Takeshi Kovacs resurfaces on his bleak home planet of Harlan's World in a novel which marks a terrific return to form for Richard Morgan after the rather disappointing Market Forces. Woken Furies mixes violent action, incredibly cool high-tech gadgetry and political philosophy in a story which is somewhat convoluted in its first two thirds but picks up and straightens out nicely later on. Great news for those of us who enjoy our futuristic toys, contains profanity and violence which may put off some. Has its thoughtful moments which lift the book well beyond the category of mere actioner. Highly recommended!
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104 of 109 people found the following review helpful
Better than a Micky Nozawa experia flickNov. 14 2005
John S. Ryan
- Published on Amazon.com
I'd been waiting for quite a while to read this third entry in Richard K. Morgan's series of Takeshi Kovacs novels. It was worth the wait, and in some respects it may be the best of the series so far. Tak travels through some dark, dark territory here.
Don't be fooled (or put off) by the pace. Where _Altered Carbon_ was a rapid series of body blows, _Woken Furies_ is more like being dragged down very slowly by a very large weight. There's a lot going on here, but quite a bit of it is in the background and between the lines. If you don't get into Tak's head pretty early on, the novel may read like a travelogue.
Not that that's necessarily _bad_. Probably a lot of us were curious about Harlan's World, and we get to see quite a bit of it here. We also finally get to put faces (the faces of their current sleeves, anyway) with some familiar names from Tak's past. All of that will probably be interesting enough to entertain the casual reader.
But if that's all you get out of this novel, then you're missing the meat of it.
The surface-level plot opens with Tak on Harlan's World in a synthetic sleeve, trying to get back into his own body. He's also, as we gradually discover, on some sort of mission, the details of which we don't really learn until some 250 pages in. And not too far into the tale, we meet someone who just _might_ turn out to be Quellcrist Falconer . . . or maybe not. Furthermore, Tak is being pursued by a younger version of himself, decanted from a backup copy he didn't know existed. Things build toward a final revelation with implications far, far beyond Quellism and the local politics of Harlan's World.
The pace, though, is generally slow. Oh, things do happen (and people start dying horribly within the first twenty-odd pages), but a lot of the action is off-screen. We spend the bulk of the novel the way we spent most of _Star Trek: The Motion Picture_: Going Somewhere.
The really interesting stuff, and the real, behind-the-narrative content of the novel, is what happens to Tak. I'm not going to give you any more clues about this; I'm just going to warn you to listen with both ears as those titular furies awaken and the possibilities of redemption come and go. There's a lot of internal turmoil going on here, and Tak isn't necessarily going to tell you about it directly. Hell, despite his Envoy training, I'm not sure he's even fully aware of all of it himself.
Readers who keep wanting recycled versions of _Altered Carbon_ will continue to be disappointed, as they were with _Broken Angels_; Morgan clearly isn't going to keep rewriting the same book for us. Now, me, I think that's a good thing.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Opportunity MissedAug. 29 2009
Alvin J. Daniel
- Published on Amazon.com
First, the things I thought were well done 1) Slick, terrific prologue. Sets the stage for fireworks to come. 2) Some great concepts. The decom idea is fantastic (Jurassic Park for war machines), or battling with your younger self.
I wanted to like this book, having read altered carbon and its sequel. But it falls flat on characterization, and I even prefer action to characterization in my novels. He spends 100 pages developing a core group of characters only to have them go poof with nothing more than a cursory one-liner from another character about their fates. The main story motivations for the protagonist like why he wants revenge on the church, or why he becomes angry with the neo-Quellists both turn on two barely characterized individuals (Sarah and Isa). Why are they so important? Here was material for gripping reading, but he only spends 1-2 paragraphs on each, completely out of proportion to how much impact they have on the protagonists actions. Midway through the book, yet another core group of characters get introduced. Do I care at this point? Will they suffer the same one-line fate as the first group? Really, they exist simply as props. Even the antagonists are simply not characterized. There are almost no immediate scenes with them.
Even the main attraction, the battle with his younger self is wasted. Again, this would seem to be material for intense dialog and action. Instead they trade a few barbed quips with each other at the few points when they actually do meet, hardly the stuff of drama.
There are other problems, like too much authorial intrusion to provide social commentary. I wouldn't mind if there was a gripping story, but without one I found myself skipping swaths of text to get back to the main thread.
Unfortunately, as much as I enjoyed his earlier books I don't think I will be going back to this author. There are simply too many other good reads out there.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Ten stars, at least!Oct. 10 2005
Michael K. Smith
- Published on Amazon.com
It's always a delight to find an author who creates characters in three dimensions instead of the more usual two; Morgan seems to stretch his people to five or six. This is the third novel in the series about Takeshi Kovacs, ex-Envoy, stone killer, freelance renegade, and very dangerous man to be on the wrong side of. It's been three centuries, objective time, and Kovacs is back on Harlan's World, where he originally came from. It's also been a couple of centuries since the Resettlement, the failed Quellist revolution that gave the Harlan family oligarchy a run for its money, and Kovacs -- who only wants to continue killing fundamentalist priests (it's personal) -- finds himself caught up, first, in the attempt to reclaim the nanoware-drenched continent the revolution produced, and, later, in a new revolutionary plot. Because it's part of Quell's teachings, that when things go against you, you retreat and you wait -- for generations, if necessary. But now, just maybe, Quellquist Falconer might be back, in the flesh. But that's just this novel's top-level plot. There's also Kovacs's vendetta against those who let die the only woman who mattered to him -- Real Death, no resleeving. And there's his longstanding relationships with the several criminal cultures of Harlan's World, and with his old Envoy trainer. Not to even mention being hunted by a younger, smart-assed version of himself. And, just out of sight, there are the vanished Martians, about whom we learned a lot in Morgan's second book, Broken Angels. There's military and political philosophy here, all of it cynical, there's imaginative anthropology, there's a certain amount of gruff sex, there are some great quotes, there's considerable death (some deserved, some not), and there are breath-grabbing battle scenes like you haven't read in years. Morgan's second Kovacs novel was twice as good as his first. This one is three times as good as his second. If this one doesn't win both the Hugo and the Nebula, there's no justice. But, hey -- Kovacs already knows that.
PS -- I was astonished a previous reviewer compared this to Bester's _The Stars My Destination_. A great book, don't get me wrong (I even own a First Edition copy of it), but Gully Foyle is pretty and pale and poetic beside the dark and blistering Takeshi Kovacs!
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I'd give 6 stars if I couldSept. 29 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
I have to admit, I'm hooked. I can't get enough of Richard Morgan's distopian future. I was so eager to read Woken Furies that I arranged to get a copy from Great Britain (because it was released months earlier than in the US). I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Like Altered Carbon and Broken Angels, it treats you to a highly-charged whirlwind of a story centered on the activities of Takeshi Kovacs.
In this episode, a Yakuza family have hired an earlier version of himself to track him down. Complicating matters are a personal vendetta against a particularly vicious religious group, and a woman who may (or may not) be a re-embodied revolutionary named Quellcrist Falconer.
I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that you see more of Kovacs' humanity than in previous novels. NOT that Woken Furies is a "group-hug" kind of book. Far from it. In fact, Kovacs seems even more violent and misanthropic than in the first two books. However, we understand "why" a bit more and we see more of the effects 2 centuries of war and crime have had on him.
Kovacs has firmly established himself as my new favorite literary character. As in his other 2 Takeshi Kovacs novels, Richard Morgan gives us a character of suprising depth and humanity that is still capable of incredible savagery; in addition to a perfectly-realized vision of a future in which technology hasn't eliminated war or crime, but has grown with it.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Worth the payoff at the endDec 14 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
Before I read the last 100 pages of this book, I would have given it 3 stars. Woken Furies suffers from a common affliction among many sci-fi series: same-samey-ness. Once you're introduced to the world, the technologies, the aliens, whatever, unless the author can keep the creative curve balls coming (Peter Hamilton often has the ability to keep things fresh), the joy and surprise of discovery quickly fades. And so it goes with Woken Furies. Two thirds of the way through and I thought Harlan's World just wasn't different enough from Venice Beach to keep me riveted. And assembling the deCom team, going into battle, using the cybertech - I might as well have been re-reading Broken Angels, Morgan's best by far.
BUT! Just when I was resigned my disappointment, the last few chapters cranked the book out of its nose dive. Morgan lets loose with some Big Ideas, and the final showdown is spectacular fun. Sci-fi writers often have problems ending their books (Stephenson, Gibson anyone?), but Morgan always ends with a satisfying crunch, and this one wrapped up the nicest of them all.
A word of warning - this is by far the most violent book I have ever read, and that includes Morgan's previous books. If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. And Morgan's graphic sex scenes seem gratuitous and perfunctory to the point of being boring porn.
In Morgan's favor, as usual his prose is taut as a drum and hits hard. Characterization has always been his strong point, and this is perhaps his best: Kovacs's anger seethes off every page. The self-loathing loose cannon may be a cliché, but with Kovacs you can feel it, to the point where character is basically a psychotic serial-killer, and you're right there with him.
I think Morgan was wise to retire Kovacs with this novel. One more and the sameyness would have made the series a bore. (I've given up on Hamilton and Reynolds for that reason - I get it already.) If you're a fan of the Kovacs books, this is definitely worth some tedium (albeit entertaining tedium) to get to the payoff. I'm looking forward to what Morgan will do next.