Alas, the final review for the Steamwork Chronicles, Steel Dominance is the final installment of the mini-series. So many loose threads, such a world to explore… The world building really picks up a notch with this novel and Steamwork Chronicle’s Earth becomes much more real since we learn a lot about its history and political landscape. I also highly recommend everyone who has not read Iron Dominance and Lust Plague first should do so. It adds a lot to the enjoyment of Steel Dominance, since previous events in the Steamwork Chronicles are referenced.
One of the central characters is Dankyo whom we have already met as head of security for Theodore Kevonis back in Iron Dominance. He was my favourite character in that novel and he is here, too. I had hoped he would hit it of with Kirsten, but she is only a footnote here.
Instead, he is on a mission to Constantinople as bodyguard of a scholar named Sofia who is on a quest to discover the secret of the Clockwork Warrior.
The exotic setting at the court of the Emperor-Bey of Constantinople and Sofia’s cover-identity as Dankyo’s slave leads to everything I have come to expect from Cari’s novels: A lot of exquisite, believable erotica, with a real story that makes for a page-turning, steaming read.
Character development is also excellent. Dankyo starts out as a slightly bored and annoyed slave-handler, who is just doing it because he is on a mission and becomes a loving, caring dom. We also learn very interesting details of Dankyo’s backstory that was not even hinted at in Steel Dominance. Sofia develops from a head-heavy, very nerdy scholar to a very hot submissive while still keeping her sharp tongue and brains.
Dankyo, my friend, you have your hands full, I am sure.
The two are in their way very evenly matched and even though the roles in their relationship are clear, Sofia is not just a doll, not by far. Apart from the chemistry and carnal desire (and action) between the main characters, Steel Dominance is the most steampunk of the series. I found the adorable mechanical dog ZigZag and the crab-like clockwork propaganda devices particularly charming. I wonder were the trend would lead if there were any more Steamwork Chronicle stories in the pipe.
We also meet some very believable side characters and two villains who are really worth your ire. One is a hired assassin, we meet her right at the beginning, the other one… To reveal the identity would be a spoiler.
Alas, there was one thing I did not like: Sofia. For some reason I found her character terribly annoying. I cannot quite put my finger on it but I did not like her almost from the start. Maybe because I had hoped for a Dankyo/Kirsten story.
In any case Steel Dominance gets 8 of 10 Zeppelins.
Still, highly recommended reading!