Reviews: A Land Fit For Heroes

Brilliant, but not perfect

Let's start with the bad:

  • Richard Morgan writes more for his characters than for his readers in this series, meaning that you have to binge read it with your full attention. A lot happens off screen including a major character introduction, characters with throwaway roles in one book turn into major players in the next and a few major plot points are laregly left to subtext. You'll need a fresh memory and a keen mind because Morgan isn't going to hold your hand here.

  • The dedication to grimdark works as much against the book as it does for it. As is to be expected, there is an absolutely charming lack of weight given to the sexual violence and slavery that is used as short hand for evil. Keeping the heroes in the usual macho Anti-Hero boxes harms the characters, especially Ringil. His march towards a darker morality seems more token than anything else, as he never displays a softer side to be ruined. Much of the character motivations in general are supposedly based on romantic relationships, but since Egar and Noyal Rakan are the only characters bringing more facets to their relationships other than sex and normal conversation, I found myself unable to tell soulmates from fuckbuddies in this series and as a result found some of the more dramatic moments more headscratching than gripping.

  • The aforementioned inability to elaborate when needed turned the grand finale into something of an Ass Pull. Lots of stuff is introduced late in the game, so where your line goes is a matter of taste, but chances are that it will be crossed in the final book. Mine apparetly goes at the final scene of a character arc.

  • And yeah, Morgan is obviously too much in love with the margins and the laws it follows.

But don't give up yet, because the good stuff is really good:

  • None of these faults are to lazyness. The world building is amazing, with language evolution, ambiguous history and backstory to feed huge universe, had the trilogy not flopped.

  • Morgan can give a mook or a big bad one line and make them heartbreakingly relatable. There is nothing black and white here.

  • Clever writing: each POV gets exactly the puzzle pieces they don't need, but the reader sees the full picture.

  • I'd read the whole series again just for the helmsmen. They're that awesome.

So go read! The frustration is worth it.