The Iron Dragon's Daughter

The Iron Dragon's Daughter

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Named a New York Times notable book of 1994, The Iron Dragon's Daughter tells the heartrending story of a changeling child who is kidnapped to a realm of malls and machines and enslaved in a vast, infernal factory. Ultimately, she escapes and attempts to educate herself about this alien world, while being tormented by visions of the life she was denied.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781522606079
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication date: 05/17/2016
Series: The Iron Dragon's Daughter , #1
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 875,245
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Freedom! Jane thought. She rocked back on her heels and imagined Stilt flapping off clumsily into a bronze. green autumn sky. Her thoughts soared with him, over the walls and razor wire and into the air, the factory, buildings and marshaling yards dwindling below, as he flew higher than the billowing exhaust from the smoke stacks, into the deepening sky, higher than Dame Moon herself. And never, oh never, to return!

It was impossible, of course. Only the dragons and their half-human engineers ever left the plant by air All others, workers and management alike, were held in by the walls and, at the gates, by security guards and the hulking cast-iron Time Clock. And yet at that instant she felt something take hold within her, a kind of impossible hunger. She knew now that the idea, if nothing more, of freedom was possible, and that established, the desire to be free herself was impossible to deny.

Down at the base of her hindbrain, something stirred and looked about with dark interest. She experienced a moment's dizzy nausea, a removal into some lightless claustrophobic realm, and then she was once again deep in the maw of the steam dragon plant, in the little dormitory room on the second floor of Building 5, wedged between a pattern storeroom and the sand shed, with dusty wooden beams and a tar paper roof between her and the sky.

"So he'll get to fly away," Dimity said sourly. Her tail lashed back and forth discontentedly. "So what? Are we supposed to kill Blugg as a going-away present?"

Rooster punched her on the shoulder for insubordination. "Dolt! Pimple! Douchebag! You think Blugg hasn't noticed? You think he isn't planning to make an offering to the Goddess, so she'llkeep the change away?"

Nobody else said anything, so reluctantly Jane asked, What kind of offering?"

He grabbed his crotch with one hand, formed a sickle with the other, and then made a slicing gesture with the sickle. His hand fell away. He raised an eyebrow. Get it?

She didn't really, but Jane knew better than to admit that. Blushing, she said, "Oh."

Okay, now, I've been studying Blugg. On black foundry days, he goes to his office at noon, where he can watch us through the window in his door, and cuts his big, ugly nails. He uses this humongous great knife, and cuts them down into an ashtray. When he's done, he balls them up in a paper napkin and tosses it into the foundry fires, so they can't be used against him.

"Next time, though, I'm going to create a disturbance. Then Jane will slip into his office and steal one or two parings. No more," he said, looking sternly at her, "or he'll notice."

"Me?" Jane squeaked. "Why me?"

"Don't be thick. He's got his door protected from the likes of the rest of us. But you—you're of the other blood. His wards and hexes won't stop you."

"Well, thanks heaps," Jane said. a But I won't do it. It's wrong, and I've already told you why." Some of the smaller children moved toward her threateningly. She folded her arms. "I don't care what you guys say or do, you can't make me. Find somebody else to do your dirty work!"

"Aw, c'mon. Think of how grateful we'd all be." Rooster got up on one knee, laid a hand across his heart, and reached out yearningly. He waggled his eyebrows comically. I'll be your swain forever."


Stilt was having trouble following what they were saying. In his kind this was an early sign of impending maturity. Brow furrowed, he turned to Rooster and haltingly said, "I. . . can't fly?"

Rooster turned his head to the side and spat on the floor in disgust. Not unless Jane changes her mind.

Stilt began to cry.

His sobs began almost silently, but quickly grew louder. He threw back his head, and howled in misery. Horrified, the children tumbled over one another to reach him and stifle his cries with their hands and bodies. His tears muffled, then ceased.

For a long, breathless moment they waited to hear if Blugg had been roused. They listened for his heavy tread coming up the stairs, the angry creaking of old wood, felt for the stale aura of violence and barely sup pressed anger that he pushed before him. Even Rooster look frightened.

But there came no sound other than the snort of cyborg hounds on patrol, the clang and rustle of dragons in the yards stirring restlessly in their chains, and the distant subaudible chime of midnight bells celebrating some faraway sylvan revelry. Blugg still slept.

They relaxed.

What a shivering, starveling batch they were! Jane felt a pity for them all that did not exclude herself. A kind of strength hardly distinguishable from desperation entered her then and filled her with resolve, as though she were nothing more than an empty mold whose limbs and torso had been suddenly poured through with molten iron. She burned with purpose. In that instant she realized that if she were ever to be free, she must be tough and ruthless. Her childish weaknesses would have to be left behind. Inwardly she swore, on her very soul, that she would do whatever it took, anything, however frightening, however vile, however wrong.

"All right," she said. "I'll do it."

"Good." Without so much as a nod of thanks, Rooster began elaborating his plot, assigning every child a part to play. When he was done, he muttered a word and made a short, chopping pass with his hand over the candle. The flame guttered out.

Any one of them could've extinguished it with the slightest puff of breath. But that wouldn't have been as satisfying.

Copyright ) 1994 by Michael Swanwick

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Iron Dragon's Daughter 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
when i first encountered this book I was in a thrift store. The title caught my eye and so I bought it, not sure what to expect. The story line was very spellinding and complex yet understandable, despie the setting and extreme circumstance you find yourself being able to relate to the characters. I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking a mind stimulating read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is intensely interesting because of its originality and intense immersion into this world of jane's. the storyline is so unique and the details are outstanding. a must read for those who need a different perspective in the genre of fantasy.
Anonymous 4 months ago
chaws on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A coming-of-age story set in a baroque, decadent world full of puckish and predatory characters. Swawick combines elements of fantasy and SF in an impressionistic manner that suggests more than it reveals, and creates a wonderful sense of unease. This is a character driven novel that is brutal and heartwarming, and very hard to put down.
raq929 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There was nothing to like about this book. It was dark and depressing from beginning to end (and I usually like dark and depressing!). None of the characters are likeable. The main character seems to repeat her awful experiences everywhere she goes, and yet the book feels like it goes nowhere. I don't recommend reading it.
Jenson_AKA_DL on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jane is a changling whose coming of age in the world of fairies is a dark, deadly and demented ride. If you're thinking of picking up this story for the dragon...don't. The dragon in the story is a reprehensible iron construct who contributes to the subversion of Jane, along with a lot of other reprehensible and grotesque creatures. There was a lot I didn't like about this story. Sexual perversion isn't something I typically read for entertainment purposes. However, the underlying theme behind the reincarnation of Jane's two "soul mates" (although the words are never used, I can't think of any better) was interesting to me. I usually like much lighter, quest based, themes in my fantasy and there is nothing at all light about this book. I'm quite glad I never tried to read this one when I originally got it through the sci-fi/fantasy book club back in high school. Sadly, after owning this novel for probably around 25 years I had hoped to like it better when I finally got around to reading it. At this point, in spite of the nostalgia I feel for the book itself, it is not a keeper.
janineshroff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Found this is some charity shop in Bombay for about 10 bucks. I enjoyed the beginning, which was promising, but then it got really strange in a bad way and I gave up reading it since the story seemed to be going nowhere.
selfnoise on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Langford's review, linked elsewhere on this page, pretty much says it all. It's one of those rare books that starts out fairly normally and is dizzy, ambitious and beautiful by the end. I really enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The storyline was great and very unique, leaving a LOT of room for one to use imagination and fill in gaps. The book was very gritty throughout, portraying sex as an emotionless act and sprinkling in hard core drug use. It also contained a very bleak outlook on life in general with suicide and quite a bit of death as a common occurrence. After reading this, I was left with a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, similar to when I see a horrible story on the news showing the truly awful side of humanity. However, I've given it three stars (vs one) because I absolutely couldn't put it down. The fact that it illicited these emotions, however terrible, proves what a truly talented writer the author is. This is certainly the type of story many may enjoy but not my cup of tea, too depressing.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
With its chaotic and twisted happenings there is room for you to use your imagination to fill in the gaps and put in your own interpretation. A grand way to represent a young humans life in a world that cant be controled or changed, propelled by profanity and sex, showing that we are but mere pawns that will someday wake up from this dream with only scrapes of what is real and what we think is real.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book leads the reder through Janes(the main character) life in one world and into the next loseing her companion Melahthon along the as well as many others.This book is a story most poeple would'nt think of a young girl finding freedom at the end of the line only to be reborn into a new life. I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has profanity, and other inappropriate things. I thought it would be good to read because i like dragons and the cover and story on the back looked good. Until i actually read it.