Review – The Iron Wyrm Affair (Bannon & Clare #1) by Lilith Saintcrow

iron wyrm affairSince I haven’t read much steampunk and I saw The Iron Wyrm Affair at the used bookstore, I knew I needed to snatch it up.

From Goodreads: Emma Bannon, forensic sorceress in the service of the Empire, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn’t help much that they barely tolerate each other, or that Bannon’s Shield, Mikal, might just be a traitor himself. Or that the conspiracy killing registered mentaths and sorcerers alike will just as likely kill them as seduce them into treachery toward their Queen.”

When I finished TIWA, I stared at the cover for a few minutes trying to decide how I felt.  There were things I loved and others that irked the heck out of me.  Rating it seemed almost impossible.

So, I’ve decided to use a little math.  Let’s start with 3-stars and go from there:

Plus 1/2 star: Steampunk element was well done.  I like the mix of magic and technology.

Plus 1/2 star: Some good world building and characterization.  Victorian England elements worked within the story.  The explanations of the different types of people – sorcerers (some prime or super special like Bannon), mentaths (extra smart geniuses like Clare) and shields (protectors like Mikal) – was fascinating.  By the way, I would be a mentath if you care.

Minus 1/2 star: Taking the convenient route when world building.  It’s not a problem that we recognize Victorian England but I don’t think an author should take the easy way out and leave too much of the real world in place.  There were scenes where it was a little too close to reality.

Minus 1 star (and probably should be more): Characterization of women.  How can you have a strong, smart female lead like Emma Bannon and still leave the reader feeling like you dislike women? Clare alludes to Bannon being too hard or straight-forward.  Ok, I could accept that as part of his character.  But, you made Emma question herself constantly saying that she wasn’t feminine enough or was too outspoken.  And, why, every time she said a curse word was it blanked out?  Other, male characters, were allowed to curse freely.  Don’t get me started on the attitude Clare had about Bannon’s intimate relationship.  MYOB, buddy.

Minus 1/2 star: This reduction is simply due to Clare’s obsession with Bannon’s child-like face and curly hair.  It was creepy.

Plus 1 star: When you can’t wait to read the next installment, the book deserves an extra star.

Overall, 3/5 stars.  Now, can someone send me the next one?

2 thoughts on “Review – The Iron Wyrm Affair (Bannon & Clare #1) by Lilith Saintcrow

  1. I’m usually a fan of Lilith Saintcrow. I’d been thinking about reading this one, but sometimes her series are kind of hit and miss. Whereas I LOVE the Dante Valentine series (and have read it several times), I couldn’t read the Jill Kismet series for some of the same reasons you mention above. There comes a point where a strong female character edges over from flawed to broken. And broken can work in some cases, but if she isn’t strong enough in other areas, she becomes annoying, and it’s hard to relate. Glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks that when I’m reading 🙂

    • It’s strange because overall I like her writing and I can’t quite figure out why she went in that direction with Bannon. Flawed is good – everyone has flaws. And like you said, broken can work if done properly. But this was more about judginess and I’m not okay with that.

      I will definitely read the next one with fingers crossed. I have been thinking about getting the Dante Valentine series and already have the Jill Kismet on my shelf unread. I probably bought the wrong series. :(.

      Thanks for stopping in.

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