Age of Iron by Angus Watson
Series: Iron Age #1
Also by this author: Clash of Iron
Published by Orbit on September 2nd 2014
Also in this series: Clash of Iron
Bloodthirsty druids and battle-hardened Iron Age warriors collide in the biggest epic fantasy debut release of 2014.
LEGENDS AREN'T BORN. THEY'RE FORGED.
Dug Sealskinner is a down-on-his-luck mercenary travelling south to join up with King Zadar's army. But he keeps rescuing the wrong people.
First, Spring, a child he finds scavenging on the battlefield, and then Lowa, one of Zadar's most fearsome warriors, who's vowed revenge on the king for her sister's execution.
Now Dug's on the wrong side of that thousands-strong army he hoped to join - and worse, Zadar has bloodthirsty druid magic on his side. All Dug has is his war hammer, one rescued child and one unpredictable, highly-trained warrior with a lust for revenge that's going to get them all killed . . .
It's a glorious day to die.
This was a very down and dirty, gripping, enjoyable read. It is dark, twisted, funny and exciting. Despite that, this is going to be a really hard review to write. I enjoyed it. Actually, I really enjoyed it. But the interesting thing is, while reading I could pick out things that I think other people may complain about. So, do I ignore them, since I don’t really care? Or do I let people know, since am sure some readers will. I decided to go with a list of who I think should read this book at their own risk. I’m certainly not going to tell them to not read it, because, like I said, I found it to be a really good story.
Who should read this book with caution?
- People who are easily offended by descriptions of women’s bodies. Personally, I never felt it was out of line in this book, I didn’t feel the women were objectified. But were there descriptions of the female form? Yes. If that bugs you, well prepare yourself. Now you know and can choose to read at your own risk of being outraged.
- People who don’t like to laugh at dark humor. I don’t know who these people might be, but if humor that comes from a dark place or sarcasm, or self-deprecation bothers you, well, I have to wonder why you are reading my blog. I love this stuff. And you probably won’t get this book.
- People who are easily disturbed by deranged characters. If you lose sleep at night easily when reading about twisted individuals who get their jollies in depraved ways, well, you might not want to read this book.
- People who don’t enjoy seeing women excel in battle. What? You think only men can be useful in battle? Well, then, you are not my friend. And you might not enjoy this book.
- People who are unsettled by violence. Don’t want to hear about a skull getting crushed under the weight of a war hammer? This may not be the book for you.
- People who hate bright and mysterious little girls. If you are the type to dislike orphans (and probably kick puppies in your free time), then this book might irk you.
- People who are quite bothered by anachronisms. I’m not an expert here, but I am fairly sure OK was not word in the Iron Age. I’m not sure how many anachronisms there are in this book, but in general, the speech just felt modern to me. I don’t mind, it was easy and fun to read, but I know some do. If it’s something you tend to bellyache about, prepare yourself for it. *** The author was kind enough to leave a very nice and reasoned response to this point, please take a moment to read it in the comments section below because I think he makes an excellent point.
There, that’s out of the way. Now I can move away from my anticipated reaction of some others to what I care about with my review, this is about my reaction.
There are several things really going for this book. First. I love the characters. Dug, Lowa and Spring are all fascinating, strong characters. You could flip between any of them, and I’d be happy because at the end of this book, I want more of all of them. I love when a story features multiple characters and I can’t pick a favorite because I just love them all. That was definitely the case here.
The humor is another strong aspect of this. Like many of the successful grimdark authors, Watson is able to balance the horrific aspects of his story and world with some dark edged humor that lightens things up and makes everything more palatable.
I do want to mention, this is a fantastical story, and as such sometimes has moments that require a little bit stronger suspension of disbelief. But that’s fine since the story is so fun. Some of the characters, especially antagonists, almost seem like caricatures, but they are fun to read, and in my opinion do not take it too far. And the main characters are all so enjoyable.
As for magic, it is still lighter on fantasy than a Sanderson book, but I don’t think it is as low magic as many of the popular grimdark books. That’s not a bad thing, just an observation.
My only complaint, and it is minor, is that at times I felt the “Slavery and oppression are bad …. mmm’Kay?” message was a bit heavy handed. Often less is more, and for me personally, I felt it would have been a stronger book if parts of it were trimmed to sound a bit less …. preachy for lack of a better word. And this is MINOR! It was by no means a preachy book, it just maybe dwelled on this particular message a tiny bit more than I would have liked.
Overall, I have to say this is a great debut, the next one is firmly on my TBR list as I look forward to continuing the adventure with Dug, Lowa and Spring.