Age of Iron by Angus Watson

September 2, 2014
Age of Iron by Angus WatsonAge of Iron by Angus Watson
Series: Iron Age #1
Also by this author: Clash of Iron
Published by Orbit on September 2nd 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 522
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Also in this series: Clash of Iron

Thanks to Orbit for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Bloodthirsty druids and battle-hardened Iron Age warriors collide in the biggest epic fantasy debut release of 2014.


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.



  • Lynn September 2, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Haha, what a brilliantly ace review – I think we can be firm friends because I agree with it ALL!
    I thought this was such a good book – there were parts in it that were definitely a bit near the knuckle but there was just something in the way that the author handled it. I loved the sense of humour – and Spring has got to be one of my favourite characters. I loved the whole part where she throws a tantrum – so funny!
    Lynn 😀
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  • Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum September 2, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Okay, that’s it, I am pushing this one to the top of the list. Both you and Lynn loved it, which is a good sign I will too. I love your list of people who would not like this book, too funny. The only thing that would probably bother me there is the anachronisms. Modern slang especially makes my teeth grind (reading The Broken Eye right now and I’d forgotten how much Brent Weeks’ liberal use of the word “butt” drives me crazy)! But let’s hope it’s not too bad here.
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    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) September 3, 2014 at 8:11 am

      It was a really fun read. Love all 3 characters and the dynamics between them. Definitely don’t let my mention of anachronisms turn you off it, just know ahead of time that the speech is more modern. The author actually left a great response about this, so check it out.
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  • Nathan (@reviewbarn) September 3, 2014 at 12:18 am


    Preferably with some of the anachronisms edited out by the time I get to it. But still, WANT.
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    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) September 3, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      Maybe if you go into knowing the style of speech is more of a translation to modern speech, it will work better for you than those books that try to sound medieval, then randomly throw in a few modern words.
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  • Angus Watson September 3, 2014 at 5:49 am

    Don’t think I’m meant to comment here, since I wrote the book and am biased, but about the anachronistic language – I reckon a lot of people would have used slang in the Iron Age, and surely they did have a word or phrase for OK, so, when it’s applicable to the character, I’ve used slang, including OK. Alternatives would have been to write the whole thing in ancient British Celtic, which might have been inaccessible to the modern reader, or to stick a few forsooths, prithees and milords in, which I reckon is just dumb… I think this is very different from something like Downtown Abbey when a character says ‘get over yourself’ or similar and it grates. I’m not trying to recreate ancient Celtic, I’m translating it wholly and utterly, and that includes the slang.

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) September 3, 2014 at 7:59 am

      Actually, I am glad you replied! And I love your response/reasoning. The anachronisms didn’t bother me at all, and you’re right, it does feel different than a mix. The speech had a very consistent feel. I’m actually going to add a little note in my post asking people to read your comment/reasoning down here because I think you make an excellent point. I know they can really irk some readers, so I wound up including it in my list, but hopefully I didn’t come across so harsh as to turn them off of it without trying it for themselves.
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    • Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum September 3, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      I’m glad you commented to clarify as well, your reasoning makes sense. I understand the need to modernize language (you’re right, I wouldn’t have taken well to recreated ancient Celtic!) and I don’t mind it as long as the modernized translation is done well, and if the anachronisms aren’t rampant – for example, for one medieval type fantasy I once read, I would have much preferred it if the author had used the term “refuse bin” instead of the word choice of “trashcan”, but it was like one little trivial detail and I still loved the book.

      To be honest, I don’t think the anachronisms will bother me that much in Age of Iron (as long as it’s “ass”, “arse”, “backside”, “rear”, “rump”, just anything but the word “butt” 😉 ), not when there’s so much else that sounds absolutely awesome.

  • Angus Watson September 3, 2014 at 5:54 am

    Should also say – Thanks for taking time to read Age of Iron, for the great review, and for the excellent list of people who won’t enjoy the book.

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) September 3, 2014 at 8:03 am

      Thanks so much for stopping by! and glad you are happy with the review. Loved the book and am looking forward to the next one! 🙂
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  • Danya @ Fine Print September 4, 2014 at 9:02 am

    You loved this one? What a surprise, Lisa! 😉 Hahaha, but really though, it sounds like a lot of fun and right up your alley. I definitely do NOT hate bright and mysterious little girls, but I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to violence….I might have to wait until the second volume is released to think about diving into this series.
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  • Mark from SciFi365 September 4, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I haven’t read this yet, but pretty much every review I’ve come across has mentioned the ‘descriptions of women’s bodies’ thing, which I personally think is a slightly weird thing to fixate on. I like me some of that edgy, dark humour though as there’s far too many books in this genre that are relentlessly grim (pun intended!)

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) September 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      Yeah, it’s not something that typically bothers me, but I know books can catch a lot of criticism for it. This is not nearly as grim feeling as some, felt it had an excellent balance, and the past was strong through out.
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  • Carmel @ Rabid Reads September 5, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Your list of cautions is basically me in a nutshell, but I’d already scratched this one off my list before reading your review because another blogger posted about it earlier today, so I knew what to expect when I made my way here. Mind you, you went into a lot more details which only helped to further cement my decision to pass on Age of Iron. However, as a lover of Fantasy, I am happy that you enjoyed this debut. 🙂
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    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) September 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      Ah well, best to know before trying it. A variety of books and readers is what keeps the genre interesting 🙂 We don’t all have to like everything (I know I have my preferences).
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  • Tabitha (Not Yet Read) September 9, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Oh man I totally needed that chuckle from your “people who should read with caution” section. Who doesn’t like violence!???