Synopsis (from Goodreads): The Kingdom of Hebrion has been thrown into turmoil, following its release from the clutches of the Church. Its capital in ruins, its king in a coma, Isolla, Abeleyn’s bride-to-be, and Jemilla, his scheming mistress, step into the power vacuum. Both are intent on taking control of Hebrion for themselves and a fierce power struggle ensues. To further complicate things, the explorer Richard Hawkwood returns to Hebrion with news of a new continent in the west and something terrible lurking in his ship’s hold. This third book in the series continues the acclaimed saga of politics and religion in a world rife with magic, terror and war.
***May Contain Spoiler If You Have Not Read Books #1 & 2***
The Iron Wars begins with a breathe of fresh air as we are introduced to Isolla, Princess of Astarac and betrothed of Abeleyn, King of Hebrion. She is the first strong female character in this series who does not use sex to get what she wants or gain power. Described as a plain woman with a large nose, she may not be a beauty but she does have brains. She allies herself with Golophin to care for Abeleyn after a terrible accident leaves him in a coma and commits herself to the good of her new kingdom. The Lady Jemilla is unfortunately still around, trying to gain herself a throne by claiming the baby she is carrying is the King’s heir.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the continent, Corfe is battling the Merduk hordes as well as his own country men. His King, Lofantyr, has no faith in him or his abilities to command, even though all of his campaigns have been successful. Corfe is probably the most interesting and enjoyable character to read about. His personality has depth, he earns the loyalty of his men instead of simply demanding it based on his rank.
Richard Hawkwood is mostly absent from the volume of the series, though his expedition is mentioned from time to time. Mostly, people assuming that he and all those who traveled with him are dead somewhere. Though Hawkwood was absent, I think throwing him into the midst of everything else that was happening would have detracted from the action already taking place.
Overall, I give the Iron Wars 3/5 stars.