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I Belong

Review: The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lillith Saintcrow

Title: The Iron Wyrm Affair

Author: Lillith Saintcrow

Genre: Steampunk/Urban Fantasy

Series: Bannon & Clare (Book 1)

Publication Date: August 7, 2012

Format: Paperback, 323 Pages

ISBN-10: 031620126X (Orbit)

ISBN-13: 978-0316201261 (Orbit)

Reviewed by: Kristie


Emma Bannon, forensic sorceress in the service of the Empire, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn’t help much that they barely tolerate each other, or that Bannon’s Shield, Mikal, might just be a traitor himself. Or that the conspiracy killing registered mentaths and sorcerers alike will just as likely kill them as seduce them into treachery toward their Queen.

In an alternate London where illogical magic has turned the Industrial Revolution on its head, Bannon and Clare now face hostility, treason, cannon fire, black sorcery, and the problem of reliably finding hansom cabs.

The game is afoot..

Quick & Dirty: A dark, magical steampunk tale with a strong female character set in an alternate London. A heavy, in-depth read that is full of action, strange clues and intrigue.

Opening Sentence: Emma Bannon, Sorceress Prime and servant to Britannia’s current incarnation, mentally ran through every foul word that would never cross the lips of a lady.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The Iron Wyrm Affair is a creatively written steampunk set in an alternate world of 1800’s London called Londinium. Many of the historical names/places have been changed to curious spellings such as Queen Victoria is Victrix. There is also a lot of big descriptive and architecture words that may intimidate the reader, thankfully I used my Kindle to look up some of the words I wasn’t sure about. Others may not have my problem.

Emma Bannon has been sent on a quest to find out why a group of sorcerers and mentaths have been killed. Archibald Clare is the only unregistered mentath still alive and Emma comes to his rescue just as he is being attacked. Although, the question afterwards is who was the actual target of the attack, Bannon or Clare? Bannon doesn’t let Clare know the reasons for his protection at first, letting him deduce the crimes with his brilliant mentath mind. She eventually opens up and gives details to him so he can come up with plans to find out who and what is behind the plan to most likely overthrow Queen Victrix.

Emma is a Sorcerer Prime and welds quite a bit of power. She is also a black sorcerer capable of some extreme magic. She must use all her powers if she wants to destroy the people behind this terrible plan. Bannon and Clare are dragged into a terrible scheme that includes steampunk style mecha-machines, dragons (wyrms) and more. Bannon will certainly find out that magic may not always help in a fight.

Emma is certainly a woman that is way to tough for her times. She makes sure she is appropriately dressed with her gowns and jewelry. The jewelry helps to hold her magic and spells. She often curses, although it is mentioned through Clare as using words more suitable to a sailer. I throughly enjoyed Emma, she made no excuses for her actions, she may have had regrets but she took no crap from anyone.

Archibald Clare was a little harder to understand. I never really quite understood the mentath ability, just that they were trained, they are very smart and the fact that their brain can melt with too much information or the fact that they could go crazy with no stimulation. Clare and his companions were definitely more of the comic relief in the book to counteract with Emma’s seriousness.

The Iron Wyrm Affair is a very involved and in-depth book. Some of the speech and names took a while to get used to but the story is constantly moving forward and unraveling new clues. There is a lot of action and intrigue. The short chapters mixing between Bannon and Clare’s point of views also added quite a bit of tension and what’s going to happen next, as they both undertake different paths to uncover pieces of the puzzle.

In the end, I really enjoyed The Iron Wyrm Affair. It was a dark, magical steampunk tale that set up a world of its own. Even though I may have gotten lost at times, especially with the sorcery fights, I would definitely pick up another novel in this series

Notable Scene:

Emma’s hands shot out, sorcery crackling between them. She squeezed, smoke rising from her rings and the scorched material of her gloves, and Mehitabel shrieked again. The flashboys froze, workers dropping where they stood. The chant died away now that Emma had her grip.

“I can crush flesh just as easily,” she called, the words slicing through snap-crackling flame and shuddering metallic clanking. The simulacrum’s face continued melting, runnels of liquid iron sliding down, its unfashionable dress a torch. “Even your flesh. Where is it, Me-hi-ta-beh-ru-la gu’rush Me-hi-lwa?” The foreign syllables punctured tortured air; Emma’s throat scorched and her eyes watering as she accented each in its proper place.

Hours of study and careful tortuous work had suddenly returned its investment. Mehitabel had obviously never guessed that Emma might uncover her truename, much less use it.

A wyrm would never forget, let alone forgive such a thing.

The Blackwerks . . . stopped.

Sparks and cinders hung in mid-air. The burning simulacrum was a painting, flames caught in mid-twist, its face terribly ruined.

A huge, narrow head, triple-crowned and triple-tongued, rose from a crucible of molten metal, snaking forward on a flexible, black-scaled neck. The eyes were jewels of flame, matching the now-cracked rubies of the simulacrum, and leathery wings spread through the cinderfall, their bladed edges cutting through individual flecks and sparks held in stasis.

The tongues flickered, smoke wreathing the wyrm’s long body in curiously lethargic veils. Mehitabel held the Werks out of Time’s slipstream, her wings ruffling as they combed slumbering air. The heat was immense, awesome, the cup of metal holding the lower half of her body bubbling with thick tearing sounds. She turned her head sideways, one ruby eye glinting, but Emma leaned back, fingers burning, the thin fine leash of her will cutting across the dragon’s snout.

They are the children of Time, her teacher had intoned long ago. They are of the Powers, and their elders sleep. We should be glad of that slumber, for if those wyrms awakened they would shake this isle – and plenty more – from their backs, and the Age of Flame would return.

Bannon & Clare:

1. The Iron Wyrm Affair

1.5 The Damnation Affair

2. The Red Plague Affair

FTC Advisory: Orbit provided me with a copy of The Iron Wyrm Affair. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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