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Heart of Iron

3.10  ·  Rating details ·  388 ratings  ·  84 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 pro ...more
Paperback, 311 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Prime Books (first published 2011)
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3.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  388 ratings  ·  84 reviews

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Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010-2011
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
Megan Baxter
Feb 11, 2015 rated it liked it
I don't know what it is about Sedia's books. I like them enough to keep reading them when they cross my plate, but not enough to seek them out. She's never irritated me enough to want to say that I'm done, but there just always seem to be a little bit missing. It's like they're *this* close to being great, but end up settling in merely satisfactory. (With the exception of at least one of the stories in Moscow But Dreaming, which was finally, finally, a perfect little gem.)

Note: The rest of this
Maria V. Snyder
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
usagi ☆ミ
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
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 30, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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,
Jesse Bullington
Jun 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Laura Davis
Nov 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
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.
Oct 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ekaterina-sedia
To read a book written by an author you have not read before is always a pleasure rewarding adventure. The story has merit. The characters seem real to unreal, meaning some things just seem out of place where others are plausible. The writing is, in my opinion, average. The writing could be improved and things could be more clearly expressed to help readers feel more a part of the story. Over it is an average read.
Apr 20, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Nov 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 07, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Genevieve Scheele
Jul 20, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 28, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Lianne Burwell
Jun 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Cécile C.
May 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: steampunk
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
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
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
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)
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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Ekaterina Sedia is also credited as E. Sedia.
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“There's only so far you can push a horse before it collapses” 2 likes
“God has a way of guiding us sometimes” 2 likes
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