Dead Iron

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Dead Iron

The Age of Steam, #1 - Cedar Hunt

Bounty hunter Cedar Hunt rides the untamed western frontier untouched by the devisers and their contraptions. Cursed by an Indian God and carrying the guilt of his brother's death, he's a rugged man for hire. When a trio of miners suggests his brother may be alive, Cedar won't argue over their price. All he has to do is find the Holder; a powerful device created by mad devisers from the realm of the Strange.

Shard Lefel has the Holder in his possession; a railroad man who's more than he appears. He's come to Hallelujah, Oregon, promising to bring civilization west. No one knows Lefel is an ancient Strange, banished by his king to walk this land to the end of his mortality. Desperate to dodge his final sentence, he believes the Holder is the key to his survival.

In a land shaped by magic, steam and iron, where a man can only count on his guns, gears and grit, Cedar will have to depend on all three if he's going to find his brother and reclaim his humanity at last...

Dead Iron: The Age of Steam (Cedar Hunt) by Devon Monk is an exciting new entry in the steampunk genre. I was captivated by the characters and their story. While the action started a little slowly, like a rollercoaster it picks up speed and races towards the end. The world building was well done and the blend between magic, steam powered machinery and man was unique.

Cedar Hunt is an interesting main character; young, intelligent and cursed; he carries the guilt of his brother's death. Cedar and his younger brother William left the East after the death of Cedar's wife and daughter. While traveling west, they caught the attention of an Indian God. An Indian God who cursed them with Lycanthropy until they rid the West of the Strange, magical beings bent on conquering the World and destroying mankind. Thinking he killed his brother during his transformation to wolf form, Cedar lives alone and hunts the Strange. Determined not to kill senselessly, he chains himself at the full moon, in order to avoid his transformation.

Cedar's skills as a hunter are well known. When he's told of a young boy's disappearance he determines the Strange are involved. While deciding what tools will serve his best for his hunt, he is visited by Mae Lindsom, who begs him to locate her missing husband. She's a witch and knows her husband is dead but wants to find the man responsible and offers to help Cedar get rid of his curse in exchange. Determined to track the boy first, Cedar rejects Mae's offer and begins his hunt. Needing a special silver fork, he turns to the Madder brothers, three miners on the outskirts of town, who are more than they appear to be. The Madders are willing to give him what he needs, if he grants them a favor in return - his tracking skills to locate the Holder, a device originally built to help man, which has been transformed by the Strange into a weapon of destruction. Having no choice but to agree to their terms, Cedar begins his hunt. Which takes him to Shard Lefel.

While Cedar is the main character of the series, he's not the only character we get to know in depth. While this was somewhat different, I did enjoy the characters we get to know. We meet Mae Lindsom, a young witch determined to locate her missing husband Jeb. Mae knows Jeb is dead but she's determined to get revenge before she's forced to return her coven in the East. The love between Mae and Jeb is definitely a major part of this story, as is the magic woven between them. We also get to meet Rose Small, a young woman in town, who had been left on the doorstep of the town merchants as a babe, and who has the skills of the devisers. She's an interesting character; strong, determined and with dreams of flying an airship to China, I hope we get to see a lot more of her in the future. The Madder brothers play an important part too; they're not human and have been tracking Shard Lefel and the parts of the Holder, for some time. Ms. Monk did an excellent job creating all of these additional characters, who proved pivotal to the story.

The villains of this story are very prominent and very easy to dislike, neither is human, though no one in town seems to know it. Shard Lefel and his assistant, Mr. Shunt, are two of the most evil and scary characters I've seen this year. Their ties to the Strange are somewhat bizarre and creepy.

The story concludes with the end of the hunt and the location of the missing boy and the Holder, which both happen to be in the possession of Shard Lefel. He also has Will, Cedar's brother, trapped in his wolf form. Will Cedar's skills and the help of his acquaintances be enough to win the battle? You'll have to read Dead Iron to find out. I can't wait to see what Ms. Monk does next in this world.

Book Blurb for Dead Iron

Welcome to a new America that is built on blood, sweat, and gears...

In steam age America, men, monsters, machines, and magic battle for the same scrap of earth and sky. In this chaos, bounty hunter Cedar Hunt rides, cursed by lycanthropy and carrying the guilt of his brother's death. Then he's offered hope that his brother may yet survive. All he has to do is find the Holder: a powerful device created by mad devisers-and now in the hands of an ancient Strange who was banished to walk this Earth.

In a land shaped by magic, steam, and iron, where the only things a man can count on are his guns, gears, and grit, Cedar will have to depend on all three if he's going to save his brother and reclaim his soul once and for all...

Night Owl Reviews Jul, 2011 4.25