Review: Reign of Iron by Angus Watson
Published September 29th 2015 by Orbit
Review copy provided by the publisher
Reign of Iron is one of those fantasy books that is a breeze to read. There is not a single dull moment in there.
In the final book of the Iron Age trilogy, Julius Caesar has arrived in Britain. It is up to our rag-tag band of British heroes to stop him from enslaving everyone they care for. But what can they do against Caesar’s superior numbers, and his secret weapon: a group of unnaturally fast and strong monsters led by the druid Felix?
After the build-up of two books, the Roman invasion is finally happening. And it’s epic. Instead of doing the boring preamble again, Reign of Iron is almost exclusively filled with interactions and clashes between the Romans and Britons. There are battles and cool strategies and small skirmishes. We are given alternate points of view between characters like Chamanca, who does what she does best in the bloody battlefield, and Lowa, who as a queen oversees the battle from a high vantage point. The problem I usually have with battle-focussed book, in that it is hard for me to follow what is going on, was never a real issue here. Mr Watson writes battle scenes very well. He mixes the gore, the bone smashing and gut wrenching, with a dark humour that works very well in these books.
Like the other Iron Age books, Reign of Iron is filled with touching moments and sad ones, funny and poignant. As people who have read the second book know, the author doesn’t shy away from killing his darlings, and there is this constant fear while reading that some of my favourites might not make it. Ultimately, I think Mr Watson struck a perfect balance between tragedy and triumph. Characters are not killed simply to be killed – there is always a sense of purpose, and as a reader I appreciate that we’re not to be tortured with needless deaths of all the fun characters.
My only point of critique is that the resolution of the story was over incredibly quickly. I would have enjoyed another chapter or two so the reader can see more of what comes after. As it was, the ending was a bit abrupt. All the plot points were resolved, but I did want to know more.
In the notes at the end of the book, there are hints that there might be more books featuring some of the Iron Age characters. I hope that’s the case, because I’m not ready to say goodbye yet!
Caesar’s soldiers have murdered, massacred and pillaged their way through Gaul and loom on the far side of the sea, ready to descend upon Britain – with them are an unstoppable legion of men twisted by dark magic. Somehow Queen Lowa must repel the invasion, although her best general is dead and her young druid powerless. She faces impossible odds, but when the alternative is death or slavery, a warrior queen will do whatever it takes to save her people.