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The Iron Ghost

The Iron Ghost - Jen Williams Lord Frith, Wydrin and Sebastian, after their dragon-slayer escapades in The Copper Promise are now known as The Blackfeather Three and are roaming the land, sorting out people's other-worldly problems. However, an age-old mage is re-awakened and it seems Lord Frith is not the only mage with an ego problem...

Received this book via Bookbridgr*

This is the second book in The Copper Promise series, but it can actually be read as a stand-alone in retrospect. The Copper Promise had a plot ending and whilst this one contains the same characters, world and general overview, it's less of a trilogy and more of a follow-on. Having said that, there are references to The Copper Promise that are unexplained, so having the background knowledge would be useful.

I have to say I am deeply disappointed with this novel. I thought The Copper Promise was promising, 'scuse the pun and, whilst it had it's flaws, I thought Jen Williams was an author to watch out for. However, I don't think she learnt anything from her first novel and any criticism she may have been giving was certainly not taken on board.

The Copper Promise started out life as four short novellas and that was evident in the book, as it was split in to four segments with no attempt at meshing them. The Iron Ghost did not start out life as four novellas, but it was still written like it: four sections that were completely unnecessary: there was no point in having four parts at all. Whilst I understand the author may like the idea, if you're having a book split in to parts there needs to be a reason for it, either time-elapse or a different perspective in narration. Neither of these were present.

The characters were much in the same without any kind of difference from The Copper Promise. Whilst consistency is grand, some kind of character-growth would have been nice, and two characters falling in love doesn't constitute as growing. There was little to fault the characters except for this, but sometimes secondary characters felt a little flat and just there to be there.

Again, there was no map so, although world-building is primarily done through the text, fantasy novels rely very heavily on their worlds so a map in fantasy novels is pretty much expected. I thought the world-building in the text was much better done in this novel than in The Copper Promise, but occasionally it fell short. I did enjoy the varying lands and people in The Iron Ghost and this was explored to good effect, much better than in the first novel.

The writing style was the same as in The Copper Promise and was still pretty amateurish. There were the same trills of "suddenly several things happened at once" or "all of a sudden" and "then something funny happened" (paraphrasing but fairly accurate) which is terrible story-telling. There was also far too much dialogue. The whole story was carried via dialogue. Whilst at times it was real and amusing, very rarely did a paragraph go by that did not contain dialogue. I know dialogue is important, but it needs to be used sparingly and with good effect. Most of the time it was gibberish, and when the plot is carried by the dialogue, you can often miss important information if the dialogue skips from serious plot points to inane drivel.

My rating of this book is very harsh, but that's just because I was sincerely disappointed in the author for not really learning anything from her first novel experience. The story itself, whilst slightly recycled from the first of the series and every fantasy novel out there, was more of a 4 / 5 because it was a good fantasy journey, but altogether the elements produced something which was amateur at best. I will be reading the rest of the series (I assume it will be a trilogy) but I will certainly lower my expectations for it.