Thursday, 23 April 2015

Review: 'Clash of Iron' by Angus Watson

Clash of Iron (Iron Age, #2)I'm very excited to be part of the blog tour for the exciting sequel to 2014's Age of Iron by Angus Watson. After loving the first book in the Iron Age trilogy, I couldn't wait to get back into this story and find out what had happened to the multitude of characters in Watson's Britain. The blog tour was organised by Orbit, thanks to them for providing me with a copy of the book. This review may contain spoilers for Age of Iron!
The second book in Angus Watson's epic Iron Age fantasy trilogy.   
LEADERS ARE FORGED IN THE FIRES OF WARIron 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?
One of the things I especially enjoyed about Watson's writing was his ability to treat these medieval characters like all others. This may sound like something that shouldn't be noteworthy, yet when one thinks about how the  earlier ages and its people are portrayed, then Watson's Iron Age trilogy is a breath of fresh air. He treats all of his characters with what is almost perfect equality. Whether we're talking about men or women, Brits or Romans, Christians or pagans, everyone in Clash of Iron comes across as truly human. They have good sides, bad sides and they can be persuaded to either side by a good argument. Largely this characterization is due to Watson's writing style. If you're expecting the kind of writing that usually passes for "early", this is not it. Watson doesn't fall into easily-used cliches but just has his characters speak like every-day people. Although it can be strange at times to hear these characters talk so normally, it definitely adds to the charm of the book.

Clash of Iron continues at the same fun and fast pace that Age of Iron did. Rather than rely on the character building he did in the first book, Watson continues to develop his characters and show the reader different sides of them as their roles change. Especially the introduction of the Romans really brought a new perspective to the novel and added a whole new level to the narration, alongside some pretty major historical figures. The first part of Clash of Iron struggles at times to keep up the tension and the pace which I had hoped for. Watson managed to quickly and successfully build tension in Age of Iron yet with the removal of a major bad guy, a new source of tension has to be found which takes some time to establish. Occasionally it felt like there was too much extra detail which could've been cut to progress the speed of the narrative. Although this detail is also what allows the novel to feel so settled in its time-period, it can make the over 500-page strong book feel clogged.

In my review for Age of Iron, I said that my favourite character was Lowa, the warrior turned fugitive turned queen. I loved the freedom that Watson gave her and how her gender wasn't the defining aspect of her character. He continues developing this great character in Clash of Iron by making her deal with new situations and characters. Although I disliked the relationships between her and some of the other characters in the book, overall I loved her story. Her relationship with Dug was one which the reader can't help but get invested in, especially if previously having read Age of Iron. Due  to the large number of characters, a lot of time is spent on moving between different characters to explain their experiences and journeys. Personally I enjoyed this, but it also means that at times the novel seems to lack a strong main character.

I give this book...

3 Universes!

As a sequel Clash of Iron definitely does its job. Watson continues his interesting character development while also broadening the scale of his narrative even more. These novels are unlike any Fantasy series I have read due to Watson's charm and bold choices. Aside from this, Clash of Iron ends in a way that makes me desperate for the next installment! I recommend this to fans of Fantasy reads and Historical Fiction.

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