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Reading: Woken Furies

Woken Furies
Woken Furies by Richard K. Morgan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The third Takeshi Kovacs novel, and currently the final one. He’s come back to his home planet of Harlan’s World, and as the book begins he’s deeply entrenched in a personal quest of brutal, pointless vengeance. Things go awry and he’s stuck in a cheap synthetic sleeve and tagging along with a group of networked mercenaries, who spend their time fighting machine creatures on a continent completely overrun with them.

Woken Furies develops a lot of threads that ran through the previous two books. Kovacs’ life on Harlan’s World informed many of his decisions in those books and a lot of the time he would process each new situation through analogies to people, places and events from back home. While he’s been gone long enough to be a stranger he’s still more at home there than he ever was on Earth or Sanction IV.

Through Altered Carbon and Broken Angels Kovacs repeatedly drew upon the words of two people, the angry philosophy of Harlan’s World revolutionary Quellcrist Falconer and the calmer advice of his Envoy mentor Virginia Vidaura. Virginia is alive and well on Harlan’s World, an ex-Envoy like him, allowing them to reunite and relate to one another in ways that possibly no other people on the entire planet would understand. Quell, meanwhile, is rumoured to be back from the dead. That’s almost impossible because of the way she died, but the setting’s consciousness-storing technology means it’s plausible enough to convince people who want to believe it, and soon Kovacs is caught up in a new revolution.

Quell and her die-hard supporters serve as one interpretation of the book’s title, the revolutionary spirit rekindled after generations of dormancy, something Quell herself had said would happen and would prove to be the only way to ever win their battle. The other woken fury and enduring series thread is that of Takeshi Kovacs himself. Kovacs had already left the Envoy Corps before the events of the first book, due to what happened on the planet of Innenin and the handling of its aftermath. It left him a completely different person to who he was before those events, which is proven when somebody revives a long-stored backup of the young Kovacs and sets him on the trail of his older self. The young Kovacs has a confidence and clarity of purpose that his older self has lacked for a long time, but he lacks almost all of the experiences that define the older Kovacs (who almost accidentally adopts a different name, which helps get around the confusion of the presence of a second Takeshi Kovacs).

Woken Furies sees Kovacs brought lower than he has been at any point in the series, completely devoid of purpose or a plan. He has his quest for vengeance but has long-since punished everybody who was directly responsible and is now just going after the organisation itself and gaining little satisfaction. The closest thing he has to friends is a group of old comrades and convicted criminals, who are now Quellist revolutionaries and don’t even like him that much because of what he did on Sanction IV (and some of those events still trouble him as well). He manipulates them to get what he wants but is very upfront about it, and is then further disappointed when they get sucked into the manipulation anyway. As the book approaches its finale he’s close to being completely broken and beyond caring whether he achieves his goals or not.

Kovacs is a brilliant character, and the book gives him a certain sense of closure, or at least brings so much of his story to some sort of conclusion that it serves as an end if Morgan really never does return to him for another book. Altered Carbon is still my favourite of the three but Woken Furies is an excellent book and takes second place.

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