Clash of Iron (The Iron Age Trilogy) by Angus Watson
|Clash of Iron (The Iron Age Trilogy) by Angus Watson|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Ok, so Dug, Lowa and Spring now have Maidun Castle but everybody else wants it too and the Romans are still coming! The second in the Iron Age historical fantasy series is as gripping, bloody, swear-busting and entertaining as the first, badgers bits and all!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 560||Date: April 2015|
|External links: Author's website|
Warning: this contains spoilers for Book 1 (Age of Iron (The Iron Age Trilogy) by Angus Watson|Age of Iron)
Lowa is now queen at Maidun Castle as she, Dug the reluctant (but highly effective) warrior and his young ward Spring attempt to defend it from the local tribes chancing their arm. Spring seems to have lost her magic but hopefully this is only temporary. There are bigger worries however; Lowa knows that the Romans will come and so sends Ragnall and Dunstan, former prince and his druid tutor Durstan to Rome on a mission to gather intelligence about the enemy. Unfortunately things don't go to plan on either front!
British author, journalist and new dad, Angus Watson once again produces a novel that will send the squeamish running in the opposite direction but that means all the more blood, guts, and a cracking good read for the rest of us.
In his notes at the end Angus warns us that, although the Roman sections are well researched, we shouldn't use anything in this darkly humoured gut-ripping trilogy for exam fodder. This is interesting as there are little bits we come across while in Rome that seem to drift from the interesting factoid over to the feeling-like-a-lesson. However these moments are very few and very far between, any tiny dot of doubt being more than eradicated by a superlative whole.
Please don’t misunderstand me by the way: the Romans are still definitely coming and getting closer to Dug, Lowa, Spring et al (more of the et als later) but not here yet. Instead some of our heroes get to travel.
Ragnall and Durstan's mission doesn't stop at Rome as much more of Europe beckons (I won't say in which context) while others tramp across ancient Britain and Ireland to gather promises and treaties. One of these is former general and new Drumonian leader Bruxon who isn't enjoying his position at all.
Besides our trusty surviving core characters from last time (and one or two not so trusty) we also meet some wonderfully unforgettable new people. The deliciously feisty, funny Kapiana from Wesont will definitely stick in the memory but my favourite newbie is Ari the Fister.
He may not sound like a king, but royal he is, meaning all his whims and odd hobbies must be catered for. Meanwhile the will they/won't they love story between Dug and the now Queen Lowa continues.
That's not all though; Angus proves that he doesn't just do memorable characters. Some of his set pieces will remain with me a while and some possibly forever. The latter category includes such gems as the bloodiest form of handshake ever devised and what it's like to be on the wrong side of a live human burial (live as in the interred isn’t dead when it starts). The re-appearance of an old nemesis, this time in the role of Caesar's chief advisor is also nail-bitingly-clever and sets the story up really well for next time.
As for that ending, Mr Watson...!! I won't give anything away but if you could read my emotional tachygraph afterwards, it would look something like stunned shock to sorrow to devastation to happy tears to loss to feeling that there may be a trick up a certain author's sleeve. We'll soon find out: at the end, publishers Orbit request us to look out for Reign of Iron (Book 3). As if they need have ask!
(A bit thank you to Orbit for providing us with a copy for review. We also have a review of book three.)
Further Reading: As always with seconds in the series, do please read the first first. If you've done that or would just like more novels that combine a faux history with fantasy, we also heartily recommend Son of the Morning by Mark Alder.
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