Broken angels Review and Opinion


Broken Angels
Richard Morgan
Gollancz hardcover £17.99

review by Debbie Moon

Takeshi Kovacs, disgraced former Envoy and reluctant mercenary in a dirty war on a backwater planet, is recovering from his wounds when a pilot offers him the opportunity of a lifetime. Many planets are scattered with the remains of 'Martian' civilisation - buildings, carvings, even some useable technology - but the artefact uncovered here is unlike anything mankind has ever seen. It's a gate leading into deep space - and it offers access to a complete, functional, mysteriously deserted 'Martian' starship.
   But a prize like that is going to attract predators. Soon, Kovacs is putting his Envoy mind-control training to good use, playing off sponsors against competitors, outside enemies against traitors in his team. As violence and greed rips fragile alliances apart, Kovacs begins to wonder whether his field commander is right - mankind just isn't ready for the stars...
   SF whiz kid Richard Morgan's second novel is a rollicking adventure with a sharp philosophical edge. Vivid, energetic, and dryly funny, it sketches in a complex backdrop of interstellar politics and corporate rivalry without ever losing the human angle. Mankind can master physics, travel between the stars, and create new bodies for the dead, but simply getting along, on the individual or planetary level, still defeats us - as it may have defeated the 'Martians' before us...
   Kovacs is a convincingly conflicted character, a tired killer fighting instinct and training to maintain some kind of humanity in a world where mass destruction is mundane. There's plenty of action, but there's a sense of stillness at the heart of the book too, the real battles are those Kovacs fights in meetings, conversations, battles of will with allies and enemies. Danger and treachery lurks round every corner, and the final unravelling of who betrayed whom contains a few genuine surprises.
   This is a gripping novel, imaginative and plausible, with a plot that sweeps you along and some big ideas to ponder afterwards. An essential read that confirms Morgan as one of science fiction's finest new writers.

Related item:
tZ Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan - book review

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