The Iron Ghost - Jen Williams

After reading the first book in this series (The Copper Promise) last year and enjoying it very much, I was keen to pick up this second book in the trilogy and my library kindly obliged me by ordering it...

 

Again, we're talking very solidly-written fantasy of a kind that will not be unfamiliar to anyone who's been reading in the genre for a while though with some slightly more unusual elements in terms of the scope of world-building we encounter. The author has set up a world in which there is magic, both from the world itself and also from the gods (now deceased, with one exception) - in this book, we get to see other ways in which it can be used outside of the realm of the mages, who we encountered in the first book.

 

As we start The Iron Ghost, the three main characters we came to know in the first book are together and travelling to Skaldshollow as they have been hired to retrieve something which has been stolen from the people there. We also get flashbacks at least for Sebastian, who has spent some of his time trying to find a place for the surviving brood warriors who made it out of the previous volume, though this doesn't go particularly well for anyone. In Skaldshollow, the same magic used by the mages is being used to create stone creatures to toil for the people there and Wydrin goes through the process that binds those creatures to their owner, only to discover that they're not the unthinking creations the  Skalds would like to believe. 

 

The Skalds have also given sanctuary to a Prophet, who turns out to be someone we met in The Copper Promise and whose presence is always bad news, as this time around she's intent on resurrecting one of the other mages. Frith discovers that he doesn't like not being the last of his kind, for more reasons than one, and generally has a very bad time in this book in a variety of ways. 

 

In general, I enjoyed this book very much although the romance sub-plot I expected (and was a little underwhelmed by) from the previous volume duly cropped up again in this one. While I like the characters as individuals, and they also are much more interesting when they're together and butting heads, I just don't see the 'romance' angle as clearly as obviously the author does. It's not enough to stop me reading the third book (The Silver Tide) when it comes out in paperback later this year, but I suppose I just don't find that element as essential to my enjoyment of the rest of the book. I was actually enjoying the idea of a series where heterosexual people of the opposite gender can work together and not fall into bed together at some point, only to be disappointed once more.