Friday, February 9, 2018

Book Review: 'Ironheart' by Dakota Kemp


Oklahoma author Dakota Kemp is a mid-twenties handsome young lad who defines himself as an author of science fiction and fantasy – until this, his latest novel IRONHEART which now allows him to include science-fictionalized steampunk with a dash of sword and sorcery elements - was born in December 1990 in Liberal, Kansas, and grew up in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Dakota has always been an avid reader and science fiction/fantasy fanatic, and when he wasn’t busy participating in football, basketball, track or working on homework, his time was spent with his nose in a book. At the age of fourteen, he began writing stories of his own, enthusiastically encouraged by his junior high and high school English teachers. Dakota attended Southwestern Oklahoma State and gained a degree in Parks and Wildlife Law Enforcement. His love for stories inspired him to continue writing, and he finished his first fantasy novel, ‘The Arrival’, while still at university, graduating in 2014 and has continued to write and pursue his hobbies of stargazing, playing sports, playing video games, reading, and writing. For a taste of Dakota’s thinking, he says, ‘Campfire stories were one of mankind's earliest activities. Humans need some fiction in their lives to survive.’

One of the reasons Dakota’s novels are so successful (and they are!) is his magical blend of well-sculpted people grounded in society whose reality sets apart the strange creatures and events that make the tale like a firecracker. We meet Jack Booker: ‘Jack wasn’t exceptional. He knew that. The wretched existence of an exile in The Abyss was not his fate, and neither was he the son of an aristocrat. Jack was an orphan. Just an orphan: one of thousands from the streets of Victorian. Or he had been. At eighteen he was a man, full grown and past the classification of his parents’ presence or absence. Jack leaned back in his seat, musing soberly. They called him “Dull Jack” here in Fist’s gang, because he rarely spoke, but it wasn’t because he couldn’t think. Jack knew all too well how to do that; he just never showed anyone how well. In fact, he was willing to bet he was a good deal more intelligent than the rest of his companions. He had put in his time on Victorian’s streets, and he was a quick learner – quick enough to know that sometimes the most useful assets were the ones kept hidden. So Jack kept his mouth shut, and let everyone think what they would. Sometimes he wished he was as dull as they imagined, then he wouldn’t have to think about all the things he’d rather just leave to rest.’

But on to the synopsis: ‘Ironheart: The Primal Deception introduces a new world of science fiction and fantasy, where deities dominate a civilization dependent on steam-powered marvels. For Jack Booker, an orphan from the cutthroat streets of Victorian, life is about survival. The squabbles of the imperial aristocracy are of no importance to him; neither does he concern himself with the machinations of the empire’s gods, the Primals, who rule humanity with indifferent disdain. Power plots amongst the mighty mean little in the grungy alleys of the undercity, where only one rule truly matters: Only the strong survive. It is a daily struggle. This struggle becomes even more deadly when Fist, an underworld mob boss with delusions of grandeur, embroils his gang in a game far above their league. Soon, Jack finds himself thrust into a web of intrigue, subterfuge, and rebellion when he encounters the enigmatic Freedom, a revolutionary with an uncompromising vision for the future and a deep hatred for the Primal Empire. Forces beyond Jack’s comprehension command subjects like pieces on a chessboard – and, somehow, he may have just become the most important pawn.’

Say more? No, leave the juicy part to your own delight. This is a young adult novel – but it is also for adults brave enough to admit they have a fantastical imagination! Grady Harp, May 16







Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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