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Heart of Iron

3.08 of 5 stars 3.08  ·  rating details  ·  267 ratings  ·  68 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
Kindle Edition, 247 pages
Published (first published 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 922)
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Jacob
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
...more
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
...more
Liviu
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
...more
John Paul 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
...more
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
...more
Nicholas
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
...more
Chris
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
...more
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
...more
Alytha
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marcus
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
...more
Caitlin
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
...more
Suzanne
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
...more
xenu01
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
...more
Richard
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
Ab
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
...more
Alice
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,
...more
Allyson
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
...more
Alan
Nov 08, 2011 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Genevieve Scheele
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Savannah
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shara
The premise: ganked from BN.com: 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
Noelle
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.

(view spoiler)
...more
Pygmy
Almost finished and liking it lots! A young Russian woman of society is one of the first few weomen to enter university. There, she meets Chinese students, gets caught up in war intrigue, and sets out on a journey to China to ally Russia to whichever Chinese power is winning. There are trains, airships, flying kungfu people, hussars, mysterious and/or evil English ppl, cross dressing, and a love triangle of sorts between Russian girl, English thief/spy and Chinese student. I say "of sorts", beca ...more
Kristin
This book didn't hold my attention or interest. When I started it, I was pleased by the writing style; and I enjoyed the setting of historical Russia. It had historical detail, which gave it authenticity--but then it suddenly launched into descriptions of the bizarre machines that didn't really exist in history. I know, I know: that's what Steampunk is. And this was my first experimental reading of Steampunk. But I found the disparity between historical accuracy and historical inaccuracy too jar ...more
Rebecca M
I love the language, the setting, the plot, and the way the book is written, but for me there was something missing from the narrative, something that kept me from feeling particularly invested in the journey and ultimately from caring much at all about the characters. There was also a distinct lack of menace surrounding villainous Florence Nightingale, which was really a shame. Ultimately I did enjoy this book, but I probably won't remember much about it before too long.
Peter Brusilovsky
I picked this book in the library. I like alternative history and the overall idea of a book about Russia where the decemberists won and Constantine is the emperor was appealing. The book partially delivers by attempting to present the future where Russia abolished slavery and started industrialization very early following Britain. This is probably the more interesting part of the book. But the plot is weak, heroes are less believable, many historic and technical details are hardly believable ei ...more
Heather
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
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Ekaterina Sedia is also credited as E. Sedia.
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