BLOG TOUR: Cold Iron by Miles Cameron
✨ My rating: ★★★
Published: 30 August 2018
Publisher: Gollancz (Orion Publishing Group)
Page count: 448
Recommended age: 13+
Genres: young adult, fantasy, historical ✨
Aranthur is a student. He showed a little magical talent, is studying at the local academy and is nothing particularly special. Others are smarter. Others are more talented. Others are quicker to pick up techniques. But none of them are with him when he breaks his journey home for the holidays in an inn. None of them step in to help when a young woman is thrown off a passing stage coach into the deep snow at the side of the road. And none of them are drawn into a fight to protect her. One of the others might have realised she was manipulating him all along...
❥ My Review
Cold Iron was one of those books that I wanted to be blown away by - the idea of dark magic and bloodthirst and violence in gloomy, candle-lit inns nestled in an epic historical fantasy world, all packaged nicely into a lovely thick paperback was music to my ears. Unfortunately, it ended up falling into the realm of just... okay.
I’d like to think I’m a reader who (on the whole) manages to get a pretty firm grasp on things, and rarely feels confused - unless the writing is a mess - about what’s going on in a book. This, however, was my downfall and I’m not going to pretend it didn’t frustrate me. Now, I’m not about to bash Cameron’s writing abilities because he’s a bestselling author for a reason and fantasy series are very much his thing, so in this case I want to make it clear that I think it was just a case of his style not really clicking with me personally, rather than a fault in his storytelling.
For a start, there are no chapters. The moment I realised this was not a particularly fun one, because I absolutely need frequent breaks in a story in order to stay engaged. But again, this is a preference personal to me. Then he also did this weird thing where he put random words in italics without any sort of explanation as to their significance and that threw me off quite a lot especially at the beginning. I would liken the experience to being dragged back in time and thrown into a completely foreign country with only snatches of conversation and the occasional strange word available to try and piece together both its history and current state of affairs. Ah, and I went on quite a journey trying to understand the magic system; it definitely become clearer as I went along, but I’m still left with an abundance of questions and remaining fairly lost for the first quarter or so of the book wasn’t a great experience for me.
On a more positive note though, I really liked Aranthur and thought the trajectory of his character was done well. Not only is this a fantasy story, it’s a coming-of-age tale following a young man becoming exposed to the brutality of life, who is as flawed as any of us and was made as realistic as he could have been in a world so far removed from ours. Yes, he made some decisions that frustrated me (and yes, I quite enjoyed watching him pay the consequences knowing I was right all along) but that just made him all the more of an entertaining protagonist to read about, and I admired his determination all the way through. Oh, and I believe he is described as having ‘brown skin’ so YAY for diversity.
Despite the aforementioned confusion, I was also very impressed by Cameron’s writing when it came to his depictions of landscape and setting as well as his very accomplished fight scenes. Although this book is on the longer side, the sheer amount of action made it a much quicker read than I expected and there’s this very ominous atmosphere of danger that permeates every page and makes you shiver. The whole story is incredibly raw and gritty, the kind that makes you want to heap violence on your vocabulary, and it constantly had me guessing who the real villain was.
Overall, I had some fairly mixed feelings about Cold Iron. There was definitely a barrier between me and the world in general and I don’t think enough explanation was provided of things in a lot of instances, which did largely hinder my enjoyment of reading it. However, I would still encourage you to pick this up if you are a fan of epic fantasies interlaced with history that feature ruthless characters and bucket-loads of bloodshed.