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.