The Barnes & Noble Review
Blood and Iron is a departure of sorts for Elizabeth Bear, most renowned for science fiction thrillers featuring the cybernetically enhanced military hero Jenny Casey (Hammered, Scardown, and Worldwired). The first installment in a contemporary fantasy saga -- comparable to Laurell K. Hamilton's Meredith Gentry novels and Charles de Lint's Newford sequence -- Blood and Iron revolves around a centuries-old war between the inhabitants of Faerie and rival mages from Earth (a.k.a. the iron world). Seeker is a changeling in the service of the Mebd, the queen of the Daoine Sidhe. Once a human named Elaine Andraste, Seeker now abducts children and brings them to the Blessed Lands for her queen's pleasure. Her latest and most challenging mission involves tracking down a Merlin, a rare human who embodies pure magic. But there are others seeking the Merlin (a geology professor named Carel Bierce) as well. Matthew Szczegielniak, a human mage, and Kadiska, a Seeker for the Unseelie Court, are wooing the all-powerful Merlin to join their cause. Her choice could mean the end of the Fae -- or the annihilation of humankind… Readers who enjoy sprawling urban fantasy sagas, like the aforementioned Merry Gentry series from Hamilton and Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion sequence, should definitely check out Blood and Iron. In addition to crafting an intricate and compelling story line, Bear should be commended for having the creative cojones to take on a much-trodden subject -- the realm of Faerie -- and to reconstruct an entire mythos in her vision while staying clear of the innumerable preconceived characterizations, histories, etc. A new twist on an old theme: highly recommended. Paul Goat Allen
Ancient grudges and ruthless schemes are simply business as usual to the Faerie court in Bear's complex and involving contemporary fantasy. Seeker, formerly Elaine Andraste, is a changeling bound to the Mebd, the queen of the Daoine Sidhe, to find other changelings and bring them to the Faerie court. There, like legendary Tam Lin, and Seeker's own son, Ian, they entertain the queen until she tires of them. Now the queen needs Seeker to find and win the heart of the new Merlin, latest incarnation of a being who, in the hands of the Prometheans, could be used to destroy the Fae. Pragmatic college professor Carel Bierce, the first female Merlin, is not easily swayed by Fae or Promethean advances. Long-forgotten rivalries and unsuspected blood ties arise to tug at Seeker's loyalties, even as the queen promises to free Ian when she succeeds. Campbell-winner Bear (Worldwired) overturns the usual vision of Faerie, revealing the compelling beauty and darkness only glimpsed in old ballads and stories like "Tam Lin." (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
In this fantasy featuring the Faerie world, Elaine Andraste is a Seeker, a servant of Queen Mebd of the Daoine Sidhe. Bound to the Queen, the Seeker finds human children and abducts them for the Queen's uses. When the Sidhe discover that a Merlin, a being of pure magic, exists, the Queen enlists the Seeker to find this extraordinary person. Queen Mebd believes that if the Sidhe ally themselves with the Merlin, then they can prevent the destruction of the Faerie. The Prometheus Club, a group of magicians intent on destroying all Faerie, want the Merlin's power to further their own agenda. To everyone's surprise, the Merlin is actually a woman, Dr. Carel Bierce, a geology professor and musician, who doesn't allow the different factions to bully or tempt her. As the Seeker works to entice Carel to support the Daoine Sidhe, Elaine also struggles with many conflicting feelings of a personal nature. The appearance of Elaine's past love, the shapeshifting wolf who is the father of her child, and the fact that Elaine's son is named the Queen Mebd's heir are extremely troubling. The author expertly draws the reader into the Seeker's life and into her inner struggles with love and loyalty. The rich characterization, wide cast of characters, and complex plot structure all weave together to create a highly imaginative read. With Arthurian lore blending with details of the Faerie world, Bear creates an enticing and intriguing fantasy. Fans of Tam Lin will especially appreciate the many references to the famous ballad. Highly recommended for fantasy readers who enjoy intricate plotting and the world of the Faerie. KLIATT Codes: SA--Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, andadults. 2006, Penguin, Roc, 432p., $14.00.. Ages 15 to adult.
Elizabeth Bear is talented.”—Entertainment Weekly“Bear makes the rest of us look like amateurs.”—Peter Watts, Author of Behemoth“[Bear] does it like a juggler who’s also a magician.”—Matthew Cheney, The Mumpsimus