book reviews by Althea

The Iron Ship – K.M. McKinley ****

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A promising debut – will this be the next big, huge epic fantasy saga?

The world here is of a sort that seems to be getting more popular: what if a sword-and-sorcery society hits their industrial revolution? The feel reminded me at times, just a little bit, of Swanwick’s ‘Iron Dragon’s Daughter’ and Addison’s ‘Goblin Emperor.’

But as I said, this is a sprawling saga, not a self-contained story. Right off, we’re introduced to a family of six siblings… not to mention all their various associates. At first, it can be slightly hard to keep track. It takes a while to get to know everyone, and there’s a nearly complete lack of dramatic tension for most of the book. This is definitely one for readers who love getting immersed in a world and following sometimes-quotidian events and details, rather than those who demand tight plotting.

However, as the book progressed, I found myself being won over. The world here IS enjoyable just to spend time in, and I gradually became invested in each character’s struggles and goals.

As the title suggests, the main thread that weaves through the book is that of a plan to build an iron ship – a technologically innovative vessel incorporating both magic and mechanics, which will (its builders hope) allow for a successful expedition through dangerous territory in order to reach a rumored archaeological site which may hold untold secrets – wealth and lost technology. Of course, along the way there are complications & setbacks – not to mention corporate espionage, sabotage, and competition.

The long books ends with plenty more story to-come – but I’d be more than pleased to continue on with a sequel and spend more time in this world.
Many thanks to Solaris and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this engrossing novel. As always, my opinions are solely my own


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