Monday 12 November 2012

Hammering Iron

Hammering Iron by L.S. Lawrence (Omnibus)
PB RRP $16.99
ISBN 978-1-86291-971-6
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

In the Bronze Age, life and land was ruled by Lords and Kings. Life was harsh, but if boys were lucky they had a trade to enter. Fatherless brothers Niko and Paramon were lucky. Under the protection of Lord Agios, Niko becomes the Lord’s shield bearer and Paramon is a clerk apprenticed to the Lord’s store master. Neither is totally comfortable in the profession chosen for them but both are grateful for the position. Then the gods intervene and their fates are switched though an accident. Paramon must set off across unknown lands.

Much of the story centres on blacksmiths, forges and the forming of blades, knives and weapons such as swords. Swords were an important commodity but they were made of bronze and bronze was an expensive metal. Only the rich and powerful could afford to have them and amongst the weaponry in Lord Agios’ store house there was a grand total of six swords. Blacksmithing was a trade in which a hardworking and clever man could become rich, but the trade was only passed down through family lineages. Blacksmithing was a secretive profession.

Paramon is a great character. Fast on his feet, an original thinker, adventurer, brave, loyal and moral. He learns early the realities of battle, but it takes him longer to realise how dangerous secrets can be.

The author’s descriptions are very evocative. He talks of the heat in the forge moving through stages until it got to ‘sparking white-hot’. You could easily imagine you were in the forge alongside Paramon and Kurada as they worked. These characters were alive. They were easy to believe in and care about; their personal growth as the story progressed being central to the story. The dialogue was natural. It kept the story moving and was realistic in this fascinating and gripping story.

Hammering Iron is a captivating historical novel. The author explores fictional lives of those who may have shaped stories and changed history as the Bronze Age moved forward. This is a fantastic book for twelve year olds and up, especially those with an interest in history. It is very well written, easy to read and engrossing. I would happily seek out more books from this author.

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