Twiggy's Reviews > The Iron Duke

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
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U_50x66
's review
Sep 01, 11

bookshelves: steampunk, fantasy

Really strange but very enjoyable.

Think Victorian London with Lords and Ladies, add in nanotechnology, and people being enhanced by machines etc , zombies, violence, relaxed attitudes to sex and marriage and racial hatred. It is by any account an odd Mix.

Years ago the Hoard ( think Chinese empire esque although this is never stated) sell sugar infected with nanotechnology to all of europe, thereby infecting the entire population and allowing the hoard to take control of them both body and mind.

America remained free with nanotechnology banned. Europe became a wasteland occupied by people who had been turned into zombies and only the Uk remained habitable but under firm Hoard domination , signified by the Tower they built in London to send out the controlling signals.

People were altered with machinery to make them better workers and family life disintegrated with marriage being almost non existent save in the nobility and children growing up in communal creches. Every now and again the hoard would activate a frenzy which would send people into a sexual frenzy and they would have sex with whoever was nearby until it was over.


After centuries of oppression Rhys Trahaern, a pirate, destroys the Tower, frees the population from the control of the Hoard and sends them packing. he becomes is given a dukedom and is worshipped as a hero by everyone.

Thereafter the American exiles return to recover their estates in England etc and there are divisions between those who are bounders ( no nanotechnology) and buggers ( infected) with campaigns to stop buggers from being able to take office etc given that they remain vulnerable to hoard control technology.

DI Mina Wentworth, or Lady Wilhemena, was conceived by her mother during a frenzy and upon birth it is obvious that her mother had been raped by members of the Hoard as she is of mixed race. Her mother blinded herself in her horror at the realisation at her birth. Her parents and brothers adore her but she struggles with social acceptance given the hatred with which the Hoard are held and she has given up any hope of marriage and now works as a detective inspector.

The action starts when a dead body is dropped from an air ship onto Trahearn's house. Mina is called to investigate. There is an immediate but subtle attraction between the two. Things escalate and it appears that Trahearn's ship which was given to the navy has been hijacked and the crew kidnapped.

Enter air ships, trips to euro zombi land, more air ships, a battle with a giant sea monster, tales of daring and high jinks and a dastardly plot by a crazed admiral to free england of any further risk by killing all buggers.

I really enjoyed this book.

The one caveat, which sounds petty, was that I really hated the repeated use of the word shag. Really I think other words for this would have survived Hoard rule. It's hard to be romantic when the hero's main line is ' good, I'll shag you now'....

That kind of thing really kills the moment!
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