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 Not Quite Dead
. 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: the destruction of Spiral Castle, and with it, the entire fantasy world
.Iron Dragon's Daughter
is, at its heart, a subversion of the 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.
The Iron Dragon's Daughter contains examples of: