Mary-Beth's Reviews > Blood and Iron

Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear
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's review
Dec 08, 2007

liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, fiction, sciencefiction

I'm not the biggest fan of urban fantasy. To be honest, I am not even sure to what extent this novel fits that genre. Anyway, while this book didn't change my mind about urban fantasy it was quite readable.

This story deals with the intersections between faerie and the real world and a three-way war between the seelie and unseelie courts and human mages. The mages belong to an order of magic which seeks to oppose faerie with metal and technology. The reason for this antipathy between humans and fae is all of the humans kidnapped by faeries.

The strength of the novel is the way in which it complicates right and wrong, so that by the end of it I have no idea who has done the right thing and am fairly sure that everyone is probably deserving of some blame. The problem with this is that it creates a certain amount of apathy in the reader. I never really connected well with any of the characters. This isn't helped by the fact that some of the characters in the story don't possess souls or, as a result, emotions.

I wasn't crazy about the magic in the novel. It seemed very vague. There also wasn't anything really new. The book borrows from every fairy ballad, insistently quoting them throughout. Arthurian legend is plundered, and even, in a very odd moment, Tolkien. In other words, there's too much. A little bit of everything is thrown into the cocktail, werewolves, kelpies, ents, dragons. I don't have anything against a good mix of mythical creatures, it's just that nothing in the mix struck me as having enough soul to be memorable. Okay, the kelpie was amusing, I have to admit.

Still, the plot was interesting enough to keep me reading until the end, even if things slowed down during the conclusion because of the sheer amount of things that were packed into the last pages.

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