Sunday, January 16, 2011

Book Review: The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

Over the summer I bought an anthology of stories and Brook had one in there. Now the back cover or first few pages did not give me a hint as to what would be happening in the short stories, so I went in blind. Here was what happened when I started reading. "What Horde? Are we talking about World of Warcraft because everyone knows only douchbags play Alliance and the Horde is for cool people. Why does this lady have metal arms? What is a control tower? What is this airship doing in Victorian England........................OH MY GOD! STEAMPUNK BITCHES!"

So yes the short story was a steampunk story and if you read my review of Leviathan (which you should have already but if not do it now) you know that steampunk is something I love. Its a fairly new genre in fiction and has only had a small following. But making a romance novel with steampunk is pretty much a new form of crack for me.

Okay so here is the lore for these books. This is a quote from Brook's website.
"In the Iron Seas history, Ögedei Khan still dies, but Batu Khan, leader of the Golden Horde, and son of Jochi—Genghis Khan’s eldest son—is named the successor over the wishes of Ögedei’s descendents and their supporters. In the civil war that follows, Batu, a brilliant strategist, crushes his opponents, but the effort prevents him from immediately returning to Europe. He relinquishes his westernmost holdings and consolidates his power in the east. His son, Sartaq, continues to strengthen the reunited empire, establishing strong civil and military presences in the outlying khanates. He is both generous and ruthless, ensuring their loyalty. The empire is relatively stable by the time the Polo brothers make their first journey along the Silk Road to the emperor’s seat. Though not Kublai Khan, Batu’s successor is not a fool, and he takes similar steps to establish a relationship with the west. Batu and Sartaq had taken pains to maintain their trading routes and roads, so the Polos’ journey back to Rome passes quickly, and they arrive before Pope Clement IV dies. The pope partially fulfills the Great Khan’s request; though he didn’t send one hundred, a handful of scholars and engineers returned east with the Polo brothers, eager to spread both knowledge and Christianity. None were heard from again—except for Marco Polo, who escaped and related horrors of workshops, of men forced to invent machines of war, and who was ridiculed and called mad. For two hundred years, the history of the western world progressed similar to our own, aside from rumors about strange technologies in the east, all of which were dismissed as fables. Then the first war machines rolled into western Asia, followed by the Horde. "

But not too long ago The Iron Duke blew up the control tower that allowed the Horde to control the people of England. But then some one drops a body in his garden and that is where the book begins. I enjoyed the book quite a bit. There were airships and the navy and nanotech and a really well developed plot. There were also zombies which I would have preferred not exist because they creep me out more than words and in this version its nano bugs that cause people to be zombies but they are still a bit transferred kind of infection.

I enjoyed the characters although it felt overly one sided. Very little of the book was written from the duke's point of view but yet there were still portions in his point of view. I think if you choose to do a rotating point of view that it should be more even. I was able to keep up with everything they talk about in the story because I had read the short story before which was a big help. But if I hadn't this review would have been very different. I can never deiced if too much explanation or too little is my pet peeve.

I would recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting and different plot in a romance novel, and some steampunk too.

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