The Iron Duke is the first instalment of a spectacular Steampunk book series called The Iron Sea’s. The Iron Duke is set in an alternative history in a very different Europe of about 200 years or so ago. A select group of English citizens, whom are now referred to as “bounders” fled England and the Horde, only to return to England after the Iron Duke had broken the Horde control. The bounders aren’t very popular because they’ve come back to try to claim their titles and their land and are rich, while the people of England who stayed and suffered are poor. Scores of these poor people living within the polluted city of London are “infected” with Nanites which are controlled by the “Horde” who can transmit a certain radio frequency which makes these “infected” people, who are known as the “Buggers” go into a Frenzy. Now you have a little of the back story we can talk about the main storyline, the novel begins as Mina Wentworth, one of Metropolitan Police’s top Detectives is called to the House of the Iron Duke to investigate a murder. Since Freeing England from the control of the Horde , the Iron Duke has become a national hero, and has built quite the merchant empire for himself. So having a body dumped at his home, and a beautiful talented detective calling at his home, well it would be rude to have him not help in her investigations wouldn’t it. Due to his status in England, Mina is forced to agree to have is assistance on this case.
During the investigation the pair uncover the victim’s identity, a conspiracy and a definitive threat to the populous of England. In order to save the Nation, Mina and the Duke race across Zombie-Infested wastelands and turbulent oceans. Exploring new dangers and the temptation of her own feelings towards The Iron Duke this is shaping up to be the most difficult case Mina has had to date.
Meljean does a fantastic job of creating an interesting and well balanced world full of gadgets and contraptions, of genetically/mechanically altered creatures, Zombies and the like. The world building elements were scattered throughout the book she also doesn’t make the mistake of trying to get too detailed and blinding the reader with science, which allows you to grasp the concepts quickly allowing them to invest in the storyline.
The characters created in the series are fantastic, and very well thought out and executed. The relationship between the Duke and Mine is particularly intense. The Duke being the rugged, swash-buckling fearless legendary hero. Mina fears the powerful feelings he evokes inside of her, reminding her of her mindless past, dictated by the Horde. The only thing I will say is that there relationship at time was very distracting and took away from the story, but I often find this is the case, and that sections of romance are their own little chapter or sub-story to the overall plot.
I have to admit my experience with Steampunk is fairly limited, however thus far I have enjoyed almost every story I have come across thus far. I really like the concept of a genre cast neatly between Science and Fantasy Fiction. I highly recommend this genre to anyone willing to explore it! The world that Meljean Brook has created is certainly not a simple one with a Victorian setting, science fiction, fantasy, pulp fiction, adventure, romance, seafaring/pirate elements I would say it was moderate at the very least. I found this to be a very very good read, and I have and will continue to purchase forthcoming books in the Iron Seas series, but will you?
Until next time, read more books