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The Iron Duke (A Novel of the Iron Seas) Paperback – Bargain Price, October 5, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 227 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Iron Seas Series

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Paperback, Bargain Price, October 5, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this engrossing steampunk adventure, paranormal romance author Brook (Demon Blood) uses detailed descriptions and an impressive imagination to create a world where people can be part machine but all heart. It's been nine years since the Horde, an oppressive empire from Asia, were run out of England. However, detective inspector Lady Wilhelmina Wentworth will never be able to escape their cruelty: her mother was raped during the invasion, and Mina is half Horde. Mina crosses paths with the revered Iron Duke Rhys Trahaearn, a former pirate captain who was instrumental in fighting the Horde, when a dead body is tossed on his estate. What begins as lust sparks into full-blown romance as the two learn more about the nefarious Black Guard and catch a murderous madman. Airships, zombies, nanotechnology, outlandish secondary characters, and a complicated heroine-who goes from believing "Dead people of all sorts were more tolerable than most of those living" to being willing to love-make for a complex, gripping read.

From Booklist

Brook jumps ship from her Guardians urban fantasy novels (Demon Blood, 2010) to a steampunk series mixing the British Regency period with the Industrial Revolution gone mad. During the celebration of the Iron Duke’s defeat of the Horde in England, a body is dropped from an airship onto his London doorstep. Detective Inspector Lady Mina Wentworth is assigned the case to find out who the dead man was and who killed him. Intrigued upon meeting her, Rhys Trahaearn, now Duke of Anglesey known as the Iron Duke, invites himself along on her investigation. So begins an adventure reminiscent of an action-packed video game complete with mechanical oddities, from metal eyes and human limbs to a killer kraken plaguing the seas. Dirigibles, blacksmith shops, contraband bazaars, and clipper ships become the backgrounds for Rhys and Mina’s blossoming love affair. With adept writing and a flair for creating believable worlds, Brook’s first in the Iron Seas series showcases her masterful storytelling. --Pat Henshaw

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425236676
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425236673
  • ASIN: B004X8W3W8
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (227 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,306,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Adventure, mystery, pirates in the air and on the sea, zombies, wonderful characters and weird steampunk technology, there is so much going on in the Iron Duke that there is no way a simple plot summary could possibly do this book justice.

The Iron Seas world that Brook has created is fascinating - an alternate Victorian/Regency society which is still struggling to recover from years of enslavement by Mongol invaders. A familiar-yet-not world in which some of the conventional values of the time are still in force but with just enough of a twist added by what the people have survived under their oppressors - and still endure due to the technology that shaped their lives - to create a truly unique framework for a story which is 'smart' and so much more than a romance.

I really loved interactions between the leads: dangerous larger than life former pirate and national hero Rhys Trahaern and Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth, the brave and intelligent woman whom Rhys is determined to possess. However, the relationship between the pair in the Iron Duke isn't as romantic as some of Brook's other romances. And several of their sexual encounters aren't as much about romance as they are about character discovery or moving the relationship between the Mina and Rhys in a new direction - and one in particular goes to an uncomfortable place while doing it - so there wasn't quite as much steamy payoff for my inner romance reader.

In addition to the leads several of the supporting characters are standouts. I am hoping to see a great deal more of swashbuckling airship captain Lady Corsair, the savvy Lord Scarsdale, and adventurer Achimedes Fox in future books.
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By hwm on December 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
Even more than this novel, the overwhelmingly positive reactions to it bothered me. After some time I realized, that if I wanted my concerns voiced, I would have to write a review myself. So here it is.

THE IRON DUKE is the start to a steampunk romance series by Meljean Brook, who is better known for her paranormal Guardian series. It's my first book by this author and probably my last. If I could split the steampunk from the romance, I'd give the former 4.5 stars and the latter zero. The novel is an odd mixture of originality and romance clichés, subtle socio political nuances and romantic sledgehammer tactics. The character of the hero and his "good" rape of the heroine were deeply problematic in my eyes.

The "good" rape is a cliché often found in old school romances, where the heroine is not raped by a villain, but by her hero. The consent of the heroine is substituted by the (unconscious) consent of the reader, who knows that there is going to be a Happy End between rapist and victim eventually. The rape is used as a turning point in the story. Starting with this event everything that stands between a romantic and/or sexual relationship between hero and heroine is moved aside. The heroine gets over the trauma quickly and is allowed to live out her sexuality. In a way this ultimate loss of power empowers her. Since the power to say "no" was taken away from her, she might as well say yes and enjoy it. The victim also gains power over her rapist, who has to repent his act of sexual violence in order to become an ideal lover and/or husband and thus fulfill the HEA recquirement. On top of it the hero always has some (not) good excuses. Intoxication (substance abuse or some magical quirk), misinformation (she wasn't an adulteress, she was a virgin!
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Well, I really enjoyed the heroine and the world building. I just can't stomach the psycho uber alpha pirate hero who is given so many interesting and admirable traits, except when it comes to his treatment of the heroine. Watching such a likable heroine fall in love with him, especially after he forces her to receive oral sex from him (crying and saying no), was disgusting and depressing. He really would have been a cool hero otherwise.

What a strange way to create sexual tension in a romance book.
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Format: Paperback
This review of The Iron Duke won't do enough of justice. The entire time I read, my jaw was dropped in amazement. The Iron Duke has wowed me in some many ways. Meljean Brook is an author I'm loyal to, through and through. It's a great feeling to have started with an author since the beginning of their writing career and watch them evolve and continue to astound with every single book they've written. The Iron Duke is mind-blowing in such a way that it may just turn the romance genre on its ear, including the Steampunk genre that still has many readers scratching their heads in confusion because they just can't understand it.

The plot of The Iron Duke is one of the most complex I've read in a long time. The last author who made my head spin in such a way was Anne Bishop's Black Jewels Trilogy. Bishop's books have such intricate world-building, where it's nearly impossible to explain it all. The same applies here with The Iron Duke. What I can tell you is that the world Meljean has created is a very scary and uncomfortable place, and one I wouldn't want to live in. For the past two-hundred years, the Horde has ruled most of Europe, very much like a terrorist organization that sends fear into the hearts of many, including England. The Horde has far reaching hands, but those who were lucky enough to escape parts of Europe, mainly England, to America, are now slowly returning back to the land they left behind. The reason the British fell to the Horde was that the Horde hid things called nanogents, invisible bugs, into tea and sugar where they traded it very cheaply. Then the Horde the activated the bugs. This gave them control over the British. Can you just imagine, with a touch of a button, where someone has the power to make your body do whatever it wants?
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