The Iron Duke by Meljean BrooksThis is going further into my exploration of the steampunk genre. Once again, we are in quasi-Victorian England. However, no Queen Victoria, but a young king. England (and the rest of Europe) was, some time ago, taken over by the Mongol Horde, who used radio-controlled nanoagents to control the population. England is now free, however, due to the actions of former pirate and now Duke Rhys Trahaern. In the present time, the nanoagents are necessary for survival, as they clean the pollutants from the lungs in the heavily coal-operated country. Society is now divided into “buggers” and “bounders” – those with nanoagents and those who fled during the occupation and returned afterwards, sans nanoagents. Once again, my explanation might make it seem as if there is no action, but anything but. Our heroine, Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth, is in a somewhat precarious position as the daughter of nobility, but obviously born of a Horde-induced Frenzy, and thus subject to open hostility in the streets. As the story opens, she is called away from a ball to investigate a frozen body that has landed seemingly from nowhere on the front steps of Duke Trahaern. There is of course instant attraction followed quite some time later by Hawt Sex and novel description of steampunk-style personal pleasure devices. There is action and adventure involving chasing down airships and escaping from zombies. There is political intrigue and some reflection on how mores and the roles of women would be changed by generations growing up under the Horde Occupation. It is a darker steampunk world than usual – certainly lacking the lightheartedness of Soulless – but still absorbing, with enough action to satisfy those frustrated by pure romance and enough romance for those looking for that.
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