Title: The Iron Ghost
Author: Jen Williams
Series: The Copper Promise #2
Received for review from BookBridgr
Summary (from Goodreads)
Beware the dawning of a new mage…
Wydrin of Crosshaven, Sir Sebastian and Lord Aaron Frith are experienced in the perils of stirring up the old gods. They are also familiar with defeating them, and the heroes of Baneswatch are now enjoying the perks of suddenly being very much in demand for their services.
When a job comes up in the distant city of Skaldshollow, it looks like easy coin – retrieve a stolen item, admire the views, get paid. But in a place twisted and haunted by ancient magic, with the most infamous mage of them all, Joah Demonsworn, making a reappearance, our heroes soon find themselves threatened by enemies on all sides, old and new. And in the frozen mountains, the stones are walking…
I had a carefully laid out plan about what I was going to be reading this month. Then I listened to The Copper Promise audiobook and that plan went sailing right out the window. I just had to read this next.
The adventure picks up a while after The Copper Promise left off with our mismatched band of heroes off on a new adventure in a distant and mysterious land of ice and mountains. Taking them outside of their comfort zone was a good idea, because they’d become so competent by the end of the previous book that they had to have something extra against them. Strange humanoids who can throw spears that freeze you to death in an instant are a great way of keeping the tension and the peril ramped high.
The characters also carry with them the weight of the adventures they’ve been on since The Copper Promise. We learn over the course of the book part of what Sebastian’s been up to, and the majority of what has transpired for Frith and Wydrin is used to strengthen the growing bond between them, but it’s quite cleverly done. These aren’t the characters from the end of the book – and we don’t need to know blow for blow what they’ve been up to in order to see how it’s changed them.
I really like how this story develops the mythology of the world as well, from the history of the Mages brought to life via Joah Demonsworn to the new and interesting location of Skaldshollow, there was plenty of detail to keep things fresh and interesting. And added to that, I loved how Williams brought in elements from the previous book, particularly the return of the brood army and the connection Sebastian has forged with them and Y’Ruen.
As a bad guy, Joah Demonsworn was frightening and terrible, but also able to elicit sympathy. His twisted relationship with Frith – how he simultaneously tries to elevate him to new extremes of power and yet also is killing him – shows the depth of his madness much more effectively than if he just tried to kill everyone, and the fact that we feel a bit sorry for him makes him all the more monstrous.
I have absolutely adored living with the characters and the world that Williams has created. The Iron Ghost and it’s predecessor are full of fun, adventure, humour, angst, sorrow, life and magic, and even though The Iron Ghost was a hefty 536 pages, it wasn’t long enough to satisfy my interest in the story. I can’t wait for the next book.