Just Here For The Ride I Guess… – a review of The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

I’ve spent a long time looking for a vintage fantasy story to appeal to me. This one appealed to me in concept and I spent a while looking forward to reading it.

Sadly, this ain’t it.

In a steampunk version of Victorian London, sorcerers possess magic and mentaths possess inhuman minds. However, mentaths are being killed for a plot that Prime Sorceress Emma Bannon suspects will put the crown at risk. She seeks out to protect mentath Archibald Clare while investigating this plot, one which Clare has natural interest in himself. And it appears this plot goes far deeper than either had hope, potentially involving the ancient dragons that grant Londonium’s power.

The plot did exist, but it was very difficult to follow. I’d blame the writing style personally. It was written like an investigation from Sherlock Holmes (which I haven’t read, so I don’t know if this was a copy of the same style), but things were very difficult to follow along with. It felt like a large amount of coincidences that the characters either knew or had connections to the next pieces of the puzzle. For it being a murder mystery, I never felt like I had the chance to solve anything. Even when things got explained – that’s a red flag.

I may have liked the magic system if it was ever explained. It had potential to be for sure – dark and light magic that had connections to dragons and was in an inner pool that reset every sunrise. But this system wasn’t clear until about half way and none of the technicalities were even explained. When people want to enter a fantasy world, they would typically want to be immersed in it. This system and world felt elite, like it was reserve for people with an IQ over 300. On the bright side, where spellcasting scenes or fights were involved the quality of the scenes increased a fair bit.

While the characters were distinguishable, the way they were was… controversial. It was by gender, race and accents. This was literally how I could describe the cast of protagonists in the climax: British Male, British Female, Queen of England, Insane British Male, Indian Male, Italian Male, German Male. I couldn’t for the life of me tell you anything about the personality of any of them except for Insane British Male. There’s indefinitely more to characters than that.

The Iron Wyrm Affair gets a score of 2/5. The book itself proclaims it is too good for me, and I don’t have the class for it.

Yours in writing


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