October 20, 2014

Review: The Dark Defiles

The Dark Defiles Book three of Land Fit for Heroes
By Richard K. Morgan
Available now from Del Rey (Penguin Random House)
Review copy

I'll be the first to say that I'm not a big grimdark fantasy fan.  I like more optimistic worlds.  And yet, I adore the Land Fit for Heroes trilogy.  It follows the adventures of Ringil, Egar Dragonbane, and Archteth, old war hero friends who get drawn back through a long and winding road for one last quest.

When THE DARK DEFILES opens, right after THE COLD COMMANDS ends, they are being separated again thanks to a sudden war and an ambush.  It's the final push for what the various greater powers in play have put into motion.

Richard K. Morgan doesn't give all the answers to his world, but he does give enough to satisfy me.  Nor does he give all of the endings.  However, it is clear enough where the characters are going for me.  Ringil, Egar, and Archteth are all sharply drawn characters, even if their world has deliberately shaded edges.  All of them meet ends that they can be content with.

I don't recommend this series to everyone.  The heroes, such as they are, commit almost as many crimes as the villains.  They are cruel, vengeful people.  At the same time, they aren't fans of slavery or mass murder or the extinction of the humans, which is something most readers can get behind.  It isn't a series with many happy endings, either.  Do not expect your favorite characters to escape unscathed.

But if you like intelligent fantasy that asks you to put the pieces together yourself, characters who are loyal to their friends even in desperate circumstances, and small snatches of love piercing the hardest hearts, then I recommend this trilogy.  The ending did not let me down.  I only wish I had time to re-read the trilogy and savor it altogether.

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