The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams
|The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: This, the sequel to The Copper Promise, is even better. Seb, Wydrin and Frith are sell-swords on another mission but they don't seem to have been told everything! Heroic fantasy in which to soak sublimely.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 544||Date: February 2015|
|External links: Author's website|
Wydrin of Crosshaven, Sir Sebastian and Lord Aaron Frith, the team of sell-swords now known as the Black Feather Three are employed by the people of Skaldshollow to steal back the heartstone from the Narhl. To the Shalds it's the means of making stone live; to the Narhls it's the very spirit of the mountain so where does that leave our adventurers? Not long to think about that as there seems to be an increase in mystic occurrences across the world and also a young assassin is polishing off entire families. Why? One thing that's clear is that Seb, Wydrin and Frith will get involved eventually… involved right up to their necks. The other thing they will see with clarity is that an old adversary is back and this time he's brought a friend!
Fantasy author and game designer Jen Williams has done a Den Patrick. I'd best explain! Like Den's first in trilogy The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, Jen's last novel and her first novel in this trilogy The Copper Promise is good and flowing with originality. And now, again like that of her publishing stable mate and cat sitter Mr Patrick, the second in the series has completely blown me away.
Ooh by the way, before I start there may be spoilers for Book 1 so please go away and read that first.
Our trio are once again proving to be perfect foils for each other. Wydrin's dry wit in the face of danger (and there is plenty of danger!) hides something that's gradually revealed this time out. Seb also gets a chance to display a more private side of his nature whereas Frith… oh bless him! Aaron Frith is as irascible as ever, which is quite a trick considering he spends this book in a whole heap of mage-or trouble. (Yes, awful pun but the book blurb itself started it!) However even he gets a moment to reveal a softer side.
A warning to for the squeamish: in among the high adventure we're ambushed from time to time by gory horror – like that scene at the end of Part 1 of this episode. (No, find out for yourself!) I loved it but thought I should mention it just in case.
The chapters taking us on the current mission are interspersed with chapters relating Seb's life with the reformed Brood Sisters, offspring of the evil dragon Y'Ruen from The Copper Promise. He's training them in the ways of knightly civilisation and through this Jen raises some interesting questions on the rights, wrongs and acceptable extent of pacifism. Although we may smile at the banter and wince on Seb's behalf at some of the results, the author presents the ethical dilemma both unflinchingly and unpreachingly.
Jen is just as unpreachy when she once again shows us how fantasy reflects the era in which it was written. This time the environment is jeopardised for the sake of a mineral, albeit a very special one that causes wars. (Sounding familiar?)
The goodies may be good but baddies are good too in that they're particularly evil. I won't name the two humanoids so as not to spoil the surprise; however there is another form of nastiness. If you enjoy fearing creepy crawlies, fill your boots!
Not all the creatures are on the wrong side though – I defy anyone not to love the werken and one in particular.
This is heroic fantasy at its most tender, fun, adrenaline saturated, poignant, bloody best. Book 3 is eagerly awaited but before it arrives, I have one question for the author: Jen? Why not Cliff?
(A huge thank you to Headline for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: I would be remiss in my duty if I didn't point you towards Den Patrick's increasingly excellent trilogy. If you've read that and want to continue the heroic fantasy sell sword vibe, Theft of Swords by Michael J Sullivan also comes highly recommended.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams at Amazon.com.
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