Sci Fi Sunday
Meljean Brook’s Heart of Steel. This book is set in the same steampunk world as The Iron Duke, but it isn’t a sequel because it focuses on a different set of characters. The Iron Duke is an enjoyable novel so feel free to read it first, but it is not necessary to appreciate Heart of Steel. In fact, I think I liked this story better because I felt the main characters were more relatable and their motives towards each other were clear from the outset. In this alternate Victorian history, the Mongols (called “The Horde”) have conquered much of the world through the spread of nano agents by which they control the population. There is a strong rebel faction — of course there is. Zombies are the major danger, having taken over many populated areas and being able to infect with a single bite. They hunt in packs and are attracted to commotion. Much of the action takes place on airships, zeppelins which provide a means to travel from place to place without having to hack your way through zombies. The background information in these books is not explicitly spelled out, so even though I’ve read both of them in the last couple of months, I am not really clear on all of the wars, territory issues, nano agent problems and how the zombies came about in the first place. That can be frustrating when a character makes a reference and I’m searching through my memory (or even flipping back in the book) for that particular piece of information.
The history can be ignored because it isn’t as important as the romance between Yasmeen, an airship captain (technically a pirate, although no one seems to use that term) and Archimedes Fox, an explorer, who band together to avenge her fallen ship and the theft of a da Vinci sketch. Yasmeen and Fox are a good match, and their partnership is plausible. The plot twist genuinely caught me off guard, which is unusual in either romance or sci fi. All in all, this is a pretty good book if you’re willing to tolerate a murky backstory.