Age of Iron by Angus Watson
Age of Iron is a fun book that takes place during a time just prior to the Roman invasion of Britain. It is historical fiction and an adventure story. At its heart are three characters. Dug is a middle-aged warrior. He would prefer an easy job as a guard or something similar, but he works as a sword for hire because he is big and a fairly competent fighter. One thing that endears you to Dug is that he is very philosophically minded and carries on a running internal dialog of the world according to Dug. He meets Spring, a young teenage girl who is scavenging a battlefield. To say she is quirky is an understatement. Perhaps she is suffering from PTSD or is just trying to survive in a decidedly dangerous environment, but she realizes that Dug is a kindhearted person who carries a big hammer and latches onto him and won’t let him out of her sight. It is very much like meeting a precocious teenager and thinking, “this is an odd one,” to “this is an interesting one,” to “I kind of like this one.” The third main character is Lowa, a kick-a archer bent on revenge due to wrongs done to her, her sister, and friends. The characters were well developed and likable.
The story is told with attitude and doesn’t take itself too seriously. You get a hint of that at the end of the prologue, where the historical context is set and we are told, “but this is how it really happened.” I listened to the audiobook version of the book. I had a small bit of difficulty understanding the accents during the first 10 minutes of the story, but after that it was forgotten. I thought Sean Barrett did a good job with the pacing and characterizations. In fact, I’d recommend the audio version because I suspect it makes the quirkiness of story more palatable. When children are told a story that exaggerates the truth for the sake of the story they go along because, well, they’re kids. Adults have to be willing to go along. The descriptions of everyday life and whatnot are historically accurate, but there are elements of Age of Iron that come across as a tall tale.
There is a bit of sex, a good dose of language, and a lot of violence, but none of it seemed gratuitous. There were some phrases and word choices that fit out modern usage and not the historical one, but I didn’t think that took away from the story. It’s like you were in a pub, drinking beer, listening to a master story teller. Age of Iron is the first of a trilogy. If you like stories with warriors, druids, power hungry kings, and normal people just trying to get by and avoid notice, then you’ll enjoy it.