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Vintage Treasures: The Iron Dragon’s Daughter by Michael Swanwick

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Iron Dragon's Daughter-small The Iron Dragon's Daughter-trade The Iron Dragon's Daughter Fantasy Masterworks-small

Michael Swanwick’s third novel, Stations of the Tide (1991), was nominated for both the Hugo and Clarke Awards, and won the Nebula for Best Novel of the year. He followed it three years later with a very different book — a highly original fantasy in a bizarre, almost steampunkish setting, a place where elves use humans, trolls and dwarves as slave labor to construct the giant iron dragons used as war machines. When the children meet to plot the death of their supervisor, and a whispered voice leads young Jane to an old and broken junkyard dragon, she learns that escape is possible. But untold wonders and terrors both lie beyond the factory gates…

A human changeling child coming of age, in a world of violence and monsters, Jane toils unceasingly alongside trolls, dwarves, shifters and feys in the dank, stygian bowels of a steam dragon plant — helping to construct the massive black iron flying machines the elvan rulers use for waging war. Then one day, the cold, tantalizing voice of a rusting, discarded dragon speaks softly to Jane — whispering to her of freedom and vengeance… and the terrible wonders awaiting her far beyond the factory gates… Michael Swanwick ushers us into a remarkable realm of darkest fantasy, erotic dreams and industrial magicks — on a stunningly original and hair-raising ride toward the obliteration of another history and the end of all things.

The Iron Dragon’s Daughter was nominated for both the Clarke and World Fantasy Awards, and placed second in Locus magazine’s annual poll for Best Fantasy Novel of the Year (behind Peter S. Beagle’s The Innkeeper’s Song). It had one sequel, The Dragons of Babel, released over a decade later in 2008. The Iron Dragon’s Daughter was published in hardcover by AvoNova in January 1994, with a cover by Dorian Vallejo (above left), reprinted in trade paperback by Avon in September 1997 with a cover by J. K. Potter (middle), and released as #42 in the Millennium Fantasy Masterworks series in 2004 (above right, cover by Steve Stone). It is currently out of print.

4 Comments »

  1. The Iron Dragon’s Daughter is now a “Vintage Treasure”? Man do I feel old.

    Comment by CMR - October 21, 2015 8:43 pm

  2. Well, it WAS published over 20 years ago….

    Comment by John ONeill - October 21, 2015 9:21 pm

  3. Don’t remind me. :p

    Comment by CMR - October 22, 2015 9:18 pm

  4. I can still remember seeing it at the school book fair when I was a smelly teenager.

    (sorry for the double post)

    Comment by CMR - October 22, 2015 9:20 pm


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