Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: September 2nd, 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.
Age of Iron is pitched as a book for fans of Game of Thrones, which I do have to agree with. It's very different to the world George R. R. Martin has created, but it's similar in its scenes of bloody, gory action and multiple character arcs. I read it over a couple of weeks because, while being very readable, it does boast a 500+ page count. That being said, the chapters are short and fast, making it a very easy, gripping read.
The first chapter propels the reader straight into a time long since past, and one we as a people still know hardly anything about: the Iron Age. Set in 61 BC, Age of Iron tells a story just before the time of the Romans and their subsequent four-hundred year reign. The author's historical note at the end of the book proclaims the historical content to be as accurate as possible, which I'd guess to be true, considering how little is known about this period in history. I was fascinated to learn more about an age and a people I confess to being very ignorant of, and I only hope I'll learn more as the series progresses. It's hard to compute just how long ago this book is set, but Angus Watson somehow makes it easier to imagine. That alone is reason enough to pick up this book.
Dug, Spring and Lowa are the main three characters in Age of Iron, but really there's a huge amount of people and places featured. These three take centre stage from the beginning, their paths crossing almost straight away and bonds forming that will have the potential to last a lifetime. Dug is the oldest and most experienced in battle, with a wry sense of humour and a devil may care attitude. Lowa is in her mid-twenties, skilled with a bow and one of the strongest women of her time, destined to be hunted until she no longer breathes. Spring rounds off this unlikely trio as a young girl with a strong mind and a bad attitude, who takes a shine to Dug. She's all-round brilliant and reminiscent of young Arya Stark - badass!
I don't want to give too much away about Age of Iron's plot, but rest assured it includes lots of murder, bloodshed, revenge and battles. The main gist is that King Zadar and his massive army are intent on protecting their kingdom from the coming Roman invasion and, with a powerful Druid on his side, that looks set to happen. Dug, Lowa and Spring have other ideas though, ideas that could bring Zadar's army crashing to the ground. As the back cover says, it's a glorious day to die...
Fantasy magic features in Age of Iron, though not heavily. It's subtle and sparse, but when it's there it's fantastic and all too powerful. I hope there's more of the fantasy side in the next book, though it honestly wouldn't bother me if there wasn't - there's enough going on without needing magic to maintain reader interest, though the fantasy element would be somewhat lost without it. I'm intrigued as to how it could be used against a Roman invasion and how that would deter an army that size... bring on the next book!
Age of Iron is surprisingly good and a book I very much enjoyed all the way through. It's blood-soaked, gruesome, entertaining and not recommended for the faint of heart. Littered with memorable characters and exciting action, it's a fantasy epic that I'm all too happy to recommend to those aforementioned fans of Game of Thrones. I for one can't wait to get my mitts on Clash of Iron - roll on 2015 and the Roman invasion of Britain!
Please note: This book includes adult content and isn't suitable for younger readers!
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