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Hardcover The Iron Dragon's Daughter Book

ISBN: 0688131743

ISBN13: 9780688131746

The Iron Dragon's Daughter

(Book #1 in the The Iron Dragon's Daughter Series)

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

A brilliant new hard fantasy novel from the Nebula Award-winning author of Stations of the Tide. A young slave escapes from a factory that makes parts for flying fighting machines, only to find herself in a world where the challenges are more complex and the emotional strains much worse.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

"Bitch of a view, ain't it," said the gargoyle.

As he showed so expertly in _Jack Faust,_ industrialism and medievalism are two sides of the same rusty coin. Jane is a mortal changeling, kidnapped by the powers of a very unpleasant version of Faerie to be a "breeder," producing half-elf pilots for the iron dragons. Until she's old enough for that, though, she's put to work in a dragon factory, working twelve hours a day and living a dreary, dangerous existence with other children, none of whom are human. But that's just the beginning of her life, which will take her through a sort-of high school and then to the university in The Gray City, and which will turn on her talents as a thief, her carefully nurtured cold-bloodedness, her discovery of sex, and especially on her relationship with a slightly insane rogue dragon. While it's common enough for female authors to create thoroughly believable male protagonists, the reverse, for some reason, is much less often the case. Swanwick, however, does a first-rate job with Jane and with the supporting cast that haunts her life. A bleak, disturbing, and mind-grabbing book you will reread periodically -- I guarantee it.


Iron Dragon's Daughter, an amalgam of steampunk and fairy, will have you screaming, laughing, and crying all at the same time. This is perfected madness, incredible storytelling.Iron Dragon is one of the smartest books I've read in ages. The story follows a changeling, Jane, who is placed in a factory to work alongside other enslaved fairy children. Their task . . . to build weapons. The conditions are awful, the quality of life is awful, and the future is less than promising. That's until the Dragon, Number 7332, begins to tempt Jane with tales of the outside world. He offers her freedom, but the cost . . . Honestly, I am going to have to read this novel again. Swanwick has a tendency to jump around, and it's not that it's poorly done, it's just sometimes difficult to follow. I'm sure I missed things, and the quality of this story is so great, that I want to make sure I catch every last detail.Fans of fantasy, steampunk and fairy stories in general will adore this book. It's worth the investment. I borrowed the copy from a friend, and have since gone out and purchased my own. I don't want to share it!Happy Reading!

Pixie dust and guided missiles!

This is a crazy romp through nearly-uncharted waters - although if you're a fan of Mark Shepherd's "Elvendude," you'll be familiar with the rather nutty concept of mixing a Judy Blume-style Young Adult plot with a bunch of Little People.To Swanwick's credit, his hip young fairies, dwarves, elves, trolls, and whatnot (there's dozens of species) are believable, even when they're snorting pixie dust in the back seat of a limo and listening to modern elven rock. But this isn't their story - it's the story of a young changeling, a human girl-child taken from her cradle to work in a cramped, Dickensian factory.Well, except that this factory makes sentient, highly evil missile-launching 'iron dragons' - fighter planes, in a magickal way. The novel really begins when one of these enters our heroine's life, and plans out a glorious escape - or a blackmailed kidnapping, depending on your point of view. Then , we follow her struggles to find her own identity and discover her past - the various plot twists will leave you shaking your head in stunned amusement, except for the ending, which simply cries out for a sequel.If you're not turned off yet, I highly recommend picking this inventive and offbeat novel up for a read. You won't be disappointed.

Faery like you've never seen it before.

The elves in this book are nothing like Tolkein imagined. And neither is anything else. _The Iron Dragon's Daughter_ tells the story of a human changeling imprisoned in a faery factory, eventually destined to be a breeder for the half-human pilots who ride the Iron Dragons. But Jane is not an easy target. She escapes from the factory with one of the most fearsome dragons and makes a pact with it that will shape the rest of her life.Jane is a lot like a normal teenager in the book, something I notice irritated reviewers. She's self-obsessed, vain, and not very diligent at class. She doesn't exhibit special talent and isn't always terribly courageous. In other words, she's a person.So much of fantasy depends on the formula of an ordinary person being dumped into a magical environment. But usually the magical environment is terribly one-dimensional and the 'ordinary person' turns out to be destined for some feat of greatness or another-- while they may be allowed a potentially fatal flaw, they usually don't have more than one. It was really refreshing to see Jane-- good at some things, and not at others. She's by turns sulky, stormy, and terribly smart. I liked her. She was real.There are details in the book that are really brilliant at taking faery lore and turning it into a real society, with all the complication, churn and darkness. I'm thinking of a moment where the police yell at a milling crowd that their gathering is unseelie. I honestly regretted it when I realized that I was getting towards the end of the book. Will definitely seek out other works by the same author.

A powerful, challenging, and useful book

Those who come to "The Iron Dragon's Daughter" expecting a straightforward fantasy story (or even a semi-straightforward steampunk story) are destined to be disappointed. It is a complex and open-ended book that places heavy demands on its readers. However, readers who struggle through the whole thing (and it wasn't a struggle at all for me -- I read the book in a few days, enjoying myself enormously after getting used to Swanwick's deliberate, meditative pace) will be rewarded by a book that is intricate, delicate, and possessing an optimism that completely belies its surface darkness.Its plot is convoluted and fugal: the same set of themes is repeated three times, and then, in a coda which is _not_ the equivalent of "then she woke up", is repeated as a counterpoint for a fourth, final time. The characters are difficult and often unsympathetic: the changeling child Jane, who sits at the focus of the book, possesses such a weak moral compass (and suffers so much abuse) that by the end of the novel, even the most sympathetic of readers will have given up on her. Finally, the questions posed by the novel are not resolved in any straightforward way: much of the most interesting information in the book is buried in implication, and some things we just aren't meant to figure out.The surface story is simple: Jane is a changeling girl, a drudge straight out of Dickens who labors endlessly in a large and grimy dragon factory. The dragons are one of the first of many delights in the novel, being sentient and ruthless stealth weapons used by the elven overlords of Jane's world in their endless battles for supremacy. They are, in short, total cyberpunk wish-fulfillment devices. Jane is contacted by an ancient, powerful, and cagey dragon, who outlines a way by which both he and she can escape the factory. His plan brings about the first of many compromises that Jane is pressured into within the book, and from there the book is about the tension between Jane and the dragon, as she reach! es towards maturity and her own flawed understanding of the world and her place within it.This book can be read as a parable about growing up, an allegory of the tradeoffs necessary to get ahead as a woman in contemporary society (presented in the bleakest, most savage terms imaginable), or simply as a satire of genre fantasy and cyberpunk. I've always thought of Swanwick as being a slightly more accessible Gene Wolfe, and nowhere is that impulse towards virtuosity and subtle command of the English language more evident than in this book. This is one of those books that continues to grow, luminously, in my memory, and one of a very small collection of science fiction novels that I think everyone should read.
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