Despite the fact that they're tiny and temperamental, the Warrows get included in the military forces. But the High King doesn't have enough warriors to hold off the horde of slobbering monsters who are coming to attack. And the battle goes horribly wrong, separating the friends from one another and possibly dooming them all.
©1985 Dennis L. McKiernan; (P)2009 Books In Motion
Let's get to it - Short and sweet.
If you like the Lord of the Rings, but want to avoid the detailed monologues, descriptive family histories, and tedious and long world descriptions found in the Lord of the Rings, this series may be for you.
Here's the problem. This can't be more of a carbon copy of the formula used in The Lord of the Rings - An unlikely hero, a ragtag group to bring about an almost impossible task, a dark enemy of pure evil to get in the way, along with various races mixed up in the war. Only this tiny hero and his team can possibly overcome the impending doom that threatens to swallow the world.
Of course it does, but here's where my interest lies: It's a well-written carbon copy without the trapping of an epic trilogy. Think lighter, more casual listening for the simple fun of it. Most people do NOT make it through the Lord of the Rings because of that very reason - It's HEAVY reading. Will you re-listen to this yearly like you might with LotR? Definitely NO. You will however, consider revisiting it once in a very blue moon.
It's written well, and consistently well, at that. BUT...remember, Lord of the Rings it is NOT. Lower your literary expectations for just a little while, loosen your tie, and have a little fun with this enjoyable first book in the series.
I read these books when I was a teenager (back when I actually had time to read printed books for fun), and I was excited to "re-read" them now. Unfortunately, the narrator's delivery is patchy. I really enjoy the way he portrays the characters, giving each a distinctive tenor, but his narration style for the descriptive parts of the text drones. It is very reminiscent of Paul Harvey. I find myself zoning out for long sections of the book unless one of the characters is talking...even during battle scenes. When I tune back in, I keep expecting to hear him say "and now you know...the REST of the story."
I have found the writing to be awkward and bulky. It sounds like the Dennis McKiernan was writing a great epic poem like the Iliad, or the Odessy, but without the poeticism those were originally written with. The writing just comes across as awkward and overly wordy, however the story is good so I did listen to the entire book. I am not sure if I will be in a hurry to listen to the rest of the trilogy however, there are other books I find much more pleasurable to listen to or read.
Does the Dark Tower trilogy steal from LOTR? Absolutely. Is Dragondoom inspired by the Hobbit? Undoubtedly. However, McKiernan writes a story that improves upon every idea put forth by Tolkien. Look, Tolkien is famous for being first. Unfortunately, that's about all you can say for his writing. He was a linguist, not an author or a story teller which is probably why his writing is so terribly dry, boring, and needlessly descriptive. McKiernan's stories are well fleshed out and stirring. If you can't get past the similarities to Tolkien, then pick up Voyage of the Fox Rider or Eye of the Hunter. (or from Audible, the Silver Call duology) Two EXCELLENT McKiernan books that are entirely original. If you're like me and you can't stand reading Tolkien's textbooks...pick up the Iron Tower..and enjoy the story the way it could have been...better!
As for the audio version of the Iron Tower. Once I got used to his narration, I thoroughly enjoyed Bierle's style. Only problem I had was Patrel's voice (being the smallest of the Warrow's) was the deepest..which grated on me. Otherwise I loved all three audiobooks.
I've only heard 1 hour of this book so far and it is wonderful! I have read all of Dennis McKiernan's books, and they only get better with every new book!
Bring on the rest of the series!
As long as you approach McKiernan's first two Mithgar series as reworkings or retellings of Tolkien's LotR saga, you'll be able to appreciate them for the rousing tales of heroism and adventure that they are. McKiernan is actually a first rate storyteller, and one who developed his own style and voice in later novels, but the Iron Tower Trilogy remains a beloved tale of epic fantasy for me.
Cameron Beierle's narration was solid, which was something of a pleasant surprise because I had some issues with his narration of David Eddings' Belgariad novels.
The Iron Tower Trilogy gets a lot of heat for ripping off The Lord of the Rings and it does!
An Alliance of do-gooder men, elves, dwarves and 'wee folk' with no interior conflict - check. A massive rabble of short and tall abhuman brutes, massive trolls and evil swarthy humans led by a faceless sorcerer who never leaves his distant tower and happens to be the lackey of a greater evil - check. A band of heroes fleeing through a lost dwarven city stalked by the ancient evil that brought it down - check. The list goes on and on. The Iron Tower's effortless comparison to LotR is its greatest weakness yet here me out.
I remember reading LotR and it was a heavy, boring read that I struggled to get through. The Iron Tower is a darker, more violent product of 1985. More truly a war story than a band of adventurers. While good and evil remain in glaring stark contrast here, the villains have a bit more variety in undead ghoul cavalry, instant sunlight death across the board and a sorcerous eternal night required to advance. The villains are more competent, maneuver and even win some battles.
Imagine LotR where there is no Gandalf. The good guys LOSE at the Battle of Helms Deep. The Shire is sacked and brought to ruin and the 'wee folk' are not so laughably helpless as LotR but will quill you full of arrows without batting an eye. The good guys must triumph by physical might in forlorn struggle, some very patient prophecy and a few magic trinkets in the right place at the right time, good and bad, all set into motion long ago by competing Gods.
And compliments to the Narrator, Cameron Beierle. An excellent reading with an impressive array of easily distinguished character voices. His performance is nearly flawless. Too, one must credit the world building lore of the setting in the races, their origins and related conflicts of old that are fully explored in spin off books outside this trilogy. A pity only Trek To Kraggen-Cor is here in Audible.
I shall commit nerd heresy and declare that despite looting Tolkien's legacy, I enjoyed The Iron Tower and its spin offs far more than I did LotR.
If you like cheering for the "LITTLE GUYS" this is a rip-roaring epic adventure, with characters worth rooting for.
Dennis McKiernan's Masterpiece and Cameron Beierle does it justice ! Lovers of high fantasy will enjoy this trilogy.
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