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Heart of Iron

3.09 of 5 stars 3.09  ·  rating details  ·  295 ratings  ·  76 reviews
In a Russia where the Decembrists' rebellion was successful and the Trans-Siberian railroad was completed before 1854, Sasha Trubetskaya wants nothing more than to have a decent debut ball in St. Petersburg. But her aunt's feud with the emperor lands Sasha at university, where she becomes one of its first female students - an experiment, she suspects, designed more to prov ...more
Paperback, 311 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Prime Books (first published 2011)
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Community Reviews

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September 2011

Marya Morevna was just a young girl in St. Petersburg when a bird outside her window fell from a tree, turned into a soldier of the Tsar, and married her oldest sister. That was her first glimpse of the magic of Russia, but by the time her third sister had been married off to a third bird-turned-soldier, "the face of the world had changed," and the magic with it: the soldier-bird was in the Red Army, and the eleven other families who lived communally in her great house had all brou
Anzu The Great Destroyer
Ekaterina Sedia is an amazing writer. I absolutely fell in love with her style after reading The Alchemy of Stone, and I was expecting Heart of Iron to be the same. Sadly, it wasn’t. I mean writing-wise it was pretty good, Sedia does have some mad writing skills, but the story wasn’t really my cup.

I also liked the characters, especially Sasha and Jack, who made a great team imho. The rest of them didn’t really impress me much, but they were still cleverly built.

Yeah. I’m absolutely out of id
Maria Snyder
This book sounded SO GOOD! I really really wanted to love it. It had steampunk elements, romantic elements, a mystery, and a cool alternate historical setting. The writing was strong. However, I couldn't connect with the main protagonist. In fact, I started to dislike her and think she had it too easy with everyone helping her on her mission. I hoped eventually she'd learn to stand on her own and realize just how lucky she'd been, the ending was disappointing and rather unbelievabl ...more
This novel tries to mix steampunk action with "realism" about race, gender, etc in the 19th century and it fails at that, being in fact a YA adventure with an enchanting heroine, but action without tension or danger in pulp mode, while said 'realism" about women in the 19th century society and to a lesser extent about races is very simplistic and soom essentially forgotten in the quest if our heroine to make everyone happy, the world a better place and the baddies repent,

Very fairytale and the l
JP Capili
Summary: Heart Of Iron is a story about a Russian girl who traveled across the continent to seek an alliance against an emerging empire.
Good: book's only strength is in the narrator's voice; nice book cover art
Bad: too much ideas but little exploration; Florence Nightingale isn't threatening enough

The book presents so many ideas: politics, religions, races, genders, historical events, that they become too cumbersome for me, and yet still come up short. I also wish it has more sci-fi to it since
the golden witch.
If there’s no other genre I love, it’s alternate history/steampunk. Why? It lets us dream about what could have been had we chosen another path. And one of the most recent masters of alt-history lit is Ekaterina Sedia, who I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about. Her newest book, “Heart of Iron” does not disappoint, and if you like historical fiction and/or sci-fi, you should definitely give it a read.

One thing that Sedia does well (to put it lightly) is immersing her readers in the scen
I did not do a good job as a reader on this book. I read it as I was falling asleep or to fill in time between appointments and while watching TV. I am certain that there was a better book than the one I read in the pages, had I only given it the opportunity it deserved.

That said, this was a very good book. Sedia writes excellent characters and has chosen her settings with exquisite care. Really, this is genius work finding the setting and plotting the action as her characters moved through them
Train rides are wonderous things. The sound of the machine, the scenery, the quiet, the conversation, the fact you can read without throwing up. Wonderful things train rides. No wonder that there have been several romantic, mystery, action, and what not written involing trains, including this book, which concerns the Transsiberian express (Yeah, I thought it was just the orchestra too, go figure).

Sedia does a good job of catching the feeling of a train ride in this novel, at least in some points
Jesse Bullington
I was fortunate enough to get an advance copy of this, and then July exploded in my face and I dropped the ball on posting a proper review when it launched. Better late than never, granted, but still--this book deserves attention, and a lot of it. Sedia's one of those authors who mines something new with every project rather than working the same material ad nauseam, and this one should have the broadest appeal yet while still tackling the weighty issues Sedia's never shied away from. Her fictio ...more
Laura Davis
I was so excited about this book. The premise is great! What if the Decembrist Revolt had gone the other way? I love steam punk, I love Russian history, and I love alternate history. I had every reason to expect that I would love this book, and I wanted to. In the end, though, I felt robbed in a "The Cake is a Lie" kind of way. Writing this review is really saddening.

I think that a more skilled editor would have benefitted the book greatly. There are many places where the author takes off on tan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
With the exception of Lavie Tidhar, I have thus far only read steampunk novels from countries which were at one time or another part of the British Empire, most are still part of the Commonwealth. So, I was rather interested in Hearts of Iron, since Ekatarina Sedia is from what used to be the Russian Empire. The Russian Empire under the Czars also forms the backdrop of the story.

Heart of Iron CoverHeart of Iron is a very different reading experience to any of the other steampunk novels I have re
I was really disappointed by this book. I read some good reviews, and the blurb was really interesting...but it turned out to be the most interesting part of the story. The problem is the deadly dull narrator. She is so boring and perfect, and lots of men come to her aid at every turn. Her "quest" is completely pointless (I kept trying to figure out what reason she had for deciding it was her duty to cement an allegiance between Russia and China...turns out it was her "youthful indiscretion"?) T ...more
I wanted to like this book, I really did, but I just could not get over how simple and unrealistic it was (Even for steam punk)

Personally, I wish Ekaterina Sedia would just go back to her roots with novels like 'The Secret History of Moscow' and forsake this stupid steam punk bullshit once and fore all. Because all the airships and submarines in the world could not make this book worth reading. She has a wonderful chance to teach us so much about Russian history and culture and it's tainted by t
There were a lot of good ideas about this book. A lot of good concepts that turned out to not be fully developed or thought through by the end of the book.

I loved the characters of the book between Sasha, Jack, Chiang Tse and Aunt Eugenia. I felt that these characters were well rounded but I was still left with some questions. Why did Jack join the Secret Service? There was just not as much background as I would have liked with Jack. I liked how Sasha grew throughout the book but I felt that she
This reads more like a fable, with fantastical elements in a steampunk setting. The plot is linear, and it's a story of a young woman forced outside of her social bubble to enter a "man's world." She embraces the challenge, sort of.

Most of the story, the young protagonist is passive in her activity. She relies on everyone to do everything for her, even at the end.

The story is competently written, but never gripped me, and I almost stopped reading once I learned Spring Heeled Jack's secret to hi
There were several places in this book where I just shook my head and said "What?" This could have been a compelling story of a young woman in female suppresed 1850's Russia, on a mission to avert
the Crimean War. The alternate history, of a successful Decembrist Revolution, and advanced technology were irrelevant to that plot, and served as an irritating distraction. What difference does it make if Nicholas or Constantine rule, when there is obviously a repressive and unchecked Secret Police for
Russia--where historical progress moves in fits and starts--seems like a great setting for an alt-history steampunk story. Unfortunately, the setting was the strongest portion of this book. The characters have a tendency to break out into unsupported philosophical tangents which neither advance the plot nor the reader's understanding of their motives. The villains never do anything villainous and the heroes don't develop; in the end everyone is back exactly where they've started. I've read good ...more
I know a lot of people didn't like this book for various reasons, but "I don't know the history and the author should have explained it to me" is completely invalid, imo. Especially in the modern age of Wikipedia. It didn't feel the same as the other two books of hers I've read, and that is fine. I also wouldn't compare this to Cathrynne Valente's amazing Deathless, because it's apples and oranges. I mean, unless you want to say there's no room for coming of age stories about young American men ...more
Cécile C.
An enjoyable story with lots of thoughts about colonialism and international politics. The writing didn't strike me as exceptional, but the construction of the story and the unfolding of the heroin's journey is worth anybody's time, if only to see what can be done when an author decides to be a little bit more realistic than average and ditch the "lone ballsy hero saves the world on his own" trope.

As an additional plus, this books has wonderful female characters. I won't say "strong" because I
I first heard of Heart of Iron on a troll blog that wrote acerbic reviews of YA literature for perceived racial/gender/cultural insensitivity. The review was sparkling, affirming that the story is "unapologetically feminist." Despite the source, I stupidly didn't realize it was intended to be a YA book until past half way of the book. However, I honestly didn't notice for most of the reading. Heart of Iron imagines an interesting alternate history where the Decemberist indie rock band took over ...more
Russian history, industrialization, Russia+China, English=traitors, and one "unruly" recently debuted girl attending university for the first time that women are allowed to attend, in St. Petersburg, due to her unconventional, strong-willed "spinster" aunt 'bullying' Emperor Constantine in front of his countrymen. Add to this a handful of 'Chinamen' also attending the university, who begin to go missing, while sneaky plainclothes Russian secret police hang out near their quarters. Also, Sasha (g ...more
Lianne Burwell
Heart of Iron covers a lot of ground in content. It's alternate history, it's steampunk, it's early feminism, it's a spy novel, and it touches the edge of fantasy (with the Spring-Heeled Jack elements). Oh, and it's set in Russia.

Sasha is a young woman being raised, since her father's death, by her slightly silly mother and her intensely practical maiden aunt, Eugenia. During her 'coming out', Sasha's aunt gets into an argument with the Emperor (who is obsessed with all things English), that res
This is the fourth book I've read by Ekaterina Sedia, and it's the most fast-paced. It's steampunk, set in an alternative 1800's Russia, and it borrows from the penny dreadful style one of the characters reads avidly.

The story follows Alexandra (Sasha) Trubetskaya, whose aunt shames the emperor into letting women into the university at St. Petersburg. Sasha meets a great cross-section of Victorian society there, including the English spy Florence Nightingale, Spring-Heeled Jack, and Chiang Tse,
Disappointing. It started out as a very promising book, with interesting characters and an intriguing plot. I hoped that the development would continue and the world would continue to be fleshed out. Combined with the exoticism of an alternate Cyrillic landscape, the story had the potential to be an engaging, exciting ride.
However, once the action moved away from the 'heart' of the country, the development petered out and ultimately failed to deliver. The brief descriptions of scenery and cultur
Nov 08, 2011 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Elegant petitioners at a foreign court
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work
An elegant, well-mannered steampunk kung-fu alternate-universe novel? Well, yes, I think that's a fair description.

I've gone on about Ekaterina Sedia's mellifluous name and charmingly askew émigré prose before, so I won't belabor those points now. Those elements are still present in this new work, to be sure, but what they are in service of here is a rather new thing.

Sasha—Alexandra Trubetskaya, to be more formal about it—is a young Russian lady of noble birth and good breeding, if perhaps not t
Genevieve Scheele
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The premise: ganked from In a Russia where the Decembrists' rebellion was successful and the Trans-Siberian railroad was completed before 1854, Sasha Trubetskaya wants nothing more than to have a decent debut ball in St. Petersburg. But her aunt's feud with the emperor lands Sasha at university, where she becomes one of its first female students - an experiment, she suspects, designed more to prove female unsuitability for such pursuits than offer them education. The pressure intensifies ...more
Fun, but needs more world-building. Everything-but-the-kitchen sink was thrown at the reader (Submarines and air ships! Alternate Russian history! Possible alternate Chinese history happening after the book ends, maybe! Evil Florence Nightingale! Spring-heeled Jack...?), but there was no explanation for why things were this way. I wanted backstory.

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Ekaterina Sedia is also credited as E. Sedia.
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