The Cold Commands by Richard K. Morgan
Narrator: Simon Vance
Series: A Land Fit for Heroes #2
Also by this author: The Steel Remains
Published by Del Rey, Gollancz on October 11, 2011
Genres: Epic, Fantasy
Length: 16 hours 48 minutes
Also in this series: The Steel Remains
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Kirkus Reviews • Fantasy Book Critic“Pulpy and hard-core, but with a heart of gold.”—io9The otherworldly Kiriath once used their advanced technology to save the world from the dark magic of the Aldrain, only to depart as mysteriously as they arrived. Now one of the Kiriath’s uncanny machines has fallen from orbit, with a message that humanity once more faces a grave danger: the Ilwrack Changeling, a boy raised to manhood in the ghostly realm of the Gray Places. Wrapped in sorcerous slumber on an island that drifts between this world and the Gray Places, the Ilwrack Changeling is stirring. When he wakes, the Aldrain will rally to him and return in force. But with the Kiriath long gone, humankind’s fate now depends on warrior Ringil Eskiath and his few, trusted allies. Undertaking a perilous journey to strike first against the Ilwrack Changeling, each of them seeks to outrun a haunted past and find redemption in the future. But redemption won’t come cheap. Nor, for that matter, will survival.
What I can’t get over with this book is just how beautifully written eviscerations can be done. Seriously, Morgan’s prose is just wonderfully written with a beautiful and poetic feel. This carries through for every part of his book, including the dark and gritty, violent sections like when the prose is describing disembowelment. Yes, this book, like the first one has graphic sex and violence. This series is not for the faint of heart. And just like I said in my review for The Steel Remains, I don’t think the sex scenes in this are any more graphic than many books with heterosexual sex scenes, but I feel they get more attention because they are homosexual. There are some reviewers that will always complain about this level of graphic sex scenes regardless of the genders of the participants, but I think the fact they are homosexual is beyond some readers comfort levels which is just sad. People are people and sex is sex. These characters and the sex scenes are very real and down to earth and I see absolutely no reason to complain.
The Cold Commands has 3 story arcs, each following a familiar character from The Steel Remains. Ringil, of course we get more Ringil. His story line starts with an encounter with an escaped slave and follows him trying to find asylum after being exiled. One thing I found interesting is I felt more interested in Archeth’s storyline for this one than I did in The Steel Remains. The Helmsman is warning her of dark things to come and is following orders of the Emperor she now serves as an advisor to. And Egar’s storyline. Umm…. maybe he didn’t have a major storyline. I mainly remember him drinking, fighting and getting laid. There may have been more to it, but that’s what I remember, which brings me to my one criticism about the book.
I loved reading this, but sometimes I couldn’t quite tell what the overall conflict goal was. If that makes sense, I’m not sure. Every minute of the prose is amazing to read, and maybe even more amazing to listen to Simon Vance narrate. But somehow I felt like if someone were to ask me exactly what was going on at points in the book, I would have been at a loss. I could tell you the latest events, but I also felt like I was missing something from the bigger picture and felt it moved just a little bit slower because of that. Maybe it was just me and my listening comprehensions skills that were lacking, but it did detract just a teeny tiny bit.
If you read the first one, definitely continue reading. Morgan’s prose is every bit as wonderful. And there world is both fascinating and relevant. As per many fantasy novels, there are many themes riding in this that can translate to modern day life, and I absolutely love that. And all of the characters are well done, believable characters with honest emotions and realistic reactions and motivations. This is not a black and white book, but one with much moral ambiguity, which I think is a closer representation of real life. Things are often not clearly right or wrong when you look at all sides.