The Iron Assassin
by Ed Greenwood
Review by Jon Guenther
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765338464
Date: 09 June 2015
List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
If you're looking for an imaginative and intriguing story within the Steampunk sub-genre, then this would definitely be one I'd say to check out. That's mostly because I found Ed Greenwood's The Iron Assassin a whole lot of fun!
I wouldn't call myself an expert in this kind of story because, quite frankly, it's my first real exposure to Steampunk fiction. Therefore, I couldn't say this tale is a "faithful" representation of the field. What I can claim is I thoroughly enjoyed the story. The book had an excellent pace with a narrative that kept me turning pages. I felt the author had a tremendous command of setting and locale and mood without a ton of narrative to clutter it. This is a Victoria-era alternate reality in which there was no Queen Victoria--this being a great irony of the setting in its own right--in the city of London ruled by what's known as the Empire of the Lion.
At the heart of the conflict is a plot by the Ancient Order of Tentacles to murder both the current ruling class and its heirs, subsequently plunging what already seems like a pretty grim world into total darkness. Protecting the current government representatives, which Mr. Greenwood brilliantly portrays as a group of pompous and powdered-cheek sycophants, are Dread Agents of the Tower, which I ultimately translated to be a sort of MI6 with a touch of British Special Air Service thrown in. One of these agents has reanimated a deceased chimney sweep to protect them from this rising evil and dubbed him the Iron Assassin.
From there the tale only gets more wild and crazy, and there was more than enough action to keep me going. Most of the characters are colorful, and very few did I find to be cookie-cutter in their imaginings. If there was a con I feel it's probably in understanding the real purpose of the villains, as well as who some of the villains actually were. It felt almost as if there was too little fiendish motives to go around.
Still, I commend the work for entertainment factor alone and I'm glad my introduction to this sub-genre came from The Iron Assassin. I think most readers will find this just plain fun to experience.
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