Dread Eagle (Iron Sky #1) by Alex Woolf
Released: 25th September 2014
My Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
The year is 1845. France and Britain continue their long and bloody war for global supremacy. This breath-taking adventure introduces an alternative 19th century of fantastical, coal powered robots, aerial steam carriages, floating cities, giant mechanical birds and a new kind of secret agent.
France has a secret weapon – a titanic airship cloaked in an invisible Aetheric Shield. At the forefront of Britain’s defence are the Sky Sisters, a crack team of intrepid aviatrixes led by plucky 18-year-old Lady Arabella West. Sent to investigate reports of a giant mechanical eagle that breathes fire and is capable of snatching an airship in its talons, Arabella finds herself in a situation where she will need all her courage and ingenuity to survive against the enemy. (from press release)
The first thing I have to say about this book is that it is lovely just to hold in your hands. Pictures don't do it justice. It has glossy fold out pages with really cool diagrams of the machines mentioned in the book and notes about how they work, and it's a clothbound hardback underneath the cover with gold lettering, and honestly, it's just really pretty. You have to see it for yourself.
In regards to the book itself, it was a really fun read! Not what I expected but I liked the characters and the way the story played out. Arabella was the main character, and while I think she could have been developed a little more, she was a great character to follow. She was a spy, following in the footsteps of her father, and was trying to gather information that could help the British forces defeat the French. But there was more to everything than there first seemed. I was really intrigued by the mystery behind Arabella's father. He was apparently a celebrated hero and a brilliant spy - or at least, that's what Arabella had always been told. However, a certain person implied that maybe that wasn't the case at all and I am definitely curious as to what is true and what isn't, and what really happened all those years ago. I hope to find out more in the next book.
Ben Forrester was the mysterious American who seemed to only work for money and had no loyalty to any particular country. I liked the way he and Arabella first met - he made quite an entrance - and I also liked the way they bickered. But even though they didn't get along at first, Ben and Arabella ended up helping each other out even though they weren't quite sure why they did. Arabella didn't respect the way Ben made everything about money, but she was drawn to him all the same. She did try to be professional about the situation though, which I liked, and while I didn't quite know why Ben tried so hard to help out Arabella, I did like his sense of humour, and the way he got on with Miles, who was a very clever and logical, though somewhat odd, automaton. I wasn't too surprised by the secret Ben was hiding, but I did like the way the book ended and I am excited to see what he plans to do next!
Plot-wise, I enjoyed the direction the story took, and the way a lot of the book took place in the sky. I liked reading about the cool machines and technology that existed in this world - Miles was of course my favourite because his logical, negative nature made me laugh. There were quite a few interesting twists, though I did guess a few; some things seemed a bit convenient at times. I'm not sure where things will go in future books but I hope we get to find out more about the other girls in Arabella's team and the things they specialise in, as well as more about Arabella herself, and about Ben.
Overall, Iron Sky: Dread Eagle was a good start to a new steampunk series and I will be continuing it. Recommended to steampunk fans or people starting out in the genre.