Monday, September 5, 2011

Jenn's Review: The Iron Knight

The Iron Knight (Harlequin Teen)Summary:  Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing. 

Unless he can earn a soul.

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.

Review:  I was ecstatic to receive this ARC from NetGalley.  I finished this book over a week ago, but I haven't wanted to write the review, because that means the series is truly over and I'm sad to see it end.  This is going to be one of those tough reviews to write, because I hate dissecting books I love.

Summer's CrossingThe prelude to this story is the novella Summer's Crossing in which the vicious exiled muse, Leanansidhe comes to collect the favor Ash owes her. This is told from Puck's point of view which was incredibly intriguing. As we have only truly seen Puck through Meghan's eyes, it becomes immediately clear that there is much we don't know about Puck and a depth that he hides behind his joking facade. How far will he go for his friends?  Especially when it's at odds with his own desires and the desires of his court?  It gave me a new appreciation for his character.

Moving into the Iron Knight was almost jarring because this is Prince Ash's story.  The contrast between Ash's voice and Puck's is monumental. Whereas Puck is suffering, Ash is an emotional train wreck held together only by the strength of his determination.   Also giving this book a different feel to it than the previous three is the fact that Meghan is pretty much absent.  It surprised me, after it took me so long to warm up to her in the first place, that I actually kind of missed her.  Meghan softens Ash and brings out a side of him that is ...almost warm well, warm for a Winter Prince, anyway.  But, as with the novella, once again, I delighted in getting to know the real Ash, not just the Ash we see through Meghan's eyes.  However without Meghan there to strike a delicate balance between Ash and Puck, things are strained and precarious from the beginning. 

After finally finding Grimalkin, the cait sith leads them to The Seer, the only one who can help Prince Ash with his quest to find a way to exist in the Iron Realm and once The Seer is found the entire story is turned on it's ear. Truth be told, I didn't trust The Seer, as the fairy obviously has an agenda.  If things were tense before, they are near impossible now. I read in fits and spells, partly because of the ever mounting tension, and partly because it was so good I was trying to savor and not miss a detail or be interrupted.  The journey was not what I expected, nor were the challenges.  I had no idea where the story was headed and it was full of delicious twists and turns. 

Only slightly disappointing is that, especially after reading Summer's Crossing, I want more of Puck's story now that the series has come to an end. I want to know what new adventures life has in store for him.  And while I was glad she ended the book with a certain character, I felt a little odd over the situation.  I won't spoil anything, but suffice it to say that it detracted from the story the tiniest of bits for me.

Considering Julie Kagawa originally wanted The Iron Fey to be a trilogy, leaving things with Meghan growing up and accepting responsibilities, I think she does a magnificent job of continuing the story.  I would have been okay with ending with The Iron Queen, minus the epilogue, but I'm ever so grateful to her editor for convincing to continue. This is so much better and brilliantly executed to boot.  Not many people could have pulled off the constant anticipation without it becoming boring or frustrating.  Though some readers may have trouble adjusting to Ash's voice and the lack of Meghan, I think it's brilliant. The gamble paid off.

As I come to the end of The Iron Fey, I find myself wanting to jump back to the beginning and start the series over again to gain new perspective. I love the that Julie Kagawa made me fall in love with this series slowly but surely. It's something I will read and re-read.  The Iron Knight is due out October 25 from Harlequin Teen and it's worth the wait.

Final Take: 5.0/5



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