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Authors: Elizabeth Bear

Blood and Iron

BOOK: Blood and Iron
Table of Contents
“A talent to watch.”
—David Brin, author of
The Life Eaters
Praise for the Novels of the Promethean Age
Blood and Iron
“Bear works out her background with the detail orientation of a science fiction writer, spins her prose like a veil-dancing fantastist, and never forgets to keep an iron fist in that velvet glove.” —The Agony Column
"Complex and nuanced. . . . Bear does a fantastic job with integrating these centuries-old elements into a thoroughly modern tale of transformation, love, and courage.”
Romantic Times
“This is excellent work. Bear confronts Faerie head-on, including the dangerous and ugly bits, and doesn't shield the reader with reassuring happily ever after vibes. . . . I'm looking forward to spending more time in this world.”
Whiskey and Water
“Bear mixes classic and modern supernatural archetypes to craft a beautiful tale.” —
Publishers Weekly
“The many varied plots skillfully and subtly interweave into a finale with serious punch. Elizabeth Bear's writing style is as dense, complex, and subtle as her plots and characters. The style reminds me a little of Tolkien. This is definitely not a book to sit down to for a light, fluffy read. But if you immerse yourself in this rich, dark world, you will be rewarded with characters with layers of motivation and relationships that weave through the world's destiny like an intricate spider's web.” —SFRevu
Whiskey and Water
] reaffirms [Bear's] skill at creating memorable—and memorably flawed—characters as well as her sure hand at blending together the modern world with the world of the Fae. Her elegant storytelling should appeal to fans of Charles de Lint, Jim Butcher, and other cross-world and urban fantasy authors.” —
Library Journal
“Bear brings a new level of detail to the subject and her magical creatures are an interesting mix of familiar and unfamiliar traits.” —Critical Mass
“Bear succeeds in crafting a rich world. . . . It's a book that I couldn't put down, with a world in which I found myself easily enthralled and enchanted, not necessarily by Faerie, but by Bear's poetic expression and knife-sharp narrative.”
“Enthralling. . . . ‘Intrigued and delighted' sums up my reaction to
Whiskey and Water
as a whole. Don't think of it as a sequel, because it's not: It's the next part of the story. . . . I'm hoping for another one.”
—The Green Man Review
“The wonderful Promethean Age series just keeps getting better. Bear has a knack for writing beautifully damaged characters, who manage to be both alien and sympathetic at the same time, and then putting them in situations where they have no choice but to go through the fire. The result is glorious.” —
Romantic Times
(top pick)
“Terrific urban fantasy . . . cleverly designed and well written . . . [a] delightful tale filled with all sorts of otherworldly species.” —Alternative Worlds
Praise for the Other Novels
of Elizabeth Bear
“A gritty and painstakingly well-informed peek inside a future world we'd all better hope we don't get, liberally seasoned with VR delights and enigmatically weird alien artifacts. . . . Elizabeth Bear builds her future nightmare tale with style and conviction and a constant return to the twists of the human heart.”
—Richard K. Morgan, author of
“Very exciting, very polished, very impressive.”
—Mike Resnick, author of
Starship: Mercenary
“Gritty, insightful, and daring.” —David Brin
“A glorious hybrid: hard science, dystopian geopolitics, and a wide-eyed sense of wonder seamlessly blended into a single book.” —Peter Watts, author of
“Elizabeth Bear has carved herself out a fantastic little world. . . . It's rare to find a book with so many characters you genuinely care about. It's a roller coaster of a good thriller, too.” —SF Crowsnest
“What Bear has done . . . is create a world that is all too plausible, one racked by environmental devastation and political chaos. . . . She conducts a tour of this society's darker corners, offering an unnerving peek into a future humankind would be wise to avoid.” —
“An enthralling roller-coaster ride through a dark and possible near future.” —
Blood and Iron
Whiskey and Water
Ink and Steel
Hell and Earth
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,
Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2,
Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124,
Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
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New Delhi - 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632,
New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue,
Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:
80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Published by Roc, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin
Group (USA) Inc. Previously published in a Roc trade paperback edition.
First Roc Mass Market Printing, June 2008
Copyright © Sarah Kindred writing as Elizabeth Bear, 2006
All rights reserved
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.
eISBN : 978-1-4406-3013-2

This book is for the Bad Poets
and for Jennifer Jackson,
who between them
made me keep writing it
until I got it right.
The author wishes to thank a group of very patient, very dedicated, very painstaking friends, confidants, advisors, and musicians who shepherded this book and its writer through all its many incarnations. In no particular order: Chelsea Polk, Stella Evans, Kathryn Allen, Leah Bobet, Penelope Hardy, Jenni Smith-Gaynor, Dena Landon, Rhonda Garcia, Larry West, Jenny Tait, Jaime Voss, Kyri Freeman, Terri Trimble, Chris Coen, Jean Seok, David Williams, John Tremlett, Ruth Nestvold, Sarah Monette, Amanda Oestman, Nick Mamatas, Solomon Foster, Steve Wishnevsky, and others too numerous to name. Even more in-depth thanks are owed to Hannah Wolf Bowen, the Kelpie's wicked stepmother and resource for all things horsey, and Abigail Acland, the maintainer of
, one of the most outstanding examples of compulsive balladeering the Internet has ever known.
She would also like to thank her agent, Jennifer Jackson; her editor, Liz Scheier; her copy editor, Cherilyn Johnson; and her husband, Kit Kindred.
But first ye'll let the black gae by,
And then ye'll let the brown;
Then I'll ride on a milk-white steed,
You'll pull me to the ground.
—“Tam Lin,” Child Ballad version #39C
Chapter One
Matthew the Magician leaned against a wrought iron lamppost on Forty-second Street, idly picking at the edges of his ten iron rings and listening to his city breathe into the warm September night. That breath rippled up from underground, a hot draft exhaled in time with the harsh pulse of subway trains. A quiet night, as nights went in the belly of the beast . . .
... until his hands grew cold under the rings that focused his
senses, and he raised his eyes to the night.
Trip trap, trip trap. Who's that tripping across my bridge, Brer Fox?
Even before the vague sensation of cold resolved into something more defined, he had an idea who might have come to trouble him.
He tugged the placket of his camouflage coat together and stepped out of the shadows, into the dapples and patterns of light that were the substance of New York City at night. The coldness gave him direction; he followed it cautiously, although he could tell his targets were not nearby. And not together—which gave him pause. The stronger chill, the one that sank into the bones of his left hand, had the flavor of age and wildness about it. Ancient hunger, and the musk of a predator.
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