Book Review: Darien by C.F Iggulden

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Author: C.F Iggulden

Title: Darien

Publisher: Penguin UK | Michael Joseph

Date: 2017


The city of Darien stands at the weary end of a golden age. Twelve families keep order with soldiers and artefacts, spies and memories, clinging to a peace that shifts and crumbles. The people of the city endure what they cannot change.

Here, amongst old feuds, a plot is hatched to kill a king. It will summon strangers to the city – Elias Post, a hunter, Tellius, an old swordsman banished from his home, Arthur, a boy who cannot speak, Daw Threefold, a chancer and gambler, Vic Deeds, who feels no guilt – and Nancy, a girl whose talent might be the undoing of them all.

Their arrival inside the walls as the sun sets will set off a series of explosive events. Before the sun returns, five destinies will have been made – and lost – in Darien.

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Both the cover and synopsis of Darien caught my attention while scrolling through Netgalley (yes, I know, I’m seriously late with this review). I initially thought the cover was creepy and wasn’t certain if the book would be a little chilling. But the synopsis won me over and I was fortunate enough to be approved for a copy. I’m glad I did – I thoroughly enjoyed it!


The plot is split into three story-arcs. Elias Post has the knack to see a couple of moments into possible futures – giving him the ability to walk through a fight unscathed, even with guns firing at him. Elias may be deadly, but he’s a desperate father losing everything and you can’t help empathise with him. His reluctance to kill despite being blackmailed and his desire for revenge make him powerful yet emotional; a deadly combination.

“I would like to go back to sullen silence now,” he said.

“Well, we do not always get what we want.”

Nancy has an unusual ability; she can drain magic and take it into herself. Dragged reluctantly into this world of magical artefacts, she gets a taste of power and realises she can fulfil her ambition of avenging her father. But magic is a tricky business and Nancy ends up involved far more than she anticipated. Despite her revenge, she is a good person who wants to use her gifts to help – if only she knew how.

Tellius was my favourite. A supposedly gruff old man, he takes in the urchins of the streets and tries to forge them into something better. When a young boy is revealed to be a powerfully magical creation – a golem – Tellius must do and say whatever he can in order to ensure their survival.


It takes a while for the plot to really get going. These are initially three completely separate stories and while the characters are developed and the dialogue entertaining, the pace feels stunted by the constant switching back and forth. As soon as one starts to develop, it switches to another story and slows down.

When they start to come together, however, it becomes a high-paced and intense read. From halfway through, the tension builds and a battle rages around all three characters, making them put their various skill-sets to good use to not only survive, but help the city stand against an invasion they themselves are partially responsible for creating.


You all know how much I enjoy reading large-scale battles and it shows the author usually writes historical fiction in the formations and tactics used here. I found it clear and easy to follow, despite the characters being spread thin and the introduction of magical items into the fight.

Although the tension explodes in the second half, it is balanced by the humour in the first half. Both the dialogue and the characters’ own thoughts were amusing and effectively made you care about the characters before plunging them into danger.

Darien grows stronger as it progresses and the story-lines start to blend, but I still found it an enjoyable read and am now on the lookout for the second one.

Goodreads | Amazon


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