Tuesday, 23 September 2014

'Age of Iron' by Angus Watson

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.

I've always had a fascination for Ancient Britain, for a British landscape under Roman occupation, old gods being replaced by new ones, bloodthirsty warriors battling it out on fields red with blood. There's something so primal about it all, something so intriguing about it. I mean, there's not much that we know for certain about that dark period of Britain's history. Which is why I was so drawn to Angus Watson's d├ębut novel. That, and the pretty awesome cover.

The first volume in a trilogy, 'Age of Iron' introduces us to Dug Sealskinner, a Warrier cursed with a bad case of Murphey's Law. He's a perfect Warrier, his war hammer pretty much an extension of his arm but poor Dug just can't cut a break. On his way to join King Zadar's army, he finds himself caught up in a battle, fighting against the army he'd been hoping to join. And that's just the start of it. Lumbered with Spring, a strange child determined to stick with the man who saved her and Lowa, one of Zadar's female archers who is just as down on her luck as he is, Dug heads off on an adventure he wasn't exactly looking for and certainly didn't want.

This is a powerful novel, dark in all the right places with a decent scattering of humour. It kept me gripped, wanting more and the ending has left me itching to get my hands on the second volume. The characters are realistic, really jump off the page, which I think is an achievement when working with a time period where much of what is known about the people is pure conjecture. And there's enough blood and guts in there to keep a horror addict like me interested.

I'd recommend 'Age of Iron' to any fans of gritty fantasy epics like Game of Thrones or to those who like historical fiction with a twist. I give it a solid 4/5

If you're interested and want to get your hands on a copy, the book is available now in paperback and ebook published by Orbit.

*I received an Advance Review Copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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