Set 30 years after Altered Carbon, Broken Angels follows the mercenary Takeshi Kovacs as he takes advantage of the cover of a corporate-run war to try to capture the most significant alien artifact ever uncovered. You don't have you have read Altered Carbon to read this book, but it will help set up parts of the overall universe which could be helpful.
In the Broken Angels future, humanity has made it to the stars, given a kick start by some information found in artifacts left by a much older race on Mars. Unfortunately the future is run by corporations who use private armies to jockey for profitable positions. Mix in the ability to move people's minds between artificially grown, genetically enhanced bodies, and another few hundred years weapons development, and you get an exposive combination.
Kovacs is an ex-soldier now working freelance. He has been through specialist psychological training giving him the ability to predict other's moves, influence them, and have no moral qualms about killing. Basically, he's a super-psychopath who can do whatever he likes.
Kovacs has tried to give up on parts of his past, but still uses his training to take whatever advtange he can. Broken Angels starts with him in a combat engineered body working in a war he wants to get out of, when he hears about a hidden alien artifact which can lead him to an alien ship large enough to set him up to get out of the war with a healthy pay-packet. To get his pay-out, he's going to have to rely on several people he's never met before, and manipulate a corporation in to helping get what he wants, and convince them it's not easier to kill him, or at least keep trying to.
The character development centres mainly around Kovacs and two of the other characters, it didn't feel quite as deep as in Morgan's first book, but Kovacs is internally trying to deal with more refined issues than he does in Altered Carbon so adds depth to his character as he gradually comes to terms with what his training and past has made him.
I found Broken Angels much better paced than Altered Carbon. Although both have hyper-violence, it isn't used as much in Broken Angels, which I felt made it a better read, although there is still plenty of it for action-fans. In fact, I'd even put in a warning: Broken Angels can get a bit graphic in the descriptions of the violence. In fact, not a bit, a lot. This is certainly not a book to read if you're feeling a bit squeamish, or just don't want to deal with brief phases of multiple murders.
A mixture of plotting, hyper-violence, politics, philosophy and psychology, Broken Angels is a well paced action science fiction novel which is well worth a look.
Review by Paul Silver, 2004
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