Clash of Iron – Angus Watson

About the Book

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?

560 paperback
Published on April 14, 2015
Published by Orbit
Author’s webpage
Buy the book
Buy Age of Iron

This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.

Age of Iron was a fantastic book, and I was really, really looking forward to reading Clash of Iron. Orbit was kind enough to send me a copy. However, we’ve been rearranging our house to make room for the impending baby, and somehow my various book piles have been moved/shifted/altered and I completely lost track of it. I found the book a few days ago, and dug in. I devoured it in record time.

It is absolutely essential that you read Age of Iron before you dig into Clash of Iron as the plot of the second book builds off the first.

This is a historical fantasy, and a very bloody one at that. Clash of Iron ends up being an interesting spin off of tribal Brittan and Caesar’s invasion of Gaul. All of our main characters from the previous novel are back. Lowa is now a queen, Dug more or less just wants to be left alone, and Spring is hard to pin down, but probably the most interesting character in the book due to that.

The characters are incredibly enjoyable, and very, very well crafted. They gain some depth and scope in Clash of Iron, and each character seems to have their light to balance the darkness. Dug is absolutely wonderful at killing people in battle, but he’s also incredibly loveable, and yearns for a quiet life. Lowa is a fantastic archer, and has a ruthless ability to put duty before herself, but at her heart, she just wants to be normal, and have normal relationships without the complexities. Spring is fascinating, and while she is her own brand of ruthless, she always seems a bit innocent despite that.

And really the entire book is like that. Light balanced by dark, and while the dark is easier to focus on, the humor, the balance of the characters, the passion and ruthlessness all seem to evenly measure. That makes Clash of Iron, which could be oppressively dark, into something a bit different and a lot more balanced.

I should note that one of my favorite parts of the novel is the fact that the women are just as strong, formidable, and intimidating as the men. Lowa and Spring are both fascinating women in their own rights, and they are both completely powerful. The women aren’t supporting staff, they stand on their own and play huge roles in the plot that unfolds. It’s absolutely fantastic, and refreshing to read a historical fantasy novel with characters such as these.

Watson doesn’t hide the gritty truth of war from his readers. He didn’t in the first book of this series and he certainly doesn’t in the second. The grit and gore starts almost from page one, but it never feels gratuitous. He puts it in context. The world is dirty, and the world is gritty and raw, so all of that fits in the book perfectly. In fact, if it wasn’t gritty and full of gore, then I’d probably feel like something wasn’t quite right.

The world is a bit larger here, as early on a viewpoint character is sent to Rome, and Watson is just as realistic and gritty with Roman culture as he is with anything else. The plot develops pretty quickly from that point on, and the two separate narrative threads eventually weave together in the end.

The ending is quite surprising, and I’ll really refrain from saying anything else about it. It came out of left field and left me reeling after. The powerhouse ending makes up for a beginning that, at times, felt like it slowed to a crawl. However, once things get going, they really get going. This is helped along by the dark, wry humor that made Age of Iron so enjoyable. This would be an easy series for the author to make almost unbearably dark, but the humor edged throughout it balance out the dark, and makes it bearable.

Clash of Iron was a delight to read, and a worthy follow up of Age of Iron. Watson is a gifted author who seems to know how to effortlessly check off all of the boxes I need to have checked for historical fantasy. Gritty, real, raw, and absolutely unfiltered, Clash of Iron is a book that left me reeling, gasping, and yearning for more.


4/5 stars


One Responses

  • Yes, that ending! I had such a hard time writing a review after that because it was the main thing I kept thinking about. And I agree, parts of this were slow, but overall a good book. The humor helps so much with the darkness!

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