My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Chronology of the Series
Technically, Iron Duke is the first full-length story in this new steampunk fantasy series, Iron Seas, set in old England; chronologically, it’s second as there is a prequel, Burning Up: Here There be Monsters.
Resigned to her heritage, Mina Wentworth turns her passion to her job as a detective inspector on the Metropolitan Police force. When her evening at a ball celebrating the Victory, which freed all of England from the Horde, is interrupted by murder, Mina gratefully escapes only to find this murder is a potential political trap. One involving the savior of England, Rhys Trahaearn, the Iron Duke himself.
For his part, Rhys finds himself unaccountably attracted to Mina and goes to great lengths to pursue her even as they both race to track down the identity of the dead man and the trail it leads them down. A trail of piracy and treason.
Part of the treason is fueled by terror of the possibility of some power-mad fool returning some day and taking control of the country via the radio frequencies used by the Horde to control the buggers.
Those Englishmen wealthy enough who could afford to flee the invasion for America, now referred to as “bounders”, and who have now returned to England fear those who were left behind who were infected by the Horde’s nanoagents, referred to as “buggers” for the bugs that infest their bodies.
What a cast of characters. Mina, the result of a sexual Frenzy set up by the Horde, is well beloved by her entire family despite the clear evidence of her heritage. Her father, the Earl of Rockingham, helps put food on the table and fulfills his sense of noblesse oblige by practicing medicine on the high and the low while her mother makes use of her talents to create intriguing automatons the sale of which primarily goes to paying off the debt they owe the Blacksmith who created her mother’s replacement eyes. Then there are Mina’s brothers, Harry, who has gone north to restore order to the family’s country estates which have not been visited for 200 years since the Horde invasion, and Andrew who has taken a commission in the King’s navy aboard Marco’s Terror, the Iron Duke’s old ship.
Newberry is a red-headed giant of a police officer assigned as an aide (and protector) to Mina. Although a bounder, he greatly respects Lady Mina.
Rhys Trahaearn is the Iron Duke, more formally known as the Duke of Anglesey, a title granted him when he blew up the huge tower that had controlled the entire nanoagent-infected population. Mmm, does make you think of Wellington doesn’t it? Brook has incorporated that bit of Wellington’s legend—the iron shutters he used to protect his property—as well as the better hidden endowments to name her duke.
Lord Scarsdale is a former shipmate of the duke’s and is renowned for his innate ability to navigate anything while the Lady Yasmeen Corsair is a bit of a renegade captaining her own airship. Just don’t make Scarsdale ascend any higher than he can jump!
This was excellent! Difficult to follow in a number of places, Brook still managed to infest this tale with fear, tension, and enough intrigue to fuel it ten times over. I hope she doesn’t take too long to come out with book 3!
I love the cover—all those gears in gleaming bronze with more gleaming bronze wrapped in an incredibly detailed jacket inset inside a metal ring. So very appropriate…and what a treat this is!