Save this month's two credits for just $14.99 each. You can use your Member Credits right away, or save them up to use later at your convenience – either way, you’ll pay just $14.99 per book!
Member Credits cost only $14.99 each, and can be used to purchase any book on the site. You can use your Member Credits right away, or save them up to use later at your convenience – either way, you’ll pay just $14.99 per book!
A steampunk tale of political intrigue, mystery, and inventiveness, The Iron Assassin follows the story of Bentley Roper—now Bentley Steelforce—as outside forces attempt to use him and his new found abilities to achieve their political or personal goals. The novel is lightly based on the Sherlock Holmes adventures, but told through the lens of the future on "an Earth that is not our own," where England is ruled by the Harminsters instead of the Hanovers, and is filled with "steam-driven clockwork" machines and the people who try to manipulate them for good—and nefarious—purposes. The narration follows the points of view of multiple characters as they work to preserve the Empire or destroy it. The story did at times become difficult to follow, though the author provided an extensive "Dramatis Personae" as a reference for those who might become confused by a complicated plot with many moving pieces. A strong cast of characters—including several indomitable women—leads the tale along. Lady Rose Harminster, one of the two strongest women in the novel, is first to become one of the prestigious Sworn Swords. In her new office, she is responsible for working against—among others—Lady Constance Roodcannon, former lover of the Prince Royal and now enemy of the Empire. This is not to discount the involvement of the inventive and brilliant Jack Straker (Lord Tempest) as he attempts to control his "reanimated clockwork corpse," his intelligent creation with as much strength of will and independence as any living person. These three characters exist inside what seems a whirlwind of other people and events, all of which suck the reader in until you finish the novel. Though Bentley Steelforce—the Iron Assassin of the title—is no longer entirely human, he and the other characters of the novel serve the purpose of reminding the reader that, ultimately, no matter what the setting and no matter who the character, life is about recognition and preservation of what makes us all human.
Even before I knew what the plot was going to be, I was sucked into this book by the voice of its narrator, Lt. James Shelley. Soon, I was immersed in the realistic details that created a near-future world I could believe in, even though my initial ideas of where the plot was going were all wrong. If you don't normally read military SF, don't worry. The author gives you exactly as much information as you need to enjoy the plot. For instance, the jargon that Shelley uses is clear and evocative of the kind of world he lives in, a world that's only a few steps beyond ours. In his world, power is shifting from governments to massive corporations that have grown from defense contracting companies. In our world, governments declare war. In his, DCs - Defense Contractors - arrange wars among themselves, for profit. Meanwhile, soldiers occupy a similar status to today's world, somewhat at the mercy of wars they don't control. The book starts small. Lt. Shelley and his unit - a shorthanded unit - have just received a new sergeant and are running repetitive patrols in the African desert. Shelley gives us all sorts of mundane but specific details about his duties and how he feels about them. Because of that, he swiftly became a character I cared about, so when the plot twisted and he was suddenly in a lot more danger, I was breathless with worry for him. When people he loved came into the story, I found myself worrying for them too. The story expands quickly and exponentially, shifting from small-scale military SF to political thriller meshed with science fictional extrapolation. Plus, it's filled with engaging characters. Shelley's voice ties it all together and kept me turning pages until far past my bedtime. I'm already recommending this book to my friends, and I can't wait for the sequel.