I wish I could remember who suggested The Steel Remains (Ian?), because I simultaneously enjoyed it and was annoyed by its tedium and would love to talk to someone who really enjoyed it.

It's your basic hard-edged fantasy novel, lots of gore and twisted demon sex and noble heroes with dangerous edges. There's some novelty in that the main character is gay and the author isn't afraid to write some hot man/man action (well, man/demon) and explore the irony of being a bad-ass warrior who's loathed for being a faggot. But it doesn't serve the story very well.

And the story.. The book never quite goes anywhere, and honestly I never could quite follow all the world-building service and made-up names. (Eskiath, Majak, kir-Archeth, Khazad-dum, Kiriath, Egar; who can keep them straight?) It doesn't help that the book follows the tired narration of interleaving chapters from multiple stories. The novel works best at the end, when everyone is brought together and follows a single story.

At the end of the book the author thanks Moorcock for the inspiration of Elric, etc. Which is a nice acknowledgement, but I think I'd rather be reading novels that name-check Delany's Dhalgren for hard-edged gay fantastic fiction. Heck, it's about time for me to read Dhalgren again.

  2009-08-06 23:07 Z