‘… and of small bronze ingots, twenty and three,’ called Master Onesimos. Then, a moment later, and much louder: ‘Paramon!’
Paramon started sharply, and wrenched his mind away from the horses that were being led past the open door of the storehouse. He groped for his writing stick, found it, dropped it, picked up the soft clay tablet he had let fall in his lap, found his writing stick again, smoothed out a random scratch or two in the clay, poised the stick to write, saw that he had chewed the end of it into useless splinters, reversed it, and found that he had forgotten how many bars there were.
Start by writing ‘bronze’. If he could get that right, maybe he’d escape the usual reward for not paying attention.
Paramon and his brother and widowed-mother, are poor but of noble lineage. Paramon has been apprenticed to the storeman and his brother is shield-carrier to the Lord. That may have been the plan, but fate would have it otherwise. An unfortunate accident sets Paramon on a journey he could not have imagined. But he is a canny and resourceful young man. With a little luck, a quick mind and a sense of caution, he travels his destined road almost safely. But this is the Bronze-age and safe is a relative term. Along his journey, he makes a discovery that may just cost him his life.
Hammering Iron takes the reader into a world very different to now. Bronze is the choice of kings and lords when it comes to battle. But it is expensive and time-consuming to produce. And it’s flawed. Like the society that values war above most other things, and considers the common people expendable. Families must tread warily if they are to stay in favour and be able to earn a living. Even the ‘good’ lords think mostly in terms of their own gain rather than the good of their people. Despite the challenges of this world, Paramon shows there are ways to not only survive but to thrive. He works within the flawed parameters of his existence. His strength of character enables him to survive an adventure that could well have cost him his life, many times over. Recommended for early secondary readers, particularly history and adventure fans.
Hammering Iron, L.S. Lawrence
Omnibus Books 2012
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
Available from good bookstores or online.