Heart of Iron (2018) – Ashley Poston

Title:Heart of Iron
Author: Ashley Poston
Date published: 2018
Publisher: Harper Collins
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“May the stars keep you steady, and the iron keep you safe”

First of all, before I begin discussing this novel I would just like to make it very clear that science fiction for me was always Arthur C. Clarke and Ursula Le Guin and Orson Scott Card. I have been introduced to a lot of Young Adult fiction in the last few years, and as this book is most definitely under that category I would not leave it simply in science fiction. In fact just because the novel is set in space does not necessarily make it science fiction. I would go as far as declaring it more ‘fantasy’ – but that’s just me. I am honestly prepared for the backlash attached to this statement.

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Okay, with that out of the way, this ‘space fantasy’ as I would prefer to call it is quite masterful. According to other readers and reviewers it has been described as a re-telling of the story of Anastasia. I am not in the least bit aware of the Anastasia story line and will therefore have to rely on trusty search engines to get the gist of this comparison.

In Ashely Poston’s novel, Ana, the protagonist is a 17 year old girl living on a rebel space ship with a crew of misfits. Not unlike the average pirate story, this crew live on the periphery of society and all seem to come from opposing sides of the galaxy. The captain, Siege is a warrior of a woman whose hair of optic fibers changes colors as her moods change. The ship’s pilot is a young Solani, or ‘Sun-Kisser’ named Jax, whose people were known for being able to read people’s fates in the stars. Ana, as a small child, was found by the crew floating in space with an android called D09 inside a sort of evacuation pod. She was taken on board and has been a part of their ‘family’ ever since. The ship known as the Dossier also houses several other crew members whose loyalty and love for one another is heart-warming in the best kind of way.

Ana’s overwhelming love for her ‘Metal’, the android D09, is such that when he starts exhibiting ‘glitches’ she is determined to find a way to fix him, and recruits the members of the Dossier to help her track down a long lost ship the Tsarina that may hold the secrets to D09’s programming. It is in finding this ship that she also comes into contact with an Ironblood (Iron Kingdom royalty), named Robb, who is also on the periphery in his own way, and is also searching for the answers to his father’s strange death. His father’s death was also in conjunction with the terrible death of the entire royal family Armorov who once ruled the Iron Kingdom. They were all killed in a fire during The Rebellion seven years prior.

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It is worth mentioning that the kingdom is not just made up of androids like D09, but also of ‘Messiers’ who act as guards in and outside the royal palace that Robb calls home. These Messiers were once Metals that either misbehaved or went ‘rogue’ and went through a process called the HIVE, which is when their free will is taken away. The threat of being hive’d hangs over all Metals.

Robb and Ana’s meeting is nothing less than a kind of fate. Suddenly Ana’s once secretive past is turned upside down, and she finds her roles and her position changing rather quickly. In the midst of all the freshly revealed secrets lies the politics within the kingdom, the intentions of the evil Rasovant, the Iron Advisor who created the Metals, and the novel’s token ‘bad guy’ and Ana’s overwhelming fear that she will lose the love of her rebel family, and the love of the Metal boy she wishes to save.

In Heart of Iron, unconventional love is the key here. It is the driving force behind every relationship, and it is what allows the reader to acknowledge the true meaning of being ‘human’. Amidst the seeming eternity of space and galaxies named after Roman and Greek Gods, a young girl is figuring out who she is, a young boy is figuring out who he loves and a group of rebels are trying to keep their family, and their home safe. It’s a pretty cool story, and I can’t wait for the sequel Soul of Stars to conclude this epic space adventure.

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