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Clash of Iron by Angus Watson

Clash of Iron

by Angus Watson

Series: Iron Age (2)

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I loved the Badger's tits off it. I'll review it properly soon! ( )
  BookFrivolity | Apr 23, 2016 |
*Splutters with disbelief*

Yeah, if I could leave my impressively eloquent analysis of this book at just that, I would. But no. This review is going to have details (or at least as much as I can give), dammit, and I’m going to do my best to articulate my thoughts while trying to hold myself together lest I fall to pieces.

Honestly though, I’m at a complete loss as to how to review Clash of Iron. Has this every happened to you? You’re just reading a book as normal, all the while taking down mental notes on what you’re going to say about it, when all of a sudden the ending comes at you so hard that the shock and awe of it just drives every single thought out of your head?

This is me right now. I am dumbfounded. Stupefied. I still can’t believe that ending really happened.

But let’s back up a bit to talk about what the book is about. In a word, Clash of Iron is about war. Lots and lots of war. It is the second novel in Angus Watson’s Iron Age trilogy and sequel to his brilliant, epic debut Age of Iron which was one of my top reads of last year. At the end of that book, our heroes Dug and Lowa managed to capture Maidun castle and free it from the brutal grip of its tyrant king Zadar. Lowa has usurped him and taken over his reign as Queen of Maidun, but unfortunately it seems, just in time to meet a massive invading Roman army coming from Gaul! The British Isles are thrown into disarray as its disparate tribes go to battle against each other instead of forming a united front against Julius Caesar, the Roman’s military genius who has his sights set on their homeland.

First I feel the need to warn that like its predecessor, Clash of Iron is as brutal and bloody as ever. As expected, there are many violent battles, lots of split skulls and tons of dismembered limbs flying about. There are also more intimate, disturbing scenes of torture and in general characters doing very unpleasant and painful things to other characters. Watson paints a dark, cruel world in The Iron Age where it doesn’t matter who or what you are; men, women, children, animals can all expect to meet a terrible and gruesome end in this series, so be aware if you’re squeamish about such things to approach these books with discretion.

This sequel, however, does head in a new direction when it comes to other aspects. The story here feels altogether different, with more focus on war. When all the sides aren’t engaging in it, they’re preparing for it, in this new martial climate of Britain. With the threat of the Roman Empire and Caesar bearing down on the Britons, there are whole new challenges to face. In many ways, Clash of Iron is Lowa’s story while I saw Age of Iron as being more Dug’s. As queen of Maidun, she’s now the head of an army of thousands and makes all the important decisions that will decide the fate of her people. As a new ruler, she also faces many new obstacles, such as adversity from all sides – even her own. Meanwhile, Dug takes more of a backseat in this book, retiring to a small farm. Still, all the while, his feelings for Lowa are alive and well and so are hers for him, so their awkwardness around each other provides no small amount of hilarity.

Other old favorites return, though describing Ragnal as a “favorite” is a bit of a stretch, that little double crossing fair-weather weasel. Spring’s presence also diminishes somewhat, though her actual role gets a huge boost. Big things are going to happen, and I have a feeling Spring is going to be at the center of them. Chamanca, the literally bloodthirsty warrior woman who scared the living bejeezus out of me in the first book is also back, though this time I had a lot of fun following her character and actually found myself rooting for her. Then there’s new player on the field, Julius Caesar himself, a man who needs no introduction. Angus Watson’s portrayal of the general had me alternating between feeling horror at his atrocities to laughing my ass off at his quirks.

And of course, we come to the ending. Oh, that ending. There’s nothing I can say about it that won’t be a massive spoiler, so I’ll just state that as shocking and unexpected as it was, I really shouldn’t have been surprised. But I was. You just never think an author would go there. But he does.

Any way you look at it, Clash of Iron will have you feeling exultant. You’ve just read an awesome book. Regardless of anything else, this wildly entertaining read will make you pine for the next one. Bring on Reign of Iron! ( )
  stefferoo | May 19, 2015 |
What the .... ??? This ending has left me at a loss for words. Review to come when I can process.

UPDATE with Review From Tenacious Reader: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2015/05/05/review-clash-of-iron-by-angus-watson/

I’m going to be honest, this is a very hard review to write. I make an effort to keep everything spoiler free, and so generally don’t talk much about the ending other than liked it, didn’t like it, etc. Well, I’m going to stick with my spoiler free approach, but my problem is that this book did something completely unexpected and it’s all I can think of! It is not a crazy out of left field thing, it actually makes sense now that it’s happened and I read it, but at the same time I did not see it coming. At all. And it leaves me with less of an idea for where the third book may go. It has literally eclipsed almost every other thought I have had about this book. Luckily almost is not completely, so I will do my best :)

First, I don’t know how or why, but I completely forgot just how incredibly funny Age of Iron could be at times. This book quickly reminded me as it had me laughing out loud (literally) within the first 30 minutes of reading. I really enjoy how the humor (dark, snarky, sarcastic all the delicious flavors of funny) in this balances everything else because the book can be just down right brutal. There’s a war, and with that comes battles, blood, gore and Watson does not trivialize war or protect the reader from its realities. Without the the comic relief, this would be one hell of a dark series.

Lowa is now Queen of Maidun and I have to take a minute to talk about the amazing female characters in this series. They really are equals, Lowa is ruling Maidun, and other females characters are also included as solid characters that stand on their own. They are not just there to support the men as they get things done. The women are valuable contributors in everything. Spring continues to be a fascinating character. I think I would read a series just about her. And Dug, the lovable old lug of a soldier. These are the three main characters from Age of Iron and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with them again. Ragnall is also give a POV in this. His story line was interesting and provided us with some great information (as he is amongst the Romans). But I never enjoyed him as much as the first three.

My only negative observation is that the pace seemed to slow in places. I think typically I felt this way when we were getting lots of information on military tactics or current political climate. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it at the time of reading I don’t remember feeling this way in the first book. There seemed to be a bit more focus on the over all conflict with the Romans and a little less on the characters themselves. The first book was very character driven with the three main characters all coming together. In this one we get more POVs and they are spread out. It gives a grander picture, but it also creates a little distance between the reader and the characters in some ways. But ultimately, it did not deter me and I am quite glad I read through to the end.

This was a quite a bloody second installment in the series, one that had points of laughter and points of incredible tension and heartbreak and one that leaves me absolutely on edge for the final book. You really can’t ask for more. ( )
  tenaciousreader | May 19, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316399795, Paperback)

The second book in Angus Watson's epic Iron Age fantasy trilogy.


Iron 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?

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 14 Jul 2015 17:46:21 -0400)

Iron 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?… (more)

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