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The Iron Ship by 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, unlike those novels, 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 book 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 ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
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"Merchant, industrialist and explorer Trassan Kressind has an audacious plan--combining the might of magic and iron in the heart of a great ship to navigate an uncrossed ocean, seeking the city of the extinct Morfaan to uncover the secrets of their lost sciences. Ambition runs strongly in the Kressind family, and for each of Trassan's siblings fate beckons. Soldier Rel is banished to a vital frontier, bureaucrat Garten balances responsibility with family loyalty, sister Katriona is determined to carve herself a place in a world of men, outcast Guis struggles to contain the energies of his soul, while priest Aarin dabbles in forbidden sorcery. The world is in turmoil as new money brings new power, and the old social order crumbles. And as mankind's arts grow stronger, a terror from the ancient past awakens...This highly original fantasy depicts a unique world, where tired gods walk industrial streets and the tide's rise and fall is extreme enough to swamp continents. Magic collides with science to create a rich backdrop for intrigue and adventure in the opening book of this epic saga"--Page 4 of cover.… (more)

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