THE IRON WYRM AFFAIR
Set in an alternate London, this is the sort of setting that only changes reality slightly, adding some mechanical contraptions and enhancements to earn its steampunk cred. Some readers may find this type of worldbuilding derivative and unoriginal, but when done well — as in this novel — it can serve as a nice, solid grounding for an entertaining and fast-paced story. Bannon and Clare are complicated protagonists and the development of their partnership is a highlight.
Emma Bannon is a sorceress in the service of Brittania (the spirit of the British Empire) and of her avatar, Queen Victrix. Bannon has two duties: protecting the mentath Archibald Clare from those who would kill him and getting to the bottom of why he’s in danger (and why other mentaths have been killed). Unfortunately, Bannon and Clare get on about as well as cats and water, and the violent and possibly traitorous past of Mikal, Bannon’s own bodyguard, adds yet more fuel to the fire. Bannon and Clare must learn to work together to unearth the conspiracies that threaten to destroy the country they both love. (ORBIT, Aug., 320 pp., $13.99)