Showing posts with label Iron Seas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iron Seas. Show all posts

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Steampunk Minis: Meljean Brook, Clay & Susan Griffith

This last week I caught up with some steampunk romance novels and novellas. I went on a reading binge to catch up with Meljean Brook's Iron Seas steampunk series, and then hit the Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith steampunk trilogy Vampire Empire. Here are three minis for books by these authors.

Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City (Iron Seas, #1.5)

I liked this epilogue/novella about Rhys and Mina. I particularly enjoyed the fact that as they adjust to marriage and work through fears, they have taken the time to form their own little family with Anne the Tinker. Still, Scarsdale is the most memorable character in this short story with his unbearable situation. It is heartbreaking, and I'm hoping that Brook finds a great resolution for him. I also wonder if the storyline used as part of the mystery in this short about children working as laborers and automatons taking over factories will be fully realized in a future story. Grade: B-

Heart of Steel (Iron Seas #2) by Meljean Brook

Heart of Steel turned out to be a pirate adventure romance, steampunk style. I like that Yasmeen never loses the ruthlessness that makes her such a unique character, and that Archimedes Fox admires her for her hard-won heart of steel and cold as ice personality. His charm is deceptive in that it hides a relentless man with a tough and fearless core. A great pair whose romance is well developed, but is somewhat lacking in emotion. The adventure is less than I expected with a disappointing outcome, and although the couple and the romance kept me reading and the steampunk details are again excellent, this second installment does not quite live up to my high expectations of this series. Grade: B-

The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire #2) by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

I enjoyed the first book in this series, The Greyfriar, because of the adventure, romance, and wonderful portrayals of the nosferatu-like vampires as villains. The Rift Walker begins quite slowly as Princess Adele dreams of Greyfriar and prepares her wedding to senator Clark. Political games abound in Equatoria at this point just as Adele's teacher Mamoru and his cabal of geomancers make plans for her training. Meanwhile Cesare and the northern vampire clans make their own plans to strike at Equatoria. Action begins when Greyfriar abducts Adele during her wedding and they make a run for Africa just before Cesare's forces attack Alexandria.

I again enjoyed the vampires in this book and their ruthless performances. Adele begins the story as a romantic young girl dreaming of her days with Greyfriar and ends it closer to a woman ready to lead her people. She also seems to be either willingly blind or just totally unaware (clueless) when she should not be, so that her character becomes really frustrating after a while. Greyfriar plays the brooding hero willing to sacrifice for his lady, but he is less than I expected. As Adele grows and is willing to lead, Greyfriar's character seems diminished. We are told that he is strong and smart, but is he? Where is his strength and willingness to lead, to confront, to save his people? Why isn't he willing to do so? By the end of the book I found his situation to be heartbreaking, but also pathetic. I do like his sense of humor, those moments when he's reading the penny dreadful novels are wonderful, and his impossible love for Adele romantic.

Overall, the book has a slow beginning with action picking up in the middle that doesn't really lead anywhere but helps with Adele's personal growth and that goes on to the end, some two-dimensional characterization for secondary characters, i.e., senator Clark, and a good ending that prepares the reader for the conclusion of this trilogy. I already have the last installment and am hoping for a good ending.  Grade: C

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review: Riveted (Iron Seas #3) by Meljean Brook

I absolutely loved The Iron Duke and Here There Be Monsters. When I first read those two books, the world building in Meljean Brook's science fiction romance, steampunk world hit me like a two by four, and I fell in love with the characters that inhabited that world. In Riveted, Brook adds to that world building by stepping away from England and the New World and moving her story to isolated Iceland, incorporating a bit of Norse mythology, characters that are just as different as the location, and stepping up her use of social science fiction in this steampunk installment.

David Kentewess is leading an expedition to survey and map volcanoes in Iceland, but his one real mission for the last twenty years has been to solve the mystery of where his mother came from so he can keep a promise made to her on her deathbed. While waiting to board the airship Phatéon, he saves Annika Fridasdottor from a tricky situation at the gates of Castile, and finds that her accent and manner of speech match his mother's. Later, the runes she wears on her neck are also a dead giveaway. This is the closest David has ever come to keeping his promise and he's not about to let Annika slip through his fingers.

Annika Fridasdottor is also on a mission. Her family, comprised entirely of women, have lived in a secret and secluded village in Iceland guarded by tales of trolls, witches and magic. Five years ago she almost revealed that secret while woolgathering and dreaming, but her sister Källa took the blame and was exiled in her stead. Annika took responsibility, joined the airship Phaeton's crew and has been searching throughout the New World for her sister ever since. She is grateful that David saved her, but Annika endangered her family once, and after what she has observed of New World judgments and beliefs, is not about to do it again.

The story begins at a slow pace with David and Annika getting to know each other. Annika gives away much about herself just by the way she speaks. In the proper New World, Annika is considered improper and bold while in other ways she's shy and secretive. Annika doesn't quite fit in with others and stands out. Her upbringing has much to do with her behavior, however as we find out throughout the story, Annika doesn't quite fit in with the women in her village either because there she is seen as Annika the Rabbit, or a weak and timid girl, not bold or brave. Soon Annika is very attracted to David and lets him know in her own way, but he doesn't really see it and there is a good reason for that. David's background is just as intriguing as Annika's.

David is a gentle man, tender and loving, not an alpha male or even what I think of as a beta, but gentle. He lost his mother as a child and was brought up by his Native American father in a community where Native Americans were attempting to regain their culture years after their ancestors had converted and changed their names. David's father was a good, forgiving man and David a happy child even after he suffered the devastating loss of his mother, three of his limbs and an eye after a volcanic eruption. However as an adult, he is a man with baggage and not all of it is on the inside. After he grew to be an adult, David visited the Blacksmith in England so he is not only infected with nanoagents, but the Blacksmith grafted prosthetics on his missing limbs as well as an eye that looks like, but is not, a monocle. Most people look at him either with pity or as if he were a monster, and David is very self-conscious of his looks.

The best thing about these two outsiders, gentle David and improper Annika, is that although they don't seem to fit anywhere, they fit perfectly with each other. They both see each other as worthy of admiration and as the adventure gains momentum, a deep, passionate, sweet love takes over where in the beginning there was only a deep attraction.

The action in the story is slow to come as they travel all the way from Castile to a glacier in Iceland. It builds with the help of some excellent secondary characters rounding up the story and a hateful madman as a villain. The steampunk details are as excellent as I expected after reading previous installments, but in my opinion did not overwhelm the overall storyline. I particularly like the way Brook incorporates the women in Hannasvik and their culture with a bit of Norse mythology, and that she also uses that same culture to add some of that social science fiction I previously mentioned.

The villain's fate and the consequences to his actions are anticlimactic. However, it is interesting that the scenes that follow with Annika and David seem to be the real high point of the story, so that in the end Riveted read and felt more like a true romance. A sweet romance at that! The Iron Duke and Here There Be Monsters are still my favorite reads of this series so far, but I really enjoyed the differences I found in Riveted and for me it comes in at a close third. Now, I'm really looking forward to reading the next book and can't wait to see where Brook takes this series.

Category: Science Fiction Romance/Fantasy/Steampunk
Series: The Iron Seas
Publisher/Release Date: Berkley/September 4, 2012
Grade: B+

Visit Meljean Brook here.

Here There Be Monsters, #0.5 (Burning Up Anthology)
The Iron Duke, #1
The Blushing Bounder, #0.4 (Wild & Steamy Anthology)
Mina Wentworth and The Invisible City, #1.5
Heart of Steel, #2
Tethered, #2.5
Riveted, #3