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Book of Iron by Elizabeth Bear
Cover Artist: Maurizio Manzieri
Review by Mel Jacob
Subterranean Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596064744
Date: 30 September 2013 List Price $20.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Publisher's Book Page / Show Official Info /

In Book of Iron, Elizabeth Bear provides background on the Artificer Bijou, wizard and lover of the necromancer Kaulas. Three strangers seek the help of Bijou, Kaulas, and Prince Salid, the Bey's second son and a fellow adventurer. They seek to visit the ancient City of Jackals, Ancient Erem, now a desolate and feared ruin in search of the precisian, Dr. Liebelos. If she gains control of the magic within Erem, the entire world would be at risk.

In an earlier tale, Bone and Jewel Creatures, Bear introduced Bijou as an old woman. Bijou creates creatures of bone, metal, and jewels and gives them a form of life. She can also animate animal skeletons. In the earlier tale, Kaulas is dying and creates a terrible plague. The Arabian type setting adds to the fairy tale nature of both stories.

Bijou, Kaulas, and Prince Salid had visited Erem before and barely escaped with their lives. The Prince can't resist new adventures. Among the three strangers are two wizards and an undead bard. One wizard, Salamander, is the daughter of Dr. Liebelos and the other is the fabled Hag of Wolf Wood, an immortal.

Bijou and Kaulas recognize the dangers posed by a precisian wizard. Such practitioners are rare, but pose a significant danger even without the powerful and sometimes evil magic held by Erem. It soon becomes clear that the life of the immortal wizard among the three strangers is at risk.

As the party enters Erem, dangerous creatures shadow and then threaten them. The Hag has the power to command them, but doing so also drains her energy. As they track Dr. Liebelos through the ruins, they encounter more traps and dangers.

Subterranean Press produces small, imaginative tales by major authors and reissues classic works along with newer authors. The imaginative tales provide entertainment and much to ponder. Hopefully, reader demand will cause Bear to write more tales of Bijou.

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