Saturday, November 5, 2011

Back to the Iron Seas in Airships

Heart of Steel
A Novel of the Iron Seas
Meljean Brook
Penguin Audio
November 2011

Following the first book in Meljean Brook's Iron Seas series, Heart of Steel continues the adventures of two characters from the Iron Duke, Archimedes Fox and Yasmeen, mercenary airship captain. Archimedes Fox is an adventurer specializing in retrieval of antiquities lost in territories infected by the zombie plague. He is also the hero of "pulp" novels written by his sister, Zenobia. The mysterious Yasmeen is not only one of the few female airship captains, but is one tough cookie- the "heart of steel" of the title. She kicked Archimedes out of her airship into a zombie infested Venetian canal. Needless to say, Archimedes fell madly in love with her at that instant (even though he doesn't quite know it)! She kicked him off the ship, but kept an unknown Leonardo Da Vinci sketch that he had salvaged.

The action starts when Yasmeen goes to see Zenobia- not only to report the probable death of her brother, but to offer her a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the sketch. When she arrives, she finds Zenobia held hostage. The existence of the sketch has somehow become public and lots of people want it. Including Archimedes who needs it to repay a debt, one that will cost him his life if not repaid. Archimedes and Yasmeen join forces and the great adventures begin. Yazmeen loses her hard won fortune and her beloved airship, Lady Corsair, along with her crew but gains much more.

I can't even attempt to describe the intricate world that Meljean Brook has built in the Iron Seas series. I can only recommend that you begin with the Iron Duke and follow up with Heart of Steel. High adventure, steampunk gadgets, zombies and romance make Iron Seas a must-read. I really cringed at the cover of the book and the audio book, but managed to ignore its general cheesiness. There is plenty of lusty romance here, but I personally enjoyed the adventure more. My only quibble was that the various scrapes and dilemmas of Archimedes and Yasmeen seemed too easily resolved. One expects a book like this to have a happy ending, but it just was a little too neatly done. Otherwise, I highly recommend Heart of Steel as a fast-paced, enjoyable escapist read. The audio book is very competently performed by Faye Adele

Rating  4 Airships


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