The Living Blade
Touch of Iron is not, as the Amazon blurb suggests, a tale of an epic quest of a Prince for a magic sword, although there is a Prince and he is on a quest for a magic sword. Neither is it is a story about Fae, as evoked by the title in the trend of supernatural fantasy. It is instead, the story of a girl called Noraya, who is running from a marriage she does not want and a village where she has never been accepted and who now turn against her.
All Noraya wants is to be with her twin brother, the only constant in her life, and to be safe. She is not so much running towards something however, but constantly running away. The iron that she touches is the blade that she forged herself in her now dead foster father’s forge, a reminder of a brief period of security in her life, a reminder that all she can rely on is that which she has made herself. Nora’s tale is that of the outcast, a role anybody who has ever felt they did not belong to can relate to, despite the fantasy setting.
The setting is medieval based fantasy, magic is limited, mainly talked of in half believed tales rather than a part of everyday life, there are of course one or two exceptions to this. One of the fantasy races is the “Wights” who are an isolated community of people who have distinctive physical attributes and live for many years longer than physical humans another is the “Blood Witches” although I am not sure if this is a race or magical practise. We have limited contact with either of these, which leaves the reader more to find out about the world this is set in.
The book is very dark and has a significant amount of violence, particularly where women are the victims of this, which may be difficult to read for some. The role of women in the world is unsurprisingly gender biased and Nora, unsurprisingly rebels against it. Given all the hardship and uncertainty that would be expected for a woman travelling to an unknown location with little in the way of resources, it is not entirely clear what was so unappealing about the marriage proposal from a man she seemed passingly fond of. Was it a sense of wanting something more or needing more control over her life and choices? It is not explained in the book, so sadly I don’t know.
This is a compelling book with interesting characters, the plot runs at a good pace and before you know it is over, perhaps a little abruptly.