15 May, 2009

Review: Broken Angels, by R. K. Morgan

     Broken Angels (2003) is the second book by Richard K. Morgan in the Takeshi Kovacs series, a hard bitting military science fiction adventure that, once again, is sure to leave you breathless.

The Setup

     Broken Angles follows on the action packed Altered Carbon, and it can easily be read as a standalone book. In Broken Angels, we once again find Takeshi Kovacs hard at work trying not to get killed. This time around, the action centers on the discovery of an ancient Martian door that may very well lead to the greatest technological and archeological find in human history. The only problem is that Sanction IV is embroiled in a full out war, and both sides want a piece of the find. Cutthroat corporate executive, re-sleeved black ops operatives, and nano-tech gone rogue make the second installment in the Takeshi Kovacs series one not to be missed. If you enjoyed Altered Carbon, then you are going to love Broken Angels.

My Take in Brief

     Takeshi Kovacs is a brilliantly constructed character. I am hooked to the tension created by his Envoy training and his individuality. That said, Broken Angles is definitely more formulaic than Altered Carbon, and seems to lack some of the grit and realism present in its predecessor. That doesn't make it a poor read, quite the contrary in fact. I attribute that mostly to this book not being set on Old Earth, a setting to which the plot and action were central last time, as opposed to this installment where the setting on Sanction IV appears secondary. The fact that most of the action takes place on a beachhead doesn't help matters much.
     That said, I really enjoyed this book, with its earthy realism and extended cast of secondary characters. Mr. Morgan is quite the expert at brining to life new characters in as few words as possible. Sadly, he is also quite the expert at getting them killed in fairly gruesome ways as well. As usual, nothing is quite what it seems in the world of Takeshi Kovacs, so be ready for the plot to kick into overdrive and leave you gasping for breath as you are pressed down into your reading chair.
     Here is a blurb from Mr. Morgan himself:

"A deeper and darker excursion into the Kovacs universe, more detail on the politics of the Protectorate, the Martians and the Archaeologue Guild. A planetary war, a paradigm-shattering discovery and a journey into the inner reaches of Takeshi's trauma-ridden consciousness.

"If there was ultimately something clean at the end of Altered Carbon, Broken Angels offers no such comfort. You're just lucky if you get out alive. Focus called it 'nasty', and they were right."
  • Boom, squish, splash, crunch.
  • Awesome pace and tempo.
  • I mean come on, its Takeshi Kovacs!
  • The "paradigm-shattering" discovery. It is really cool, no joke.
  • Angry, and self-evolving nano technology.
  • A certain lack of detail in the setting.
  • Slightly formulaic.
  • Again, slightly deus ex, but much cleaner than last time.
Your Take

     I am really curious to see that people though about Broken Angels. I loved the first book, even though it left me feeling like I just avoided a car accident on the highway, and sincerely enjoyed this one as well. Sadly I bought Market Forces thinking it would be another Takeshi Kovacs novel, only to find out it wasn't---its still pretty decent so far though. So, which did you like better: Broken Angels or Altered Carbon?

Ratings and Links

Amazon: 4/5
B&N: 3.5/5
My Rating: 3.8/5

A great review of Broken Angels by MentatJack.
A spot on interview with Richard Morgan by Clarkesworld Magazine.

Piqued Your Interest?

     I love the Takeshi Kovacs series so far and most definitely plan to pick up the third installment soon, so expect a review of that. In the meantime make sure to pick up Altered Carbon if you haven't already, because you are going to love Broken Angels.


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Anonymous said...

I seem to be one of the few people who actually liked Broken Angels better than Altered Carbon. But don't ask why - I haven't been able to figure it out yet.