Blood and Iron (Promethean Age Series #1)

Blood and Iron (Promethean Age Series #1)

by Elizabeth Bear

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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She is known as Seeker. Spellbound by the Faerie Queen, she has abducted human children for her mistress’s pleasure for what seems like an eternity, unable to free herself from 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 the Prometheus Club’s agents and rivals from Faerie both 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 and more important to her than the fate of humankind.…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451462176
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/03/2008
Series: Promethean Age Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Elizabeth Bear was the recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2005. She has won two Hugo Awards for her short fiction, a Sturgeon Award, and the Locus Award for Best First Novel. Bear lives in Brookfield, Massachusetts.

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Blood and Iron (Promethean Age Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
nilchance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The sequel is much better and ties off a lot of the threads started in this book. I loved the characters but I got a bit lost and frustrated by the end. I think I would've enjoyed it a lot more had this book and Whiskey and Water been combined. Still, read it and then immediately hunt down the sequel.
FicusFan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book more. I am a fan of the author, though I have only read her SF books before this one.I can't put my finger on the problems exactly, though this is what seemed to me to be issues:The book started out jumping around with several different characters and viewpoints. You never really got a good handle and who they were or what was going on. At the same time it was wordy. So it was easy to put down, and hard to pick back up. It didn't help that the characters seemed shaky at the start. Matthew was bland and shallow, Jane was a purposeful enigma, Seeker/Elaine was tough and too closed up. Kieth was not believable as a werewolf - just too wishy washy. Mebd was another enigma. Only Whiskey the Kelpie was done well from the start. The idea of a war between humans and the fae was interesting, but from the cover of the book, I expected it to be an urban fantasy. But it only had a few scenes in the real world. The rest is in faerie. Then Bear seemed to have thrown in everything, even the kitchen sink: Dragons, werewolves, unicorns, Merlins, and the Dragon Prince, walking willows, Heaven, Hell, The Real World The idea of the Dragon Prince and the Merlin didn't seem to be really developed. I could never figure out what made the Merlin different from both human and fae. What was the point of the Dragon Prince. The idea that both humans and fae are the creation of the dragon, yet the book acknowledges heaven and you know who (JC). It seemed to be very wordy and it took a long time for it to grab me. For a brief period it did, but then it petered out again. finally I was just glad it was over.There were actions that weren't explained and didn't make sense. Why did the Mebd unbraid her hair - setting all those who were bound, free ? Then she never told anyone, except Elaine, and she re-braided it that night, so everyone was bound again. Why did the Mebd decide to die, and how did the throne kill her after she sat on it all those years ? Why did she want to kill Elaine and those bound to her when she died ?Who chained the dragon, and how did they get that huge link through the spine ?The ending was sad, if predictable.I really liked Whiskey the Kelpie, and he got better and better as the story developed. All in all it was good, but it left more questions and it just wasn't as good as I expected. I am not sure I will read the next book in the series or not.
ronincats on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't read a lot of the urban fantasy in general, and faerie interfacing the modern world in particular. I really like Emma Bull's stuff, and really don't like Lackey and confederates in their treatment of it. I read this book for a discussion group. Nonetheless, I thought it was quite well written. In fact, there were spots where the elegance of the descriptive prose stopped me in my tracks--a "well-turned phrase". The characters were interesting and, given they were drawn from very familiar archetypes, handled in an original manner. I had read some of Bear's SF (e.g., [Hammered] and was frankly surprised and impressed with the way she handled this very different genre.
starstorm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First of all, I'll start out by saying that I'm not a fan of urban fantasy... it's just not my thing, and so I wasn't sure if I'd like this book. I actually bought it because I started reading the author's blog a few months ago--referred over by links that would appear from time on other blogs I read regularly--and I enjoyed Bear's awesome combination of wit and sarcasm mellowed by an ability to not take herself too seriously.And so I knew I wanted to read something of hers, and since I don't read SF much anymore, I checked out the excerpts on her website from the newest in her Promethean Age series, Ink and Steel, and they hooked me. Granted, that book is a prequel of sorts, set in Elizabethan England as well as Faerie, and Blood and Iron is set in modern-day New York City... as well as Faerie. I enjoyed this book immensely, finding the urban setting (of only part of the story) natural and not at all forced into a glamourie of sorts, the sense I sometimes got whenever I tried to read other urban fantasy. Bear creates such great characterizations, wrapped up with all the subtleties of complex relationships and motives and connections that aren't always immediately apparent. Even when the characters think they've figured it all out, there remains a twist or turn that brings about a whole new revelation, to us and to them. I looked at a few of the other reviews before writing this, and I was surprised to see those that said things like, "I TRIED to like this book, but..." and was just flabbergasted. How could anyone NOT love this book??? But readers all have different tastes, which I think is a great thing. How boring would it be if we all like the same things, even when we WANT people to love what we love? This is not a book for a reader who likes breakneck adventure and a plot that speeds headlong into a crashing conclusion. Bear's pacing is deliberate (not at all "slow"), and carefully allows just enough time for our main characters to interact and grow and learn and realize their potential, which in most cases is nothing at all that they (or the reader) expected. I'm looking forward to the rest of this series with great relish!
kmaziarz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Elaine Andraste, a half-human half-Faery changeling, is bound to serve the Queen of the Daoine Sidhe as her Seeker, finding other changelings like herself and bringing them back to court to swell the dwindling ranks of Faery. In addition to the magical geas the Queen, also known as the Mebd, has placed on Elaine, the Mebd holds Elaine's son hostage for her good behavior. Now Elaine is tasked with a new kind of hunt...she is to track down and bring to their side the new Merlin that has been born into this world. Merlins are rare, human beings who are more than wizards--they are made of magic and bound to the Dragon who sits at the heart of the world, doing Her bidding and assisting Her Dragon Prince in bringing about great changes. Having a Merlin on the side of the Daoine Sidhe in a time when human technology and steel--and magic, as well--have effectively bound the world of Faery and weakened its power greatly--would be a huge asset in their continuing struggle to survive. However, the Promethean Society of human mages and the Unseelie Court of Faery also wish to win the Merlin to their side, sending their own Seekers and emissaries. If Elaine is to save her son, her lover, herself, and, ultimately, all of Faery itself, she must navigate the deep and treacherous waters of Faery politics and win the loyalty of a woman whose magic is tied to the roots of the world.A wonderfully complex, literary urban fantasy that draws heavily on traditional British, Scottish, and Irish faery lore, 'Blood and Iron' is a stand-out in a field littered with leather pant-clad vampire hunting vixens. Recommended for those who like their fantasy thick and rich.
gerleliz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting concept. Not the best prose
ladycato on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The last two books have been absolute stinkers, so I desperately needed something to break that pattern. I've been wanting to read some of Elizabeth Bear's novels for a few months now because I enjoy her LJ.My first impression of the book: Wow. Bear's voice and weaving descriptions bring the story to life. I felt dropped into a world like my own, but different, and it mesmerized me. Her style of writing adds suspense because she doesn't state everything outright - characters abruptly go places, talk to people we don't know, and then understanding dawns. For this reason alone, I want to read more of her books and study her eloquent voice and pacing.There was a downside, though. About halfway through, the book began to lose its grip on me, and I'm still not fully sure why. The characters were still compelling, and the plot was propelling forward. The only problem, I think, was my own expectation. I thought it would involve more time on Earth, where I was very curious to see how the Prometheans used magic and how the world of Faerie interacted with Man. Instead, the story dwelled more and more in Faerie, where magic and political intrigue are endless and at times overwhelming.Even though I was not as captivated as I was initially, it was still a strong and enjoyable story. I will seek out more books in this series, and I also have Bear's book Hammered to read in the coming months.
bell7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Matthew is a magician in New York City, a member of the Prometheans, who works to protect humans from the Fae that would steal them into their world as changelings. Elaine is a human bound to the Faerie world by the Mebd, one of the Queens of Faerie, and by her loyalty to her son, Ian. She is also the Seeker, one who prowls shadows looking for Fae children. A collision of their worlds seems inevitable, but as players are drawn into events beyond their control the morality of either side becomes ambiguous.This urban fantasy is a bit different from my normal fare -- darker, more sensual than the fantasy I usually choose to read. I kept going because I wanted to see what would happen to Elaine and the other characters, if their fates were truly predetermined or if they could choose a different outcome. Bear throws readers into her alternate universe and leaves them to discover along with her characters (a knowledge of Arthurian legend and the ballad of Tam Lin would be especially helpful). I'm interested in seeing where the series heads from here.
CeridwynR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure who it was who said that the ideas happen in sci-fi and the good writing happens in fantasy... but I kept thinking about that while reading these. Bear is a sci-fi writer writing fantasy and it's fascinating. The myth and plot are dense and convoluted in a really very pretty way, plus yay for rampant bisexuality. But I think I wanted to like this and understand more of what was going on than I did, which may just be me not being all that clever, however, when somebody works this much in the mythic I'm normally drawn in not stand-back-and-cogitate-ish.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Urban Fantasy based in New York. Where Faerie is mad, bad and dangerous to know and there are a lot of people trying to capture and use the Merlin, a human who embodies magic. One of the people chasing him is Seeker, spellbound by the Faerie Queen. It's clever and interesting and I do want to read more in this series!
kalliope on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ignore the terribly cheesy fantasy cover. It's sad that I never would have picked this up in the store, because I liked it a lot. I read it because I read the author's blog, and knew what it was about. I wonder who thought the cover targeted the real audience of the book?!
Jenson_AKA_DL on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The war between the world of man and the world of fairie comes to a head when the daughter of a Prometheus mage becomes Seeker to the Queen of the Seelie and heads the battle for domination. In her quest for dominance in the name of the Mabd Seeker must lure the newest Merlin, bind an all powerful dragon, thwart a tithe due to hell and become consort to a werewolf prince all the while trying to protect the thing most precious to her.On the surface this seems like a book that would really interest me. It has urban fantasy in NYC, fairy fantasy in the land of the sidhe not to mention a plethora of other creature types. The problem is that neither the story or the characters really touched me. This is certainly a book for people who want to be told an interesting enough story without a lot of emotional investment. The two main characters were very self involved and it was difficult for me to really like either one. I can't fault the writing at all because the lyrical prose was well done IMHO. The plot, once it became clear, was pretty straight forward and I think much of it was probably taken from some of Shakespeare¿s works, which I'm not very familiar with. I just generally had a hard time getting into the story although I do think it may be something would definitely appeal to those with different tastes than mine. Just as a heads up there is a lot of bisexuality in the story although there is not a single graphic scene in the book. Everything is implied. Even what would be the more violent scenes were glossed over and kept pretty tame. Overall I'd recommend this to lovers of fantasy who tend to shun the more emotional and romantic type tales.
strangerover on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A steady start that takes a pace drawing the reader in. With the mortal and fairy worlds having some overlap and sometimes entwined, rivalries within each, personal agendas and long timeless histories are carefully woven into a book that takes it's theme from The Ballad of Tam Lin and gently turns the angle of perspective. Taking the reader seamlessly between two realms and at times with an urgency in an otherwise timeless realm. Traditional historical characters have a lesser part as the reader gets carried along through the life of two divided worlds by a couple of it's seemingly everyday but important inhabitants, whose futures are pre-ordained, increasingly they begin to realise this. Elizabeth Bear anchors this fabulous tale with glimpses of places in our real modern material world, but from where older powers creep through as an age old battle rages, reaches a climax that doesn't necessarily have a 'fairytale' ending but also exposes the personal goals, challenges and costs to the characters who at the start don't realise their roles ahead...
clong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I like Elizabeth Bear. I wanted to like this book. I tried very hard to like this book. When I found myself getting bored, I would give it a break, and then come back to it later, fresh. But in the end I find myself struggling to find anything positive to say about it. On a basic level the book never really clicked for me. I still don¿t understand why the long simmering feud between the faeries and the Prometheans needed to come to a head now. Nor why the leaders of the various factions would set into motion the various plots that played out over the course of the book now. Nor why Arthur and Morgan were in it, nor why cutting Arthur¿s hair woke him up, nor why plenty of other things popped up constantly. Part of my difficulty may have been an almost complete ignorance of the subgenre of stories of the world of faerie. I didn¿t know when Bear was drawing on tradition, when she was poking tradition in the eye, and when she was breaking new ground. I struggled to understood the history, traditions and rules of world of the fae, and just when I felt like it was starting to make sense some completely new (and frequently earth-shattering) element would pop up, seemingly from out of nowhere. The narrative jumped back and forth from character to character, and storyline to storyline, every few pages. And while a similar style of storytelling had worked fine for me with the Jenny Casey books, here it felt way too choppy. I wished that Bear would pick a character and followed him or her through some arc of a storyline for a chapter. But my biggest problem with the book was that I never really bonded with any of the characters. There are four main characters in the story, Elaine the Unseelie Seeker who is really mad about what the Faerie Queen did to her son, Carel the chanteuse professor turned Merlin who is courted by both sides, Keith the Dragon Prince/Wolf Prince, and Matthew the Promethean who is really mad about what the faeries did to his brother. There is also a host of colorful supporting characters. As the book went on I found that I didn¿t really care for, and found it impossible to root for, any of them, so I really didn¿t care which side won, and had little motivation to get to the end of the story (beyond wanting to be able to move on to the next book in my ¿to be read¿ stack). And the sex was way too casual, boring, and emotionally detached to play any constructive role in the plot. I guess this is just a world where people have sex all the time for no reason except to amuse themselves. If this is what they spend all their time doing, shouldn't there be a few more little faeries running around getting into things? So, I put this one behind me and move on to Carnival, Bear¿s next book, with hopes that it will be more my cup of tea.
Meijhen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another work drawing on the myths of Faerie and on the ballad of Tam Lin, this book is chock-full of texts and subtexts on everything from love and betrayal, to the nature of subservience and pain (and let's not forget revenge!). I liked the writing style, more descriptive than in Bear's Jenny Casey books, but very fitting for such a work. I love the way so many different legends and mythologies are drawn in -- the Arthurian cycle, the Welsh mythos, werewolves, both pre-Christian and post-Christian Faerie legends, and numerous ballads. This is not a light and happy book, and one of the themes seems to be that everything valuable in life requires a sacrifice, and therefore there are no unequivocally happy endings. I had some difficulties with differentiating some of the characters at first, but I think this may be attributable to the fact that I wasn't able to read in big gulps, but only in little bits and pieces here and there. The character development was, for the most part, excellent, although the main character's motivation was unclear to me in several places. As the book progressed, her actions and feelings (and sometimes lack of such!) became more understandable, but I still didn't always quite get it. I understood Matthew and his overseer's motivation much better. And although I understood the need for the POV shift, it was exceptionally jarring at first.All in all, a very enjoyable read, and I look forward to the next ones!
rocalisa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow. I loved this book.Bear has created a complicated and compelling world and tale in Blood and Iron. It builds on many well-known tales, particularly using Tam Lin, the Celtic faeries and the Arthurian legends, but with her own, personal and I think brilliant spin.The writing is beautiful; evocative, complex, metaphorical and lyrical. She paints pictures with words that touch the emotions and drag the reader in.There are layers upon layers here and I'm sure I didn't get all of them on this first reading. That's all right though, as I'm sure I'll be reading it again.This is not a simple tale and there are places I'm sure I missed all the nuances. It's epic and passionate and tragic all at once and the reader is drawn in to care about the characters even when they are struggling to feel and care themselves.There is no clear cut right and wrong, not obvious heroes and villians - one of Bear's themes seems to be that we are what we are and must take responsibility for what we do, whatever our motivations and reasons. I don't know if the "good guys" won, heck I'm not even sure if anyone "won" by the end of the book, but that too is part of the complexity and depth of the tale.There is no simple story and happy ending, indeed it has a feeling of high tragedy about it at times and that is what makes this such a great book. No easy roads are taken, not by the author or her characters and as a result, not by the reader either. It's a journey well worth the taking.I finished this just before going to sleep last night and, as I rather expected, the fae invaded my dreams. This book and its characters dig their hooks deep and don't easily let go.Go. Buy. Read. Recommend.
strangestgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The back-of-book description is what hooked me. Then I was lucky enough to start reading.My reading was fitful, lopped into three parts due to the eye-burning above-mentioned shifts. During the first third, the novel reached out and grabbed me. The writing is fantastic, the characters are engaging and I was taken to new places. 'Taken' because I wasn't expecting it, to be so completely engrossed and absorbed in a place that was immediately real. I reluctantly put the book down because, yanno, work.During the second third is when I realized this was an epic, in every best sense of the word. Beyond the usual, beyond the ordinary, sweeping and diverse. The characters are flawed in the way that makes them seem like people you would actually meet. It makes you root for them, against them and want to know just what the hell will happen next.Which is why, during the last third, I threatened bodily harm to anyone who might interrupt me when I was reading. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration. I shut off my phone and made sure that no one was around to interrupt me. But my fingers itched to get at it pretty much as soon as I had set it down. That counts, right?It's an incredible work, vast and full. It's about love and loss; choices and consequences; success and failure; being broken and what you do that breaks others. Even better- it's about responsibility, about what you want and what you're willing to do for it. There aren't any 'good' or 'bad' sides, it's an exploration of all the shades of gray, wrapped in reworkings of every awesome fairy legend I've read. It's dark, it's hopeful, it's honest, it is...epic. I chuckled, I smiled and I wept. It's an amazing novel and the best thing I've read in fantasy for quite some time. I can't wait for more.
temporus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was tempted to call this an urban fantasy. Yet, though a portion of the action appears to take place in Manhattan, in reality, the bulk of the action isn't. It's still takes place mostly in a bit of other-worldliness, or other less urban settings. It is certainly a modern fantasy, in the sense that it takes place in the modern (if alternate) era. The writing is crisp, and though the first few chapters felt a bit slow, once I got past that, the story built momentum, and kept that building going through to the climax of the story. Yay for authors whom I can't casually deduce all their tricks ahead of time. One thing that made me arch an eyebrow was a rather odd choice. I won't go into detail, but at a certain point, things involving point of view changed. I don't think I understand that particular choice, to me, the change didn't really manifest a better or different understanding. It wasn't much of a distraction either, it just was, though it took place in a logical moment. Still a good read, and I look forward to the followup novel, which is rising to the top of my to be read pile.
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PhoenixFalls More than 1 year ago
I do not generally read either Arthurian fantasy or books about the Fae; I read this purely because I have greatly enjoyed Elizabeth Bear in the past and I was able to get a copy cheap. Unfortunately, the book suffered (for me) from too many references that I did not understand. I do not know the ballads everyone talks about and gains their knowledge from, and they weren't provided in an index (which is something I would have recommended to the publisher had they asked my opinion). So throughout the book the characters seemed to be reminding each other of things in shorthand that just went completely over my head. But then there were moments that the characters stopped to explain things to each other in ways that I could understand. . . but because of all the previous references that felt like the author forcing the data dump rather than providing information in a natural fashion. I could not see why some characters knew one thing but not another and vice versa. Three quarters of the way through the novel I was convinced that I would be forced to only rate it two stars, despite my usual enjoyment of Bear's writing. But the ending made up for all lack beforehand. Bear pulled off a brilliant shift in perspective, the climax was heart-wrenching and the denouement, which seemed long when I measured the number of pages left after the final battle, brought the entire emotional story to its proper climax and resolution. In fact, looking back on the experience of the novel, despite all of the issues with the provision of information, the only real flaw it feels like it had was that Matthew seemed a somewhat wasted viewpoint character. Given that he is the feature of another novel in this series, I understand why he is there, but every time it switched to him (which was thankfully rare) I gritted my teeth a bit because his story just wasn't that interesting.