This book failed to hold my attention, so I started flipping through pages. After reading some of the shenanigans Shannon gets up to towards the end,...moreThis book failed to hold my attention, so I started flipping through pages. After reading some of the shenanigans Shannon gets up to towards the end, I'm glad I didn't waste too much time on it. Suffice to say that being the beloved of a goddess should not be a get-out-of-jail-free card, and I have little respect for a character who would abuse their position this way.(less)
Nine years ago, Rhys Trahaearn single-handedly freed England from Mongol occupation. In gratitude he was given a duchy and quickly picked up the nickn...moreNine years ago, Rhys Trahaearn single-handedly freed England from Mongol occupation. In gratitude he was given a duchy and quickly picked up the nickname of the Iron Duke. But the invasion has left its scars and nearly a decade later tensions remain. Mina Wentworth, the daughter of an English noblewoman and a Mongol rapist, has made a life for herself despite the racial prejudices she faces. She's more proud of her title of "Detective Inspector" than she is of her title "Lady". When someone leaves a body on the Iron Duke's doorstep, Mina is called to the scene of the crime. And while Rhys's first instinct is to send her away and conduct the investigation himself, he changes his mind soon after meeting her. Now he wants her and the Iron Duke always gets what he wants. But Mina, independent and scarred as she is, didn't get the "obedience" memo...
I would say this is about equal mix of Steampunk and Romance. There are plenty of action scenes, with zombies and harpoon guns and dirigible chases, and lots of technological thrills with their cool steampunk tech. Everyone living under the Mongol Horde has been infected with nanotechnology, which makes them stronger and healthier. But under Horde rule, the bugs were used to control them and zombies are made from a rogue strain of the nano-bugs, so fear still lingers. Some people have mechanical implants, such as arms replaced with mining drills or eyes that can see heat and zoom down to the microscopic level. This is what steampunk is. This book perfectly captures the sense of adventure and mad glee that pervades the genre.
The romance between Mina and Rhys is intriguing. I'm not usually a fan of the domineering, possessive type, which Rhys certainly is. But he mitigates that damage by trying to understand Mina instead of change her, and taking his turn at compromise once in a while. Mina herself has some issues (an understatement for someone routinely called a "jade whore" by random passerby) that she feels prevent her from polite social options. And she's too fiercely independent to settle for anything less than her due. The sparks that fly between them are all the more heated for the need to deny them.
I love Mina's family. Even though Mina is the child of a Mongolian rapist - the evidence stamped on her face for all to see - her position in the family is never disputed. She refers to her mother's husband as her father and their children as her brothers, no "step-" or "half-" to distinguish between them. It's a family bound by love, not blood. They are very close-knit and very loyal to each other, which is rare in this war-torn country.
There was one scene that made me really uncomfortable for a page or two. I kept thinking to myself, "The author's not really going to do it. She can't do it. Dear god, she's doing it! She actually is! How can she possibly recover from this...oh, that's how." Now I feel that scene makes the romance stronger because the couple had to face and deal with this problem.
I am a huge fan of worldbuilding. I want authors to show me this alien world they've made for their readers to play in. And Meljean Brook does not disappoint. The world of The Iron Seas is rich and vivid, like a cross between Indiana Jones and Blade Runner. This series is set in the aftermath of a war. It's about people trying to get by and rebuild after their world has been knocked down into the dust. There are class tensions, racial tensions, and international tensions. Lingering prejudices still divide the infected "buggers" from the returning refugee "bounders". The notion of family, the most fundamental unit of society, has been radically altered. Before, the Horde took children away and raised them in nurseries. Now, women are making family units with each other, one mother watching the children while another works. And all of this is shown in background details without taking focus away from the plot.
If you're looking for more Iron Seas, there's a prequel novella in Burning Up, out now. Book 2, Heart of Steel, will be out in November 2011 and features the pirate queen Lady Yasmeen Corsair.(less)
This is a decent turn-your-brain-off read. There were some plot holes (out of everyone in the entire world, why are Rhiannon/Shannon the only pair wit...moreThis is a decent turn-your-brain-off read. There were some plot holes (out of everyone in the entire world, why are Rhiannon/Shannon the only pair with different personalities?) and some elements I found too fantastic to be believable (how quickly she adjusted to the thought of never seeing her loved ones again). But it is funny and made me giggle out loud in some places. And while the romance did progress a little too quickly to be quite believable, I enjoyed it very much.
Also, the way the author describes hot baths and foot massages is pure sin. I feel like I need a piece of devil's food cake after reading one of those scenes.(less)
The date rape scene in the first chapter chased me away for two years, but I finally came back to it and I'm glad I did. My concerns that the author w...moreThe date rape scene in the first chapter chased me away for two years, but I finally came back to it and I'm glad I did. My concerns that the author would not handle the rape well were wrong, and the issue of power and abuse is one of the themes of this book.
This series more than others seems to show the wolf side of werewolves as animal, not heroic. Kitty is constantly working through her natural/unnatural desires, trying to find a balance between human and wolf. I was fascinated to watch her growth over the novel as she tried to find her feet again.
Plus, late night talk radio: maybe they're not all crackpots. Heh.(less)
**spoiler alert** I can't rate this book because I only got two chapters in. But the blurb for book 2 says she's in a love triangle that she's not int...more**spoiler alert** I can't rate this book because I only got two chapters in. But the blurb for book 2 says she's in a love triangle that she's not interested in resolving, despite both guys wanting it resolved, and that is not my cup of tea. I prefer monogamy and I need the relationship to be at least mutually consensual.(less)
Locke Lamora grabbed me from the first page and didn't let go. The book is 700 pages long, so I'm not going to say some parts weren't slower than othe...moreLocke Lamora grabbed me from the first page and didn't let go. The book is 700 pages long, so I'm not going to say some parts weren't slower than others, but I hardly noticed. I actually stayed up two hours after I should have gone to bed (which almost never happens with a new author) and only put the book down because my eyes couldn't stay open. And then I got up early the next morning to keep reading it.
The novel opens with a character named the Thiefmaker trying to sell a child pickpocket. He can't keep the boy in his gang because he's too good at stealing - he simply can't help himself. From then on, the novel switches between two timelines, Locke as a child learning how to steal (or more precisely when to stop stealing) and Locke as an adult pulling off one of the elaborate con jobs that have earned him the nickname "The Thorn of Camorr".
I was dragged into the story immediately. Switching back and forth between two different plots could have slowed the book down but instead sped it up. The author masterfully intersplices them so that they complement each other. Cutting to a seeming non-sequitor would instead build to a full understanding of exactly what peril the heroes are facing, or provide a clue as to what they're planning.
The women in the story, while not Gentlemen Bastards and therefore not main characters, are shockingly enough treated as actual people. Some of the greatest powers in the city are female, like the crimelord's daughter scheming to be named his heir. It's so refreshing to find a story set in medieval-esque times that doesn't treat women as scenery or subject them to a Madonna/whore complex - or swing too far the other way and go on and on about the healing power of motherhood. Instead, the women are as varied and as complicated as the men.
Some people were put off by the modern curse words, but I didn't notice. There are some archaic curses mixed in, and the novel is explicitly not set in our world. Actually, I found the language compelling.
Throughout, it's riddled with small moments of awesome. When Bug jumps off the roof. When child Locke pulls off his first con job at the tavern. When the nameless whore snaps and murders her abusive pimp. And then the big moments, the moments I can't even hint at without spoiling some small part of their awesomeness. Greatly satisfying.(less)