Review: Iron and Blood by Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin

Admittedly, the notion that Gail Z. Martin might be putting out a Steampunk novel was quite intriguing. Already a big fan of her earlier Chronicles of the Necromancer series along with a longtime personal penchant for the Steampunk genre, the combination seemed like a perfect fit.

Iron and Blood by Gail Z Martin coverTeaming with her husband Larry N. Martin, the dynamic duo has penned the novel Iron and Blood which will be coming out from Solaris (an imprint of Rebellion Publishing, Ltd.) on July 2nd, 2015.

The Steampunk genre suits the authors’ style well. Gail Z. Martin has created many delightful characters entwined in complex fantasy stories in her other work, and this is no different. There is an obvious skillset necessary for fitting unique people to particular situations. The cultural challenges often found when combining historical elements with fantasy and science fiction are handled smoothly here, and this allows readers to simply enjoy the ride.

Iron and Blood begins with a dramatic chase and doesn’t slow down from there. With the help of an airship called the Allegheny Princess piloted by the talented Captain Cullan Adair (a character who merits his own adventure series), our story’s heroes get to travel around the world in search of answers as well as treasures. But when business gets mixed with murder and some dark supernatural forces, the real danger begins.

George Brand and Thomas Desmet founded the famed import/export firm ‘Brand and Desmet’ for providing museums and collectors around the globe with rare and sometimes mysterious antiquities. Sure this is a Victorian Era setting, but being backed by a powerful band of loyal security members, bountiful finances, and the use of classic as well as a few new and creative inventions, the organization is almost too perfect.  Thankfully, the colorful characters should help readers overlook their overly regal background and appreciate them for their reputable qualities.

It’s kinda like hating the estate of Bruce Wayne because of the pompous wealth but loving the Batman for his selfless deeds. Of course, a few character flaws are always a nice touch too.

The cover art (above left) by Michael Kormarck is classic Steampunk imagery with the reader overlooking a dramatic skyline from the deck of a brass trimmed airship high up in the clouds. It might be assumed that the smartly dressed figure is the heroic character Jake Desmet since the book is billed as A Jake Desmet Adventure, but there are two other strong characters that should also share equal billing with Jake.

Veronique “Nicki” LeClercq is Jake’s cousin and Rick Brand’s father is the friend and business partner of Jake’s father. Together, the three form the unique team of contract appropriators of obscure objects. Their dangerous escapades mimic those of the fabled Indiana Jones character’s adventures and readers might anticipate the same type of additional installments. Maybe not in film, but at least in literary form.

Though they admit to stretching some truths, the authors include some real historic places and people in the story, allowing the fictional characters to come to life with a more comfortable feel. This mix of fact and fiction actually lends to the believability of some of the fantastic inventions fans of Steampunk have come to expect.

Fans of Steampunk will not be disappointed and fans of fantasy will be pleasantly surprised with the book Iron and Blood. Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin have created a cohesive story that is sure to draw the fandom of both genre together, with the expectation that more will follow.

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