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Bry's Bountiful Book Blog

Because I need a place where I can pretend that people are reading what I'm writing...
The Iron Dragon's Daughter - Michael Swanwick

One of the best books I've read this year, and completely not what I expected it would be. Swanwick absolutely destroys genre tropes with this novel, while still mining the roots of the genre - namely, mythology and faerie tales - for much of the furniture. Beware though; if you don't know your mythological creatures, this story may leave you feeling very confused. Swanwick certainly doesn't hold the reader's hand when it comes to physical descriptions of the various fae creatures which inhabit the Upper World. If you don't know what a faun or a bugbear is, well...tough luck. Also, the main character Jane is referred to a number of times as a changeling, but it's left up to the reader to know or not know that a changeling is a human child who is stolen at birth to be raised by mythological creatures. Of course, in the case of this book, that just means that Jane is kept as a slave labourer in an Elven-owned arms factory which produces sentient techno-magical dragons.


Which brings me to what is really cool about this novel, mainly that it reads like a semi-nihilistic game of Shadowrun with lots of sex. I also appreciated that there seems to be no value judgement placed on the fact that Jane has a lot of sex. In fact, when she finally meets The Goddess, she is chastised for not sleeping with one of the incarnations of her lover. Because let's face it, Jane does a lot of terrible things in this story, and having sex is not one of them.


I would highly recommend this book to anyone who, like me, has read far too many cliched fantasy novels and is looking for something to surprise them.