Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: The Iron Knight

by Julie Kagawa
Age Recommendation: Young Adult
Paperback, 1st Edition, 361 pages
Published October 26th 2011 by Harlequin Teen
Series: The Iron Fey #4

Summary (from Goodreads):
Spoilers for the previous books in The Iron Fey Series, highlight to view.
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.

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.

This review contains spoilers for the first three books in the Iron Fey series.
Read my reviews of the earlier books: 

My Review:
I enjoyed the earlier Iron Fey books, but I never quite got why people loved them so much. Reading The Iron Knight, I got it. the pace was a little but slow for the first third of the book, but there was so much to love, I ultimately didn't care about the slow pace in the face of so many other factors that I loved.

Don't expect to jump right in
Although Kagawa takes no time immersing the reader in the Nevernever  and (re)establishing Ash and Puck's love/hate friendship, the story meanders a bit in the beginning. The book opens with Ash and Puck searching for Grim, who will take them to a seer, who will tell them where they need to go to reach their ultimate goal - to get Ash a mortal soul so that he can live with Meghan in the Iron Realm without being harmed by the touch of iron. There's a lot of figuring out where to go in the beginning, setting up the journey, and while I liked being back with the characters, I wasn't all that interested in the journey while they didn't really know where they were going themselves.

A love... square?
Although Meghan has very little page time in The Iron Knight, Ash thinks about her a lot. But when Ariella turns up alive and joins their journey, everything becomes a mess. Ash is in love with both Ariella and Meghan, Puck is love with both Ariella and Meghan (although I felt bad for him as it seemed like although he was in love with both, he'd have to be satisfied with whoever Ash didn't choose... not that that worked out), Ariella and Meghan are rivals, and Ash and Puck pretend to be rivals but are actually friends. It makes for a tense group, but at some point it was enough. Ash seems to go through the same mental struggles over and over. Thankfully, the square was completely resolved by the end of The Iron Knight, with no strings left hanging.

More about Meghan
I was a little bit surprised at myself for missing Meghan. Although I liked her in The Iron Queen (you know, when she finally got some backbone), I never loved her character in general. But the little snippets of Meghan you get in The Iron Knight made me kind of wish she was there on their journey with them. Admittedly, that would make some of the scenes a little more difficult, but I wanted to see more of her.

Why this book WINS
Character development. Development of Ash, specifically. We, the readers, know Ash from the earlier Iron Fey books, but he's always a little cold, a little distant, never quite open to the reader. We got to know him as an outsider. But now, you really get to know him and you realize you barely scratched the surface before. Ash goes through so much development it is like – it IS seeing a new person emerge. In the beginning, he is The Winter Prince, who, although fun to read about, admittedly does not have as much depth as I like in my favorite characters. By the end, this is not the case. The development of all of the characters is admirable, but with Ash, you get an insight for the first time onto the character that you thought you knew so well.

Even more than simply being inside Ash's head, the memories that he regularly flashes back to, and the trials that he is forced to face in order to ear his soul really lets the reader get to know him as a character. Part of why he was so interesting in the first three books was the constant mystery surrounding him and how it seems like theres always something more to him that you’re not seeing. Reading The Iron Knight was like lifting that veil.

Overall Thoughts: There were some issues, but overall the good far outweighed the bad. If you liked the first three Iron Fey books, you will love The Iron Knight.

**Thank you to Small Review for letting me steal her review format. I didn't mean to, but it worked so perfectly for this review that I had to try it out. So thanks, Small.


Alice said...

I'm a new follower. I didn't read the review because I didn't want the spoilers, but may read this book. It's always good to hear about new books to read. Thanks.

Pica said...

Hi Alice! Nice to "meet" you. Thanks for stopping by.


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