Thirty years ago, the Iron Wolves held back mud-orc hordes at the Pass of Splintered Bones, and led a brutal charge that saw the sorcerer Morkagoth slain.
Now, a new terror stalks the realm. Orlana the Changer, has escaped from the Chaos Halls and is building an army, twisting horses, lions and bears into terrible, bloody hunters, summoning mud-orcs from the slime and heading north to battle the mighty region of Vagandrak where, it said, the King has gone insane…
General Dalgoran searches to reunite the heroes of old for what he believes will be their final battle. But Dalgoran discovers the Iron Wolves are no longer the heroes of legend, and they might just be more dangerous than the invading hordes…
Orcs, evil magic, gore, mutated creatures, and a mad King. Yep, this is grimdark fantasy alright.
The Iron Wolves can only be described as a rock band that have split up through musical differences, so to speak, and are considerably damaged. Ones a drug addict, ones a pit fighter, one kills couples in love, one hates the one that now fights in the pits, and the other tortures people for fun.
Okay, so not a band you would want at your next birthday party.
General Dalgoran seems to be the only one that can hold this wild bunch together, and even then he struggles to stop them from killing each other. But stand together again they must, against the threat of the very, very evil Orlana.
Orlana is ruthless in her methods of killing and no one is off limits. The Wolves are her only obstacle at getting to what she wants and she’s not letting beast nor man stand in her way. One scene in particular involves a rather gruesome meal, that will make the reader put down their lunch, one way or another
As the story progresses each of the wolves has a story to tell through their eyes and the reader gets this sense of how beyond repair they seem to be. Each battling inner demons that have been left to grow inside each of their souls and cripple each of these heroes.
Andy Remic has shown very successfully that these heroes haven’t saved King and Country against the odds, to come out unscathed. The things that the wolves have experienced are beyond horrific, and not just on the battlefield.
Throughout the novel, each fight and subsequent death of a Splice or Orc etc is described in detail. And I do mean every detail. At first, a description of disembowelment in detail becomes part of the shock factor that is associated with grimdark. But as the novel progresses it becomes quite tedious in its over-described form.
As does the ongoing evil deeds of Orlana the Horse Lady.
So did I enjoy The Iron Wolves?
The Iron Wolves is a pure gorefest. It had some very good moments and also some moments where, I’m sorry to say, I lost interest. The endless bickering between the Wolves, and not feeling any attachment to the characters themselves, but not through lack of trying, became a struggle. I wanted desperately to like Kiki and even though she seemed to have moments, in which I thought we made a breakthrough, I was immediately feeling ostracised by her and the others.
I felt at times the multiple view points of characters slowed the story down a lot. There were things that I wish were mentioned at the beginning, and then further explained. It almost felt that the ending was a bit jumbled together with many explanations of different things, mainly to do with magic (or magick), and then tied together to wrap things up, but I was left with a sense of “Where did that come from?”
I really liked the way that Andy Remic made things like Honey, appear dark and dangerous but still alluring, and the splice can only be described as bloody terrifying.
The Iron Wolves is definitely worth a read if only for the gore factor, of which there is blood and guts aplenty. Why not start the new year with a bit of grimdark!
The Iron Wolves is available from the 2nd of January in the U.K and out now in the U.S and Canada, from Angry Robot. Check out their website at http://www.angryrobotbooks.com and the authors website http://www.andyremic.com
Many thanks to the publishers who provided me with a copy of this book.