The Cold Commands
by Richard Morgan
reviewed by Trent Jamieson
The Cold Commands follows on from Richard Morgan’s grim and excellent sword and sorcery novel The Steel Remains. It’s been a long wait, but certainly worth it. The characters are just as dark and wounded in this tale -perhaps even more so - and once the story gets going it doesn’t let up.
In fact, it’s a great chainsaw of a book churning through the narrative forest faster than the Tunguska Meteor. It’s pitched as “Fantasy, harder, faster, bloodier.” But it’s also a lot more than that. Morgan has mastered a wonderful impressionistic style of writing that provides the action in great dramatic bursts that snatch your breath away. There’s a lot to be learned from the precision of his prose.
Sword and Sorcery since Robert E Howard at least, has been about cultures clashing and crashing, filled with a great clattering and bloody joie de vivre. Richard Morgan has delivered that, and yet, made it at once intimate, human, and bleak. This is swords, mad emperors, cruel machines, dragons and gods given a shocking touch of realism.