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The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, Bk 1)
The Iron Duke - Iron Seas, Bk 1
Author: Meljean Brook
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...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780425236673
ISBN-10: 0425236676
Publication Date: 10/5/2010
Pages: 384
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

4 stars, based on 110 ratings
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Book Type: Paperback
Members Wishing: 0
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

skywriter319 avatar reviewed The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, Bk 1) on + 962 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
Oh my gosh. I am head over heels for this book. Besides for being a hot and lingering read, THE IRON DUKE is also a stellar example of steampunk worldbuilding, and is a book that I know I will be returning to for years to come.

THE IRON DUKE is without a doubt the most well written steampunk novel that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. This is steampunk at its finest: an alternate-history England where man and machine cannot live without the other, where Meljean Brook unfolds scene after scene, detail after detail so elegantly one begins to wonder how this world could NOT exist.

Rhys and Mina are a pretty standard romance coupling, particularly Rhys as the dark, damaged, and very male love interest, but it is Mina who steals the show. Minas physical differences from most other Londoners ensured that she grew up quickly and does not easily trust people. Her outsider status, even among the people shes lived with her whole life, captured my sympathies, and I was rooting hard for her the entire time to finally find acceptance and happiness.

THE IRON DUKE does not belong in the genre of books that I usually review, and as a result its hard for me to talk about why its so good. But mark my very inadequate words: if you like romance, and if you like steampunk, then you cant get much better than this first book in Meljean Brooks fascinating new series. I am so buying the next book as soon as it comes out.
sfvamp avatar reviewed The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, Bk 1) on + 108 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Meljean Brook has truly created a masterpiece of world-building in her new steam punk romance novel. The Iron Duke has one of the most creative settings and cast of characters I've yet seen in a romance. And yet I felt as if there was something ultimately dissatisfying about the plot, as if there was an almost indiscernible bit of unrealized potential that just kept nagging at me more and more as I read. At first I thought it was because I LOVED Here There Be Monsters--the short story that kicked off this new series--but I think the problem is a little more than that. Yes, I had high expectations after reading the latter, but I also think that the Iron Duke suffers from the all too common problem of the author resorting to telling and not showing to make the plot move along. All too often the main characters agonize for several pages about an important event, only to have that conflict resolved either off stage (so to speak) or so swiftly it hardly seemed to warrant the kind of danger one was expecting from the characters' reactions. Mass genocide is the imminent danger in the plot and not once did I feel my adrenaline spike or wonder what rabbit Brook was going to pull out of her hat of literary tricks to get the heroes out of trouble. Mostly things were resolved so serendipitously and easily that I hardly had time to fathom any danger. So, to me, the novel had no real climax but rather proved a steady and sometimes plodding read. Part of this problem in tempo I ascribe to the almost noir-ish style murder mystery/political intrigue that Brook utilizes to drive the plot with a smattering of short fight sequences with zombies, mechanical men, and sea monsters.

I've always found Brook to be a somewhat convoluted read, even when I love her stories, but this was the first time it was so glaringly annoying to me and really affected my enjoyment of the story. It took me way too long to read this novel and it is because nothing hooked me so much that I had to keep reading no matter that I was tired, or had an early morning, or distracted, or any other myriad amount of reasons one finds to stop reading a book. When a story is captivating enough nothing can tear you away from continuing to read and I was distracted constantly from reading.

It is surprising to me that Brook created a story that had such unsatisfying action sequences and climaxes when some of her Guardian series novels have had me salivating to know more and keep reading. But despite all this, the series genuinely has promise. The romance of the Iron Duke with Mina was not so believable to me, but there were several secondary characters that have grabbed my curiosity. The complex history, technology, and culture of this alternative world is so unbelievably interesting that one forgives a lot of other glaring problems with the story. I hope that I enjoy the sequels as much as I enjoyed Here There Be Monsters. And, for all my crabbiness about the slower plot, I still gave this novel four and a half stars for sheer ingenuity of premise and rich world-building. And I still recommend others read it, though I wouldn't call it the author's most successful novel.
ophelia99 avatar reviewed The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, Bk 1) on + 2527 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is the first book in The Iron Seas series by Meljean Brook. I couldn't find how many books are planned for this series. There is a short story from this series in Burning Up, which I enjoyed immensely. The second book in this series will be called Heart of Steel and is planned for a November 2011 release. According to Meljean Brook's blog the books in this series will occur in the the same universe but will follow different sets of characters. This was an excellent book, with exceptional world-building.

Mina is half Horde and a Detective Inspector. When a dead body is dropped in front of the Iron Duke's mansion she is called in to inspect. Mina is drawn into a plot that is bigger than anything she has ever been part of and ends up traveling with the Iron Duke on a journey to solve this mystery. The Iron Duke is in inexplicably drawn to Mina and will stop at nothing to possess her. Mina is torn, she has intimacy issues because of the involuntary Frenzies that the Hoard used to send all bugged people into, and she has worked hard to gain respect in society despite her Horde blood and doesn't want to destroy that by becoming involved with the Iron Duke.

This is an absolutely crazy and imaginative world. You have the Horde, an almost alien-like group of oppressors who infected portions of the population with nanobugs in order to control them via radio waves. As result of these nanobugs certain members of the population (called buggers) have exceptional strength, healing powers, and other disturbing abilities. As a resulting of bug infection gone wrong you have flesh eating zombies that can infect others with mutant bug strands. You also have a world where the industrial revolution is on crack. There are airships, crazy clockwork inventions of every type, and amazing mechanical enhancements and attachments to human bodies. The buggers abilities to graft anything metal onto their bodies has resulted in some interesting things. I am absolutely in love with this world...it is incredibly complicated and just amazingly engaging. It is also full of surprises; you never know what you will run into next.

The politics of this book are also very intricate. You have many layers of society; the buggers (English population that stayed through the Horde invasion), the English population that fled and is now returning since Horde rule has been overthrown, people with Horde blood, pirates, the Black Guard, etc. etc. Brook does an excellent job of keeping track of these complexities and allowing the reader to easily follow them. You do have to pay attention though and you do have to use your brain a bit.

Mina is a wonderful character; she is complicated, has a sense of humor, and wonderfully determined. She has such drive and can really kick butt when she wants too. There is a wonderful cast of characters that support her; all of them as complicated and interesting as she is. I was less enamored with the main hero of the book, the Iron Duke Rhys, although I must admit him and Mina had excellent chemistry together. The steamy scenes between Mina and Rhys are, for the most part, deliciously creative and have wonderful vibe to them.

This leads to the only thing I really didn't like about the book and that was Rhys, the Iron Duke. The second he sees Mina he must possess her and control her; he does things to her against her will that gave me kind of a yucky feeling. It was odd because overall he was an interesting and sensitive character; it was just that at points he got carried away and began to channel this alpha male thing. Now I am more an urban fantasy fan than a romance fan so this may be why this was a turn-off for me. In the end I loved the relationship that he and Mina developed. It was just the beginning to middle parts where he was all like "I will possess you even if you don't want me too" that bothered me. If Rhys has toned it down a bit in the beginning and actually had some reason for becoming infatuated with Mina I could have loved their relationship, if he had grown to love her over time (and respected her as a person) this book would have been a five starer for me.

Overall this is a great book. The world building, action scenes, and characters are amazing. This would have been 5 stars if not for the Iron Duke's overbearing nature and the crazy "love at first sight" thing that happened in the beginning of the book. Having a characters' relationship start this way always drives me crazy. I definitely recommend this if you are a steampunk fan or a fan of intricate fantasy. Just beware that there is a lot of romance in this and it channels that whole overly alpha male vibe. I think this would have been a perfect book if it had turned down the inexplicable romance factors a bit. I am still looking forward to reading Heart of Steel because I am absolutely in love with this world that Brook has created.
reviewed The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, Bk 1) on + 248 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I was very pleasantly surprised to thoroughly enjoy the story, especially as I did not enjoy the first book in the author's other series and never continued on with that series. But Iron Seas has a great story line, good character development, and a very interesting premise. So if like me you did not like the author's first series, read The Iron Duke and savor the storyline and characters. I most certainly did!
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reviewed The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, Bk 1) on + 952 more book reviews
There was so much going on here that I thought perhaps I had missed the first book in the series. If you like steampunk machines, zombies, pirates, sea monsters, ships and airships, this is the book for you! There is a lot to keep track of with different classes of people with different levels of technology and different time periods of having lived in the UK. I'm not sure I caught all the nuances, but the action and love story were clear enough and I'm looking forward to reading another book by this author.

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Iron Seas  1
Original Publication Date (YYYY-MM-DD)
Mina Wentworth (Primary Character)
Rhys Trahaearn (Primary Character)
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