Last Battle of the Icemark, by Stuart Hill

This is the third book of a trilogy that I started out absolutely in love with. I am very sad to say, however, that the second book was merely okay, and this last was downright bad. I was incredibly disappointed. Either Hill's writing has genuinely gotten worse since the first book (which was also his first published book), or the success of the series led his publisher to forget the whole editing part.

The plot is pretty good, but the writing is beyond contrived. I would very much like to know how many times he uses the word "hideous;" my bet is somewhere in the mid-hundreds. Some of the characters' dialogue is realistic, others' sounds incredibly forced. Medea, the antagonist, sounds exactly like the author himself, and also uses/thinks the word "hideous" far more than is necessary.

The lack of originality in setting also starts to wear in this third installment. Yes, it was very clear in the first book that Hill was using Celts and Romans as his basis, but in this third it is painfully obvious. The main road of "Romula" is the "Eppian Way." Just like how the main road of Rome was the Apian Way. If this were meant as a fictionalization of the fall of Rome, it would be understandable, but at least from what I can tell, that's not Hill's intention.

It saddens me that an author with such potential at the start seems to have already run out of steam, but I will keep my fingers crossed that his next endeavor is a little more original and rather less staid.


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