Book: The Gauntlet and the Fist Beneath
Author: Ian Green
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Published: 2021

I don’t very often pick up debuts on release, but I felt drawn to this book from when I first heard about it. As a new parent, the worst thing I can think of is anything happening to my daughter. So, perhaps morbidly, a book about a parent having to go to unimaginable lengths to track down and rescue their kidnapped child spoke to me.

The worldbuilding is very good in tGatFB, and the light touch magic system is compelling in its twist on familiar themes. Centuries ago the Undal’s rebelled against their Ferron overlords with the assistance of the bear god Anshuka. Anshuka then cursed the defeated Empire, calling up the ‘rotstorm’ to cover their land and make it impossible for them to regain their strength. The Undal Protectorate’s military, the Stormguard’ are tasked with manning the Stormwall which sits at the border of the rotstorm.

When the story starts Floré is a semi-retired member of the Stormguard, once an elite commando, she is now the second in command of a small forest unit tasked with protecting a handful of small towns and villages in the back of beyond. She lives with her daughter and partner, the legendary Skein-wreck mage known as the salt man (or Janos to his loved ones).

I think there is the possibility of some people jarring with the plot a bit. I loved it, but found it to be very windy in the way I tend to associate with writers who are making it up as they go rather than sticking to a plan. Think of the First Law trilogy for what I mean. Like First Law, there are a lot of philosophical questions asked of the reader that you might not realise you are being asked.

Overall a very solid debut & I’m very interested to read the follow up.

Beer: Lost AF
Brewery: Brewdog
Style: AF Lager
Strength: 0.5%

It has quite a tanginess to it which I didn’t hate. More of a continental style than something like Crling or Fsters. Named Lost AF after the alcoholic version of the same name, but whereas drinking a lot of the latter might leave you lost in the middle of nowhere without your trousers, this lager won’t. The only thing lost with this beer is the desire to do stupid things.

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