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.
©2012 Lilith Saintcrow (P)2012 Hachette Audio
I normally eat up this type of world; set in a Victorian England with lots of steampunk toys and plenty of supernaturals. This just didn't hold my attention. Very disappointing.
I liked Quirk's narration. Unfortunately, Saintcrow's attempt to describe Bannon and Clare's surroundings, the mystery they were trying to solve, and the undertones of the character's relationships were all a jumbled mess. It didn't come together like many other Saintcrow books I have read. My comprehension skills are just fine, but I found it hard to make sense of the plot at certain points. I think the story needed to be restructured before it should have been published.
In terms of the storyline itself, I was equally disappointed. For every positive aspect of this book, there is a negative one. The most obvious example I can think of is Clare and Bannon. Archibald Clare is observant, pleasant, and candid. Clare's antithesis is definitely Emma Bannon. She came off as self-centered, haughty, and callous. I will openly admit that it has a lot to do with the social/class system. Nevertheless, it was disturbing. The Prime/Shield relationship seems to be set up to breed narcissists and lapdogs. I liked the 'mentaths,' but sorcery world's caste-like power system offended my American sensibilities.
If you're tired of traditional steampunk (do we have "traditional steampunk" yet?), Bannon and Clare are a wonderfully novel approach to the gothic Victorian magic-and-metal genre. The book is, at its heart, a mystery, heavily reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, with distinctly dark undertones. The main characters take a little bit of warming up to (which is probably just how they like it) but are well-written and multi-faceted. The supporting characters are fascinating, and make you want to read more about them. Moira Quirk is an excellent reader, and her cultured voice is well-suited to the book - or, it should be.
Yet somehow, Quirk's reading and Saintcrow's writing mix like oil and vinegar. Something about the style of writing, which is heavy on rapid-fire conversation with very delicate exchanges, makes it very difficult to follow when Quirk is reading. I frequently had to stop, back up, and listen to a passage again to figure out what had just happened, because I'd glazed over what was spoken. This review doesn't have a plot summary included because there are huge portions of the book where I'm not quite sure what happened.
To be fair, I much prefer to listen to books I've already read than those I'm encountering for the first time, so some of this may be personal preference. If you are an ardent audiobook listener, by all means, give this one a shot. But I've listened to many audiobooks that kept me alert on a long drive, and this one would not have done so.
This was an enjoyable book, and I am crossing my fingers and hoping Saintcrow brings Bannon and Clare back for more. But I think I'll read the next one in print.
Sorcery, conspiracy, extreme mental prowess and hey STEAMPUNK!
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more action packed ride then The Iron Wyrm Affair. Indeed I was blown away by just how nonstop the pace was with this particular novel. Whenever I think of Victorian London I just picture things moving along at a nice steady civil and proper pace *chuckles* – but how wrong I was – and delightfully so! This alternate Victorian London has a rich world building that I’m happy to say I haven’t come across before and marvelous fun set of characters!
A high strung sorceress if there ever was one
Now when I say high strung I don’t mean that at all in a bad way. Simply that Miss Emma Bannon knows what she is about and she knows her status and capabilities. She’s a prime sorceress. Now get used to hearing that word Prime and prima (what her bodyguard Mikal calls her) because she focuses so much on her rank that a few times I found it rather annoying. Sorcerers always have ‘Shields’ that act as their protectors and go about with them everywhere because while Sorcerers can be extremely powerful – using their skills can keep them so occupied that it can leave them vulnerable to attack. Someone of her station would normally have 4 or more Shields but right now Emma only has the one, Mikal. Her relationship with him is a very interesting one indeed and I have to admit very unexpected for me since I thought if there was going to be any romantic interest in this novel that it would have been between Emma Bannon and Archibald Clare – but again I was delightfully wrong. But don’t expect romance because really there isn’t any – just a tense mutual interest you can see simmering at times on both sides.
Oy! I’m having some trouble attaching!
I wish that there were more downtime or more insight into Emma’s thoughts so I could have gotten to know her character better. Because of the pace of the book I felt like I didn’t get as attached to her as I did to Archibald Clare. Though the reason for this was likely because of the narrative style of the book. I really don’t believe we actually did get internal thoughts much at all. Except for Clare – since he spoke his thoughts aloud. This luckily enabled me to get behind Clare as a character because of his penchant for voicing his thoughts and opinions out loud (something I already noted as mostly lacking with Emma). This undoubtedly was my biggest sticking point about the book. I do think things moved so fast I didn’t get to know the characters as well as I should have but I think that could have been resolved if the style of narrative had been tweaked somewhat. I even went so far as to look up 1st, 2nd and 3rd person narrative styles to try to figure out which exactly this was being delivered in – but I’m still at somewhat of a loss but I think it was mostly 3rd person. If anyone else has read it and has a beat on it, do let me know lol.
Did anyone call for a Sherlock?
Have you ever read any Sherlock Holmes? Watched any of it? Ok admittedly I haven’t read any but I love the movies starring Robert Downey Jr – and I have to tell you that Archibald Clare reminds me so much of Sherlock Holmes in those movies with all of his logical deductions and his scrappiness. He is a mentath, and in this novel that is pretty much equivalent to a human logic machine. Give him a puzzle, riddle, mystery or what have you and he will undoubtedly be able to deduce all of the answers. He’s quite the character and not opposed to getting into a bit of scrappy action when need be which I wouldn’t have expected from a mentath – but then again I guess I should if I liken him to Sherlock aye?
There is some crazy business afoot
I’ve had quite the run around of a time keeping up with the squirrely plot line in The Iron Wyrm Affair but I mean that in the most endearing way. However there were times when there was soo much going on that I had to go back and reread or re-listen to parts entirely because I felt I had gotten lost in the deluge of descriptive information being given. The way the mystery unfolds in the storytelling kept me engaged and an active participant. More so during Clare’s parts probably because of Clare’s knack for talking things out from time to time. I thought the way that the elements of sorcery and steampunk were blended together were done quite nicely. The sorcery area focuses more on Emma’s character since she is the sorceress and that’s what we see whenever she is on the scene and of course the mentath Clare gets to tackle quite a few cool steampunk incarnations. The descriptions given of them are excellent! It’s overall action to the max that is in store for you with a very big mystery that needs unraveling, so much so that there was no telling what would happen next. I’m ready for the next Affair!
Only to some one into period para normal, it can be hard to follow if you're not knowledgeable of English history so you can grasp the alter parallel universe. The story is interesting, and I may get the next book, but I'll have to see what the story is about first.
See what I said about Why I would or would not this question is redundant
Miss Bannon was most enjoyable
Not really it is very complicated, and you really have to stretch your imagination. (not always what I want to do)
The story and characters are very complicated, and it is an alternate universe of Great Briton during Queen Victoria's time. It looses a lot for me because there is a lot of stretching of how Miss Bannon survives some really difficult situations. How come she survives and everyone else doesn't. It really doesn't follow a sequence that is enjoyable or even fun. However if the next book has a simpler story to follow, it may be more enjoyable.
I would try one in a different set than these but if it turned out a bad a this one then no more.
I was expecting an enjoyable pairing between the two main characters trying to solve a mystery (in the Sherlock variety). Ended up with two characters with no chemistry to be believable partners nor a mystery worth solving.
The narrator was good... I could not fault the drivel she had to work with
80% of the entire plot...
I wanted to like this book. I usually get a kick out of the Steampunk genre but this really wasn't Steampunk.
The author kept going on and on about Primes, Shields, and Mentaths over and over. Got it already... two or three references then using the characters names... fine... but havethose three words pop up in every other paragraph really grated on my nerves and had me putting the book down several times.
Was a very hard book to push myself thru to finish and at this point I don't even know why I bothered.
When book reviews are lower than I would think I usually try to give the benefit of the doubt but in this case I should have heeded others advise.
Passionate lover of literature. Give me a good read and a passionate narrator and my money or credits are yours!
I actually listened to it twice to gather up some things I missed.
The well developed magic and mech world.
very proficiant narrator.
It as temping, but I read it in two.
I felt we really missed from some of Lilith Saintcrow's normal strenght. I believe she can thrive in this new Genre but she felt a little timid and if she spent more time in a few books I believe her talent, her tenacity and fanbase has the potential to make this a sucsessful series. As a first venture into a new Genre she has shown serious fundamental strengths in what appears to be a new series in a new Genre.
I am not sure
The characters were flat
Someone with a little more flair.
Its so hard to choose
I have been a fan of Lilith Saintcrow fan for quite sometime and have read many of her books and this one just didn't catch me. I would rather her do a Demon Librian series as opposed to Bannon and Clare. I think I will try this in paperback it might be more exciting.
If the author didn't get all fancy in her descriptions. There were times when she would use terms to describe things that didn't make sense. I even rewound the audio to listen again and still couldn't get what she was talking about. also the magic itself was very confusing, and half the time i didn't understand what was going on in her "action" scenes. I have listened to hundreds of audio books, and honestly it took a lot out of me to listen to the end.
I am sure all the events and their descriptions looked right in the author's head, but they forgot to explain it to the rest of us. Also there needed to be a bit of comedy in the book. none of the characters are enjoyable......at all. Then there was the whole love triangle part between the sorceress and her guard, but it fell flat and had me scratching my head, wondering why. Sure I assume the author wanted to have some sort of triangle of love later, but all of it, every last bit fell flat on it's face.
flat singular voice
It had potential if the author only stopped trying to be so damn fancy with her descriptions, and just tell the story like most the other authors out there.
I love steampunk, but this one fell so flat that i am not going to bother with the next in the series. if you want a good listen in the Steampunk world get Pip Ballantine's books instead. now that is a male female duo that makes sense and works.
I have listened to other books by this author-but this is a new category for me. It didnt hold my attention. If you like steampunk you may enjoy it, I personally didnt.
Does the accents well
I will try something else new.
Fun Steampunk Adventure
Moira Quirk was an excellent narrator. Her tone and accent were perfect, and she was pleasantly expressive without going overboard. I will look forward to listening to her again the next time she narrates a title of interest to me.
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