Age of Iron by Angus Watson
The biggest - but not the least - compliment I can give this story is it felt real or that you felt real in reading it. I know that doesn’t make much sense, maybe it's better to say there is an authenticity to how Angus Watson has written his words and portrayed the time period.
The story is told skillfully, if in a direct, blunt manner which draws the reader in with well formed, sharp imagery. The depiction of Dug, the main male protagonist is soundly written, likable, darkly funny and surprisingly relatable for a fictional character. He is not your typical hero initially, for he is a mercenary out for the coin, hiding from the ghosts of his life and family long lost, when chance and misfortune crosses his path.
Alongside Dug we have two other main characters, Lowa, a warrioress on the run from her own army and Spring, a lost child taken under Dug's protection. I was actually less attached too Lowa and Spring, for some reason I just didn’t connect with the characters in the same way, though Spring does give me an impression of the River character in the science-fiction series Firefly, who was awesome, so I do have hopes for her in book two in the series, Clash of Iron.
The novel's pace is good, flowing forward in a fierce and bloodstained manner. It took a while, but magic does make an appearance in the story, and with my own personal preference to having it kept it low key, less Harry Potter and more Gandalf, I did find its use a little brash at times.
The contrast to this is if I am reading a fantasy tale without some form of magic, I would usually find it lacking, so it was surprising for me to think this story may have been better without magic or at least the times when overt magic was used be scaled back. Don’t get me wrong, it's still more about the story and less about the magic which keeps you reading.
Watson's concept and approach to the topic of the Iron Age, a topic not well documented, is handled deftly and with a balanced touch as far as I can tell. Having interviewed him for the site, I know he has a deep respect for the era and a strong research ethic, dedicated to achieving a strong attention to detail. The flow and feel of the people, the appearance of the Romans, the concepts of warrior women and female equality, in comparison to the Roman view of women as weak and to be protected, gives an evenness between his own thoughts on the period and telling a great tale.
This was great read.
This Age of Iron book review was written by Fergus McCartan
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