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3.3 out of 5 stars12
3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 2 October 2008
Am reading a lot of new material now while waiting for the 'next in the series' for Kim Harrison, Karen Chance, Patricia Briggs to name a few, and have come across books where I've had to skip sometimes to the last page. But I am glad I finally tried one of Marjorie Liu's many books. I understand what one of the previous reviewers said about it feeling like a sequel itself as a lot happens before, one thing being her man is already established in her life from page 1 where normally this is included as part of the plot, or there are flashbacks to fully explain their past. However, interesting characters appear towards the end, can't wait to see how her relationship with Tracker develops. Won't go into details as this was covered very well in another review. It is a journey of discovery for our heroine and a great buildup to what I imagine/hope will be another great series and another frustrating wait for me. Those who want explicit, detailed sex scenes will be disappointed - it is not Knight/Kresley/Ward, but try it if you are looking for good, tight writing and strong characters.
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Maxine Kiss is the last Demon Hunter on Earth, a hereditary position passed from mother to daughter when the mother (always violently) dies. Although Maxine hunts and destroys demons which infest humankind, she is also protected by these creatures. During daylight hours she wears her own five demons as tattoos, markings covering most of her body which protect her to such a degree they can deflect bullets. Yet when the sun sets, her demons known affectionately as "the boys" painfully peel themselves from her body to assume physical form; leaving Maxine at her most vulnerable until dawn when her demons again affix themselves to her skin.

I read the prequel to this book over a year ago; "Hunter Kiss", found in the anthology "Wild Thing" and couldn't wait to get my hands on the first full length novel in MML's new and certainly dark, urban paranormal "Hunter" series. Yes there is great character development and certainly plenty of action and some extremely imaginative and clever ideas, but on the down side the plot is chaotic, jumbled and definitely confusing in places. This may be deliberate to emphasise that Maxine is on a voyage herself, learning more of her hereditary skills and her connections to the other supernatural beings she meets throughout the course of "The Iron Hunt", and perhaps further answers will be divulged in future books; however this approach does not make for an easy read. Written in the first person; Maxine's inner dialogues, her search for answers, her confusion over her "Hunter" role and her frustration when an array of individuals able to answer her questions continually fob her off are all overly emphasised and leave the reader equally frustrated.

Another of my favourite authors Gena Showalter has successfully written both light hearted fantasy (her Atlantis series) and a much darker paranormal futuristic series (Alien Huntress) so I had no qualms at all that MML could pull off another genre. After reading this book I am left with some doubts but believe that perhaps this series will improve when more of Maxine's abilities and ties to the Demon world are revealed.
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on 25 October 2008
I write this partly in response to the reviewer who placed a 1* review after stating that s/he only read the first line of the book before stopping becuause it was in the first person. I dont' think you can write a review based on one line of a book.
Yes, this book did make you work, as you were made to puzzle out with Maxine (the first person author) what was going on in her life as a demon hunter. But that didn't make the journey any less interesting or worth the wait. Maxine and her friends and enemies make for interesting characters in a Seattle-based world only slightly different to our own. The fact that the friends and enemies turn out to be not so black and white is particularly handled well. The role of the demons in this world reminded me of Jenna Black's Morgan Kingsley novels (demons with human hosts) and I found it credible. I found Maxine's relationship with Grant intriguing, particularly as he is not an Alpha male; he is a human with a disability as well as some as yet unexplained musical talents. The best thing is The Boys, Maxine's living tattoos who protect her from bullets, speeding buses and from being drowned. That they are also demons with their own personalities and secrets is very well handled. Finally, although this book appears to be the first of several in a series, it is a stand alone novel - always important to me. I recommend trying this book if you like Jenna Black, early Laurell Hamilton, Jeanne Stein and Elaine Cunningham.
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Maxine is the last in a long line of female warriors who have been protecting the world for centuries from demons. The demons have been held in a prison dimension for thousands of years but there have always been a few who manage to escape and walk among us by taking over human bodies. Maxine's family fight these demons (who they call zombies) and their powers are passed down from mother to daughter. Maxine is protected by 5 demons who she affectionatley calls "the boys" who are magically attached to her body in the form of tattoos during the day but who come to life at night leaving her body vulnerable.

The prison is becoming weaker and where only the less dangerous demons inprisoned in the outer edges of the prison could break through before Maxine now finds she has more powerful enemies to contend with. It appears that the prison is about to fall completely and the only thing standing between us and hell on earth is Maxine.

I was hooked on The Iron Hunt from the very first line of the prologue "When I was eight, my mother lost me to zombies in a obe-card draw." Well that definitely had my attention! The story is told in first person from Maxine's point of view and we get to join her on a voyage of discovery as she learns about her heritage. At times this could be a little confusing but I enjoyed learning things alongside the heroine and it made it easy to relate to the feelings she was experiencing.

There was an interesting mix of characters - I absolutely loved "the boys" and I'm curious to find out more about Maxine's human boyfriend Grant who has some very interesting musical abilities that I hope we will get to find out more about. I'm also curious Tracker and interested to see what part he may have to play in the series. I thought The Iron Hunt was a promising start to a new series and I'm looking forward to finding out what happens in the next 2 books!
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on 7 March 2011
Maxine Kiss is the last of her kind, a tattooed Warden protecting the world from demons who pass through the Veil from their prison and take over human hosts to become zombies. Her tattoos are her protection - during the day they form her armour against all threats, while at night they slip away from her and become `the boys', small demons who are inextricably linked with the female line of Wardens.

In The Iron Hunt, Maxine discovers that the Veil is falling as she investigates the death of someone trying to trace her - someone who knew her real name, and not the many pseudonyms that she gives. The threat of demons and worse coming through the Veil forces Maxine to use awesome powers that she has little understanding of or control over, and the whole world is at stake.

Marjorie M. Liu has created a disturbing, compelling and unique vision of a world spiralling into darkness. The tattooed Wardens are mysterious, and the manner in which their demonic protection hides in the form of tattoos during the day was genuinely fascinating to me. I adored the five demons who protect Maxine - they are terrifying effective as they eat the souls of demons, all spikes and attitude, but are also enormously cute as they purr like dangerous cats when Maxine offers them Snickers bars!

Liu's prose is also hypnotic and lyrical, with poetically beautiful passages such as the following: "The demon tilted his head, just so, and his body twisted, flowing like the skim of a shark through water. He danced when he moved; on the city street, wrapped in shadows: a kiss on the eyes, a devil's ballet, and only his feet moved, only his cloak had arms; and his hair, rising and flowing as though lost in a storm."

Unfortunately, for me, the excellent premise of the novel and the delicious prose were ill-matched by a plot that stumbled and lurched from one incident to another. Half the characters were introduced with absolutely no discernable reason - those that did have a reason for joining the party were sketched so briefly that I didn't care about them.

The plot was confusing - I know some writers who effectively carry their readers through moments of confusion, but Liu was not able to achieve this. I found myself more frustrated than thrilled, which is a great shame to me since I did feel that there was the bones of an excellent urban fantasy tale here. Perhaps now the scene is set, Liu will push on in the second novel of the trilogy (Darkness Calls) and ensure the plot moves more smoothly. I am tentatively willing to pick it up and give it a go, but it is most certainly not going to be at the top of my reading list.
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on 31 July 2010
This book surpassed my expectations. I expected it to be another of the now commonplace vampire novels , with a main female character with some special ability. Now, although we do have that type of protagonist, I was happy to see that the books style was somewhat unique to me. It is important to know that the first chapter is not representative of the whole. It is a somewhat poetic prologue, which sets the rhythm of the plethora of unanswered questions going, while the rest of the novel is closer to standard prose.

The main strength of the novel is it's fast pace, as many questions are answered as not, and there are plenty of plotlines that seem to range from minor to major, although due to some of the twists these minor themes can become major at any time. In addition to this speed, which makes the reader hunger for more, is the characters. While in many other novels, the characters are deliberately left less developed to preserve mystery, here the author manages to make hers more rounded, while revealing almost nothing, this is particularly true of "the boys", which is rather impressive since only one can actually speak. Somehow what we know we don't know about them helps to shape their characters, and I would recommend Reading it for those characters alone.

However, no book is perfect, and this is no exception. The biggest problem I had was that her name, Maxine Kiss, is supposed to be secret. Yet there is no sense of secrecy applied to, even though it seems to be important. There a couple of other small moments like that, where the way Maxine acts or feels seems to defy the narrative, but they are less noticeable. Perhaps this is evidence of characters not behaving the way the author wants them to...

The other possible downside is that the novel didn't have a sense of ending, by which I mean that it feels like the first part of a larger book. The other parts of the trilogy, or at least the next one, would help give a much more solid major story arc to the first book, as we still don't really know the major goal of the protagonist, except try and stay alive as her world gets worse and worse, which is pretty standard anyway. But this can also be seen from a more positive point of view, by considering that it leaves a perfect place, even demand for the next novel, and instead of the traditional single strong sense of "what happens next", it provides a collection of weaker ones.

Is it worth reading? Definitely. It's an interesting concept to read, and the "boys" are excellent characters. Is it worth buying? Well. I can't answer that until I read the next book. It was a good read, but since it's plot depends so much on book two, I personally wouldn't want to buy it until I knew it was going to lead to a great story. If you can get it at a discount, go for it, or if you just want to read about demons that turn into tatoos (which you should, it's brilliant), then buy the book. I sincerely look forwards to reading the sequel.
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on 6 July 2010
What would you do if you'd known from childhood how the whole path of your life was going to be? That you'd see your mother murdered before your eyes, take up the burden of fighting the forces that killed her, raise a daughter of your own, and be murdered in turn, so that she can repeat the cycle all over again? This is the life faced by Maxine Kiss, the protagonist of this new series.

Maxine is the Earth's last remaining line of defence against demonic invasion and destruction; an Earth where millennia ago a war ravaged the planet, resulting in the demons being sealed away in a great prison of air and energy, and the creation of a few special families to guard the walls, and hunt down and destroy any escapees. Now, the prison is weakening, and of the warders, only one remains. She is not entirely alone, though, for her body is covered, from head to foot, every square inch of skin apart from her face, in tattoos, but tattoos like no others, for these ones live, and when the sun goes down, leave her body and go about their business.

The tattoos are, in fact, five demons, bound to serve and protect the Hunter, until the time comes to transfer their allegiance to her daughter, leaving her vulnerable to demonic attack. Even knowing this, Maxine loves her `boys', for they have been the only constant thing in her life, and they love her, just as they did her mother, and all the hunters before her.

When The Iron Hunt opens, Maxine has decided to disobey all her mother's warnings and settle down in one place - Seattle - because she has fallen in love with a man, Grant Cooperon, who has the mysterious power to help, heal or harm with music - something which has made him a target for demons before (these events are chronicled in the prequel short story, Hunter Kiss). When a private investigator turns up murdered with Maxine's name in his pocket, she knows that if she's to preserve the small amount of normality she's managed to create for herself, she needs to find out who hired him, and why. The answers will lead her on a journey into the past of her own family, and reveal long-forgotten secrets about the demon war - secrets which threaten the survival of humanity. It's going to take all of Maxine's skills, and all of the Boys' cunning, to keep her alive long enough to solve the mystery.

The Iron Hunt is a great beginning to fascinating world: Maxine makes for a sympathetic protagonist, physically invulnerable thanks to the Boys' protection, but mentally unsure, and often confused both by her own feelings, and by the motivations of those around her, who frequently have ulterior motives and are unwilling to tell her all they know. The gently growing relationship between her and Grant is a pleasure, but never gets in the way of the progression of the plot. Liu's writing is generally taut, with an occasional intriguing use of imagery, and I found the pages turning quickly as I hurried to reach the denouement. My one criticism would be that, particularly at the beginning, there are too many references to events in Hunter Kiss, which was confusing for someone who hadn't read it. Once past that, however, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and immediately bought the sequel, Darkness Calls.
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on 4 July 2010
I was reading this book at about the same time as Dead Witch Walking (DWW) by Kim Harrison. I was reading The Iron Hunt at home and Dead Witch Walking in work. By the end of the week I had to think for a moment to figure out which character belonged to which world! The two books are quite similar :) This book is pacier than DWW though. DWW was a very slow starter. This one draws you right into Maxine's world. One thing I regretted doing at the start, was reading the prologue. That took a bit out of the reading enjoyment because the prologue throws the reader right into the middle of the fracas before the world building so it was slightly confusing. So if you haven't read this book yet, don't read the prologue before reading the story. Read it at the end. The story telling quality while good is not quite a masterpiece, a 3.5 out of 5. There were parts where the author dragged the drama out in a drawn out overkill which was annoying. It was so overdrawn that it almost presented the main protagonist as "stupid" that she just couldn't "get it", bordering on irritating, instead of the intellegent and kick-ass chick that she is portrayed to be in the book!

The story itself while not original, I still find it quite good and enjoyable. Ms. Liu puts a nice spin to a well-used tale. I'd give it a 4 out of 5. However... the thing about the story is... if Maxine Kiss (heroine) is a one-woman defender of the human race team, why is she travelling only around the US? this begs the question of:
a.) Does that mean that the US has the highest concentration of demons, enough to warrant ignoring the rest of the world?
b.) The rest of the world is not considered human enough to be saved?
c.) It wasn't really a well thought-out plot, and here the snags are showing...

There are also two main "central issues" or, "central dilemma" if you will, to the story. One, is Maxine's journey to self-discovery and burgeoning powers and, second, is the first "demon from the veil" encounter in Maxine's lifetime. The second "central dilemma" was satisfactorily closed with the ending with a bang. While the first "central issue" seems to be an ongoing process. The ending therefore closed the book but also left it hanging. This took the steam off the climax of the story. I would give the ending a 3.5 out of 5.

Overall, I think this is still a wonderful start to what is looking like a worderful series! I enjoyed this book and would read another Marjorie Liu work again. I'd give this book a 3.5 out of 5.
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on 19 July 2011
Before reading this book it is better if you have read the prequel in the Wild Thing anthology - otherwise Maxine and Grant are already together and I think the reader would be less involved in their relationship not having seen it from the start. Maxine is from a long line of women whose bodies provide host to the boys, demons who exist as tattoos on skin during the day and peel off at night to take on their own personalities and help Maxine destroy demons that take over humans. During the day Maxine is invincible as the tattoos provide an impervious layer protecting her from harm. At some Maxine knows the boys will abandon her for her daughter and at that point the demons she hasn't killed will kill her. The idea of a heroine battling forces of evil knowing that her days are numbered and she like all her female ancestors will die before her time - well its a bit like Buffy! Not really. Rather a different world and minimal sidekicks. The relationship with the boys is great - they are her family - they will protect her with everything and be the constant in her life until they abandon her. Makes for an interesting set up. Also enjoyed the sequel Darkness Calls
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on 12 August 2008
You start reading the book and you feel you are missing something. It is like a sequel, the main character keeps going back and for in time trying to fill in the blanks but it does not do a good job. The plot is weak, there are many questions unanswered. For the first time with a book of this writer I couldn't finish it. It was so boring. Nothing made sense.
Maxime Kiss, Old Wolf,Brian, Blood Mama..., every single character has something to hide and is releated to the others. There are too many people going in and out of the plot that I kind of lost track sometimes.
I am extremely disappointed. The Dirk and Steele saga is quite good, this is trash.
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