Broken Angels (novel)

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Broken Angels
Broken Angels cover (Amazon).jpg
Author Richard K. Morgan
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Takeshi Kovacs
Genre Science fiction novel
Publisher Victor Gollancz Ltd
Publication date
20 March 2003
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 400 pp (Hardback),
366 pp (Paperback)
ISBN 0-575-07323-3 (Hardcover),
ISBN 0-345-45771-4 (Paperback)
OCLC 51271661
Preceded by Altered Carbon
Followed by Woken Furies

Broken Angels is a military science fiction novel by Richard Morgan. It is the sequel to Altered Carbon, and is followed by Woken Furies.


Some 30 years after Altered Carbon, Takeshi Kovacs is now serving in Carrera's Wedge, a mercenary organisation which joins a corporate war on a distant colony, Sanction IV, and fights the rebellion against the corporate-sponsored government. While having his latest body repaired after a disastrous campaign, Kovacs is approached by pilot Jan Schneider, who is looking for protection for an expedition to exploit a Martian artefact discovered just before the war broke out. "Martian" artefacts have been known for many years at this point, one of them being featured in Altered Carbon. Later it is realised that the "Martians" were not from Mars, but were a technologically advanced species that left artefacts on many planets, including Mars and Kovacs' home world.

The artefact, located in the middle of the war zone, is actually a portal linked to a point in outer space where a Martian starship lies. Kovacs and Schneider formulate a plan to recover the portal and begin by rescuing Tanya Wardani, the archaeologist who coordinated the pre-war dig, from a prison camp. Unable to reach the heavily contested location alone, Kovacs enlists the support of one of the major companies involved in feeding the war, the Mandrake Corporation, which is represented by an executive named Matthias Hand.

Kovacs and Hand buy hundreds of soldiers' stacks from "The Soul Market" and from them select an elite squad for the expedition. Hand secretly leaks information that prompts the rebels to drop nuclear bombs on the city of Sauberville close to the site, which clears the site of opposing forces and the recovery expedition begins.

Near the artefact, an abandoned fishing boat is found with two dead bodies, drifting in its net. The artefact is a wormhole gate that allows instantaneous transport to an outer area of the Sanction star system where an ancient Martian warship is adrift. The archaeologist starts her work to translate the Martian "technoglyphs" on the artefact to activate it. While awaiting Wardani's progress, the party are slowly being poisoned by radioactive fallout from the blast. During their first night at the dig site, an unknown member of the party attempts to sabotage the mission by using a corrosion grenade to destroy equipment aboard their shuttle.

Upon securing the area, they encounter a group of nanodes – microscopic machines that can assemble into an intelligent composite machine able to learn how to defend itself once attacked in a process like evolution. Hand reveals to Kovacs that nanodes were deployed by a rival representative of the Mandrake Corporation in an attempt to secure the site. The nanodes evolve into more and more aggressive forms which attack the squad several times, eventually killing two members. During the last and strongest attack by nanodes, Tanya succeeds in opening the portal which, when confronted by the nanodes, deactivates them.

The party goes through the portal and finds a huge and inactive Martian starship, along with the bodies of Tanya's original archaeological team. Kovacs' squad enters the starship to place an ownership claim buoy inside. Kovacs notices that Schneider is free from radiation sickness. When confronted he escapes in the shuttle, killing another member in the process. Unknown to Schneider, Kovacs had mined the shuttle to explode on gate re-entry, apparently eliminating the mission's traitor.

During their exploration, the Martian starship is attacked by an unknown starship which causes its automated defence systems to come online. During the attack the party begins to experience visions and emotions from the dead Martians and comes close to madness. Hand realises the danger and orders Kovacs to shoot the others with a stunning weapon to render them unconscious.

After the battle is over, the Wedge rescues and then imprisons the remaining members of the squad as one of them is wanted as a traitor by the Wedge. By this point Kovacs has become completely loyal to his new squad and retains no allegiance to the Wedge. During the traitor's torture, he is able to free his squad and kill the entire Wedge unit, apart from Carrera, who manages to escape through the portal. Despite being almost dead from radiation exposure, Kovacs follows him through and kills him.

Kovacs realises that Wardani sabotaged the first archaeological expedition after discovering that her team wanted to use the Martian ship as a weapon. She was responsible for the two corpses on the fishing boat and for closing the portal behind the others. She also destroyed the equipment in the shuttle to prevent the team from finding out what happened. Tanya confesses everything to Kovacs and decides to stay and oversee the recovery of the portal, while Kovacs trades the rights to the Martian ship for safe passage out of the war zone for the surviving members of his team, who leave for the Latimer system.

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