Published October 25, 2011.
To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.
Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her
irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.
With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.
To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.
And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice. (netgalley.com)
Well, to be honest, this was my least favorite of the series. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t even not like it. I just wasn’t thrilled with it (prepare for the zombie apocalypse as my twin at A Jane of All Reads had opposing feelings and when we don’t agree, worlds die). Suffice it to say, I don’t think Ash’s is the best set of eyes to get behind. Unless you actually like the brooding spawn of Louis Point du Lac, then you’d like it. But the boy pinned far too much for my liking. All of his brooding and internal ponderings in this one book outnumbered Meghan’s in all three of her books. She’s a chick and even she didn’t think in terms of the (heinously) overused irrevocably and End of the World and some such.
But the thing is, Meghan’s story was done. Ash’s soul-searching, literally, couldn’t have been done from anyone else’s eyes and Meghan’s story, at this point, would have been a little dull if we just sat on her shoulder and watched her rule a kingdom. Except with the story told in Ash’s POV, aside from the endless brooding, the surroundings aren’t as magnificent as they were in the rest of the books. I think that’s because that’s Ash’s home. That same wonder and awe is lost on him, even as he traveled through areas of the Nevernever that he’d never been to. That wondrous shine that was there for the first three books is dulled, I think simply because the POV switched to the eyes of a local. They’re going to see things differently.
And that means seeing other people differently. Grimalkin remained the same, which I loved. But Puck? For the first half of the book I wanted to run him over with a truck. While in Meghan’s eyes he’s quirky and bouncy and just normal jokster Puck but from Ash’s eyes, he’s nails on a chalkboard while rubbing a cat backwards and scraping a fork against a plate. I really stopped liking him. It leveled out a bit when the story got a little more serious but holy crap. Kagawa really nailed just how Ash viewed Puck and it made me twitchy.
Ariella added an element that threw a wrench into Ash’s spokes but in very odd ways. Ultimately her seer abilities dropped to being the Seer of the Obvious. All of her “real” seeing happened off page, before Ash even came upon her again so anything she “saw” after that, for me anyway, had me going ‘duh’ a lot. But she ultimately served a greater purpose than just being a hitch in Ash’s story and when she does fulfill it I will say it brought tears to my eyes.
As did the ending of the story. What can I say? I’m a sap. It is a very poster fairy tale ending but if you didn’t expect that going in, then you’re obviously not familiar with Kagawa’s writing. The overarching plots in her stories wrap up and if you honestly thought Ash would say eff it all and keep being Fey, you need to just go home. But it’s not the ending that makes the book. While it got me teary, I’m ultimately not a fan of such cookie cutter endings, simply because they’re too neat. Not that Ash didn’t earn it, or Meghan didn’t deserve it. They just never sit right with me, in any context. In THE IRON KNIGHT’s case, it’s the story that gets Ash to that standard end that really matters.
And overall, I did like it. I liked seeing all the new parts of the Nevernever (although I probably would have liked them better if I was seeing them through Meghan’s eyes) and the Big Bad Wolf is pretty sweet. Although I would have liked to have seen him more threatening. That was another thing. The threats that would have been threats to Meghan weren’t to Ash so any big action scene was kind of tampered. You knew going in he’d get out of it relatively unscathed and Puck would barely have a scratch on him. So the underlying expectation was much higher here. You could guess with greater certainly what was going to happen with Ash’s story. It’s just what he would face next that would remain a mystery.
I was surprised that I ended up liking THE IRON KNIGHT as much as I did because I had two reviewers whose reviews I trust (my twin and Sya at The Mountains of Instead) warn me that I probably wouldn’t like it, so I was worried going in. But it really wasn’t that bad. Nowhere near the pine factor of TWILIGHT (and I’m kind of insulted that the blurb ‘Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series is the next TWILIGHT’ is on the cover) but Ash is up there with Louis. If you haven’t read INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE by Anne Rice, go do it and you’ll see what I mean. Just almost constant brooding and pinning for a life one doesn’t have and contemplating one’s soul, or lack of one, and being human and blah blah blah. At least in Louis’s case I could tell him to get a tan. But with both books, there was more going on than tons of internal mooing that it held me and I actually really liked IWTV. Except I haven’t read further in that series. Had THE IRON KNIGHT been the first, I most likely wouldn’t have gotten this far. But I did, because the other three books totally rocked and, really, THE IRON KNIGHT isn’t so bad either.
Just be warned that Ash is a perpetual brooder, always contemplating something to within an inch of its life. But the writing is just as phenomenal and the book closes out the series nicely. It’s not necessary, I don’t think, to read THE IRON KNIGHT but it’s not necessary to read ‘Winter’s Passage’ or ‘Summer’s Crossing’ either but it’s the enrichment that’s worth reading. It makes the world that much more dynamic and the story more beautiful for how many eyes you get to see it through. I just won’t be glimpsing through Ash’s again. I’ve had enough of his brooding to last me a lifetime.
Just read it. I think you’d like it, if for nothing more than Kagawa’s awesome writing. That should be enough.
Ban Factor: High – FAERIES! And death.
And now, for your reading pleasure, a short excerpt from THE IRON KNIGHT –
The cat stood, waving his tail, regarding me with a solemn gold gaze. “I will name no price, not today. But the time will come, prince, when I arrive to collect this debt. And when that day comes, you will pay it in full.”
The words hung in the air between us, shimmering with power. A contract, and a particularly nasty one at that. Grimalkin, for whatever reason, was playing for keeps. A part of me recoiled, hating being bound in such a way. If I agreed to this, the cat could ask anything of me, take anything, and I would be forced to comply.
But, if it meant being human, being with her in the end…
“You sure about this, ice-boy?” Puck caught my gaze, worried as well. “This is your quest, but there’s no backing out if you agree to do this. You can’t just promise him a nice squeaky mouse and be done with it?”
I sighed and faced the cait sith, who waited calmly for my answer. “I will not deliberately harm anyone,” I told him firmly.
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