Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston is a high octane romp through space that took me on quite the ride to say the least. This book was marketed as Anastasia meets Firefly which meant little to me except maybe female space cowboys? So that gives you an idea of what my expectations were going into this book.
The book follows Ana and the crew of the ship Dossier, a band of rogues living outside the rules of the Iron Kingdom. Ana was found along with her android best friend D09 “Di” in an escape pod seven years before and ever since then the two of them have called the Dossier, and it’s crew, home. Among the Dossier’s crew you have: Jax the Pilot, Siege the captain, Robb the prisoner brought on against his will and a bunch of other characters, most of whom die, who’s names I can’t be bothered to remember.
The first fifty percent of this book did almost nothing for me. The story seemed to ricochet back and forth between overblown action and forced character development spread out between four drastically different narrators and frankly it gave me a headache. In my opinion the pacing was off but that didn’t keep me from being intrigued enough to stick it out for the second half.
The second half of the book was absolutely unputdownable (yes I know this isn’t and actual word. Spellcheck in harassing me) for me. It was only after the characters were off the Dossier and forcibly separated by Ana being revealed to be the lost princess
that I felt they began to come into their own (except Jax). Up to that point all the character interactions felt forced to me and I wasn’t really showed that all they cared about each other so much as the author kept trying to awkwardly and forcibly tell me they did.
In the second half the character interactions become more subtle, woven into the story with such deftness I didn’t even realize I had begun to care until terrible things started to happen. Characters like: Viera, Wynn, and Machiavalle got under my skin in ways the crew of the Dossier just hadn’t. Robb and Ana’s friendship grew organically just below the surface and all of the characters were slipped into their positions for the finale with such deft sleigh of hand I had to analyze and re-analyze past events frequently as they unfolded. By the end I was so invested I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.
My only other critiques of this book would be one of the two main romances. Di and Ana together were the only characters I understood and rooted for from beginning to end. Even in the beginning when my brain hurt from all the perspectives and info dumps being thrown my way I could see the truth of their relationship. No matter that they weren’t even the same ‘species’ nothing anyone might say could convince me that relationship wasn’t played out perfectly over the course of the novel.
My problem was with Jax and Robb. Instalove. That’s the only word for what happened between the two of them and I’m sorry but I’m just not into that. Yes the author did try to make me think they half hated each other the whole time but that wasn’t enough. I searched every nook and cranny of this book and still found nothing to explain to me what justified these two characters falling for each other. I couldn’t find the foundation of their relationship to begin with outside of: Jax smelled like lavender and Robb had pretty blue eyes. I’m hoping in the second book the relationship between them will deepen into something believable because I really want to believe in them I just don’t right now.
So in conclusion Heart of Iron was a solid book that got better and better as the story progressed. Not perfect by any means but definitely a book that has me salivating for the sequel. I know a lot of people felt it wasn’t good enough as an Anastasia retelling but I know nothing about Anastasia so that wasn’t a bias for me. In fact I feel that if it hadn’t been marketed that way then more people might have been able to appreciate the story for the original piece of writing that it is. Here’s to an even better sequel!
Until next time stay passionate and excelsior!