Review: Cold Iron (Masters & Mages #1) by Miles Cameron

Rating: 9/10



“Boasting is a way of saying you are weak”

When I started Cold Iron I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had a single expectation and that was that the swordplay would be rather technical as the author is into battle reenactments and fencing. I was actually a bit worried because I had never read something like that before and from some reviews I’ve seen that aspect of the writing really threw some people off. I’m happy to say I had nothing to worry about. I not only didn’t mind Miles Cameron’s writing style, but found it both engaging and fascinating in the clinical nature of its action.

Cold Iron follows the main character Aranthur as a single POV throughout the story. I really enjoyed Aranthur and he ended up being my favorite so far. I really liked being inside his head because he was just so relatable. It was like Miles Cameron put a normal, late teens/early 20s man into his story. Aranthur truly felt like a real person. In fact, he felt so real at times that I started to redefine what I meant when I say that about a character. This was definitely due in part to the fact that I relate personally so much to Aranthur. With his somewhat awkward relationships with women, his hormonal stage as a young man, self deprecation when he is being an idiot, honest and sincere heart, and a desire to be a good friend, I think a lot of people will find Aranthur not only relatable, but likable.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the excellent supporting cast of characters. A few of my favorites are Tiy Drako, Dahlia, Iralia, and General Tribane. However, all of the characters in this story, including the villains, are very well done.

“He could take some extra fencing lessons. He was in love with his sword, purchased in a used clothing market on a whim. With his rent money, because he was a fool.”

As I mentioned above, I really enjoyed the clinical nature of the prose when it came to swordplay. It took me a little while to get used to it, but once I did I really started to get into it. If you start this book and struggle a bit with the terminology, I encourage you to press on because it is something that I grew to appreciate in its uniqueness as the story went on.

There were also some themes explored in this book that I really enjoyed and are very relevant not only today but at all times. One of the things that this book dealt with was the strain and struggle that familial relationships can put a person through when they go out into the wider world and develop new beliefs that don’t necessarily coincide with what they were brought up to believe or think. Another theme was caring for those in need and specifically caring for refugees. Both of these combined to create a dialogue around prejudice, the selfishness and fear that prejudice often comes from, and the complex nature of relationships that was very interesting to read while at the same time not feeling preachy or overdone.

The plot did start out at a bit of a slow and steady pace as we are introduced to the world, characters, and given hints of a plot that involves more than just Aranthur’s little corner of the world. I will confess that my interest did start wavering a bit here and there during the beginning portions. However, that part was necessary to get to where the plot took off and boy did it take off. After about the 40% mark I did not want to put the book down because I had to know what would happen next!

I really enjoyed Cold Iron. In fact, I can make the confident prediction that this series will eventually sit on my favorites shelf. I plan on bingeing the entire trilogy once my buddy read group is all caught up. Within these pages you will find duels, ambushes, betrayals, intrigue, mystery, spies, magic, murder, and mayhem. This is a tale you don’t want to miss.

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