Review: The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

January 6, 2015 4 stars, Book Review 21 ★★★★

Review: The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith SaintcrowThe Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow
Series: Bannon and Clare #1
Published by Hachette Audio, Orbit Books on August 7, 2012
Genres: Adult SFF, Alternate History, Steampunk
Pages: 323
Length: 10 hours, 55 minutes
Narrator: Moira Quirk
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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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..

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!

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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21 Responses to “Review: The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow”

  1. Melliane

    Oh I have this one in my TBR pile since its release but I didn’t take the time to read it. I should, it sounds really good! So curious to discover the whole world and investigations. Great review!
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  2. Faye M.

    Hee, I like the cover. I’d read this one just for the cover alone 😉

    But seriously, you know a book is really, really good, like, no questions asked GOOD, if it can give you a reall grand world while still not making you lost in its entirety, so I’m sorry if you found yourself going back sometimes because of confusion D: Thankfully ti seems like its other aspects overshadowed this nuisance so that’s definitely a good thing. Putting this to my TBR!
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  3. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I adore everything Sherlock-related, no matter how weak the link, and I’d probably end up liking Clare very, very much! I actually own a copy of this, but have yet to read it. I hope to do so soon.

  4. Danya @ Fine Print

    I really liked this one too! My reading habits had steampunk on very heavy rotation for a while, haha. Best thing about steampunk is the TENSION baby!! Just like all Victorian era romances. I remember Mikal was a good balance for Emma’s control issues…but I haven’t found out what happened there because for some reason I never picked up book 2. Someday!
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  5. Felicia (asillygirl)

    I’ve been wanting to read this book for so long now! A little because of the cover xD No, that’s a lie, but seriously, the cover is amazing!

    – Love, Felicia
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  6. kara-karina

    I cackled when you said about non-stop action, Tabitha! This is so typical Lilith Saintcrow I came to expect nothing less from all her book. Remember Jill Kismet? That was craaazy! Glad you enjoyed this one!
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