The game is afoot…
AH’s Review – 2.5 Skulls – C
The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow had everything going for it: A beautiful cover, Victorian England setting, sorcery and magic, steampunk gadgets and machines, and some mythical creatures. The world is richly detailed and the characters are intriguing. Unfortunately, the book fell flat for me and I almost did not finish it. In fact, I took a break and read a few other books from different genres just to clear my mind. I hesitated to pick up this book again, but in a way, I am glad that I finished it. The last quarter of the book was exciting and action packed.
First, the good. The steampunk elements were incredible: Clockwork horses, flying carriages, logic engines, mechanical men, and much more. Then there were the altered people – people with steampunk limbs attached to their bodies. The altered people had hideous lobster claws or scythes for hands and some even had wheels for feet. Just creepy. Even the rats were altered in some way or another. Oh, I loved the big giant mechanical spider thing wreaking havoc on London.
The mythical creatures were nicely done. The dragon or wyrm was different from any I’ve encountered. It could alter Time and waking a dragon would have serious repercussions for the population. The gryphons were predatory and fearsome. There is even a golem.
I found the characters quite likeable. The banter between Emma Bannon and Archibald Clare was interesting. Emma had a lot of inner dialogue going on as well showing that she was very astute. Mikal the Shield was fierce and protective and he had a lot of unexpected affection for Emma. The Italian assassin was entertaining as was Sigmund who always seemed to have some wurst available as a tasty snack.
So many positives. So why only 2.5 skulls? Perhaps it was a case of First Book in a Series Syndrome. Maybe it was information overload. This book is incredibly detailed, but maddeningly so, because the very things you want explained, aren’t. It felt as if key elements were left out, and that left me feeling confused. The pacing was quite slow for the first half of the book, and didn’t really pick up until closer to the end. Not much seemed to happen. There was clever banter, some tea, then some excitement, then repeat. The language also proved to be difficult and my ereader’s dictionary got quite the workout.
The book includes a listing of the Ranks of the Sorcerousse at the end of the book listing the different types of sorcerers. There is also a Q&A with the author which was quite informative. The review version had an excerpt from the next book in the series The Red Plague Affair. I think it would have been a good idea to include a glossary of terms for the reader.
While this book did not work for me, I am curious to continue the series and will most likely read the next book.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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