Author: Angus Watson
Series: Iron Age, #1
Released: September 2nd 2014
Lenght: 560 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
Bloodthirsty druids and battle-hardened Iron Age warriors collide in the biggest epic fantasy debut release of 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.
Not much is known about the British Iron Age – a terrible thing for historians, but a very promising fact for historical fantasy authors like Angus Watson. It gives them centuries of nothing more than vague information to build upon and in Age of Iron, the first book in a major new epic fantasy series, Watson does this (and more) quite impressively.
The story takes place in Britain during the first several years of Roman invasion – around 40 AD. Our three protagonists come from three different sides: Dug is a mercenary who (more or less accidentally) fought for the losing side, Lowa is a celebrated archer in King Zadar’s winning army, and Spring is just a little girl on the run from the Romans.
A lot had to come together in order for this story to function, which made the beginning a bit slow and demanding, but when things started picking up, they were quite spectacular. The story is told from multiple perspectives, but Dug, Lowa and Spring are at its very center. It must be said that Dug Sealskinner is a very unlikely hero. He is unusually old for a mercenary, a fact that speaks for itself. He didn’t make it to his forties by being kind, generous and self-sacrificing. His most important rule is ‘every man for himself’, and that includes the women and children as well.
He is, however, a fully fleshed and fascinating character. Although he’s a fairly successful warrior, he is in fact deeply insecure, and he doesn’t think much of himself. He is not a leader by nature, far from it, he is a weapon to be aimed by those who pay the most. Lowa, on the other hand, is a force of nature. She is much younger than Dug and far more successful in everything she does.
Age of Iron is extremely dark at times, but that was to be expected considering the time period. There were scenes that made me cringe in disgust and horror, but I didn’t mind them at all, they gave the story more weight and authenticity. On the other hand, when an author has hundreds of years of historical tabula rasa to build upon, he can do whatever he likes with things like social structure and gender equality, and Watson chose to portray women as equal, just as strong and fierce as any man, which I greatly appreciated.
Angus Watson’s fantasy debut is multi-layered and quite brilliant at times. There were a few things I wish were done differently, but overall, this was a splendid beginning to what promises to be a brilliant new epic fantasy series.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.
Thanks to Orbit UK for inviting me on this tour. Please make sure to visit the other tour stops. You can find them all on the tour poster below.
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