Review: Clash of Iron by Angus Watson
Published April 14th 2015 by Orbit
Review copy received from the publisher
Sequel to the fast Age of Iron, Clash of Iron struggles to keep up the pace.
Lowa is now responsible for Maidun, and she starts to prepare for the prophesied coming of the Romans. However, Britain isn’t easy to unite, and together with her trusted friends she will have to defend her people from dangers close to her.
For the first two hundred pages, Clash of Iron flounders. After the story arc in the first book, there is not logical continuation, and the tension has to rebuilt from scratch. The Romans are coming – we know that – but this premise in itself isn’t enough to keep the reader reading. We see all kinds of flashes of the lives of our protagonists, but there is no conflict. To make a more reasonable time frame, there are big leaps in time, making the first part feel choppy and fragmented.
Luckily, Mr Watson regains the reigns to his story after the beginning, and from then on, it’s smooth sailing. The Age of Iron books are written in a wry, humorous and accessible style that will appeal to readers who find historical or fantasy books too dry. It should also be noted that Clash of Iron can be quite dark and gruesome – for many characters, lives aren’t taken seriously. They murder and torture like it’s all a game to them. This kind of gore isn’t uncommon in fantasy lately, but one does need to have the stomach for it.
Clash of Iron follows more characters than Age of Iron did, but since we already know all of these faces, it’s not hard to get into their stories. Sadly some of them remain one-dimensional, especially Ragnall, a druid’s apprentice who is sent to Rome to spy. His thoughts lack the complexity to make them seem realistic. On the other hand, I very much enjoyed the chapters written from the perspective of Spring and Chamanca. While fantasy is almost notoriously white-washed and misogynistic, Mr Watson succeeds in creating a believably diverse cast. I especially enjoyed that women fight in the armies as well, and that they weren’t seen as inferior warriors.
This sequel has some issues, but the ending of Clash of Iron is very strong and makes me excited to read the conclusion of the trilogy. If the last two hundred pages of this book are an indication, Reign of Iron is going to be pretty epic.
LEADERS ARE FORGED IN THE FIRES OF WAR
Iron Age warriors Dug and Lowa captured Maidun castle and freed its slaves. But now they must defend it.
A Roman invasion is coming from Gaul, but rather than uniting to defend their home, the British tribes go to battle with each other — and see Maidun as an easy target.
Meanwhile, Lowa’s spies infiltrate Gaul, discovering the Romans have recruited British druids. And Maidunite Ragnall finds his loyalties torn when he meets Rome’s charismatic general, Julius Caesar.
War is coming. Who will pay its price?
- Symbiont by Mira Grant
- World War Z by Max Brooks
- The Mysteries by Lisa Tuttle
- Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
- Age of Iron
- Clash of Iron
- Reign of Iron
This book was also featured in the post Fantasy Books You Might Not Have Read Yet