Greetings, Fearless Readers. Sorry for the wait. I have indeed chosen a book, and here follows the first post.
Matthew the Magician leaned against a wrought iron lamppost on Forty-second Street, idly picking at the edges of his ten iron rings and listening to his city breath into the warm September night. That breath rippled up from the underground, a hot draft exhaled in time with the harsh pulse of subway trains. A quiet night, as nights went in the belly of the beast…
That’s how you start a book, boys and girls! This month I am focusing on Blood and Iron, a Novel of the Promethean Age by Elizabeth Bear. Now let me warn you: I read my first Bear book back in November and proclaimed her one of my favorite authors, and I do not do that after only reading one book. Clearly, I am under some sort of spell. (It was “All the Wind Wracked Stars.” And yes, I judged the book by its title and loved it.) I don’t know how to put into words what it is about Bear and her prose that hypnotizes me. I have always found “voice” and the reason for liking authors difficult to describe… and I have a feeling this month will be a trying one, for that reason. Her characters and her plots are not simple beings. What will be simple: talking about how much I loved this book.
Spellbound by the Faerie Queen, the woman known as Seeker has abducted human children for her mistress's pleasure for nearly an eternity, unable to free herself from her servitude and reclaim her own humanity.
Seeker's latest prey is a Merlin. Named after the legendary wizard of Camelot, Merlins are not simply those who wield magic, they are magic. Now, with rival mages also vying for the favor of this being of limitless magic to tip the balance of power, Seeker must persuade the Merlin to join her cause-or else risk losing something even more precious to her than the fate of humankind
Link to Amazon: Blood and Iron
The book actually starts with Matthew the Magician. Matthew is also a hunter of sorts, but he is a mage, and they oppose Faerie and their tendency to snag human children. Technically, the kids Faerie are interest in are changelings, or humans with Faerie blood. We are introduced to Seeker, who is really the main character, through his eyes.
“You exist to destroy Faerie, Magus, and I exist to defend it.”
“That’s not what we want.”
“Don’t lie to me, Magus,” she snapped. “Trust me, I see no wrong in destroying Faerie. But you – you should know it’s not safe to talk to fey things. This isn’t a fucking fairy tale.”
Pretty much sums up one reason I loved this book! Much like Seanin Maguire’s October Daye series (another great favorite after just one book!) Bear takes great dollops of faerie myth and superstition and peppers the book with it. Allergy to iron and the human dependence on it, the value of a name, child snatching, bound demons, shadow stealing, all of these make an appearance in the first chapter. As the above quote shows (between Seeker and Matthew), Bear paints it with a very gritty brush. It’s not all meadows and ponies. As a matter of fact, the pony is pretty frickin’ dangerous in this one. I was led through the first chapter, instantly hooked, by mystery and intrigue. Bear slowly adds layers, not always telling you right out what the characters are up to. Sometimes, you are just a voyeur, watching people you don’t know doing things you don’t understand, until everything is made clear.
I came across this book as a result of loving All the Wind Wracked Stars. That book relied heavily on Arthurian and Norse legend. Blood and Iron relied heavily on the legend of Tam Lin. I was very familiar with Arthur due to reading The Mists of Avalon and The Once and Future King only a few months before. I wish I had more familiarity with the legend of Tam Lin. I think I would have gotten more out of the book.
I’ll probably stick to Friday postings again this month. The next will be all about the wide range of crazy fae characters. Same bat time, same bat station. Hmmm... that didn’t work like I hoped it would.
eta: sorry for the bad spellings!