The Rise of the Iron Moon
by Stephen Hunt
Cover Artist: Max Schindler
Review by Mel Jacob
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765327666
Date: 15 March 2011 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
A steampunk tale set in the far future with a blend of magic and science, Stephen Hunt's The Rise of the Iron Moon continues the story begun in The Court of the Air. It brings characters from the first book and adds some new personalities to battle the Army of Shadows from Kaliban, the red planet, determined to consume the earth and destroying its inhabitants.
A red comet changes its trajectory and becomes a moon above earth. No one guesses what horrors it foreshadows. Suddenly, stars appear to have altered their courses, but no one can explain why. Many dismiss the concerns as irrelevant. They worry more about the change in the comet.
Kaliban represents a precursor to Mars, but with its inhabitants still living. A voyage there appears critical to destroying the Army of Shadows although no one quite knows how that might be accomplished. Former enemies must cooperate to accomplish such a mission, but putting aside long held animosities comes at a price.
The steam robots are among the most human of all. The Steam King has preserved treasures from lost civilizations that become key to survival. Legendary characters with strange abilities from the distant past are critical to defeating the enemy
An admixture of steampunk, science fiction, time travel, and magic, Rise of the Iron Moon strains credibility at time. Death and transformation form a major part of the novel. It is also partly a coming of age story. Hunt prefers to think of his work as fantasy, but outside the traditional medieval type setting, which he considers too confining.
Hunt doesn't stint on making his characters suffer and provides a whirlwind climax that will keep the reader's interest. Considering the different nature of the three novels set in the Kingdom of Jackals, it is hard to imagine where Hunt will take his next adventure, but the Brits already know. He's written six novels and the fourth (Secrets of the Fire Sea) and fifth ( Jack Cloudie) are available in the U.K. In any event, a sixth will be out there soon and sure to be exciting and interesting.