BOOK REVIEW: THE IRON GHOST / AUTHOR: JEN WILLIAMS / PUBLISHER: HEADLINE / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 26TH
Sequels are always tricky beasts, especially sequels to critically acclaimed debut novels. Stick too close to the winning formula of the first work and there’s a chance that people will get bored; deviate too wildly and fans of the debut novel may get turned off. The Iron Ghost is the sequel to Jennifer William’s first book, The Copper Promise, and as second books go, it does quite well in finding its own way.
The Iron Ghost picks up shortly after the events of the previous novel. Whereas book one was a neatly segmented tour of the world in which each character’s story was skilfully woven together to form a single epic adventure, The Iron Ghost is one tale that mostly concentrates on the three main characters; the mage, the knight, and the thief. Having defied death and pretty much saved the world, the three friends have begun to seek out new adventures. One seemingly simple task (to steal back a McGuffin that belonged to one civilisation from that society’s enemies) turns out to be far, far more complicated than they could ever imagine. Yet again the friends find themselves caught up in the affairs of demons and gods, with some politics and magic thrown in for good measure.
The Iron Ghost keeps a steady and frenetic pace throughout. Williams delivers raw fantasy adventure at a high speed, which is sure to keep you grinning from ear to ear throughout. The villains are nicely evil, the good guys are well intentioned but hardly perfect, and the monsters are appropriately horrible. Dark without being grim, magical without being cheesy, The Iron Ghost continues what The Copper Promise started by bringing back gravitas to the fantasy genre without having to be depressing.
They are some elements that don’t quite work; one of the subplots involves a rather drawn-out explanation of what happened to characters from the last book, and though it ends in a cool sort of way, it does over stay its welcome. The Iron Ghost also pretty much sticks to one geographical location, and though we get a lot of detail about this one region, those hoping for broader world-building will be disappointed.
Overall, The Iron Ghost is simply a cracking read and a good sign that Williams may very well be a force to be reckoned with in the fantasy genre.
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