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Blood and Iron: A Novel of the Promethean Age
 
 

Blood and Iron: A Novel of the Promethean Age [Kindle Edition]

Elizabeth Bear
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

She is known as Seeker. Spellbound by the Faerie Queen, she has abducted human children for her mistress’s pleasure for what seems like an eternity, unable to free herself from servitude and reclaim her own humanity.

Seeker’s latest prey is a Merlin. Named after the legendary wizard of Camelot, Merlins are not simply those who wield magic––they are magic. Now, with the Prometheus Club’s agents and rivals from Faerie both vying for the favor of this being of limitless magic to tip the balance of power, Seeker must persuade the Merlin to join her cause—or else risk losing something even more precious and more important to her than the fate of humankind.…




Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 752 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Roc (3 Jun 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001BUECA2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #335,366 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magic, Merlins and Mayhem 15 Nov 2008
By Mark Shackelford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
What fun! A thoroughly detailed universe where the world of (modern) man is linked with the world of the Fae. Clever ideas link the two worlds - and with enough imagination you can see the shadows concealing the Seekers in your own house... A battle between the two worlds rages, bringing in Werewolves, King Arthur and a huge Dragon, along with a host of believable (but strange) characters from legend and myth (or perhaps Shakespeare) - Puck, Peaseblossom and an assortment of goblins, bogies and fairies.
The book is not at all "fey" but a robust tale (and the fairies swear!) that zooms along like a thriller, mixed with Arthurian Legend, a dash of fairy [faerie] tales and nursery rhymes, and the underlying theme of the legendary ballad of Tam Lin.
I have already ordered the second book in the series...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hold tight and fear ye not... 31 Oct 2006
Format:Paperback
A steady start that takes a pace drawing the reader in.

With the mortal and fairy worlds having some overlap and sometimes entwined, rivalries within each, personal agendas and long timeless histories are carefully woven into a book that takes it's theme from The Ballad of Tam Lin and gently turns the angle of perspective.

Taking the reader seamlessly between two realms and at times with an urgency in an otherwise timeless realm.

Traditional historical characters have a lesser part as the reader gets carried along through the life of two divided worlds by a couple of it's seemingly everyday but important inhabitants, whose futures are pre-ordained, increasingly they begin to realise this.

Elizabeth Bear anchors this fabulous tale with glimpses of places in our real modern material world, but from where older powers creep through as an age old battle rages, reaches a climax that doesn't necessarily have a 'fairytale' ending but also exposes the personal goals, challenges and costs to the characters who at the start don't realise their roles ahead...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but frustrating 15 July 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Blood and Iron falls very roughly into "Urban Fantasy", mixing magic into modern life. From the world of Faerie, Elaine Andraste is a Seeker for the Mabd, queen of the Fae. Elaine is actually a kidnapped human, bound to serve but occasionally debating revenge while she wanders around doing the Fae Queen's dirty work in the human world. On the modern city side of things, we have Matthew, a human mage from the "Promethean Club", a group dedicated to preventing the bad side of magic getting into our world. Matthew hates the Fae because of something unspecified to do with his brother.

Elaine turns out to be the main character, while Matthew pops up now and again, and it's clear that some big conflict is brewing. Elaine gets tasked with finding and recruiting a Merlin - a mythical archetype that appears every 500 years, along with a Dragon Prince doomed to save his people while also slaughtering and betraying. Matthew also tries to recruit the Merlin, who turns out to be a human woman who isn't at all surprised to find out she has this big mystical secret. Elaine sweeps her off on a mystery tour of Faerie, which is a beautifully rich and lavishly described world. Bear has really gone to town on making the Celtic myths seem fresh and interesting, avoiding cliché even while she mixes Arthurian legends and Dracula into the mix (and that's no mean feat). The problem is that there's loads of stuff going on - there's a dragon in a cave, Morgan le Fey is an enigmatic sorceress in a cottage, Elaine's kidnapped son who she had with a werewolf is the Queen's favourite, there's werewolf politics, the Merlin fancies Elaine, the werewolf fancies Elaine, a shapeshifting Waterhorse fancies Elaine, and so on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 29 Dec 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I recommend this book, and am now trying some of Elizabeth Bear's other work.
The plot is mainly set in Faerie and tells the story of Seeker, an involuntary servant of the Faerie Queen. When a Merlin (very powerful magician) is discovered, Seeker is ordered to persuade the Merlin to serve her queen. But the birth of a Merlin means that a Dragon Prince will also be on his way... Meanwhile, the Promethean Club, an order of magi, wants to destroy the Fae forever.
That is about all I can say without giving away too much plot, but the book is well written, the characters are engaging and the plot is unusually difficult to predict.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ... and a werewolf named Keith 11 July 2009
By Michael Lichter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
In her contemporary but backward-looking novel BLOOD AND IRON author Elizabeth Bear's protagonist is "Seeker," a conflicted half-faery woman who serves a faery queen by abducting children with similar backgrounds from their human homes. This places her in direct conflict with Matthew the Magician, a human mage in the service of the Prometheans. The Prometheans, who happen to be headed by Seeker's human mother Jane, are sworn enemies of the fae, dedicated to their eradication. While Seeker loathes the queen who keeps her and her young son in virtual slavery, she nevertheless loves magical creatures great and small, from the puck who attends her to the werewolf who loves her, the sorceress who taught her, the kelpie who threatens to kill her, and the dragon who manipulates her. She will do anything she can to save the magical world, even if it means giving up her soul.

The novel can be read in a number of ways. On one level, it is a fairy tale deeply influenced by classical European (especially Celtic) folk tales and legends, including those regarding vampires, werewolves, and especially those surrounding King Arthur. On a second level, it is a romance, the story of Seeker's affection for the kelpie named Whiskey, her love for the werewolf named Keith (whose betrayal, incidentally, led to her enslavement), and the pain and torment they each endure due to the competition between her feelings, one one hand, and her duties to the faery queen, her son, and faery as a whole, on the other hand.

On the highest level, it is hard not to see the novel as a plea for greater environmental consciousness. The human industrial development that is driving the werewolves and fae extinct is the same set of forces that are destroying our environment and driving more and more species of wildlife extinct. In Bear's view, the survival of the fae is important not just as a value in itself, but because their magic and wild magic in general is a vital part of the world. Without them, the world is less rich, less challenging, less worth living in. While not the strongest possible argument, it is parallel to an argument for preservation of the natural environment.

Many readers will find the complex and convoluted plot daunting. What really bothered me about the book, however, were the lack of background information and the poorly motivated actions of the characters. Who are these Prometheans? Why do the fae kidnap children? Why is the kelpie seeking a half-fae? Why did Keith betray Seeker? Why are virtually all werewolves Scottish? Why does the queen go through with her deadly plot when she knows cannot achieve what she had hoped? Why do the Promotheans let the dude with the hammer go free to (potentially) wreck their plans? If you can't understand what's going on, it's difficult to become invested in it.

In the end, it's difficult not to be conflicted about BLOOD AND IRON. Some of the fantasy elements are well done, and the dynamic plot keeps the reader turning pages. Yet, frustration waits on nearly every page -- "What does this mean?" "Why did she do that?" etc. I can't recommend BLOOD AND IRON, but that doesn't mean it would be a terrible mistake to pick it up.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim Faerie Tales of War and Sacrifice 21 May 2007
By Shanshad - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For whatever reason, New York city tends to to be a favored backdrop for those writing urban fantasies involving faerie in some form. That's what originally drew me to this tale, since I have a penchant for collecting fantasy that takes place in my home setting. And I have a soft spot for contemporary fantasy with fae characters in general. Elizabeth Bear has gone about creating an epic tale that is out of legend and myth of old, from the tales of Camelot to the ballad of Tam Linn.

The Seeker was once a mortal woman, now bound to serve the Queen of Faerie and charged bringing her the half-blood children from the human world. Seeker chafes against the bonds that hold her, but has no choice when the Queen lays a new geas upon her: to seek out the new Merlin--a being who is magic-- and seduce him into service for the realm of Faerie. But Seeker will have competition in her race to win the prize. Set against Faerie are the human mages of the Prometheus club. If they can convince the Merlin to join their side against the Fae, all of Faerie may be doomed. On the brink of war, this epic story's protagonists and antagonists must make their choices and ultimately watch the story play itself out.

The premise of this story is an interesting one, certainly this is a grand scale sort of epic fantasy, rather than the more intimate urban fantasy I'm used to. I was originally going to rate this only three stars, but to be fair it likely deserves at least three and half to four stars. I've not read Ms. Bear's work prior to this book, so I can't say if this story is indicative of her usual style, but I tend to like books that are more directly about character and less grand epic. I won't hold preference against a book, so I'll rate it four stars on the grounds that I do think there is some good writing and an intriguing story here--it just wasn't quite my cup of tea. This is an especially tragic and grim story with many bittersweet, dramatic and poignant moments. The story takes itself very seriously and explores themes of sacrifice and the prices paid for victory. I found that the lack of humor in this story made it bleaker than I particularly enjoyed, although given the storyline, it may be what the author intended. I prefer more humor--and humanity--in my reading as a rule, and I think it may have helped bring out the characters a bit more.

The main characters of this story felt too much like set pieces in the game--it was hard to like any of them or really identify with any of them. Even Matthew, the human mage, seems to keep a textual distance from the readers. I kept wanting to know more about these protagonists and their lives. Most of the novel is bound up in describing events and the patterns of myth that color those events. But I kept wishing to care more about the Seeker and her struggle to choose her path. And while the POV shift from third to first person for Seeker was clearly done to accentuate the transformation of the character, the abrupt shift was hard to adjust to at first.

Only some of this epic story takes place in New York City, but the story is a fascinating revisit of the tale of Tam Linn, weaving in Arthurian legends to create something that profoundly echoes the old myths in a modern setting. There is a lot of blood and violence in this tale, but the author never uses it gratuitously--one of the points of this book is that Faerie tales are full of blood and violence, the sanitized versions for children to day are a pale imitation of those originals. It's a challenging plot line, as the author is crafting a book where no one side is in the right and all sides are fighting for survival. It's more than a little bleak, and there are enough characters and twists for the story to become confusing.

Nevertheless, this was a decent read--kept me reading straight through to the end without wanting to put it down. If you're a reader who likes contemporary fantasy with an epic feel and a sober storyline this might be just the story for you. If you prefer something light hearted or more character driven, you might find this a bit weighty and dark for your tastes. If you're looking for more urban fae fantasy to read, you might try War for the Oaks by Emma Bull or try Son of Darkness by Josepha Sherman.

Happy Reading! ^_^ Shanshad
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an outstanding, intricate dark Faerie fantasy 8 July 2006
By Margaret Johnston - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Elaine Andraste, now known simply as Seeker, is a servant of the Medb, Queen of the Daoine Sidhe; stolen by the Fae in childhood, she has spent her life bound to the Faerie Realm, stealing other human children for the queen. Matthew is a mage, of the mysterious Promethean Club, a group of human magic users in league against Faerie. When the Medb requires Seeker to trap the Merlin, the newest incarnation of the powerful wizard who could save Faerie or doom it, Seeker comes into conflict with Matthew and his allies, as well as with rivals from other Faerie factions.

Bear weaves together strands of folklore and legend from King Arthur to Tam Lin with her own imaginings to create a compelling vision of Faerie, both terrible and beautiful; it's no wonder the Merlin has difficulty deciding whether to aid Faerie or oppose it. The characters are fiercely memorable, particularly Elaine and her wild Fae companion, Whiskey the kelpie (a shapeshifting water horse). The story is immersive and intricate, full of schemes and rivalries, blood ties and friendships, mystery and sorcery, and the prose is equally complex and allusive. It required some concentration to sink into the narrative, but once I was in, I emerged only with reluctance. This is one of the best books I've read this year, and one of the best treatments of Faerie I've ever read; I await the sequel, _Whiskey and Water_, with great eagerness.
27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Extremely disappointed 15 Nov 2006
By Kevin T. Quinn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
After reading Hammered, Scardown, and Worldwired, Bear's previous trilogy, I was really looking forward to this book. The others were taut thrillers that felt as though they had been one large (huge) novel before being chopped up into three books by a publisher. In those books, the characters were interesting, and the plot was familiar enough that it felt comforting, but went off in enough unexpected directions that you never really knew what was going to happen next.

Blood and Iron is the opposite of all that. Instead of being a middle-future military sci-fi, like her first trilogy, her newest book is a modern-day fantasy story. It's the story of a secret war being fought under our noses. On the one side are the forces of the Sidhe, the fairies of British and Celtic mythology. This is not an platoon of Tinkerbells here - these are the fey folk of Tam Lin, Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, or Terry Pratchett's Lords and Ladies. These are creatures of glamour and illusion who steal away mortals to use as sport and entertainment.

Ranged against the Sidhe are the humans of the Prometheus Club - a secret society of magicians who guard our world against incursions by the fey. They use the strength and magic of iron to keep the enemies of humanity at bay.

The "war" has recently escalated with the appearance of a Merlin, a person who acts as a source of magic power. Both sides of the war are seeking to identify and court the Merlin, hoping to bring that strength to their side.

Sounds like a fun adventure, right? It could have been. In fact, some individual scenes (including the novel opener) are written with great energy and are truly exciting. But the book just never grabbed me.

Part of this is because of Bear's writing style. She has two quirks that stand out in particular. First, she hates attributing dialog. A conversation between two characters will go on for a page and a half, with maybe one "she said" at the beginning to start things off, and few (if any) over the next couple of pages. I know that some people hate the word "said," but it's there for a purpose - to help your readers. If a reader has to keep going back to the beginning to trace who-said-what, then you're doing something wrong.

Her second quirk (if you can call it that) is to throw a near-endless series of details at the reader, with little explanation until much later. Her novels truly start in medias res, but she doesn't do enough in this story to make the reader feel a part of the world - it feels like you're in a foreign country and you've turned on a documentary in the middle. You feel like a confused outsider.

(Possible Spoiler In This Paragraph)

Adding to that feeling is the sense that, while this is a fantasy, it's not my fantasy. The story is told from the points of view of two characters on opposite sides of the conflict - a Seeker for the Sidhe who kidnaps humans for her queen, and a mage of the Prometheus Club. The Merlin they seek is (you figure out early on) a bisexual college professor/musician. The Seeker is a middle-aged woman who's been betrayed by her lover, and had her child grow up without her. The human mage is Sensitive Ponytail Guy (no offense to any guys who might have a ponytail, or are sensitive; though if you are sensitive, you're probably going to take offense anyway;). All three are just about the blandest, most uninteresting lead characters I've ever come across in literature. I didn't care about them. I didn't care about the things that had happened to them, and I didn't care about the things they were going to have to do.

(End Spoiler Paragraph)

And that is the biggest problem I have with the book - I just don't care. Bear has tried to structure the war between Faerie and Humans in such a way that the reader sympathises with both sides. The only problem with that is that if you don't care who wins, then you don't care who loses, and there's no drama.

I might be willing to give Elizabeth Bear another try in the future, but I was really disappointed by this book. I stopped reading it about 2/3 of the way through.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A meta-fairy tale 21 Aug 2008
By lb136 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Blood and Iron," the prolifically brilliant Elizabeth Bear's shimmery, impressionist novel is equal part fairy tale, critique of fairy tales, and the history of fairy tales; and it's grim but dryly witty. ("Nothing but glamourie, and gone on the stroke of midnight. Fortunately there were no clocks in Faerie.") It examines, among much else, Celtic mythology, werewolvery, and the Arthurian legends; it's inhabited by female merlins, water horses, a unicorn or two, a talking willow tree, and some spellbound sleeping royalty. Characters here appear because they've been written about in other tales, and thus become part of this book's reality.

Its as close to a heroine as you'll find in it is Elaine Andraste (I love the traditional Arthurian first name and the Romanian surname), called Seeker. She's bound by the faeries to kidnap halfbreed children and deliver them unto the Queen, Mebd. The mortal group known as the Prometheans, led by Elaine's mother Jane, want to stop the faerie folk once and for all. Essentially, it's a battle between the forces of ancient magic (the blood), who are trying to hold on against the forces of modernity (the iron).

It's setting is contemporary, and so is the language. An occasional four-letter word helps mock the traditional high-flown speech you usually find in fantasies. It's by no means an easy read. It's a novel of images, glimmerings, indirections. The points of view constantly shift, and the narrative switches off beween first- and third-person. And not everything's explained. Maybe you'll stop and read a passage a second time, or a third. It lacks a badly needed list of characters. But it's very much worth the effort.

NOTES AND ASIDES: Google Tam Lin before reading . . . the author salutes the late Peter Jennings by giving him a very brief cameo . . . first of (so far) four, but complete in itself.
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