Last year Jen Williams broke onto the scene with her first novel, The Copper Promise, (my book of the year 2014).
2015 sees the arrival of a new story in the series, The Iron Ghost, a huge doorstopper of a book - and I have been eagerly waiting ever since I was aware of it's release date. We are re-united with the heroes of The Copper Promise - Wydrin of Crosshaven (aka The Copper Cat), Sir Sebastian and Lord Aaron Frith. After their escapades and heroics in their previous adventures they are in demand and this adventure finds them heading to the city of Skaldshollow. It should be an easy job but, as you would expect, nothing is ever simple. The Narhl have stolen The Heartstone from Skaldshollow, and they want it back as it is central to all life in the city, so, go to the Narhl, find and return the stone, job done, simple.
But, as I mentioned before, nothing here is ever simple. There are much darker things at hand and at the root of it all is the ancient mage Joah Demonsworn who wants to return to the world. He wants Aaron by his side (well, he wants his magic and his knowledge).
There is much here that was present in The Copper Promise - great characterisation, great world building, great banter and story telling that really knocks it out of the park. This time though it is all taken up a notch. When I reviewed The Copper Promise I likened it to Dungeons and Dragons for a new generation. Well, if TCP was Dungeons and Dragons then The Iron Ghost is the Expansion Pack - new areas, new characters, new creatures, new spells etc. But this isn't just any expansion pack, this is the one you would queue outside the shop all night to get your hands on - it really is that good.
In Jen Williams we have someone with a gift for storytelling that not many have, and that is the ability to not just tell a tale but to actually take you inside the story, to let you stand with their characters in their darkest moments and good times too, to let you live the story, not just read it. I will be the first to admit it took me a bit longer than usual to finish this book but there is a simple reason for that - I was dragging it out because I didn't want it to end. I will be revisiting this series on a regular basis and can assure you that they will have pride of place on my bookshelves.
There has been talk before of the lack of prominence of female authors in the genre - well here is one who deserves to be top of the pile. Take a bow Jen Williams, you've done a grand job.