Reign of Iron (The Iron Age Trilogy book 3) by Angus Watson (book review).

‘Reign Of Iron’ is the third and final part of Angus Watson’s ‘Age Of Iron trilogy’, a blood and guts soaked fantasy series set some 45 years before the son of a carpenter decided making cupboards wasn’t for him and decided to be the Son of God instead. This is a crucial point in British and Roman history as Caesar is about to set off from Gaul to try and conquer Britain and the only thing stopping him is Lowa, warrior queen of the Maidun.

It’s hard to talk about what happens next without spoiling the end of the preceding part, so I’ll try not to. Suffice to say, our heroes are in a tough bind with Rome at the gate and Caesar using magic to create super-warriors and it doesn’t look too rosy. Oh and did I mention the War Elephants? Well I have now.

Perhaps the best thing about ‘Reign Of Iron’ is how the female characters have now been brought to the fore. Lowa juggles her new baby with trying to raise an army, while Spring has her own ideas about how to rally support against the invading armies of Rome. There have, of course, been quite a few female warrior-led fantasy series, but Watson has smartly moved the focus of his character leads across the trilogy and this works very well here.

Once more, the action is as visceral and bloodthirsty as in the previous two books, ‘Age Of Iron’ and ‘Clash Of Iron’. It also remains fast-paced and compelling. Watson writes action scenes that are easy to follow and yet communicate the confusing madness of battle. This coupled with the humorous streak that runs across the novels makes for very entertaining reading.

If you’re familiar with your Iron Age history then you should have some idea about which way the novel is going and the fact that ‘history remembers the victors’, however Watson has a lot of fun with ‘his version’ of how this history mapped out, compared to what Caesar and Rome dictated had happened.

I realise I’ve praised the ‘Age Of Iron trilogy’ a great deal, but this is definitely one of the better fantasy series that I’ve read of recent years. Its mixture of not-quite-historical, not-quite-fantasy is a winning one and fingers-crossed the Watson’s new work continues in this vein. A recommended series of fun, action-packed novels.

John Rivers

May 2018

(pub: Orbit. 544 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 9.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-356-50260-1)

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