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Ironwolfe: Book One of the Triads of Tir na n'Og Paperback – December 25, 2010
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About the Author
Darragh Metzger was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. An actor and musician, she played several roles for a jousting and sword fighting performance troupe called The Seattle Knights, which plays at renaissance faires and outdoor theaters around the northwest and in other venues across the country. Her publishing credits include plays, non-fiction articles, interviews, short stories, and a previous novel, The Triads, published in 2002. Originally written as Book One of the Triads of Tir na n’Og, it is being re-released in an updated version as Book Two in February of 2011.
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In the fifteenth century, the Hungarian king Mathias Corvinus had a number of voivodes, or barons, serving under him. One of the most notorious, Janos Narodniho, was known as Ironwolfe, who led the "infamous Black Army" during Corvinus' war against the Ottoman Empire. After Corvinus' death, the remnants of the Black Army were harried into the Carpathian Mountains and there passed into the mists of history.
Although he crossed into the mountains with only a hundred men out of a light cavalry force once numbering a thousand, Janos loses so many during that flight that when he and his men become lost in an uncanny thick fog they eventually emerge with fewer than thirty men, who are attacked by a large band of subhuman "Trolkien" who further thin their ranks to about twenty. Where they emerge is a place unknown to them--who had ranged over most of the eastern European continent--they take refuge from the Trolkien for the night at a nearby castle, only to be taken prisoner by the castle's inhabitants and accused of using black magic, because of their guns (or "gonnes"). At this time, Janos finds out that he is no longer on Earth; he is now in the domain known (in Ireland) as Tir na n'Og, which we think of as the land of the fairies.
But here we're not talking about little flitty things with wings, we're talking full-fledged "Lords and Ladies," the owners of the Wild Hunt, they who live Under The Hill. Janos has a hard time believing this until he is sent off under a geas, or magical suggestion, from a Mystic, one of the three components of a human Triad. The Triads are part of the ruling cliques of the human part of this world, and they live and rule by the goodwill of their fairy masters. (The other two parts are the Ranger and the Cavalier, roughly corresponding to the warrior and the scout. Only many times more powerful than their mundane equivalents.)
After all this, things get really exciting. Janos becomes part of a movement to restore human self-rule, then part of a secret Triad of his own, serving a seldom-seen faction in the fairy world. This story has a conclusion, which I won't reveal, but is part of a longer work, a trilogy (surprise!), of which only the second book has been published at this time. The book also includes an excerpt from another book: the first two chapters of "Heart of a Cavalier," from "Tales from Opa." Overall, the story of Janos "Ironwolfe" Narodniho comprises about 600 pages. And that's just the first book.
In my opinion this book provides full value for the money, and much better value than many of today's fantasy books! Metzger is a very good storyteller, who keeps you hooked into the action and really wanting to know what comes next.
The character of Janos Narodniho is pretty well developed; as the story progresses you learn what motivates him besides loyalty to his ruler and to his men; you find out a fair amount about his past and development. Metzger is an accomplished rider and part of the performance group known as The Seattle Knights, so she knows more than a little about arms, armour and mounted battles, and she is able to make these things come alive in her writing. In her book the fighters do get tired and injured, hungry and thirsty, suffer fear, rage and the usual set of human emotions; she also gives pretty good "place" -- we get a good sense of what the land of Tir na n'Og is like, physically. Metzger also brings in enough of the senses -- taste, smell, etc. -- to give her books a certain grittiness that serves the story well.
The book's flaws are all minor ones. (For example, the character's name is not usually pronounced "Yah-nos" as given in the book; I've known more than a couple of Hungarians, Poles and the like, and it's usually pronounced "Yah-nosh"...) She has the occasional issue with homonyms: she uses "sear" where she means "sere," for example. And to counterbalance some of those minor issues: until I looked it up, I was firmly convinced that her use of "maille" for chainmail was an affectation (and I really don't like affectation in writing or otherwise), but I learned that she was absolutely correct, and that the early term was maille, which means, basically, links. So I learned something from this book as well.) And if you really want to know, I couldn't find any information online about Janos, so I suspect she made him up. But that's something writers do, isn't it?
Recommended reading for fans of fantasy, military fiction and those who just want a well-crafted story.
Buy it; read it; recommend it to your friends.