The Steel Remains
Richard K. Morgan
Del Rey, Jan 2009, $26.00
Ringil Eskiath, the hero of Gallows Gap, found fame brought notoriety due to his sexual preference, which led to exile from his ashamed aristocratic family as his saving humans from the Scaled Folk is superseded by his being gay. Legally as a degenerate the state should execute him. He remains alive due to his family connections; his heroism; and his speed with the sword that matches the speed of his temper. Angry by the prejudice he faces and the lack of gratitude for risking his life, he has become an out of shape has-been residing in the squalid boondocks Gallows Water where he earns room and board at a dive talking about his glory days and pocket change using his Kiriath sword to battle the mighty mite populace.
His mother Ishil arrives to demand Ringil search for his cousin Sherin, whose husband Bilgest legally sold her into slavery. Reluctantly he returns to Trelayne where he acts like a bull in a pottery shop flaunting his sexual proclivity. He angers Poltar, shaman of the nomadic Skaanak, who wants to dispose of the clan master Egar the Dragonbane for his blasphemous ideas learned in the Kiriath city Yhelteth. The Emperor sends the last Kiriath, Archeth Indamaninarmal, to investigate the destruction of Khangset. She, Ringil and Egar meet as they did once before when they defeated the Scaled Folk, but that seems like a picnic compared to their foe, the Dwenda magical race that ignores the laws of physics when it comes to the time-space continuum.
This character driven sword and sorcery science fiction fantasy focuses on the three heroes, flaws and all, as they prepare for a second adventure of a lifetime. The world is detailed so it seems genuine as a wonderful hyperbole of our country (even with Richard K, Morgan being a Scottish author). Although much of the story line is inner musings and angry diatribes over unfairness, the military battles are exhilarating. From the opening gay encounter, Mr. Morgan provides a deep look at what happens to heroes when they choose to behave differently than the societal expectations of what a champion must be.