''The Iron Dragon's Daughter'' is a novel by Michael Swanwick, published in 1994.

The main character is Jane, a human girl who's a child slave in a factory that produces parts for Iron Dragons -- that world's equivalent to fighter jets. One day, during a failed escape attempt, she finds a discarded grimore, which turns out to be a operational manual to an Iron Dragon. This leads her to to discover an old, broken down dragon who's NotQuiteDead. Melanchthon, Dragon #7332, offers to help her escape if she helps him restore his basic functions.

The story follows Jane as she tries to carve out some sort of life for herself in a world where humans are near-powerless rarities, first with the help of Melanchton, then without him when he abandons her, then with him again when he decides it's time to carry out his master plan: [[OmnicidalManiac the destruction of Spiral Castle, and with it, the entire fantasy world]].

''Iron Dragon's Daughter'' is, at its heart, a subversion of the [[MarySue Plucky Heroine]] archetype, as Jane is nothing special (as a human, she has no innate magic, nor any of the physical attribute of other species) and stays that way, even as she's drawn into Melanchthon's web of madness.

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!!''The Iron Dragon's Daughter'' contains examples of:

* AIIsACrapshoot - Magical items given sentience are prone to not working correctly or at all out of sheer spite (Or just being {{JerkAss}}es)
* AllJustADream - OrWasItADream
* AlwaysChaoticEvil - DRAGONS. They're weapons, after all.
* BackFromTheDead [[spoiler: Rocket, and Puck...sort of.]]
* BreakTheCutie - Jane's breakdown after seeing the names of her friends listed among the dead after the Teind.
* CrapsackWorld - Unless you're an Elf (and sometimes even then).
* DeconstructorFleet - While the book is a savage reworking of the standard TrappedInAnotherWorld plot, tropes throughout fantasy literature are invoked and warped.
* DeusSexMachina - Sex magic is much easier to learn and master than "true" magic
* DragonRider - the Dragon pilots
* DungeonPunk
* EvilVersusEvil - Melanchthon duels a hunter sent to catch Jane.
* TheFairFolk - Subverted. Elves just come off kind of like an [[ExaggeratedTrope exaggeration]] of [[AristocratsAreEvil amoral, decadent rich people]].
** The novel is set in the Unseleigh Court, which explains a lot. The Seleigh Court exists in the book as well, albeit offscreen, and the two are locked in apparent open warfare:
-->'''Melanchthon:''' You may call me Death if you wish. I killed your kind by the thousands in Avalon.
* FantasyCounterpartCulture - There are no direct parallels, but much of Faerie seems to resemble the NE United States circa 1975.
* FiveFingerDiscount - Jane's preferred method of shopping.
* GenreSavvy: Once Jane learns [[spoiler: Puck's]] True Name, she avoids him to try and keep him from meeting the same fate as [[spoiler: his other incarnations, Rooster and Peter.]] [[YouCantFightFate It doesn't work.]]
* HandOfGlory: Jane crafts a Hand to steal from [[OurElvesAreBetter Galiagante]].
* HumanityIsSuperior: Inverted. A human's one edge (no True Name to manipulate) is offset by the utter lack of innate magical or physical special traits.
* IKnowYourTrueName - Played straight, except for Jane (who, as a human, doesn't have one.)
* NewWeird
* NiceJobBreakingItHero - It turns out that pretty much every time Jane tried to say "ScrewDestiny", she ended up [[spoiler: [[SpannerInTheWorks scuttling the Goddess' plans]] for her to experience some happiness and bring same to those around her.]]
* OpenSecret - Most everyone in the word (save for Jane, of course) knows that astrology doesn't work. However, since any number of corporate interests find belief in astrology useful, the schools teach it as fact.
* OneHeroHoldTheWeaksauce - Jane is immune to defensive fetishes because usually they are not being designed against humans due to their rarity in the world.
* OurDragonsAreDifferent - they're sentient, sapient (and filled with rage) fighter jets in dragon form.
* OurElvesAreBetter - And they know it.
* RageAgainstTheHeavens - More or less Melanchthon's entire reason for living.
* ReincarnationRomance - Puck*↔Jane
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech - Jane is told by a female elf noble that as a human, the best she can hope for in life is to [[spoiler: be a brood mare for the elves until [[DudeShesLikeInAComa "Sleeping Beauty's Disease"]] takes her.]]
* SexAsRiteOfPassage / ICallHimMisterHappy - Jane goes through a "naming ceremony" to render "Little Jane" a "friend for life." Males name their dangly bits as well, but the text never states whether not they have a similar rite.
* ShoutOut - At one point, Jane activates a hand of glory by inscribing it with the mystical initials "''[[http://www.sfwa.org s f w a]]''".
* StarCrossedLovers - Jane and [[spoiler: Rooster, Peter, Puck, and Rocket - who are all incarnations of the same soul]]
* TakeThat - In interviews, Swanwick has claimed that ''The Iron Dragon's Daughter'' was his response to derivative mass-market fantasy.
* ViciousCycle - The Teind.
* VillainProtagonist: Jane devolves into this in the end.
* WeirdnessCensor - The run-down cottage Jane lives in after her escape is really Melanchthon in disguise.
* WizardingSchool - Unsurprisingly, given the strong DungeonPunk / Magitek streak in this setting, both the high school and college have shades of this.
* WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds - Melanchthon, and later [[spoiler: Jane]].
* WordSaladPhilosophy - Whenever characters lapse into prophetic trances, this is what normally results. However, the "prophecies" are just a farrago of media from our world, ranging from ad jingles to political stump speeches to ''[[CrowningMomentofAwesome the first three minutes of Neil Armstrong's first transmission from the moon.]]''

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