Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson

Kolymsky Heights | Lionel Davidson | 1994 (this edn 2015) | Faber & Faber | 478p | Bought copy | Buy the book

Kolymsky Heights by Lionel DavidsonDeep within Siberia lies a science research station that is so secret no scientist who works there is ever allowed to leave. But one day a message gets out. A professor at Oxford University receives a note that is no note – a cigarette paper that conceals a coded plea, imploring the professor to ‘send me therefore the man’. The professor is not above doing a little bit of work for government agencies (after all, he may have taught some of their agents) and soon an agent from the CIA is helping him to work out just who the message is from and who this other man might me. It isn’t that difficult to work out either. As for the latter, the professor knows him as the Raven, but to the CIA he is Jean-Baptiste Porteur, otherwise known as Johnny Porter, a native Canadian with a gift for languages, a fascination for Arctic tribes and in possession of a past. The scientist trapped in Siberia did something significant for Porter in the past. For that reason alone Porter is prepared to risk everything to go in after him.

What follows is an extraordinarily detailed and meticulous account of Porter’s journey into Siberia. Nothing is left to chance, or to the reader’s imagination. Porter is an astonishing, obsessive, driven individual. He is determined to leave no trail and as a result his journey is an agonising Arctic sea voyage aboard a Japanese vessel. But he doesn’t just transform himself the once, when he finally reaches Siberia he does it again, this time he is a truck driver. All of the time he manages to fit in (largely due to his languages and native Canadian appearance) while still standing out as something of a curiosity. He uses smiles, charisma, generosity and charm to win over all he meets. Women love him, men want to be his friend. The true Porter is a man deeply buried and there is a sense that only the scientist hidden within the research station knows the truth.

Kolmysky Heights is a very unusual thriller. Arguably, the mystery at the heart of the novel is of far less importance than the lengths to which Porter will go to find it and to escape with it. This is much more about the hunt and the method and in that sense it reads like a classic spy thriller. Of course, the novel was first published 21 years ago but it reaches back further than that. There is a severe detachment between Porter and the reader. While we marvel at the lengths he will go to, we are never allowed to get too close, the author’s persona frequently coming between us. There is a merciless ruthlessness in Porter’s actions and even though the novel hints at a developing love affair I remained sceptical about its future but having said that – do we know him enough to make this kind of judgement? There are clues about his past and they do go some way towards explaining his present, while not perhaps indicating what he wants. All in all, Porter is a fascinating, complicated individual and Kolymsky Heights is very much a novel about him, more than it is about anyone or anything else.

It’s not all Porter, though. I did enjoy the portrait of the Oxford professor and his secretary. There’s a charm about this scenario which contrasts sharply with Porter and his world. Some of the characters we meet in Siberia are vividly distinct, many of whom are making a living in the most extreme of killer environments, whether at sea or driving great trucks (‘boats’) along the frozen rivers of a winter Siberia. One of the characters we meet, Ludmilla, is unforgettable. One of the greatest characters of the novel is without doubt Siberia itself – its relentless cold, its rich cultural heritage, its harsh history, its cruelty and its frozen beauty are all made real on the page in what is an astonishing achievement by Davidson.

Kolymsky Heights has been reissued this year with an introduction by Philip Pullman in which Pullman explains why this is ‘the best thriller I’ve ever read’. This essay is worth reading at the beginning and again at the end. Much of it I agree with. The detail that Davidson conjures up to describe Porter’s journey into and from Siberia is remarkable as well as complex, it is also extremely dramatic and tense. But, for me, there was just a little too much detail – by the end of the book I felt almost qualified to build an Arctic bobik vehicle myself. While these lengthy sections undoubtedly help us to understand Porter’s commitment and ingenuity, not to mention audacity, they do slow down the pace quite considerably. There was also a great deal about the science research station that I wanted to know but this is left completely and quite intentionally secondary to the unerring focus on Porter.

Kolymsky Heights is a thoroughly immersive thriller, rich in Siberian history and culture and it is freezing cold to the core. The novel, nor Porter, engaged my emotions but I don’t think it wanted to. This is a novel – and leading character – to marvel at. It’s not my favourite thriller – that title belongs to Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal – but it is groundbreaking and significant as well as one of the finest depictions of a quest that I am likely ever to read.

The Machine Awakes by Adam Christopher

The Machine Awakes | Adam Christopher | 2015 | Titan Books | 383p | Review copy | Buy the book

The Machine Awakes by Adam ChristopherSecret agent Von Kodiak is supposedly dead, his identity remade to help him in his ambitious plan to bring down one of the biggest gangsters in this part of the Galaxy. But just when he is about to make his sting, after many months of preparation, Von Kodiak is pulled out by his boss at the Fleet Bureau of Investigation, Laurel Avalon, and taken back to Earth.

The Admiral of the Fleet has been assassinated, only days after he was secretly deposed by his council for failing to defeat humanity’s greatest threat, the Spiders, with telepathically-trained, elite troops. All of these troops are tagged and Avalon believes that this proves that one of them was the assassin, Tyler Smith. Unfortunately, Smith was recently killed in a battle with the Spiders – at the same time, worryingly, that his sister Cait disappeared from the Fleet Academy. Von Kodiak is tasked with locating Cait. But during the briefing the new Admiral is killed. Something far more sinister is at work here, something that threatens the stability of the Fleet and the security of Earth. Very little now stands between Earth and the monstrous bio-robotic planet-sized Spiders, which have already in a previous attack destroyed most of the southern hemisphere.

The Machine Awakes is set in the same universe as The Burning Dark but they are very different books, with little more than the Spider Wars linking them. You don’t need to have read one to read the other. The Burning Dark is a horror story set on a claustrophobic space station. In The Machine Awakes the universe is greatly expanded and the Spiders are much more than ominous ghosts. They are now very real and getting closer by the day. As the novel begins it is clear that something very sinister is happening within Jupiter’s storms. The pressure is on.

The Machine Awakes is military science fiction spiced with a liberal sprinkling of conspiracy. We’re shown a future on Earth where the rich live in walled enclaves and the poor and the criminal exist outside in large ruinous urban sprawls. Fear of the Spiders and resentment of the rich have spawned religious cults which threaten the status quo while many seek a way out through enlisting in the Fleet to fight the Spiders on desolate, God forsaken distant planets. But the Spiders are just one sign of the ominous rise of artificial intelligence in this universe, there’s plenty more of that here and our hero Von Kodiak and Cait are in their sights.

This is an entertaining and fast thriller. It’s pumped full of action, half on earth, half in space, and there are plenty of twists and turns as Koviak tries to find Cait and then work out exactly who or what is running things. But I did have issues and would have welcomed more to it. I was fond of Cait but I would have liked her to have had more to do. She is undoubtedly gifted and strong, more than able to give better than she takes, but for much of the book she is a confused and tortured victim, sometimes literally being carried along. Kodiak is much more rounded but there are red herrings scattered throughout, suggesting that his plot to bring down the gangster would play a more prominent role in the book than it actually does. As for the psi-troops, I would have liked to have learned much more about them – especially Tyler Smith – and their war with the Spiders.

Adam Christopher intrigues me with the Spider Wars series. I really enjoy being frightened by this universe and this has continued from The Burning Dark. At the end of that book, I was so eager to have more Spiders and Adam Christopher has answered me. These are truly terrifying creatures on an unbelievably hideous scale. There is a strong sense that people are only just hanging on and it comes as no surprise that the Fleet is under attack – people are frightened and suspicious. But what is very clear is that the biggest threat to mankind might not be what they fear the most.

On a purely superficial note, I love the covers of these books…

Other review
The Burning Dark

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary

No Other Darkness | Sarah Hilary | 2015 | Headline | 416p | Review copy | Buy the book

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary Terry Doyle discovers a terrible thing when digging a new vegetable patch in the garden of his not-very-old house. He finds a buried chamber or vault and within it are the decayed remains of two small children, spooned together on a bed, surrounded by tins of food. Terry feels compelled to wait at the entrance to the tomb until DI Marnie Rome arrives. He doesn’t want to leave the children on their own. And when Marnie descends into the pit, she’s faced with one of the most tragic sights of her career as the details of the last days of these children’s lives begin to emerge from the dark.

The opening pages of No Other Darkness are among the most harrowing I’ve read, immediately giving an urgency to the investigation that will follow. This is a street in which a child has disappeared before. People are suspicious, they peer through windows at their neighbours, even more so at strangers, including the police. Not surprisingly, this is a crime that strongly affects local children. Marnie and her DS Noah Jake must use all their skill and delicacy to tease statements out of the street’s parents and children.

In No Other Darkness we meet Marnie Rome and her DS Noah Jake for the second time and it’s very good to be back with them. It is a relief after the traumatic start to spend time with the order and method of Marnie’s investigation, to watch out for clues and lies. I won’t reveal where they lead us as this is a plot that you must watch unwind for yourself. Its ending, though, when it comes, is nigh on perfect.

Marnie is a wonderful creation, extremely real, complex and, what I particularly appreciate, interesting. We know from Someone Else’s Skin that there is trauma in her past and this has even more of an influence here. It’s not laboured, it’s dealt with well. While there is no need to have read Someone Else’s Skin first (although why would you deprive yourself of such a pleasure?), it’s very satisfying here to watch characters and relationships develop and move on. There is much more here about Marnie and Ed – Ed really intrigues me, I like what I’m learning about him – and we also learn more about Noah Jake and his partner Dan as well as his family, especially his brother Sol. The background to No Other Darkness is rich and layered and there’s clearly much that can be explored in future novels.

Sarah Hilary is such a good writer, the dialogue is particularly strong and the third person narrative mixes well with the intermittent first person memories from the past that puzzle and tantalise as the novel goes on. No Other Darkness takes us, and DI Marnie Rome, to some dark places but there’s a real warmth and care in Sarah Hilary’s handling of these difficult themes. It is also extremely difficult to put down. I thought this would be good and I wasn’t disappointed. What a fabulous novel.

Other review
Someone Else’s Skin

Hidden by Emma Kavanagh

Hidden| Emma Kavanagh | 2015 | Century | 352p | Review copy | Buy the book

Hidden by Emma KavanaghCharlie comes to consciousness in the midst of a scene from hell. Furniture overturned, blood everywhere, bodies fallen, her hand gripping that of a man she must cling on to, keeping him alive despite the bullets. Charlie recognises the people lying around her. Some are friends, others are just people to nod to, but they’ve all had their lives extinguished by a lone gunman who stalked this hospital and coldly fired into the crowd in its lobby and coffee bar. Charlie is a reporter. She is an excellent witness and she becomes our eyes and ears as we move backwards and forwards through the course of one very hot week in late August as she, and the gunman, try to work out what it was that blew the fuse.

The opening scene in Hidden is shocking and abrupt. It introduces us to people who have been dead for just minutes, people that we will get to know and care for as we travel back through the events of the preceding week. We can be in doubt how the novel will finish. We see its bloody denouement on the very first page but when we finally reach these scenes again at the novel’s end we are all much wiser. Because we know what’s coming and because the chapter headings tell us how many days we have left before the shooting the tension builds like a ticking bomb.

But Emma Kavanagh doesn’t give us a straightforward investigation. The novel moves around through the days chapter by chapter but also within the page. The reader is expected to have his or her wits about them. Memories and previous events are never far away from the present, they affect it and the people in the novel are continually thinking about their lives, relationships and experiences, just as we all do in reality.

Charlie is not our only perspective although its her first person, present tense narrative that holds the books together most of all. We are given another first person present tense voice and this one belongs to the shooter. The other perspectives are in the third person, past tense and give us the viewpoints of psychologist Imogen and Aden, a police fire arms officer. All of these strings illuminate the others. The same people appear in them all (bar the shooter’s – he’s keeping things under wraps for now) and our understanding of their relationships grows as we see them in such a range of lights. All the time, the reader watches out for clues, trying to work out the identity of the shooter – I had a couple of suspects but I didn’t get it right.

Largely moving between the hospital, the newspaper office and the police station, the story is linked by a couple of strands – the death of a young nurse at the start of the week on the motorway at night and the second, longer term significance of a police shooting a year before. Emma Kavanagh uses her personal experiences (as a police and military psychologist and training firearms officer) here to good effect, treating a very difficult subject with great skill and sensitivity, not to mention pace and drama.

Hidden is Emma’s second novel and it follows an excellent debut, Falling. I enjoyed Falling very much indeed but I think Hidden is even better. It’s tense, tight and disturbing (in a good way) and clearly written by an author who knows what she’s writing about. Its structure is particularly clever and the author is to be congratulated on controlling it so well. There are a fair few psychological thrillers out there at the moment but this one most definitely deserves your attention.

Other review
Falling

Eagles at War by Ben Kane

Eagles at War | Ben Kane | 2015 (23 April) | Preface | 432p | Review copy | Buy the book

Eagles at War by Ben KaneIn AD 9 there was nothing routine about taking an army into the Teutoberg Forest but commander Varus could have had little idea what lay in wait for his three legions when he led them east of the Rhine. Varus’s orders were to consolidate Roman control in this dangerous Germanic border region, to show Rome’s might, assert its authority. But history tells us of the disaster that followed. Varus would be betrayed. His close adviser Arminius, a Romanised German, was friend in name only. He secretly united the Germanic tribes and together they turned the Teutoberg Forest into a place of ambush, terror, blood and slaughter. Varus’s legions lost their eagles, their sacred standards, swiftly followed by their lives in Rome’s most infamous defeat.

I have been fascinated by the story of Varus and his lost eagles since I was a child – I remember watching I, Claudius with Brian Blessed shouting out Augustus’s famous cry ‘Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions!’. Since then I’ve read what I can, followed the archaeological investigations which finally managed to tie down the place of ambush to a site transformed by earthworks of entrapment, and I’ve been waiting for a novel to bring the Battle of Teutoberg Forest to life. I was thrilled when I heard that Ben Kane was tackling the subject and now that I have read it, staying up late into the night to finish it, I can tell you that Ben Kane has nailed it. My expectations were through the roof, there would have been no blame if not met, but Eagles at War is a book I’ve been waiting for and it is outstanding.

We know the history of what happened in the Forest, we know the fate of most of the men who entered it. We know much of why it happened and we also know something of what happened afterwards when Augustus became fixated on revenge. But Eagles at War succeeds brilliantly because he puts us into the hearts and minds of these men – not just the Romans, but also the Germans, not just the Roman leaders but also their foot soldiers, the men who were terrified out of their wits by the war cries of Germans hidden within the trees, who fought back to back in the trampled mud and died one by one, picked off by an enemy they could barely see. Ben Kane takes us down the ranks, down the line of the marching soldiers, from Varus, the naive general, to Tullus, his experienced centurion, to Piso and his tentmates, the rank and file of the Roman army, scrambling for their lives. From these fascinatingly different perspectives we see the battle from all sides – including the enemy’s point of view. We know from the beginning the plans of Arminius, we watch his plan form, falter and then come to fruition. We meet the Germans digging the ambush ditches, we witness the squabbles between the tribes, and we feel their hatred of the Roman invaders. Brutality will be rewarded with brutality. There will be no mercy.

Suspense is keenly felt throughout. For much of the first half of the novel we see what life is like on this Rhine frontier. The routine, order and normality of military life provides a perfect contrast to the chaos and terror that is to follow in the second. I particularly enjoyed the scenes when we watch at work the units trained to hunt and capture wild animals for the amphitheatres of the empire. We see bridges being constructed, the infrastructure of Roman rule being built, bridging the Rhine, edging roads into the forest. Tullus is a great character – strong, no-nonsense, honourable, experienced, and worth his weight in gold to Rome’s commanders. Watching him at work with his men, and also watching them at work and play, makes the tragedy to come even more unbearable and bitter. One surprise is how much I came to feel for Varus. I felt very badly for him indeed.

Eagles at War reads like a grand epic of disaster, building up to its historical climax while maintaining the tension and drama throughout. When the ambush comes, it is spellbinding. Ben Kane knows what it’s like to march like a Roman soldier and his expertise and practical knowledge comes to the fore. He also knows the site of the battle and he paints its landscape vividly, bringing the past into the present. The battle scenes, which are absolutely astonishing, reminded me of when I watched The Deer Hunter as a teenager, giving me a similar sense of terror and expectation. This is quite a compliment because I haven’t read or seen anything from then until this which gave me that same pungent sense of the horror of war.

Eagles at War is the first in a trilogy. This fills me with excitement. The ending of Eagles at War is completely satisfying. It sets the stage perfectly for what is to come. This is a complex, crucial time in the building of Rome’s Empire. It would never be the same again and it’s not a subject that deserves to be rushed. Ben Kane has done it justice, producing a breathless, thrilling read. I have always enjoyed Ben Kane’s books but, for me, without doubt, Eagles at War is his finest. It is completely focused and superbly structured, its intimate moments mixing well with its grand historical vista. This is historical fiction at its best. Bravo, Ben!

Other reviews
Hannibal: Enemy of Rome
Hannibal: Fields of Blood
Hannibal: Clouds of War
Spartacus
Spartacus: Rebellion
With others A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii

The Atlantis Gene by A.G Riddle

The Atlantis Gene | A.G. Riddle | 2015 (orig. 2013) | Head of Zeus | 516p | Review copy | Buy the book

The Atlantis Gene by A.G. RiddleClocktower is a secret global agency, dedicated to combat international crime, but its headquarters across the world are compromised, many of its agents assassinated. David Vale, based in Jakarta, is one of the few chiefs to survive. On the run for his life, he is in possession of coded clues which hint at the involvement of a ruthless organisation, Immari. Immari have their fingers in many pies, funding a host of scientists and businesses for reasons best known to themselves. Among them is geneticist Kate Warner’s research into Jakarta’s autistic children. When they kidnap two of the children, Kate has no choice but to go after them. It’s not long before Kate and David join what limited resources they have, following the clues that soon become a trail of dead bodies. Meanwhile, scientists in the Antarctica discover a mysterious vessel buried into the ground surface, hundreds of feet below the ice. Attached to it is a submarine that hints at another dark hunt, one that took place decades ago, funded by the Reich.

What follows is a pageturner of the most frenetic and exhilarating kind as Kate and David become both hunters and prey. We quickly follow them across continents, their chase picking up clues from past and present, including archaeological remains, an old diary, chambers within the deepest mines. Everything suggests that Immari is about to set in motion a near extinction event. Mankind is about to be all but destroyed and the countdown is on and it can be measured in just a few days. Throughout, help and danger meet and confront Kate and David from the least expected sources, supporting their growing fear and belief that they have uncovered a global conspiracy that may be as old as humanity itself.

When I picked up The Atlantis Gene I had no idea that it would consume my waking hours for the next two days. I love thrillers but the best ones, the ones that I can completely lose myself in no matter how outlandish their premise or how fantastic their plot, are few and far between. I soon discovered that this book belonged in that fabulous category. I was hooked from the opening chapter.

To get to the bare bones, this is a genetic mystery that is hurtling towards a potential extinction level event. It has more than enough science in it to satisfy me, along with archaeological evidence and anthropological theory. It also moves around in an exciting way – shifting between countries and continents as well as moving through time. It is packed to the rooftops with action, bloody murder, conspiracies, wonders and baddies. The second half of the novel in particular is a fascinating mix of historical mystery and present-day techno thriller, all involving some very likeable and rounded figures, as well as others who are pleasingly despicable and yet, at least some of the time, motivated by reasons that are understandable.

The Atlantis Gene is a substantial novel, at over 500 pages, but I’d have happily read double the number of pages. Fortunately, it is the first of a trilogy. This is just as well because there is so much more to discover, so many secrets, so many lies… Intriguingly, I’m told that the follow up novels (The Atlantis Plague and The Atlantis World) include an increasing amount of science fiction, adding another edge to this thoroughly entertaining and thrillfest of a trilogy. The scope of The Atlantis Gene is both enormous and ambitious. It is also confident and assured. As with all such thrillers, it does rely on the reader reigning in their sense of disbelief but I had no trouble at all with that. Luckily, I have the other two books in the trilogy to read and the test for me will be to see how long I can resist them while I catch up on my other review books – I give it a week.

The Atlantis Gene was first published in 2013. The whole trilogy has now been picked up by Head of Zeus and is being reissued in print and ebook format. Good!

Clash of Iron by Angus Watson

Clash of Iron | Angus Watson | 2015 | Orbit | 533p | Review copy | Buy the book

Clash of Iron by Angus WatsonClash of Iron follows hot on the heels of its fabulous predecessor Age of Iron and so, if you haven’t read the first, then I would suggest you rush off and do so before you read the second. Clash of Iron isn’t especially spoilery for what went before but it would definitely improve the reading experience if you already know Dug, Lowa, Spring and Ragnall, characters who make a triumphant return in this new adventure and have to face a whole new challenge in the rather merciless and empire-hungry shape of Julius Caesar. Spoilers for Age of Iron (review here) may lurk in the review below.

Lowa is queen, ruler of Maidun Castle, a warrior who leads an army of tens of thousands. She keeps one eye on the surrounding tribes, any of whom could field an army bigger than her own, while the other is fixed southwards to Gaul through which Julius Caesar is battling his way to Britain. Lowa has her hands full and would not be pleased to hear that her so-called allies plot with others to combine their armies against her. And none of these rival kings and queens would win a beauty contest. These are vicious, bloodthirsty men and women who like only one thing more than torturing and maiming and that is torturing and maiming a queen they’ve trodden underfoot. While Lowa trains her army, the hammer-wielding warrior Dug lives a quiet life on his newly acquired farm. His feelings for Lowa are complicated. He thinks it better to keep his distance. Meanwhile, Spring, the powerful girl-Druid, moves between the homes of Lowa and Dug, coming into her own as a beautiful young woman, learning (and often failing) to understand her magic.

But the action here isn’t all in Britain. Ragnall, the apprentice Druid, is in Rome, officially to get to know Caesar and his plans but unofficially falling in love with the place, with its underground heating, its clean non-fur clothes, its fine dining, its cheeky ladies and the frequent parties. And perhaps he becomes more than a little inspired by its callous greed and general nastiness to non-Romans. Clearly, Ragnall didn’t work out as a spy and so Lowa has to send two more, this time from among her closest friends. Their mission is to travel through Gaul, helping their resistance to Rome, giving Lowa time to build her army.

This is a time when everyone seems to be on the move – armies are invading left right and centre, Caesar’s march is causing mass migrations across northern Europe, slaves are ending up all over the place, and yet Briton and Roman can still meet over the dinner table just as they can across a battlefield.

Clash of Iron is a glorious, violent, energetic, humorous, unapologetically anti-Caesar, bloody romp through late Iron Age Britain. Its tribes have unfamiliar names – because the Romans misnamed them – and places seem familiar but slightly strange (Maiden Castle is Maidun Castle and so on) – because the Romans couldn’t get their facts straight – but it feels strongly rooted in the British past at a time when most would have been aware of the storm gathering across the channel. These tribal figures from Britain and Gaul are larger than life – in some cases quite literally – and mind boggling. Many stick in the brain and I’ll leave you to marvel at them for yourself but I’ll mention one of them, King Hari the Fister (known to the Romans as Ariovistus). What a shocker this outrageous mass-killing man is in some kind of strange grotesque Henry VIII kind of way. You’d have thought no king could be worse but then there’s Manfrax and his blood shake. There is no end to the array of tortures on display in this late Iron Age world. It’s quite an eye opener. And that’s before we even get to the Druids.

Talking of Druids, Caesar is not against using their power and rumours that he has some kind of Druid legion march ahead of his army. Caesar is both horrifying and hilarious. This is a man who only speaks in the third person, who kills two boys before narrating to his scribe how he took two boys into his tent, fed them and treated them as if they were his own sons. The rewriting of history takes place before our eyes.

There are differences from Age of Iron. Dug and Spring have less of a role than they did before, especially Spring, although I sense that she will come into her own in Reign of Iron, the final book in the trilogy. I missed Dug, despite the novel’s many distractions. There is much more magic here, some of it dramatic. It did fit into the mood of the novel, though. There is a strong sense that this is a world out of control, abandoned by all caring gods, and so Druid magic and superstition is bound to be on the rise, although not all of it is black. I preferred Age of Iron slightly (it was one of my top books of 2014 after all) but I think that’s because a) Age of Iron seemed less fantastical to me and b) Age of Iron is an incredibly strong target to beat. I really appreciated the length of Clash of Iron at well over 500 pages – there is a lot to get into.

Clash of Iron is a bloodthirsty novel. I did screw up my eyes in squeamish shock at quite a few of its more imaginatively gory moments but it doesn’t once stop being a thoroughly entertaining and fun read, packed full of battles, tribal politics and all out mayhem and war. I loved the scenes in Rome, looking at the city through the eyes of a Briton so far from home. I enjoyed getting to know Lowa better as she struggles to hang on to her throne in the face of unimaginable opposition, pain and cruelty. Caesar is an absolute delight! Although not in a good way. Moments of sadness and tragedy lie in store for many but overall Clash of Iron, like its predecessor, is an exuberant whirlwind of a read that never stops rewarding its happy reader. I cannot wait for Reign of Iron published later this year.

Other review
Age of Iron