Review: The Iron Beast by Andy Remic

Posted by DarkChaplain at 8/07/2016
A war is being waged in an impossible world.
The Skogsgra and the Naravelle have launched their final offensive, and Private Jones and his companions are caught in the melee.
Tens of thousands will die before the battle is over.
They travel deep underground, to find and release the Iron Beast... the one creature that can end not one world war, but two.
But at what cost . . . ?

The Iron Beast is the high-octane conclusion to Remic’s phenomenal Song For No Man’s Land trilogy.
This is the final book in the A Song for No Man's Land trilogy. I reviewed the others, and finished this one while on vacation in the US.

The Story:
"A war is being waged in an impossible world.
The Skogsgra and the Naravelle have launched their final offensive, and Private Jones and his companions are caught in the melee.
Tens of thousands will die before the battle is over.
They travel deep underground, to find and release the Iron Beast... the one creature that can end not one world war, but two.
But at what cost . . . ?

The Iron Beast is the high-octane conclusion to Remic’s phenomenal Song For No Man’s Land trilogy."


Disclaimer
I received an ARC for this book, like I did with the previous installment, Return of Souls. I originally picked up A Song for No Man's Land myself, so this was a great chance to get through the trilogy months ahead of time!

The Review:
The Iron Beast delivers the final piece in the A Song for No Man's Land trilogy, and offers answers to a lot of questions I had over the course of the previous two novellas. As I said in my previous reviews, I wasn't quite sure about this series. With this book wrapping it up, I feel more confident recommending it as a whole.

This one picks right back up from where Return of Souls left off. Robert Jones and Orana are on the way to her village, where they meet her family, most notably her father Jorian, who takes a prominent role in the rest of the book.

The Tommy quickly finds himself shunned by the villagers and Jorian, and is confronted with his own war-torn appearance. But the village is running out of time, and Jones has to go find the Stoneway to unleash the Iron Beast to end all wars, while Jorian and co are fending off the Naravelle offensive from their trenches.

Jones' journey quickly gets weird, utilizing more fantasy elements and combining both wars into one horror. Hints and prophecies from the first and second book come into play and start to make sense (sort of), with a climax that was both impressive and emotional.

Once again, I really enjoyed the trench warfare and the exploration of Jones' psyche. There was a chapter I mentioned in my review for Return of Souls, which was horrifying and traumatising, and said plotline got a proper follow-up here. This one was similarly traumatising if for different reasons - and I loved it. Likewise, Jones' confrontation with Jorian, which ends up rather badly for the soldier, and his situation within this new village, result in compelling diary entries.

Jones' experiences within the Stoneway, too, were compelling to read about. They provided a big contrast to the action back with Jorian and co, but one that I found satisfying and necessary. It added to the fantastical feeling of the series while making the reader contemplate the great wars in different terms. And by the end, it all came together nicely to provide a message that gives a certain sense of hope.

But then there are also some things and details that didn't quite add up for me. While most of my questions were answered, some new aspects were introduced that might have needed a little more fleshing out. Of course, leaving some mysteries unresolved can be interesting and necessary for a story to have more impact - and this happened here as well - but I still felt that clearer answers might have been nice in places. This includes, for example, the Walriders' fascination with and desire for Jones' eyes, and seeing through them, but also the Skogsgrå, who has been pulling strings ever since the start of the first book.

After all is said and done, The Iron Beast ends on a bittersweet note. Whether Remic will return to the setting again or not is to be seen, but if he does, there should be plenty of hooks to link into. But even without more content, A Song for No Man's Land feels complete and satisfying. There is some real payoff in this final installment that should satisfy everyone who got invested into Robert Jones' life over the past two books.

I don't regret my time with the trilogy. The psychological aspects alone made it worth diving into, and Remic's depictions of WW1 had the ideal tone. The Iron Beasts returns a bit of that feel via the Naravelle offensive, and I appreciated that.
Overall, I wasn't entirely keen on Orana, or rather how easily Jones fell for her. However, it is still plausible that he would, due to his situation being as screwed up as it is. It also felt more real in this final volume, so I don't begrudge it.

It won't be for everyone, but I was satisfied and "happy" with the book. If you enjoy dark, psychological military fantasy, this might be your cup of tea.

The Iron Beast on Goodreads

About the Author

I'm known as DarkChaplain across the internet, and call myself a passionate gamer and book enthusiast. I have been blogging mostly about games for a couple of years, but finally found my way to reviewing a different medium: Books. Honestly, I prefer that job so far.
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain


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