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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

TITLE: The Iron Duke
SERIES: Iron Seas, Book #1
AUTHOR: Meljean Brook
NARRATOR: Faye Adele
PUBLISHER: Penguin Audio
PUBLICATION: November 1, 2011
FORMAT: Unabridged Audiobook, 13 hours 23 minutes
GENRE: Science Fiction/Steampunk, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 978-1101523186


First in an all-new series where seductive danger and steampunk adventure abound in the gritty world of the Iron Seas.

After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power-and fear-of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.

But when Mina uncovers the victim's identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans-and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen, as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.


I received this audiobook for review from Penguin Audio. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own. 

This is my first foray into the steampunk genre! For those who are as unfamiliar with the genre as I am, here is the definition from Wikipedia: Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s.[1] Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain or "Wild West"-era United States—that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy.“

In other words, the book has an historical feel to it but with futuristic (sci-fi) inventions.

The book takes place in Victorian-era England. The book refers to a group called “The Horde” and, if my understanding is correct, I believe this refers to the Golden Horde if my sleuthing skills on Wikipedia steered me in the right direction! As for how historically accurate the book is, I cannot comment. Getting back to the story: The Horde hid nano-agents in every day food items such as tea and sugar. Nothing happened to the people who became infected with the nano-agents, until The Horde activated the bugs and were able to take control of the people by emitting frequency signals through large radio towers. During this period, there were times known as “The Frenzy” when people had no control of their emotions and sexual urges.

Enter the Iron Duke, aka Rhys Trahaearn (former pirate), who frees England from The Horde’s control by destroying the tower.

The book starts off with Detective Inspector Wilhelmina ("Mina") Wentworth called to a crime scene at the Iron Duke’s home, where a dead body has been dropped on his doorstep from an airship. In a nutshell, Mina and Rhys work together to try to find out who is behind the murder.

This book was hard for me to get into because there was some terminology used that I was unfamiliar with: The Horde, bounders, buggers. I was so confused that I felt like I needed a glossary! Added to this, the narrator (Faye Adele) has a very strong British accent that I found difficult to understand at times. When she pronounced “Trahaearn,” it sounded to be me like “Johann,” so I actually thought that the Iron Duke/Rhys and Trahaearn were two different people! I became so confused that I requested the book from the library so that I could flip through it. For inquiring minds that want to know: buggers are those who were infected by the nano-agents or “bugs” during the period of the Horde occupation; bounders are the ones who were able to flee England before the Horde took control and have returned now that the Iron Duke has freed England.

As I became used to Adele’s accent and started to understand what was going on, I began to enjoy the story.

I really like Mina: She’s a strong heroine, fiercely loyal to her family, and puts all others before herself. Her mother was raped by a Mongol during one the Horde “frenzies,” and Mina was conceived as a result of this. After Mina’s birth, her mother scratched her own eyes out (literally) when she saw that Mina’s features resembled those of her biological father. As a result, Mina’s upbringing wasn’t easy. Even as an adult, she is taunted and sometimes attacked which is why she must always be accompanied by Constable Newberry who acts not only as her assistant but also her bodyguard. I was actually rooting for her not to fall in love with the Iron Duke because I didn’t care for him at all. I was hoping Mina would fall for Newberry instead! I thought the Iron Duke was extremely brazen, arrogant, and pushy! I must admit, though, their love scenes were hot!

I was very excited when I read in the synopsis that the book contained zombies, but they really play a very minor role in this book. If you are looking for a zombie novel, this one will not satiate your appetite.

Brook has created a very clever world, and I love her use of nanotechnology. However, I wish that there had been more “world-building” in the beginning. I felt thrust into this unknown territory and had trouble at first following and embracing the story.

Despite my rocky start with the book, I did end up enjoying it and am looking forward to listening to the next audiobook in the series!

MY RATING: 3 stars!

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