Fantasy Review: ‘The Iron Wolves’ by Andy Remic

The Iron Wolves: Book 1 of The Rage of KingsNote: Today’s post will be written by the old fantasy curmudgeon.  Just ignore him while he rants, he should be asleep by noon anyway.

Eh, you kids today wouldn’t recognize good fantasy if it slapped you in the face.  With your ‘secondary worlds’ and your ‘punks’ and whatnots.  I tried to read a fantasy novel a week ago that took place entirely in one city.  How the hell can it be a fantasy book without an epic quest?  That is what I want to know.  And don’t get me started on your ‘weird’ stuff, acting like teenagers with dog collars on while you read about slate moths and zombies and god knows what else.  Probably playing that heavy metal music while you do so, if I had my guess.

Now take this Andy Remic character, there is a guy that respects what camebefore.  He follows tradition and doesn’t think he is better than the rest of us, forging brand new paths that none of us want to go down thank you very much.  Take that new book The Iron Wolves.  Ancient evil raises an army and storms the unbreakable fortress that provides the human lands their last hope.  An old general gathers together his old company and travels through haunted woods and past plague lands to stop her.  There is DESTANY involved, because the wolves share a secret curse that makes them the best hope.

He recognized right away what was missing from most new fantasy, Orcs!  Tolkien showed us that orcs are gold; frankly if I don’t see an orc I don’t want anything to do with it.  Even that young punk Jordan had orcs, even if he felt he was better than Tolkien and gave them some silly trolloc name.  Good fantasy should involve a fight of humans against an overwhelming orc hoard, preferably at an ancient fotress with absurdly high walls.  Hmph, that Martin fellow got the wall right but forgot the orcs.  That is why his stuff will never be popular.  And that’s why I see big things ahead for Remic.  He didn’t just give us Orcs, but MUD Orcs.  Raised by sacrifice, led by even nastier mud orcs and a beautiful magic lady, this is a force I can respect.

Now every good fantasy should have a fellowship.  Don’t go calling me old fashioned, I don’t expect all my heroes to be goodie two shoes.  But they do need to be good to each other; that’s important to the story.  These Iron Wolves now, they are the real deal.  Brutish, nasty, but heroes all.  We know they drove back the last orc invasion and are called upon to do it again.  Watching them get together again is half the fun.  Did the fellowship of the ring get together at the Shire?  NO, they have to meet up in different places.  Remic gets that.  You got the drug addict haunted by the memory of her dead sister.  Some tough old brothers with their own feud.  A couple of broken individuals better known for murder than their old heroics, you know, a mixed bag of nasty.  They bicker, they get physical, they go barebones a time or two, and then they save each other and fight the orcs together, just like they should.

I want good fights or I am going home.  Big battles where I can hear the weapons clanging, feel the change in the air during a charge, cringe at every splash of blood.  What is it the kids are calling it?

Grimdark?

Eh?

Isn’t that what I said?

GRIMDARK?

Ok, what is the difference?

Fine.  GRIMDARK.  That’s fantasy that remembers how it’s done.  Don’t stray from the proven path.  Big nasty villain with untold magic, a fellowship with a quest, and lots of battles.  That’s what you kids should be looking for.  Not that your going to listen to me, no doubt you have some tale about a book within a book hiding behind your back.  No respect.

Now that ending left a bit to be desired, I expect a little more UMPH from my conclusions.  A bit anticlimactic, a bit too easy for our heroes; at least when it comes to the invasion.  But like a first book should do this one ends on a cliffhanger; a little political intrigue involving a mad king.  And I see the next book in the series involves the big tower that was being built in the background of this book; if that isn’t a good sign of things to come I don’t know what is.

Now let me tell you a bit about the women in this series.  A couple of fighters in addition to the nasty mage lady.  And at some point most of them got nekkid.  It has been too long since I read a book that described… {And with that we will leave this old curmudgeon to ramble by himself, perhaps suggest he go up for a cold shower.  And we promise to hide the scotch next time}.

4 Stars.  Formulaic, and for fans of GRIMDARK only I am sure, but much improved over the author’s Clockwork Vampire series.  Fast paced, good action and an interesting cast of anti-heroes.

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