Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Riveted (Iron Seas, #3)Riveted by Meljean Brook
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Airship engineer Annika is searching the world for her exiled sister, but when she discovers that cyborg scientist David Kentewess plans to survey Iceland, she fears he could put everyone in her hidden village of women in danger.

The book starts out very slowly and because the intial action takes place on an airship in flight we barely glimpse the dangerous world of the Iron Seas series, instead learning about it second-hand. (Maybe I'm just not all that jazzed by that staple of steampunk: airships. Clipper ships, on the other hand....) The Mongolian Horde controls much of the world through mind control, and the rest of the world is patrolled by megalodons, zombies, repressive governments, and airships. There's a lot going on.

David and Annika are remarkably clear-headed as they experience the initial stirrings of attraction to each other. I found Annika's sometimes awkward bluntness endearing. David is shy about his half-mechanical nature (he lost an eye, and several limbs to a terrible disaster in his childhood) but he's not crippled or obsessively self-doubting. They're very sensible, politically-correct modern protagonists and seem just a tiny bit dull because of it. (There's also a bit of not-so-subtle preaching that felt like an authorial intrusion.) There is a sense of comfort in their relationship, however, especially in their unconditional acceptance of each other. It's a love story for grownups.

Then we finally get off the damn airship and move into Iceland. There the action gets more interesting as the plot picks up and starts to follow in the venerable footsteps of Jules Verne. Enter some wickedly cool mechanical "trolls" that make Annika into a kind of ultra-Ripley. I won't say much about the plot, because it happens so late in the story it feels spoilery to me. Four words to pique your curiosity: mechanical whale, volcano, and megalomaniac.
Nice suit.
In closing, I really wish those robot dogs had worked out. They would have been awesome addition to the story, especially since Iceland is crawling with feral dogs. It seems like the dogs were a Chekhov's gun that never went off. I like a little more landscape and world-building details in my steampunk. Brook takes her time building the characters instead, so if that's what you look for in a love story, this is the book for you.

If you love Riveted, go back and try The Iron Duke, the first in the series, for a better look at Brook's complex steampunk world. You could also check out Bec McMaster's steampunk vampire fantasy Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk #1), or Kate Cross' Heart of Brass (Clockwork Assassins #1), which has assassins and brain-washing aplenty. If you adore fantasy steampunk romance and you haven't yet read Soulless, what are you waiting for?! Get it yesterday! (And while you're at it, pick up the entire Parasol Protectorate series!)

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