The Iron Dragon’s Daughter by Michael Swanwick is a very unusual fantasy novel. I’m not sure what to call it.
To be honest, I’ve not read a fantasy quite like The Iron Dragon’s Daughter before.
The book is centered around Jane, a mortal changeling who works at a Dickensian factory, if Dickens had ever written fantasy about magitech elves. She’s amazingly sympathetic yet at the same time, undoubtedly not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
She bumbles around amidst the chaos, mayhem, and tragedy of a world in which the elves can pick you and drop you (or murder you) at any moment just trying to survive the best she can. In the process, she does some very morally questionable things… but, somehow, I still always feel her pain and root for her to come up on top.
Very big ending spoilers follow here.
Spoilers below this line.
The ending was a little too “out there” for me but I appreciate the complexity of her situation. It’s not something that can be easily cured with a handwaved “and she lived happily ever after” at the end of the book.
She’s survived. She’s picked herself back up and started living in the “real” world. I’m happy that it’s implied she found her beloved at the end. However, considering that they always do find each other but always end up separated, that’s not saying much. I hope that this time they can be together for a longer time.
I think her friend at the end, Diane, might be Gwen/Sirin except that she doesn’t seem to be that much of a troublemaker!
The Iron Dragon’s Daughter was a great read. I recommend it if you like dark fantasy, dark elves, and anti-heroes.