Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Review: The Iron Duke

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

Pages: 378, paperback

ISBN: 9780425236673

Publisher: Berkley Trade

Date Released: October 5th, 2010

Genre: Adult / romance / historical / steampunk / action

Source: library

First in an all-new series where seductive danger and steampunk adventure abound in the gritty world of the Iron Seas.

After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power-and fear-of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.

But when Mina uncovers the victim's identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans-and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen, as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.
(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it From: Book Depository / Amazon

This was something that I'd been looking forward to for a while I love steampunk with all my heart. In fact, I constantly wish that I had been born in an alternate reality where society depended on steam and clock powered machinery, where the limits of society could be pushed. And that's what I think is the most appealing thing about steampunk: that the real social rules and gender expectations can be changed. In a dark, bleary world filled with smog and machinery, everyone needs to be strong, even the women. Here, there's a chance to make strong women who can handle their own.

The world building here is amazing. From the beginning, we're thrown into a world where England is recovering from being taken over by a foreign power called the Horde. They're technologically advanced,  depending on nanoagents to survive in the smoggy streets of London. With each word, I got more and more hooked into this incredible world.
And it doesn't just stop at London. No, they travel across the English channel, in an airship, sailing across a ravaged Europe that's been taken over by zombies. Even their time aboard the airship is fantastic, because it's new, it's steampunk, it's described as this awesome setting.

I loved most of the characters, except for the Iron Duke (more on him later). There was no shortage of strong female characters. Mina is a half-English, half-Horde detective, and because of that, she's seen as a sort of abomination. People still resent the fact that they had been dominated by the Horde for so long, and a lot of them express distaste towards her appearance.
In that regard, I liked the way the Horde was portrayed, because she herself has it running through her veins. But it didn't stop me from feeling uneasy every time the Horde was described as a people. The way the text described them was done so in a fairly racist manner. The Horde was clearly meant to be an Asian power of some sort, due to the constant amount of times they were described as Mongols, and having slanting eyes, and that an entire race of people are made into the bad guys, well, it just doesn't sit well with me. Now, I'm sure it wasn't the author's intention to villainise  an entire race/culture, but it's still kind of awkward to read.

Another strong female character that I loved was Yasmeen. Man, she was tough. She sure doesn't take shit from anyone. She's a captain of her very own airship, and literally does what she wants, when she wants (and sometimes for a hefty fee). Like I said, the strong female characters are certainly present.

There is so much action here, that you wouldn't believe. There's always something ridiculously fast-paced going on, and sometimes, there isn't time to take a breath before you get plunged into the next action-packed scene. This book has it all: plenty of explosions, zombies, kraken, devious plots, sword-fights. You won't tire of the story here.

One major downfall, though, is the romance. This is described as a romantic--or at least sizzling--steampunk novel. For the first half of the book, the Iron Duke harasses Mina, begging her for kisses and constantly propositioning her, despite her saying no very clearly, and many times.
Then he sexually assaults her, thinking that she couldn't possibly say no to sex if he shows her what she's been missing out on. After all, she just hasn't witnessed the greatness of his dick, or something along those lines.
Then, he rapes her twice: once while she's sleeping, and another time at the very end of the book--where she very firmly tells him no. But it's okay, because he's so sexy, that it makes the whole situation romantic, right? Ugh.
This book would have been a 5 star book, and would have earned a place on the favourites shelf and I would have bought myself a copy immediately. But the rape-y bits just made me squirm uncomfortably.

So, avoid this book if you're prone to being tirggered by mentions of rape. I wish I had known about that.

I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series, Heart of Steel, which comes out in November of this year, and apparently follows Yasmeen, which I'm excited about. 

10 Second Review: Fantastic world building, strong female characters, and enough action to make you think you're stuck in an 80's action flick. WARNING: rape scenes dressed up as romance.

Cover Art: 3
Plot: 5
Characters: 3.5
Writing: 3.5
Level of Interest: 4

Total Rating: 4/5 stars


  1. Ooh, at last!!! :) I've been waiting for your review of this book... Mina and the kraken? EPIC. Don't you think? As for rapey bits, I don't quite remember them, but I probably didn't pay too much attention (I've read a lot of 80's HR and in that period that was a given in almost every book, so I think I just blank them out). The dynamics of the couple though reminded me a bit of Roarke and Eve Dallas, Mina even had her own Peabody. :) Did you read The Greyfriar? It's another amazing steampunk book which I recommend.

  2. No, I haven't read the Greyfriar. I'll have to check it out, it sounds really cool.

    I dunno, when it comes to romance, I'm very picky. The romance can make or break a book, sometimes. So that it was so unsatisfying, it was a bit underwhelming. :c