The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

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The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

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Buy The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: A fast and furious ride through an alternate Victorian London that occasionally stops for polite afternoon tea, just to let you catch your breath. Exciting, great characters and one of the best books I've read this year.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: August 2012
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0356500928

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Someone is killing off Mentaths - geniuses, logic machines - in the city of London and it's up to Emma Bannon, sorcerer Prime, to protect their next target Archibald Clare. Emma is powerful and resourceful, but she has problems of her own - such as whether she can trust her Shield, Mikal, who killed the last sorcerer whose service he was in. And while Clare is as keen as she to uncover the conspiracy behind the murders, the illogical world of sorcery and the logical minds of Mentaths don't mix well.

Between them, they will face rival sorcerers, assassins' knives and a force so powerful, unleashing it could destroy the British Isles themselves.

This isn't the sort of book that settles you into a comfy chair and asks you if you want a cup of tea while you acquaint yourself with the world and the characters; it's the sort of book that starts with an explosion and doesn't bother to stop and apologise for your singed eyebrows before it's thrown you through a series of action sequences, deft but subtle character moments and a whistle-stop tour of the world that gives you a clear idea of it's depth, realisation and interest while still leaving you unsure as to what is actually going on.

To call this a 'romp' through an alternative London would be to drastically understate the pace.

But for all the lack of hand holding, mollycoddling and - what I wished for a couple of times - a glossary, The Iron Wyrm Affair is exciting enough that it never really matters that you're not sure what the distinction between a Flashboy and an Alteration is. It's like going abroad to a completely foreign country - the culture and people are overwhelming and you can't possibly hope to understand the ins and outs of all of it, but you come away knowing something, having thoroughly enjoyed yourself.

The characters are fantastic too - from Clare and his deductions and top hat, to shadowy Mikal whose dubious past and skill with a knife make him an ever-present threat within the team to compliment the threats from outside. And Emma Bannon - it was always going to be tricky to do a 'strong female' in a time when women were very much in the background of society, expected to be ladies and to marry well, not to traipse about London getting into fights with soot dogs and wyrms. However, Saintcrow gets the balance just right. Emma is feisty and strong willed, but she has a sense of the propriety of the time, conducting her battles in dresses and corsets, acknowledging her unladylike behaviour. She's strong and vulnerable at the same time - the sort of female character I really get behind and root for.

A fast and furious ride through an alternate Victorian London that occasionally stops for polite afternoon tea, just to let you catch your breath. Exciting, great characters and one of the best books I've read this year. Roll on the next instalment!

My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy.

If you enjoyed this, you might like The Iron Dragon's Daughter by Michael Swanwick which also combines technology and magic to create a fascinating world.

Buy The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow at Amazon.com.

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