‘She grinned in the dark and clutched her knife. The knife was always there. Touch of iron. Touch of home.’
I read a lot of fantasy. A LOT of fantasy. I like my fantasy dark. Give me a bleak world, give me a broken down government, give me heroes who are total badasses, who have a little psychopath in them. I like the morally grey. It takes a lot to shock me. Well Touch of Iron shocked the shit out of me. I had to put the book down and take a breather. It is violent, it’s bleak, it’s brutal. It’s fucking wonderful.
Synopsis from Goodreads –
Is the Living Blade real or just a legend?
With it… Prince Bashan could win back his kingdom.
Master Telen Diaz can free himself of the burden from his past.
Owen Smith sees a once-in-a-lifetime chance to gain untold knowledge.
… but for Noraya Smith, the Living Blade will bring nothing but suffering and sorrow.
I have had the hardest time writing a review for this wonderful book. I couldn’t even wrap up the plot in a way I was happy with so I have had to do the Goodreads thing, which I’ve been trying to break away from. I honestly don’t even know if this, my sixth or seventh attempt, will end up completed.
Ok, so where do I even start. Lets go with the characters, because as much as Touch of Iron is full of well written action and battle scenes, this is a character driven book. Nora is at the heart of it all and she is such a delicious character. She fucking flourishes throughout. She has been judged, harassed and burdened by other peoples expectations all her life. Escaping her village with her twin brother Owen, she ends up in the clutches of Prince Bashan and his crew of mercenaries who are hunting for the Living Blade. Once again she finds herself not fitting in, a target for despicable men, she is left wondering where her place is. Nora is brave, stubborn and determined. She loves her brother more than anything and has a passion for fighting. She is willing to go to great lengths to get what she wants and if that means single handily going up against a group of bandits terrorising a town she will, if it means facing the plains in Winter she will and if it means going where she isn’t wanted, she will. Getting to know Nora was such a pleasure, there are so many layers to who she is, which we get peeks at slowly. Just when you think you have her completely figured out we get a glimpse of an event in her past that makes you look at her in a new light. She has plenty of issues, but she works hard and fights harder. A lot of shit is thrown at her, but she gets up and keeps going.
Our other main characters are fully fleshed out. Diaz is freaking superb, he has so much depth and backstory and I feel like there is so much more for us to find out, which I’m really looking forward to. Even characters who we only get glimpses of are well written and pop off the pages.
The plot, holy shit guys, hold onto your seat. The premise seemed quite simple when I read the synopsis, well the story is anything but! There is a hell of a lot going on. Even during passages where the characters were travelling for long periods of time, I never got bored. The way it was done was masterful.
The setting is really bloody grim. Not only is the story set away from big cities and towns, it’s Winter, the people are being ignored by their rulers, bandits are running loose, women are expected to get married and have babies, newborn twins are left in the forest for the wolves to eat. It’s a tough place. It was the perfect setting for the story.
It could be tough reading some of the scenes, but I felt like karma was served nicely most of the time. The fight scenes were well written, the tension built nicely throughout. I thought the story flowed really well. I can’t forget to mention the cover. I love it, I’m going to have to pick myself up a physical copy as it needs to be on my shelves!
Overall this was a hell of a read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was one of the darker books I have read in a while. I loved that it didn’t hold back. The world was brutal and it was all there for us to see.