Monday, May 12, 2008

Review: Woken Furies

The author bills this as the last Takeshi Kovacs novel (kindle edition). At this point, I think I know what to expect from a Takeshi Kovacs novel: lots of sex and violence, mixed in with philosophy, serendipity, and perhaps an examination of character. It's a potent, powerful mix, but when one learns to expect a hit, the hit is perhaps lessened.

Nevertheless, Richard Morgan's style is irresistible --- the prose in this novel flows like a fast moving river, carrying you along. In this novel, Kovacs is caught up in a Yakuza plot on his home-world of Harlan's World, where he is carrying out a vendetta against some religionists. When his planned re-sleeving falls through, he ends up falling in with a Decom squad --- a squad of quasi-military folks whose job it is to de-commission some self-aware robots in an area known as the Uncleared.

Things take a turn for the strange when the leader of the unit, Sylvie Oshima, starts claiming to be Quellist Falconer, the revolutionary leader whose philosophical quotes adorn the start of many a chapter of the Kovacs novels thus far. On top of that, we learn that the first family of Harlan's World has sleeved an earlier version of Kovacs (illegally, of course) to hunt him down, so now Takeshi has to take on the toughest opponent yet --- himself.

In many ways, this is a novel for fans --- we get to meet many of the characters only mentioned in previous novels, and in some ways, we get to see the wish-fulfillment of both Kovacs and fans. The ending, however, is just a bit Deus-Ex-Machinas for me. Rather than being something that the reader could have figured out (and I admit that I was never patient enough to try to do so), the ending feels like it was placed there by the author without any clue as to what had happened. I felt slightly cheated.

Nevertheless, it's a good read, and I certainly got value for money. Perhaps Morgan is the rightful heir to Ian Fleming's legacy --- but in any case, he is still a far better writer than Fleming was. Recommended, but only if you also enjoyed the other two Kovacs novels.
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