Book Reviews: Broken Angels, Woken Furies, Altered Carbon

I read all of Richard K Morgan’s books way too fast.  Woken Furies was no different that the first two in the series.  Kovacs has gone from detective, to mercenary, to criminal drifter.

The first book, Broken Angels is a detective story, but also an action story. Kovacs solves the murder mysteries using his futuristic special forces skills.  The book does dabble in morality.  It isn’t said, as much as illustrated the moral implications of a technology that could record the state of your brain and put it onto a device, which could then be moved to another body.  People’s cortical stacks move from body to body, giving the look of immortality.

The next book, Altered Carbon, is a heist of ancient Martian artifacts.  The action story is capped by a statement on technological progress in warfare.

The third Kovacs book, still is fresh and energetic as the first two.  The Kovacs story and character stay fresh on account of the rules of magic, which allow Kovacs to move from one body to another (one sleeve to another), and one planet to another.  This story has a subtle message about land mines.  Kovacs by fate but not choice, ends up on a war machine decommissioning team. 

The novels are superbly written.  They are also violent, full of sex, rough language.  It’s a guys’ book.  The R-rated material is hardly gratuitous.  Kovacs lives in a world where the moral consequences of murder and death are blunted by sleeving technology, which brings back to live many people, especially soldiers, and the middle to upperclass. 

Kovacs a superbly developed character and each novel does a reasonable job of developing secondary characters.  Many characters failed to become distinctive in my mind, which in the second and third novels was a problem when they were reintroduced later.

Kovacs doesn’t suffer as much from the “hero syndrome” of most character centric stories.  Kovacs remains for all novels, fallable, imperfect and not always likable, much like a real person.  Through resleeving and stints in computer generated virtual worlds, Kovacs can meet significant setbacks, yet not be eliminated from the story all together.

The stories all have endings that work as contrasted with William Gibsons novels, which if nothing else, have taught me the importance of a novel that ends well.

Someday, the Kovacs novels will be made into movies and the movies are not going to be nearly as good as the novels.  I fully predict that the Takashi Kovacs movies will be standard action hero fare to be forgotten the day after viewing.  They will make Richard Morgan a well deserved pile of cash that the books sales probably can’t match, but the novels, I forecast, will still be regularly checked out at libraries a decade from now.

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