The Iron Tower Trilogy

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The Iron Tower Trilogy by Dennis L. McKiernan

Before I go into any in-depth reviews of the books comprising this trilogy, I think an explanation is probably in order. The Iron Tower Trilogy is McKiernanís first set of novels. Sadly, they are either out of print or available by special order only. I was fortunate enough to find the complete set at my local library. I actually had wanted to read some of McKiernanís more recent works, but many of them are set in the world of Mithgar, a world first introduced in this trilogy. I always hate to jump into the middle of a world with such a rich history and prefer to start at the beginning if at all possible. Ordinarily, it is FutureFictionís policy to review books that are readily available to you, our loyal readers. I enjoyed this trilogy enough to make an exception to our policy and encourage you to check out alternate sources to obtain a copy too.

The Dark Tide by Dennis L. McKiernan

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McKiernan doesnít pull any punches with this novel. He admits at the very start that it was written as a homage to J.R.R. Tolkien and he has closely emulated Tolkienís style. It is also clear that this book is the first in a series, so the reader should not be disappointed that The Dark Tide doesnít wrap everything up into a neat little ball at the conclusion of this volume.

Entertaining it was, and short in length. With such rhythmic, almost melodic, phrasing, McKiernan begins to pull the reader into a world highly reminiscent of Tolkienís Middle Earth. The main character of this tale, a Warrow named Tuckerby Underbank, seems quite a bit like a hobbit. The reader will also meet Elves and Men, along with a vast array of evil beings, minions of the dreaded Modru. Long banished from the lands of Mithgar, Modru has broken free and begun to move south to cast his dark shadow across the world. Responding to the High Kingís call, Tuck and a company of Warrows travel north to fight beside the king. In this novel, McKiernan concentrates most of the action on the Warrowsí defense of the High Kingís citadel, Challerain Keep, but he hints at other side plots which will be addressed in the subsequent volumes of this trilogy.

McKiernan is not Tolkien, but I think he did a very good job of creating a world similar to Middle Earth. It is a world rich in history and peopled by intriguing and wondrous creatures. The characters in The Dark Tide are well drawn but not overly complex; the heroes are good, the villains are unredeemingly evil. The plot moves along quickly without a lot of distractions or annoying side trips. While the basic premise of this novel is extremely familiar to fantasy fans, McKiernan has added his own touches and managed to keep it interesting.

Reviewed by: Diane

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Shadows of Doom by Dennis L. McKiernan

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The second volume of The Iron Tower Trilogy picks up right where the first one left off. In fact, McKiernan is considerate enough to provide a synopsis of the first book for the reader who either hasnít read it or doesnít remember it. As the book opens, the lovely Laurelin, betrothed to Prince Galen, is in the last waggon train of refugees being sent to safety from Challerain Keep. Escorted by the Princeís younger brother, Prince Igon, they hope to escape the Dimmendark and Modruís Horde and rally the High Kingís Host from the southern realms. Unfortunately, their greatest fears become reality and Laurelin is captured and taken to the Iron Tower, Modruís stronghold. Meanwhile, back at the doomed Keep, the small band of Warrows, including Tuck, Patrel and Danner, has been separated during the chaos surrounding the final battle. McKiernan follows as each of the characters goes their separate ways and new groups of allies are formed. Elves, Dwarves, Warrows and Men all form alliances to fight the encroaching evil. The High Kingís forces are embattled on every front and the situation looks dire for our small band of intrepid heroes.

Once again, McKiernan has written a fast-paced, interesting story. I especially liked the Warrowsí outlook on life. No matter how dreary the situation, they are still able to see the silver lining. This ability allows them to find humor in all but the worst scenarios. The plot may be familiar, but the characters are likable and you canít help but cheer them on. In this volume, McKiernan provides more information about Modru and the forces driving him on. By the end of the book, the situation is looking grimmer and grimmer for Tuck and his friends, but they fight gamely on, determined to resist the Horde and turn it back. As with the previous novel, the main plot line is left unresolved. However, this is one of those novels where the journey is half the fun. Knowing that there is a third and final book in the series, I donít mind waiting for the next installment to find out how our heroes will fare.

Reviewed by: Diane

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The Darkest Day by Dennis L. McKiernan

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The conclusion of the Iron Tower Trilogy is just as enjoyable as the first two volumes. McKiernan again supplies a brief recap of the previous two books, just to bring everyone up to date. Cryptic prophecies begin to unfold, making frightening sense. The fighting stretches from the Boskydells to the Red Hills, and it seems that no one has been spared from Modruís destruction. As understanding begins to dawn, the various groups of the High Kingís Host prepare for a final apocalyptic battle against Modruís Horde. Drawn to Modruís stronghold, the Iron Tower, Tuck, Danner, Patrel and the others are eventually reunited. Engaged in a race against time to avert the evil foretold for the Darkest Day, each of these brave souls are faced with decisions they never thought they would need to make. Will they be up to the challenge?

McKiernan serves up a fitting finale to this entertaining trilogy. Written in the same vein as Tolkienís Lord of the Rings, the author handles the little groupís quests and battles well. Although McKiernan is not another Tolkien, and doesnít pretend to be, I think that fantasy fans will be pleased with this tale. His characters are truly likeable and for that reason alone, I was glad to see that McKiernanís story didnít stop with the final battle sequence. Instead, he takes the time to briefly show how their lives continued afterwards and the changes they all underwent as a result of the events described in this series. The final bits of the book include several appendices providing the interested reader with glossaries, calendars, and other assorted trivia. Overall, a well written tale with lots of action and adventure.

Reviewed by: Diane

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