This book is very wordy and the characters seem weak compared to Ms. Saintcrow's usual gritty action characters. I will buy one more book in the series, just to give it a fair trial, but I was very disappointed (and I LOVE her other books)
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96 of 108 people found the following review helpful
Victorian Hot MessAug. 7 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
I'm all for steampunk and Victorian anything, but not when it makes me feel like an idiot using my native language. The Iron Wyrm Affair is like reading Shakespeare for the first time without a lexicon. Everything great about this book was overshadowed by overly indulgent prose coupled with a lack of context.
I was really excited about this book, up until I started reading it. The plot starts off promising in the middle of a conspiracy but is bogged down by an overly descriptive narrative and no foundation to root the reader. Plopped into an established world with no introduction, was a bit disorienting. I kept waiting to be let in on the secret world and magical explanations, but none came. I felt cheated, not being able to participate in the world building experience, excluded from the author's VIP mind set. I was lost a lot, grasping for some context to ground me in this unfamiliar world.
The characters were interesting but the alternating POVs makes the story choppy and difficult to get into. The writing style hindered their connection for me, at times I found it difficult to separate the dialogue and who was saying what. I usually rather enjoy having dueling perspectives but I don't think Saintcrow made it worked here. With two diverse personalities such as Clare and Bannon I would expect two contrasting distinct voices, but really only got one voice for the two characters.
The most difficult part for me was not being familiar with any of the slang used. There was a breakdown of magical hierarchy which would've been more useful presented in the front of the text than the back but I wish there was an index of terms, footnotes, anything to help the reader out.
If you like being thrown to the wolves for a bare handed fight then you'll love The Iron Wyrm Affair. While I got the gist of the story, it was slow going. I felt a lot of the details and growth got lost in the language. The reader must constantly wade through Saintcrow's overly stylize prose just to drown in her own personal joke of a world she won't let the reader in on. This series could be great with a prequel, glossary of terms, and some serious editing.
60 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Could have been good, but falls sadly flat.Aug. 6 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
A Sherlockian genius and a powerful sorceress team up to discover and defeat an unknown adversary, for Queen and Country. Also, because it's after them, too.
It's an interesting story which includes a bit of mystery, a lot of magic, and a group of people who have to work together though they may or may not trust each other. The characters are (mostly) interesting and decently well-drawn, particularly Emma. The worldbuilding is intriguing, including Tideturn and its effect on both magic-wielders and gems in proximity to them.
On the other hand, in the beginning, Clare is pretty annoying until he stopped talking about deducing things and just does it. He's also irritatingly sexist for someone who is supposed to be so very logical and his friend Sig is called a genius but portrayed as a buffoon.
Very little is explained about how magic - or anything else - works in this alternate Britain. It almost reads like the second book in the series, written with the assumption that the reader is already familiar with the setting. I enjoy books that throw the reader in the midst of things and explain it as the book goes along - but only when things are actually explained.
28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Not What I Was ExpectingSept. 15 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Add me to the group of people who really wanted to love this book, but was disappointed. The story was slow moving and hardly anything in the author's steampunk world is explained. Some things you can figure out for yourself, but mostly you're just left guessing. I love this genre but if you're looking for steampunk/sci-fi or anything along those lines, there are sooo many better books out there.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Iron Wyrm Affair - I want this part of my life backJune 23 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
I cannot explain how much I wanted to like this book. There were so many elements that I was excited to read about, a detective, victorian england, magic, mystery AND steampunk. I was so sure I was going to be swept away by this and love every page. Unfortunately that was not remotely the case.
I have yet made myself able to finish powering through this. I've been trying and perhaps I may edit this review if I ever bring myself to finish it. I got halfway through and I just want to read something I like.
I'll start with the characters, Clare was so incredibly bland. He was like a cheap rip off of Sherlock(even jacking the instrumental scales relating to bugs movement from the movie) that wasn't remotely well done. He has no personality whatsoever. The author didn't even really explain what a mentath really was or how they worked. I started somewhat getting and idea and yet I didn't like it. Saintcrow was constantly mention how he was deducing random things from everywhere but never saying WHAT he deduced or any conclusions that he ever came to. Standing next to Emma Bannon he looked incredibly useless and even when he was asked questions, they were something Emma already knew the answer to anyway. Halfway through the book he had still yet to do anything other than get headaches when he didn't understand something solely because it wasn't logical or be generally useless. Half-way through a book and he hasn't done a thing of importance. That's fabulous.
On the flip side, Emma Bannon and her shield Mikal were incredible. Bannon was a very strong female lead, though I wanted to slap her with how she was constantly treating Mikal like a dog. Why he put up with her, even in her moments of weakness is somewhat of a mystery. Her magical prowess was immense and I liked that she could handle herself yet still needed Mikal. She seems unaware of her limits and lets herself get repeatedly beaten and yet never takes more Shields...which only makes sense if she thought she couldn't trust any of them, and yet she doesn't trust Mikal not to kill her off so that argument is useless. Since she was so full of herself and such she had lots of room to grow as a character. The interactions between her and Mikal were good as well. Even with her stubbornness I liked her. Her and her interactions with Mikal may be the only thing I actually liked in this book.
Of course since it flipped viewpoints from Bannon to Clare each chapter (which I normally enjoy, keeping things fresh and letting the reader know what one character does not) I found myself dreading every other chapter because almost nothing of consequence ever happened during Clare's chapter. Which in turn roughly translating to not enjoying about half the book. Granted there were a few good chapters with Clare but those were usually battle scenes where he stood there and let Bannon and Mikal do everything.
The healing abilities of a Shield were way above believability. I'm sorry, Bannon complains about getting her RIBS BROKEN and still wears a corset? Come on. There is no way she was healed enough to probably even move around (especially considering she got knifed in the lung the previous day and someone almost died but ended up just fine) let alone wear a corset. I mean come on.
Saintcrow is vague about EVERYTHING. Clare's "deductions" that even when he says something random he doesn't explain how he CAME TO that deduction, all of Bannon's magic is "a word" or "a chant" that we never see or hear, even when Bannon cusses it's "a word one wouldn't expect to hear from a lady" EVERY TIME. Describing it that way once or twice is one thing, every time? It was frustrating. The same thing with her hand gestures. I assumed she was always flipping people off because I couldn't imagine another "unlady-like hand gesture".
I couldn't even find myself compelled to care about the "mystery" and overall it seemed too fast-paced. There was maybe a chapter or two about nothing inbetween battles and with the way Emma was getting beaten up, it made no sense that she had absolutely no time to get rest or better before getting beaten up again. I like that she wasn't infallible but with how grievous her injuries were, the timing made no sense. She never had more than a night's rest before she was out and about and getting into another battle, which just had her get even MORE injured since she was still injured from the day before. ugh.
She throws out terminology that she expects the reader to just understand like candy. I didn't even know what "Tideturn" was supposed to remotely be until I read what it was in another's review. She overuses most words, especially deduction, and her stab at trying to have a victorian era feel with the words or conversations was more annoying than anything else.
I've literally stopped caring.
29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Uniquely DisappointingAug. 9 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
I have wanted to read this novel since I first saw it show up on my list of recommendations. The cover! The steampunk fantasy world! Magic! A mystery comparable to Holmes....What isn't there to love here? It saddens me to say that this book disappointed me in a way very few ever have.
Although I trudged through it, this book was almost completely unreadable. Clare is a logical genius and the story never bothers letting the reader in on what he has concluded. O'Bannon could be a wonderful character except as the plot unfolds, we never really know what she is thinking or who the people are that she is investigating. The book would introduce random, new characters and then there would be a verbal exchange between O'Bannon and this person and when the scene wrapped up, I was no more clear on the situation than I was when I started in. There was action which would be exciting but still I didn't understand WHY this was happening. I really couldn't find the plot. We finally are let in on an object that the characters need to get a hold of or stop from being used. We aren't told why this is such a bad thing. Maybe it is hinted at but it is foggy and lost among the rest of the disjointed story.
There is also a lot of new or twisted vocabulary used to describe this alternative world but there is not a dictionary or anything to help readers navigate and understand this world. I am just saddened by the fact that I think the author had some intriguing ideas for her characters and the world but it is presented in a confusing and boring way. I have never found a book to be quite this much of a struggle to get through. It just wasn't enjoyable in the least.