Friday, April 18, 2008

Review: _Blood and Iron_ by Elizabeth Bear

Creatures from Faery steal children from our world, some fairy half breeds, to replenish their numbers. A group of human mages known as the Prometheans fight against Faery to keep them from overcoming our world and stop the child stealing. Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear tells the story of this struggle in the first book of the “Promethean Age” series. Interesting characters, a suspenseful plot and compelling themes makes the book an entertaining read.

First, the author starts out with interesting characters for the book. Elaine Andraste also known as Seeker is a half human half fairy woman with internal conflicts about herself. She struggles with guilt and pain from her human emotions, not knowing which side of her heritage to choose. Matthew Magus is a human mage and member of the Prometheans, a group pledged to protect the world from Faery. He is idealistic, but suffers over his brother’s difficulties. Keith is a werewolf in love with Elaine and reluctant in his role as heir to the pack leadership. Coupled with the amoral creatures of Faery like Whiskey the kelpie, the characters keep the book entertaining with their conflicts.

Next, the darkly suspenseful plot keeps the book entertaining for readers. Ms. Bear writes a tight story that keeps action moving throughout the book. It begins with Seeker looking for a half fairy girl. She encounters the powerful kelpie Whiskey and manages to bind him. Once she returns to the Otherworld, she is ordered by the Queen to find the Merlin, a human who is magic, to help in the fight against the human mages. The Prometheans plan a war to cut off Faery from the human world forever. Added to this is the tithe Faery must pay to Hell and is trying to get out of paying. Bloody battles ensue with vivid descriptions by the author for a great story.

Lastly, the book is an entertaining read due to the compelling themes explored by the author. One theme explored is the struggle people have between their good and dark sides because of their souls. Elaine must struggle throughout the book to choose which half of her heritage to follow. She finds having a soul painful when dealing with hard decisions. The themes of heroism and fate are explored with the build up to the battles. Keith the werewolf fights with being the chosen dragon prince leader of the Faery armies. Ms. Bear also weaves in themes from Arthurian legends to make the story stronger. All these themes keep readers hooked until the end.

Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear is an excellent beginning to the “Promethean Age” series. The book is an entertaining read because of its interesting characters, suspenseful plot and compelling themes. Readers will enjoy the dark story of the battle between the Prometheans and Faery, which leads to a satisfying ending. The second book in the series is called Whiskey and Water.

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