My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In the vast sea that is fantasy fiction, I’d (humbly) say that I’m an above-average swimmer. I feel confident—not in a cocky “I can handle anything” sort of way, but in that I will at least try anything and can reasonably expect to survive.
I’ve traversed the morass that is The Wheel of Time. I’ve tacked along the subtle tune of Rothfuss. I’ve ridden the comforting swells of Hobb, the whitewaters of Malazan, the unpredictable, unrelentless tides of A Song of Ice and Fire. I’ve even looked the maelstrom of Abercrombie in the eye without flinching.
But The Dark Defiles?
This feels like Richard K. Morgan sticks a staff lance in my kidneys, unceremoniously tosses me in, and then expects me to keep my head above the churning surface.
But I guess I’ve my pride to look out for, so I keep swimming, and if I can’t honestly say that I’ve conquered this body of water, I’ve at least doggy paddled my way across.
Throughout, the author channels his inner Steven Erikson by giving you information either too late or too early, before you know what to do with it. There’s a constant feeling as if you’ve missed a chapter, but it’s so fucking addicting that you’re all but clamouring to start the series all over again.
The characters hit home with me, and are perhaps the most memorable part of this series. The reader is thrust uncomfortably deep in their minds, seeing their naked thoughts, their doubts, and their sarcastic inner monologues.
Ringil, Egar, Archeth are characters who will be riding in my head for a long time yet—and to me, this is one of the best things a novel can accomplish.
On top of all of this, The Dark Defiles is a confident book. It says: “I’m here. I’m fabulous. I’m going to have my way with you. And I don’t give a fuck what you think.”
Of the series, Richard K. Morgan finally finds his stride in this book (barring another regrettable pacing issue in the middle). Unfortunately, it seems a bit late because the buzz has significantly dropped off. Perhaps, now that the whole trilogy is out, people will be rushing to buy it?
I hope you do. It’s dark, brutal, visceral, and honest fun.
The Dark Defiles will be published on October 7, 2014 from Gollanz.