The Kraken King
I put off reading this for a long, long time. Primarily because it was released in some kind of serial (I don’t remember, actually) and then because I knew reading it would be ‘the end’ so to speak, of the Iron Seas storyverse. And like Patricia Briggs, Meljean Brook perhaps hits my personal sweet spot dead center with her combination of non-passive heroines, a variety of alpha/beta male heroes who have nothing to prove, detailed world with alternate history and complicated politics, and emotional, steamy scenes.
So I love her world. Gengis Khan took over most of Asia and Europe. There are zombie hordes, monsters in the oceans, zeppelins, a Japanese Empress trying to hold her own against the Khan’s descendants, mechanical flesh, clockpunk, etc. etc.
This is the story of Zenobia Fox (whose brother and Corsair love are featured in prior stories) who is a writer that keeps getting kidnapped for ransom. So she travels with some fairly wicked and enhanced body guards.
Only she gets kidnapped again, but this time in the vicinity of Krakentown, a rebel outpost run by the notorious Kraken King.
Ariq Noyan has a lot of secrets of his own, and a town to protect, but he falls in love with Zenobia and spends most of the book trying to prove to her he isn’t around just for money or power, and that he won’t ever let her go. There’s some lovely kraken terminology and metaphors throughout that culminates in a last scene definitely worthy of Brook’s detailed world.
There’s all the alternate cultural references I’ve grown to love in this world like the Wajarri in walking machines (aboriginals) and the clockwork eyes of the Japanese Empress, and the roasting of Kraken flesh polynesian style.
There’s also alot of emotional angst the characters must work though on account of massive backstory: Ariq must work through his loyalty to his town, his brother, and who should lead the rebellion, Zenobia has to trust someone and work through fear caused by her mother’s situation in life, and all the side characters and glimpses of other book favorites have to figure out whose side they’re on.
This was a witty, sexy, detailed escapist read with lots of action and fighting and plotting. I am sad to say goodbye to the Iron Seas.