes, I know it's fantasy, but even so) in which Ringil escapes death a few times by going into the Margins. That just seems to be a bit of a cop-out to me. I sincerely hope that this will not be a recurring theme in the next book, which I will buy if it doesn't take a couple of years to appear.
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