I held off on writing a review of this book until I had finished the entire trilogy, because I felt my opinion of it might change with the benefit of the whole picture. I was right.
This book follows very much in the footsteps of The Stone Arrow, its predecessor in the Pagans trilogy. If anything, it features most of the same themes and the same feel, only amplified: where The Stone Arrow was somewhat grim, The Flint Lord is positively bleak. Where The Stone Arrow was shockingly violent in places, The Flint Lord is unrelentingly brutal. Where The Stone Arrow featured scenes of pitched battle between small groups, The Flint Lord ratchets up the stakes to include large-scale warfare and Stone Age sieges. Again, the action comes fast and thick, and Herley's powers of research and description are in full force, plunging the reader into a different world with all five senses. If you want a gripping tale of war and intrigue, with plenty of prehistoric commando action and a seriously satisfying level of violence, this is your book.
What ultimately kept this book from getting four stars from me is that most of the characters didn't quite grab me. A trait in Richard Herley's later fiction is that he is able to draw complex characters with a few deft strokes, and to engage his audience so that the reader becomes invested in those characters' successes and failures. That trait is not on display here, and as a result this book pales slightly in comparison to The Stone Arrow. However, the three stars don't adequately convey how enjoyable a read this was, or how well the book fits as a bridge between the first and the (very different) third book in the series.