The Iron Tower kindle – Albawater.co

Dennis L McKiernan s Mithgar books are among the most beloved in all of fantasy fiction The Iron Tower includes the first three novels set in the world of Mithgar collected in a single volume for the first time with an all new introduction by the author


10 thoughts on “The Iron Tower

  1. Scott Roberts Scott Roberts says:

    I ve read some widely mixed reviews of this series What strikes me is that many of the bad reviews readlike rants than anything else I suspect these reviewers are so angry that the books exist, they feel the need to spew For some time now in our society from my viewpoint, starting with rock journalism insults and putdowns have been accepted as intelligent discussion Now with the internet cutting out the editorial process, we can add profanity to the list Work done, book reviewed.So I ve read some widely mixed reviews of this series What strikes me is that many of the bad reviews readlike rants than anything else I suspect these reviewers are so angry that the books exist, they feel the need to spew For some time now in our society from my viewpoint, starting with rock journalism insults and putdowns have been accepted as intelligent discussion Now with the internet cutting out the editorial process, we can add profanity to the list Work done, book reviewed.So I read the series for myself I made up my own mind And in my own mind It s not as good as The Lord Of The Rings, not by a long shotbut it s not as bad as some people think.Had I written the series, I might have though twice about the word Dimmendark And I groaned a bit each time the characters referred to another Darkday, as they rode across the Scape Here s something not every fantasy fan seems to know In addition to being an authority on language, J.R.R Tolkien was quite careful in how he used it All of his characters do not speak in the same manner Quick note Hobbits do not use the high speech Rankin Bass seemed not to realize this, wherever original dialogue was added to their animated Return Of The King Again Hobbits do not use the high speech But I fear that our understanding of high fantasy has becomeinformed over the years by Dungeons and Dragons and the entire role playing mindset than by study of the sources to which Tolkien turned And I think it helps to think of The Iron Tower Trilogy in a vein similar to fantasy role playing We take the tropes, mix them around, and tell our own story, whether or not we have the background to understand what we re doing.No, The Iron Tower Trilogy is not a carbon copy of Lord Of The Rings That accusation suggests that McKiernan copied the plot point by point Instead, he took many of the plot points, mixed them with many of his own, changed the sequence of events, and told the same kind of story his way And no, it does not, as some reviewers have suggested, make The Sword Of Shannara look like an oasis of originality by comparison Not at all Shannara was just as derivative, and, in some ways,so Saying that is just another example of the kind of review by putdown approach I mentioned before Differences Many characters from LOTR have no equivalent here Gandalf, Gollum, Samwise, Boromir, Faramir to name a few The closest thing to Merry and Pippin are Hob and Tarpy but they re killed off early on We also have characters whose like do not appear in LOTR Danner, Patrel and Merrilee are three examples.Tuck has no specific mission to match Frodo s He s along on this quest because he and his friends have trained for it He has no ring or other object to safeguard and then destroy.Frodo failed in his mission and had his bacon saved unintentionally by Gollum Tuck succeeds in his mission Yes, he goes blind, but he does succeed.Modru is closer in many ways to Saruman than to Sauron Many people have questioned Tolkien s choice in not showing his Big Bad, by keeping Sauron an off stage villain Modru s B movie cheesiness starts to make Tolkien s seem like the wiser decision.The closest part of the series to LOTR is the crossing of the Drimmen Deeve equivalent to Moria But in place of the truly frightening Balrog a beast madeof fire than of solid matter, we have the Gargon a big reptile It s essentially a rubber suit monster from a Japanese horror film And after being built up as an evil so terrifying that it s scared away generations of Dwarves and strikes fear at the very mention of its name it s dispatched pretty 1 2 3 Four of our heroes a man, a dwarf, an elf and a warrow poke it a few times and push it into a flaming bridge Wow, he sure was made of some tough stuff, huh But I did enjoy the series in spite of its flaws and its audacity I m now reading the sequel, The Silver Call, and here s what surprises me the sequel was actually written first, but so far it s written better Could it be he had to rush out The Iron Tower Trilogy to meet Doubleday s demand for a lead in I don t know, but the book written second hasof the awkwardness of an untrained writer than the one written first


  2. Shari Mulluane Shari Mulluane says:

    This is one of those series that I consider a fun read After reading so many dark tales lately with deep issues, unique magic systems and blurred lines between good and evil, I was in the mood for some traditional fantasy where the bad people are pure evil and the good people were shining examples of honor, loyalty, and high moral standards This series fit the bill I really loved reading a tale where I knew exactly who was what and knew that good must triumph and evil will be defeated This is one of those series that I consider a fun read After reading so many dark tales lately with deep issues, unique magic systems and blurred lines between good and evil, I was in the mood for some traditional fantasy where the bad people are pure evil and the good people were shining examples of honor, loyalty, and high moral standards This series fit the bill I really loved reading a tale where I knew exactly who was what and knew that good must triumph and evil will be defeated Another thing that I thoroughly enjoyed was that this series is written in a storytelling type style As I read it, I could easily imagine myself sitting around a fire listening as a talented storyteller or bard related this tale to a group of wide eyed kids and equally wide eyed adults Might not cut it against today s gritty, personal and darkly emotional stories but to me it was a delight In addition, the ending is both poignant and sweet, wrapping up what can only be described as a classic fantasy tale.Full Review Here Dragons, Heroes and Wizards


  3. Bjørnar Tuftin Bjørnar Tuftin says:

    How this book gets so high a rating amazes me McKiernan has put tracing paper over Lord of the Rings and made a copy Nearly everything can be recognized as a pale shadow of Tolkiens races and story and just as you think McKiernan is done with the copying and is setting off on his own you re back at the mines of Moria or the burning of the Shire.


  4. Deren Kellogg Deren Kellogg says:

    I admit I didn t make it all the way through this one Some books copy the Lord of the Rings trilogy s overall tone or characters This one actually copies specific plot details The imitation was so painfully obvious I felt insulted Terrible.


  5. Don Incognito Don Incognito says:

    The Iron Tower trilogy is continually derided by many Lord of the Rings partisans due to being very similar to that trilogy deliberately, since it was conceived as a sequel Such readers are making a mistake, because despite the similarity, there are enough differences to appreciate.Many characters are directly analogous to Lord of the Rings characters, but some are not, and a few of the analogous characters in The Iron Tower are slightlydeveloped.But the biggest difference by far is sty The Iron Tower trilogy is continually derided by many Lord of the Rings partisans due to being very similar to that trilogy deliberately, since it was conceived as a sequel Such readers are making a mistake, because despite the similarity, there are enough differences to appreciate.Many characters are directly analogous to Lord of the Rings characters, but some are not, and a few of the analogous characters in The Iron Tower are slightlydeveloped.But the biggest difference by far is stylistic The mood and tone of The Iron Tower, and Dennis McKiernan s writing style, are completely different from Tolkien s for Lord of the Rings Lord of the Rings Middle earth is a fairly clean, bright and antiseptic environment, and the trilogy s depiction of violence is never very graphic The darkness lies in the characters Frodo s angst corruption among the wizards frustration and disagreement among the human leaders as their armies prepare to fight the enemy.The Iron Tower is a perfect mirror image of this, treating its setting and characters the opposite way The environment Mithgar is less pastoral andGothic than Middle Earth darker including literally, since the villain has placed it in perpetual darkness anddangerous The monsters are nastier,detailed some of them are disgusting ,diverse, andpersonable e.g., they speakthan the monsters in Lord of the Rings In particular, the main villain of the Iron Tower has a personality and heavy dialogue whereas Sauron, the villain of Lord of the Rings, is an unseen villain who never personally appears More people get wounded or killed, with a caravan of civilians being slaughtered and an Elf being tortured to death with a graphic depiction But The Iron Tower s characters arecheerful, collegiate, and overtly heroic In a word, McKiernan s approach toward his entire story is Romantic, while Tolkien s isrealistic in most respects.Although I preferred The Iron Tower having discovered it much earlier , I liked both stories, and I m sorry anyone else doesn t view spoiler 06 04 2017Notes comparing the trilogies.Warrows vs Hobbits Warrows are McKiernan s version of Hobbits In both trilogies, the protagonist is one of them Physical similarities. Both Warrows and Hobbits may be the same height I don t recall but both are much shorter than humans Physical differences. The Warrows have jewel like eyes that can see for very long distances and also see in the supernatural darkness created by the villains of The Iron Tower As far as I recall, Hobbits don t have this feature Characterization Age. The main Hobbit characters Bilbo, Frodo and Sam are neither very young nor particularly old although Bilbo has aged considerably by the time of The Fellowship of the Ring Three of the four main Warrow heroes are in their late teens Essentially, they re kids while all the Hobbits are mature adults Social habits. The Hobbits are said to live quiet lives and may be not particularly sociable Both Bilbo and Frodo live alone They somewhat resemble gnomes to me in lifestyle The Warrows live in similar or identical dwellings, but resemble humansthan Hobbits socially Life in the Warrows town is explored fairly extensively in three locales the protagonist s archery school, the local tavern where many Warrows discuss a problem that portends the conflict of the story , and the protagonist s house where he lives with his parents Numbers. As far as I remember, the only Hobbits who receive substantial characterization if others appear at all are Bilbo, Frodo and Sam McKiernan uses a much larger number of Warrow characters, and in the first book, most of them form an ensemble cast There are four main characters, two or threewho travel with them in a group in the first book but die early on, and dozens of townspeople The Warrow towns become part of the plot later, unlike the Shire of the Hobbits, which serves only as the place the Hobbit protagonists leave and return to Tuck vs Frodo Contrasting characteristics. Tuck is a boy coming of age, while Frodo appears to be mature though not old The only similarity they share besides being the star of their story is feeling troubled during their journey But the angst isintense for Frodo, because the ring begins to corrupt him and because self doubt torments him Tuck does not have an all important object that he has to carry somewhere His unhappiness arises almost entirely from his family and close friends dying in the war, and he isreflective than miserable he keeps a journal and occasionally philosophizes with other characters as, unlike Frodo, he is almost always in a group, sometimes a large group Mission. While Frodo s mission is to go to Mount Doom and destroy the ring there while an army of his allies runs interference by battling Sauron s forces, Tuck does not have a parallel quest Tuck s mission is simpler he is a soldier Initially, he and his friends join a Warrow militia intending only to protect its homeland from a sudden threat They eventually get drawn into a worldwide war between the the peaceful peoples of Mithgar humans, Warrows, Elves, Dwarves and Modru s forces Tuck and other Warrows serve the Mithgar army as w arriors all are skilled archers and scouts only they can see far in the supernatural darkness Personal relationships. Frodo s only personal relationship other than Bilbo, his uncle is with his friend Sam Tuck is close friends with several other Warrows, makes friends with other characters as they battle Modru, and marries his girlfriend after the war.Wizards Unlike in LR, wizards have no substantial role in IT The only wizard who appears at all is Modru, and only occasionally does he actually use magic His plot actually involves constant use of magic and invocation of the supernatural, but these are circumstantial at most times.Antagonists The antagonist of LR is the shadowy villain Sauron, who never actually appears IT has two antagonists Modru The primary villain is a four thousand year old wizard who wears a hideous iron mask at all times and is one dimensionally evil Like Sauron, he apparently wants to rule the world, but his means are completely different He willingly serves Gyphon Gyphon Evidently Satan, he has been exiled beyond the spheres by Adon God Modru s goal is to bring Gyphon back using magic and certain material assistance Gyphon provided before his exile Afterward, Gyphon will make Modru ruler of Mithgar Gyphon appears only briefly at the climax of IT and only a hint of his nature and personality are shown.Other characters IT uses a larger cast of characters than LR, of which Warrows are only the most prominent part Galen The older prince in Mithgar s royal family, and leader of a small group that crosses Mithgar in the second book to join th its surviving army Obviously analogous to Aragorn, but younger initially a prince and already king by the end of the second book Igon The younger prince is gallant butimpulsive and emotional than Galen He may somewhat resemble one of the princes in Lord of the Rings I forget his name who appears at the end of The Two Towers or the beginning of Return of the King Laurelin Laurelin is princess in Mithgar s royal family and betrothed to Galen Not a warrior woman but a damsel in distress character, she has no analog in LR Aurion king of Mithgar during the first book He leads the first battle against Modru s army at his castle, and dies in an unsuccessful attempt to escape when the enemy defeats his army and destroys the castle Between his positioning in the trilogy and his dying, he has no obvious analog in LR Rael a female Elf, consort of Talarin, ruler of the Elves She is one of theobvious LR analogs, being very similar to LR s Galadriel but possibly older Gildor an Elf, son of Talarin and Rael He is obviously a copy of Legolas, serving exactly the same role but he is characterized with somewhatdepth Vanidor Gildor s twin brother, who attempts to rescue Laurelin from Modru and serves an important plot purpose as the person to learn Modru s ultimate plan and warn the others He has no analog in LR, Legolas having no known brother Vidron King Aurion s general He survives the battle that destroys Challerain Keep and kills Aurion, and reappears at the end of the second book He is a certain stereotype of an old warrior he can be either gruff or good hud As far as I recall, he has no obvious LR analog Patrel a Warrow, leader of the militia Tuck and his friends join to protect their homeland No LR analog Danner a Warrow, one of Tuck s childhood friends He is temperamental, aggressive, and pugnacious No LR analog.Monsters This is one area where IT largely differs from LR, especially in the monsters comprising the villain s army McKiernan s monsters are generallyGothic than Tolkien s they tend to speakand they behavelike human thugs Tolkien s monsters areanimalistic Monsters in IT Ghuls Intelligent corpse like creatures, they are the commanders and most dangerous warriors of Modru s army No analog in LR Rucks Identified with goblins, they are the most numerous creature in Modru s army They are not very powerful or skilled but function to overwhelm the enemy with sheer numbers They are undoubtedly the counterpart of Tolkien s orcs but unlike orcs, they display human intelligence and working class speech consistent with their position Hloks The least described of the five monster races in Modru s army, they are said to be the size of humans and may generally resemble them They supervise Rucks, driving them forward with cat o nine tails One is later seen battling a Dwarf alone with a scimitar No LR analog Ogrus Brutish and unintelligent creatures indicated to be giant trolls Extremely strong and powerful and nearly invulnerable, but very rare only a few appear among Modru s forces Vulgs Wolflike animals with a poisonous bite Monsters in LR, by comparison Nazgul There is no monster in IT physically resembling the Nazgul, but the Vulgs serve almost exactly the same role Balrog Gargon In the second book of IT, a group travels through Drimmen Deeve, a long underground passage exactly analogous to Moria in LR built by Dwarves but now controlled by Modru, and inhabited by the Gargon a counterpart to the Balrog but a completely different creature The Gargon is a vaguely described humanoid but animalistic creature I had the impression it resembles a Ghul It can blast opponents with overwhelming fear, rendering them helpless Drimmen Deeve is empty because the Gargon s fear casting forced the Dwarves out Rather than someone sacrificing itself to defeat it as Gandalf with the Balrog, IT s heroes kill the Gargon in a group attack, and barely escape Kraken Before the heroes enter Drimmen Deeve, they find the gate blocked by a Kraken, the giant sea monster of real world myth, and must get past it There is no similar monster in LR Giant spider The giant spider that captures Frodo has no analog in IT, neither a similar monster nor a similar role Other creatures and characters in LR with substantial differences from IT or no analog in LR Tom Bombadil A neutral character who does not participate in the war and has little bearing on the plot There is nobody resembling Bombadil in IT and as far as I recall, IT contains no neutrals at all every character and race directly or indirectly supports either Mithgar or Modru Ents IT contains no race or character remotely resembling the Ents Dwarves Both trilogies feature Dwarves, but McKiernan s Dwarves areovertly warlike than Tolkien s, and receive much less depiction and detail In fact there is probably only one Dwarf character in IT, certainly only one with substantial characterization Thornwall The Warrows land is protected by a large, thick barrier of thorns impenetrable by most means The Warrows do not know about the larger war outside, and initially form a militia only to patrol the Thornwall in response to Vulgs being spotted in or near it I remember no similar structure or plot point in LR Religion Religion is muchovertly involved in IT than in LR Characters explicitly acknowledge God and seek his guidance, using the Hebrew name Adon At least once, a character prays to Adon But the simple fact is overshadowed by the conflict of IT being part of a war between Adon and Gyphon Satan The backstory is a War of the Ban millennia ago in which Gyphon apparently tried to take over creation It ended with Adon exiling Gyphon beyond the Spheres and forbidding the creatures that served Modru from appearing in daylight they would die, hence Adon s Ban Modru, using assistance which Gyphon provided before being exiled, has created a worldwide supernatural darkness which allows his army of banned monsters to travel freely without being destroyed by the sun The other way religion factorsheavily into IT concerns the Elves Elves are not immortal, but are explicitly said to be of Adonar this is never explained fully, but Elves apparently can communicate with Adoneasily and directly than other races, and can even travel between Adonar heaven and Mithga Geography I don t much remember whether Lord of the Rings identified any region of Middle Earth with any geographical area of the real world but if you read IT closely enough, you can see small hints some quite explicit of certain places or cultures in Mithgar probably representing places in the real world Mithgar Germany McKiernan explicitly states in a foreward or note that the human language used in Mithgar resembles Old High German McKiernan was obviously following Tolkien s lead in making the language Germanic Wellen Wales There is a place named Wellen, not depicted, where Vidron states he went for reinforcements after he escaped Mithgar s defeat in the first battle The Wellen army is shown flying a flag that conspicuously resembles the real world flag of Wales At least one location not necessarily in Wellen has a Welsh sounding name Valon Jord The Harlingar, Vidron s people, live in Valon but their ancestral home is said to be Jord, a country of tundra and steppes that sounds like Scandinavia Jugo Depicted only briefly at the climax of the third book, Jugo is some country far away whose people worship Gyphon, and war against the King s forces in support of Modru I won t say what real world people they might represent but between their physical description, their jemadars look up the word , and their prophecy claiming Gyphon will appear as their god, it s obvious who McKiernan based them on Authors writing styles and literary styles McKiernan s and Tolkien s styles differ in two ways Rhetorical and grammatical. IT constantly uses ornate, flowery language throughout, and is also prone to using obscure words An example is jongleurs entertainers, probably jugglers strolled in the context of a brief description of life in the city of Challerain on the eve of an assault from Modru s army He also uses a combination of courtly speech and casually medieval language, and a romanticized medieval diction LR s rhetoric and grammar are contemporary for its time, and fairly unadorned The language overall sounds almost Hemingway esque in comparison with IT Narrator IT uses a completely omniscient third person narrator who can comment on characters unspoken thoughts and feelings LR uses a third person limited narrator who rarely if ever editorializes Tolkien prefers to display his characters thoughts or feelings through dialogue, when he does Comic relief IT contains a few obviously lighthearted scenes and some blatant comic relief, which I did not find in LR Romance Two fervent romantic couplings between separated characters are constant in IT Tuck and his Warrow girlfriend Merrilee Galen and his fiance Laurelin Literary style and overall effect Tolkien and McKiernan attempted to create an epic But IT uses, in addition to its ornate language, a pronounced Romantic style that contrasts interestingly with its grim depiction of combat, suffering and death farextensive and explicit than LR and its Gothic villains and monsters This Romanticism makes it hard to consider the trilogy dark overall, and makes it feellike a medieval book of chivalry than a classical epic In other words, it s dark in content but light in style LR is exactly the opposite Its style is stark and simplistic enough to feel serious and possibly grim, but the actual events comprising the plot are less dark and less bloody hide spoiler


  6. Zachary Littrell Zachary Littrell says:

    There are many critical flaws that keep The Iron Tower from being a good fantasy book its pacing is out of whack, the dialogue and characterizations are flaccid the defining features of a major character really shouldn t be that they wear a particular color armor and play an instrument , and plot details and world building are handled with as much subtlety as a bull in the fragile china closet And these flaws are independent of how blatantly McKiernan lifts elements of superior pieces of fa There are many critical flaws that keep The Iron Tower from being a good fantasy book its pacing is out of whack, the dialogue and characterizations are flaccid the defining features of a major character really shouldn t be that they wear a particular color armor and play an instrument , and plot details and world building are handled with as much subtlety as a bull in the fragile china closet And these flaws are independent of how blatantly McKiernan lifts elements of superior pieces of fantasy literature, namely Lord of the Rings, with some name changes and small tweaks the central character is a short, home loving, humble but courageous fellow thrust from his safe home into the company of Men, Dwarves, and Elves and is most definitely not a Hobbit, because they re called Warrows here.That being said, it is a half decently fun read McKiernan has a knack for beautifully describing action and moments of tension By far the scenes that resonated the most to me were the vicious fights, stealthy operations into enemy bases, and even an effective horror scene where the band of heroes travel through an abandoned Dwarf city that is most definitely not Moria, all the while being stalked by an ancient monster If the book was just some hack n slash, sword and sorcery fun, I would not have been disappointed at all it s a real shame then that McKiernan separates these scenes with anemic humor and redundant dialogue that made my eyes roll so far back into my head that I am now permanently blind.Would I recommend this to a friend Not likely, except those who love consuming fantasy and will overlook its flaws for the sake of action If you do read this, make sure it is the Omnibus edition I cannot imagine reading this as three separate books, as none of the three books are particularly great on their own Together, however, they form a largely cohesive and satisfying, albeit familiar, fantasy story for when you want just a straightforward good vs evil, goblin cleaving, little guy turned hero tale that doesn t demand too much from the reader except for their eyes


  7. Joshua D. Joshua D. says:

    This is The Iron Tower Trilogy in one volume I read this first as a boy And later when I discovered the Lord of the Rings I thought, Hmmm.maybe Tolkein stole some ideas from Dennis McKiernan Of course, the opposite is true The Iron Tower is roughly patterned after LOTR, with different characters, a different land, but the rough sketch of the inciting incident and the characters quest to make things right clearly parallels Tolkein.McKiernan acknowledges this, but it still hasn t kept hi This is The Iron Tower Trilogy in one volume I read this first as a boy And later when I discovered the Lord of the Rings I thought, Hmmm.maybe Tolkein stole some ideas from Dennis McKiernan Of course, the opposite is true The Iron Tower is roughly patterned after LOTR, with different characters, a different land, but the rough sketch of the inciting incident and the characters quest to make things right clearly parallels Tolkein.McKiernan acknowledges this, but it still hasn t kept him from getting crushed in internet reviews for plagiarism or at least a lack of originality But his books still sell copies And to be honest, I thought this was a decent book It kept my attention as a boy and now 20 years later I actually think there are aspects of McKiernan s Warrows that areinteresting than Tolkein s Hobbits.If you re in to fantasy fiction, it s worth a read


  8. A.J. Abbiati A.J. Abbiati says:

    Dropped this book after 50 pages Terrible prose and a blatant rewrite of The Lord of the Rings While I have enjoyed many LoTR inspired books Sword of Shannara, et al , the downright mimicry here is beyond the pale Just awful.


  9. JJ JJ says:

    This is actually a 3 1 2 star rating.Dennis L McKiernan s The Iron Tower trilogy contains The Dark Tide, Shadows of Doom, and The Darkest Day As I finished each book, I composed a short review of it, as follows The Dark Tide, the first book in Dennis L McKiernan s Iron Tower trilogy is a diverting and entertaining novel It is filled with standard fantasy elements a long dormant evil power in the north awakens to threaten and overwhelm the good and free peoples in the south and is somewhat This is actually a 3 1 2 star rating.Dennis L McKiernan s The Iron Tower trilogy contains The Dark Tide, Shadows of Doom, and The Darkest Day As I finished each book, I composed a short review of it, as follows The Dark Tide, the first book in Dennis L McKiernan s Iron Tower trilogy is a diverting and entertaining novel It is filled with standard fantasy elements a long dormant evil power in the north awakens to threaten and overwhelm the good and free peoples in the south and is somewhat derivative of Tolkien small humanoids called Warrows in place of hobbits, one of whom is named Tuckerby Underbank, an obvious play on Frodo Baggins famous alias of Underhill but is still a fun read for all that McKiernan makes an effort to differentiate his Warrows from Tolkien s hobbits and the kender of the Dragonlance novels both of which he references in the Foreword Anew of the 2000 Roc omnibus edition of the trilogy, The Iron Tower, so at least he acknowledges his debts and does so successfully, in my opinion The Warrows are muchaggressive than hobbits and are keen eyed archers Indeed, despite its similarities to Tolkien s famous Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Dark Tide is in many ways its own entity The narrative moves along at a brisker pace and the battle scenes are muchvisceral and gory The writing itself is generally well crafted, although it is occasionally clunky in its efforts to sound fantasy ish and some of the exposition of the languages, culture, and history of the realm of Mithgar occur rather un organically amid the dialogue of some of the characters The Dark Tide is a solid and entertaining, if somewhat standard, fantasy novel I enjoyed it, and I look forward to reading the next two works in the trilogy Shadows of Doom and The Darkest Day Shadows of Doom is the second book in Dennis L McKiernan s Iron Tower trilogy Much of what I said in my review of The Dark Tide, the first book of the trilogy, is true for book two as well I probably like Shadows of Doom a little bitthan the first book, because there is some fascinating cosmology and mythology divulged here, hinting at the bones beneath the soup McKiernan really did a good job of building and populating a fantasy world, and these first two books really have been enjoyable But they are frustrating at the same time because large sections are profoundly derivative of Tolkien s famed Lord of the Rings trilogy, coming perilously close to the borderline between pastiche and rip off For example, in Shadows of Doom, our intrepid heroes find themselves in great peril in an underground Dwarven realm It is a gripping and well described section of the adventure, but it is also aggravating because it is so obviously derivative of Tolkien s Moria scene The shadow of Tolkien looms large over the first two books in The Iron Tower trilogy as I m sure it will over the third as well and this fact does not heighten my enjoyment of the books, but rather diminishes it because of McKiernan s lack of originality in these passages It s not the use of standard fantasy elements that I object to evil in the North, magic weapons that will fulfill a destiny, diminutive halfling like people who turn out to be great heroes, and so on I ve read and enjoyed tons of that sort of fare It s in those sections where McKiernan does not recombine these elements to make them his own that my disappointment lies In those passages of the book wherein McKiernan does his own inventing or recombining, he shows that he is a quite capable and good world builder and fantasy writer Perhaps in the future, if I read some of McKiernan s non Iron Tower books, I will find that the shadow of Tolkien has receded from them and I will enjoy them evenThus, with The Darkest Day, does Dennis L McKiernan s Iron Tower trilogy conclude This third and final volume is, I think, the best of the trilogy I enjoyed the previous two books but that enjoyment was somewhat overshadowed and diminished by long passages that were very derivative of scenes in JRR Tolkien s famed Lord of the Rings trilogy The Darkest Day contains very little that I could recognize as being directly derived from Tolkien This made the final Iron Tower book the most original of the three, the most distinctly McKiernan s own The final confrontation in The Darkest Day is particularly good, our hero meeting a fate unlike that of any other protagonist with whom I am familiar The final battle is vigorously described and in ways is muchpersonal than I was expecting it was very gripping and thrilling There are appendices at the end of The Darkest Day, as there are at the end of Tolkien s The Return of the King, and in them McKiernan shares this tidbit that some scholars place the location of the Evil One s dread Iron Tower in the vicinity of Leningrad, other scholars place it near Warsaw I enjoyed this detail that the land of Mithgar is indeed our own world ages ago My final verdict then is that The Iron Tower trilogy is engaging, entertaining, and enjoyable It is marred by the fact that in some long sections it is too derivative of Tolkien, but the world building and the story itself are very good examples of the heroic high fantasy genre Based on this trilogy, I would readof McKiernan s books, some of which rest upon my overflowing shelves We ll see if I eventually get around to them


  10. Matt Glaviano Matt Glaviano says:

    2 1 2 stars I guess.I read these in third or fourth grade, and while I haven t read them since, this series was fundamental in my early reading It was big, epic, and relatively accessible for a precocious kid The Iron Tower s impact on my reading cannot likely not be overstated For one thing, I hadn t read Tolkien yet I remember sitting in the balcony at church during the service reading one of these, having just gotten it as a Christmas gift that morning this would likely make that 2 1 2 stars I guess.I read these in third or fourth grade, and while I haven t read them since, this series was fundamental in my early reading It was big, epic, and relatively accessible for a precocious kid The Iron Tower s impact on my reading cannot likely not be overstated For one thing, I hadn t read Tolkien yet I remember sitting in the balcony at church during the service reading one of these, having just gotten it as a Christmas gift that morning this would likely make that year 1988, and me 11 Also, McKiernan was, at that time, living in Ohio Westerville, to be exact, the quiet peaceful village where I would later attend college, first kiss and later propose to my wife, and, today, where I raise my family The Iron Tower was the first time I d ever heard of a place I have come to know intimately.None of which speaks to its literary merit Saying that McKiernan is indebted to Tolkien is practically hyperbole And while there are moments where I was actually interested the completely ripped off trek under the mountain, the final battle, and, surprisingly, the denouement after that battle these books are excruciatingly boring No characters are developed beyond being named and showing up over and over Most of the narrative is just character name going cardinal direction to through past made up place name It s not only redundant the lack of description makes it faceless and difficult to imagine If you love books in which onomatopoeia Doom Thwak are substituted for description, I ve got your five star book right here.Why did I keep reading this I guess there was enough narrative pull to keep me involved frankly, I think the second and third books are an improvement over the first, but that s not saying much Mainly, I guess, I read it for nostalgia and for feeling some connection to a very different version of me And there s some kind of symmetry to it I can t quite describe I finished this on my last day at my first full time library job, getting ready to move on to a much better position The reader in me sees a connection between these long ago cherished books, and the person I continue to become I think of that moment in church in the balcony, nearby others but absorbed in my own sort of world frequently, a visual moment in time that has come to mean farto me than these books ever could.I ll never read these again.I ll probably read The Silver Call though