Given the fact that I have read many of Simon Turney’s books I would have thought by now that it would be nigh unto impossible for him to surprise me. I am used to the plot twists that he infuses into his novels, indeed I sort of expect them. However, in Ironroot, the second of three books set in a pseudo Roman world, he managed to do just that.
The protagonist Varro, a Captain in the Imperial Army, is wounded during a skirmish and is subsequently told that he is dying because the weapon used on him was laced with Ironroot, a poison with no antidote. When it becomes apparent that he was specifically targeted, a conspiracy to cover up a senior officer’s treasonous activities unfolds. Thus begins a race against time as he and an enterprising member of an engineers cohort seek out the truth and possible revenge. What follows is an exciting tale of action, loyalty and a steadfast belief that they were chosen for this mission by a local tribal deity.
Now the author could have gone in many different ways with this including a formulaic one but this is where all the surprises in the plot come to the fore. The climatic scenes are wonderfully portrayed demonstrating Mr. Turney’s vivid imagination and abundant sense of irony. I would love to be more specific but that would be unfair to the author and to prospective readers…after all, they deserve to be as surprised in their reading of this novel as I was.