Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Iron Wyrm Affair (Bannon and Clare #1)

Iron Wyrm Affair (Bannon and Clare #1)
Lilith Saintcrow
Orbit, 2012
$13.99, Softcover

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Steampunk
Age: 14+
Description: Emma Bannon is a forensic sorceress with mad skills in the service of the Empire. She has just been given a new mission to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of logic and deduction are legendary (we’re talking Sherlock Holmes status here), and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn't help that the world might be ending and the two can barely tolerate each other or that Bannon's Shield, Mikal, who is supposed to protect her at all costs, might just be a traitor himself.
Opinion: I wanted so badly to like this title. The cover is amazing and the plot sounded really cool—a steampunk Victorian version of Sherlock Holmes and Watson (but with Watson being a girl and being more of a kick-butt character). What is not to love from this combination? The writing is what. I haven’t read her YA series, Strange Angels, but her writing here was atrocious. The book starts in the middle of the action and the complex world that she has created is interesting but never fully explained and that’s where the problem lies. One ends up reading a whole chapter and not really knowing what one has just read. For example, one has to infer that Bannon gets her magic powers from the major assortment of jewels she wears. The writing is also repetitive too. For example, every time readers are told that Clare is deducing something or using his mental powers he is described as “steepling his fingers under his sensitive nose.” Seriously, that same description is written so many times. Other elements include the iron wyrm itself which seems to be a powerful woman that Bannon fights and then we learn she’s supposedly an “iron wyrm” which is a dragon but later she’s called a simulacrum . . . what is she? The Altered people are really cool but aren’t developed at all, especially the altered animals like the gryphon and the panther that talk.  There is also too much “let’s go talk to this person, now we’ll talk to this person” going on in the narrative. This type of “action” leads to a lot of characters that aren’t really pivotal people in the plot and a lot of unanswered questions. Dark pasts are referred to for many characters but no details or clues are given. It got a little better once Bannon when to the occult library—nearly 200 pages in—but many scenes where still too hard to follow. The ruling Queen of this New London is a young girl but she’s called a “vessel” from Britannia as well and during the big fight scene seems possessed by something but her true nature is never explained—is she the real queen or a young girl possessed by the spirit of Queen Victoria? Overall, it was just 300 pages of confusion. I wanted to love it but it was just too hard to get through. I will give the second book a chance since I already preordered it, but I hope it gets better and this way just a flaw of the first book failing to set up the world properly.

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