Please note The White Towers is a direct sequel to The Iron Wolves so it is entirely possible that this review may contain something akin to spoilers. Read on at your own peril…
It’s a universal truth that when one evil falls, another will rise to take its place. Orlana the Changer is gone. The Iron Wolves have dealt with her and her army of mud orcs in their own inimitable style. However, no sooner has Orlana been dispatched than the Elf Rats are on the rise.
The Wolves continue to be a thoroughly disreputable, sometimes almost contemptible, bunch and you can’t help but love them for it. There is nothing better than an anti-hero, a character you know you should probably hate but can’t help but enjoy. The great thing is that every single one of the Wolves falls squarely into this category. In all honesty, I’d be hard pressed to tell you which of them is my favourite. If you put a gun (or should that be axe?) to my head, I’ll admit a soft spot for Narnok. You just can’t beat a gruff warrior with an introspective streak who still manages to get carried away like a maniac in the heat of battle.
Each member of this most dysfunctional of families is flawed, in some cases almost beyond repair. Addiction, violence, jealousy and yet more violence, all help to contribute to the group dynamic. Remic’s writing makes it all but impossible not to get drawn into the group’s adventures. As an extra bonus, on top of all the usual Iron Wolf related mayhem, there is a new character called Mola of the Dogs. Turns out, like the other members of his old platoon, he’s a complete maniac (and damned awesome to boot).
Now I’d imagine some of you will be asking the questions “How do I know if Mr Remic is the right author for me? Should I be reading The White Towers?” Fear not, here are a few key points that you may wish to consider that will allow you to make an informed decision. (1) Things regularly get extremely violent – blood, guts, and gore abound. Seriously, try and imagine the most graphic scene you have ever read. Got it? Good. Multiply that by about a factor of 100 and then add more axes. (2) The adult language used is fruity enough to make the most hardened longshoreman blush. Put it this way, there is a character whose name I can’t even mention in this review because it would probably upset more than a few people. If the swearing in this book had a cinematic rating it would best be described as 18 (hard R) rather than PG 13 (3) There is some nudey mixed-gender wrestling that was explicit enough to make my face go beetroot red. (4) Read The Iron Wolves first. You’ll be missing out on a real treat if you haven’t read the first part of this series. You need to know why this group are the way they, and the first novel offers invaluable insight.
When it comes to all this adult content I count myself a fan of Remic’s raw, often visceral, style. I think it takes genuine skill to know when to go all out and when a moment is best left to a reader’s own imagination. I’ve read more than a few examples from other authors attempting to deliver fictional shocks. More often than not they tend to get this delicate balance wrong. Andy Remic however always manages to tread this fine line with the masterful skill I’ve come to expect.
There is always a concern that the second book in a series will underwhelm. Is it possible to achieve the same lofty heights as book one? I’m pleased to report, that in this case at least, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. There is some great character development and many of the deliberate gaps that existed in various backstories are being filled in. The more I learn about the Wolves history the more it surprises me that the members of this group haven’t ended up hacking one another to bits. Various secrets and grudges keep things bubbling along nicely. As I said before, they are a flawed bunch, but from a reader’s standpoint perfectly so.
Book two of The Rage of Kings series ends on a suitably shocking note, an impressive feat in itself considering there have been pages and pages of chaos and bloodshed already. I now find myself in the midst of a quandary. I need to know what happens next, immediately if not sooner. Like a warrior addicted to the honey leaf, I’m already craving my next Iron Wolves fix. Damn you Remic! Damn you and your sneakily evil, blackest of black hearts, with all your insanely readable stories and your utterly nutty characters. There had better be more and it had better arrive bloody soon or I will be forced to take drastic action*
* That’s right I’ll be forced to unleash a sternly worded e-mail. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The further adventures of the Iron Wolves begins with a Hollywood escape from dire peril, where we left them at the end of book one. It soon becomes a belter skelter road trip to fight the elf rats as opposed to the horse lady, Orlana. Much fighting, bloodshed, limb ripping and a bit of magic later we arrive at introspection, love and some discreet sex.the ending sees some of our merry band getting drunk in a tavern and two apparently dead as we await another grand battle. Fine breathless stuff with the only quibble being that horses have to eat and drink too which tarnishes the wonder of their epic treks, I won't say believable. Roll on the sequel, soon please.
The Iron Wolves - first in the Rage Of Kings series - was my favourite book from last year. Brutal, honest Fantasy with incredibly well fleshed-out characters who you just couldn't help but love(despite their many flaws) I'm thrilled to say that The White Towers builds on everything the first book did so well and raises the bar for Grimdark authors everywhere! I was griped from page one and read through in two days. I already look forward to rereading it. If you're new to the series then grab the first one too but if you already loved that then order this right away!
Andy returns with his hard hitting fantasy world bringing no nonsense action to the reader wrapped up in cracking prose and stunning pace as our heroes seek to not only survive but face the gratitude of kings for all their hard work. It’s a cracking title and for me, I love the way that characters interaction really helps bring the world to life.
All in a great second title for a top notch series and one that really does help establish Andy as perhaps fantasy’s bloodiest author with high body count.
Excellent. Even better than the first book in the series. The characters really shine through and you feel joined with them on their quest. Fantastic battle and fight scenes which really capture the imagination. It was a pleasure to read. Thank you.