I decided to sign up for Audible when I took my new job. Deciding to leave my wife and toddler in Michigan until we sold our house meant almost 3,000 miles of driving each month (and for considerably longer than I had hoped). And the location of our new
house will mean a solid hour commute each way (although I will typically only need to make that commute a couple times a week). All in all, that makes for lots of time to—for the first time in my life—listen to audiobooks.
The Dream of the Iron Dragon was one of my favorite books of 2018, and Kroese’s narrator J.D. Ledford and I have followed each other on Twitter for a long time, so naturally I jumped on the second book in the series, The Dawn of the Iron Dragon, with my very first Audible credit.
The Dawn of the Iron Dragon continues the story from The Dream of the Iron Dragon. Human spacefarers from a future in which we are locked in an existential, intergalactic struggle with a race of reptilian aliens have managed to travel to the Viking era with knowledge of a weapon that could end the war in humanity’s favor. All they need to do is build a spaceship from scratch during the tail end of the Iron Age.
Their efforts are complicated by the discovery, at the end of book 1 (spoilers!), that they have alien company after all. Book 2 is split between their efforts to recruit intellectual talent for their project, to protect their tenuous beachhead in Iceland, and to thwart alien efforts to not only derail their mission but to derail humankind’s progress altogether.
As I said in my review of the first book, it is the care taken with the details that really drew me in. This is an alternative history and time travel series that is also hard science fiction. I was a little disappointed, then, that so little of this book is devoted to the actual building of the iron dragon.
The story really winds up dominated instead by the struggle with their alien foes. That, though, wound up far timelier than I realized. Because the weapon of choice is germ warfare, a plague. I have avoided pandemic fiction during this actual pandemic, but the vast increase in my knowledge of pandemics over the past several months left me better situated to appreciate the detail in this storyline.
There is, of course, plenty of Viking action. And a decidedly more high-tech—and genuinely shocking—set piece near the end of the book.
I am pleased to report that I don’t have to say nasty things about narrator J.D. Ledford. It took me a little while to get used to (this was my second audio book, ever, after all), and the plethora of Viking voices were a strain, but I very much enjoyed her narration overall. I am only on my third audiobook with a female narrator, but Ledford is my favorite of the three. 4.5 of 5 Stars.