**WARNING — THIS BOOK IS GRAPHIC AND THE REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SOME GRAPHIC CONTENT AS WELL**
The sci-fi/fantasy genres do not lack for hack-’em/slash-’em books. You know…lots of fighting, lots of blood, magic that rips people apart, that sort of thing. I’ve only just recently heard the term “grimdark” applied to this form of the genre, and Andy Remic’s The Iron Wolves is appropriately given this “grimdark” label.
In this book, a wicked sorceress, Orlana the Changer, is on a mission to control the country. She is able to call up the army of mud-orcs, but needs human flesh and blood to do so. But she also is able to splice humans and horses to create a centaur creature to complete her army. Orlana has decided to team up with a human king, but first she needs to get rid of his three pesky wives, who are as gnats to her. She does this by roasting them on a skewer over a fire and feeding their flesh to the king. The purpose of this isn’t just for the sake of gore and deprivation, but to set up Orlana as the baddest possible villain. Why? Because our heroes are not, by any means, Boy Scouts.
Our heroes, the Iron Wolves, were a a band of fighters who successfully fought off the mud-orcs in a battle many years ago, ending the war of Zakora. But being a hero doesn’t ensure love and success when a war is over. The Iron Wolves went their own ways and they are now thieves and assassins and drug smugglers. They reunite, grudgingly…very very grudgingly … to take on Orlana and the mud-orcs again.
Most of this book is set-up. It sets up Orlana and how nasty she is. It sets up what has happened to all the members of the old Iron Wolves team. It sets up the need for the reunion of the Iron Wolves. It sets up the next book.
There’s plenty of action … Remic writes well (if gory) and anyone who enjoys the genre will find this a page-turner based on the writing alone. But it lacks a true story. It’s all prelude with a massive battle bringing the book to a climax, but we know that this isn’t what the book has set out to do…the book has set out to bring the band of Wolves together again for something that we likely don’t know about yet. Orlana, with her splicing and mud-orcs is their test.
It’s adventurous and exciting and disgustingly bloody, and I’ll look forward to seeing what is next for the Iron Wolves band, but I will definitely hope for a book with more than just set-up after set-up.
Looking for a good book? The Iron Wolves is bloody good hack-’em/slash-’em or ‘grimdark’ fantasy with some of the baddest villains in fantasy, but since it took the entire book to get the old team together, we know there’s more in store.
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The Iron Wolves
author: Andy Remic
series: The Rage of Kings #1
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 457 pages