Thursday, 7 August 2014

Review: Age of Iron by Angus Watson

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.
Reading Format: Kindle eBook
Year Read: 2014
Star Rating: 4.5 stars

I was really excited to receive this book through NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review.

Badgers Cocks! That was a good read! No I am not making up new expletives but it is one that Dug, one of the main characters in the book, uses. A LOT!!! Actually, he pretty much proceeds our usual swear words with Badgers. I thought this was a nice touch as it added some humour, lessening the impact of the language.

Still on the subject of language, I didn't like how sex and women generally were described. Shag this, bang that, and riding the red horse are just a few of the terms used. I suppose the language was in keeping with those who were saying it and may also be the culture of the time but it just bugged me a little.

I don't think the book was male focused, although that was my first impression based on the front cover (reminds self to take the advice of never judging a book by its cover). A lot of fantasy stories are male dominant in characters and the women tend to be weaker and in need of rescue so it was good to have some strong female characters in this one.

This book is being marketed as being similar to Martin's Game of Thrones series and Joe Abercrombie. I've read the former and loved it but none of the latter so I cannot comment on the similarities there unfortunately. It's dark, consists of battles between ruling “kings” of the three main regions of Britain, and plenty of raping and pillaging so I suppose that is why it has been compared to Game of Thrones. But that's really where the similarities end for me. This is no Game of Thrones in my eyes but I am a Thrones geek so perhaps I'm a bit biased. I don't like it when publishers compare new books to other authors.

That said, I still enjoyed this book. It is the authors first fictional debut in what looks like could be a promising new fantasy series. I say fantasy series as that is what it's listed as but it's not really fantastical. It's fantasy-light. Yes it mentions Druids who practice human sacrifice, tell the future by spilling the innards of children, and the odd bit of magic but that's as magical as it gets.

As well as it being light on fantasy, it is also light on history. The book is set around the time of the Roman Invasion of Britain and I think it's listed as historical fiction but it's more alternate history I'd say. This was my view while reading it but once I got to the end and read the authors “historical note”, it did give me a different viewpoint. He states that the book is “a fantasy story, not intended to be serious history. However, the history in it is generally accurate. I've made up the tribes and the characters, but all details – their homes, the towns and villages, clothes, industry, farming, flora and fauna, weapons, etc. - are as correct as they can be.”

If you can get past the lack of history and fantasy, for your historical fantasy book, then I think you'd enjoy the book. I like the writing style and the characters are well developed. It is darkly humorous in places too.

I thought the book started well by dragging us straight in to a battle (although it's pretty one-sided) and I thought I was going to be in for one hell of a ride with cover to cover battles but then things quietened down a bit and more characters were introduced and the story was developed. There is lots of action, some of which is a little disturbing in places but it isn't described in graphic detail so it's easy to skip it if you would rather do that. I thought it had the right amount of battles in it. As much as I like a good battle, I do like the journeys, chance meetings, and personal quests which help develop the characters.

The main three characters, Dug, Spring and Lowa are an unlikely trio, all stumble upon each other after the beginning battle. All of them have different agendas: Dug is trying to stay alive, Lowa is hell bent on revenge and Spring is just Spring. I loved all of them for different reasons.

I will definitely be reading the rest of the trilogy.

Age of Iron: View on Amazon || View on Goodreads

Related Articles: First Paragraph - First Chapter - Tuesday Intro: Age of Iron

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