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Book Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

iron knight kagawa Book Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

(Contains spoilers, so the spoiler averse may wish to head over to my Julie Kagawa Q&A and excerpt post instead)

Ash is of the Winter Court: he is a fey prince whose nature is as cold and removed as the kingdom from which he hails. But Ash is in love with Meghan, the half-human girl who has become the ruler of the Iron Kingdom. Of course, the presence of iron is a death sentence to any fey, no matter how much power or lineage they have to draw upon. For Ash, then, the only way that he can be with Meghan is to renounce his very identity and become mortal. However, doing so is no easy task

The Iron Knight'is the fourth in Julie Kagawas bestselling young adult'Iron Fey series, but stands apart from the first three in that the novel is told from Ashs perspective rather than Meghans; Id position it as more as an accompanying volume to a trilogy rather than the fourth in a quartet. Readers familiar with the previous books in the series may find the switch somewhat jarring, but as a newcomer to Kagawas work, I found she did a tremendous job of presenting us with a standalone narrative that can be read quite easily without prior knowledge of the series. Theres a good deal of word-building and backstory to be worked in, but Kagawa manages a fairly momentous task without falling prey to infodumpery or as you know, Bob reminiscences from the characters (with the exception of the seer Ariella, who sends not a few flashbacks our way).

Kagawa writes neatly and confidently, and her world is vividly depicted, with folkloric beasties in abundance. However, the nature of The Iron Knight'is that much of the wonder that no doubt characterises the earlier books in the series hovers only a the fringes of this story. We hear of the fey courts and of the eerie-sounding Iron Kingdom, but only in retellings and asides, rather than directly. The majority of this novel, in contrast, involves a quest-style overland trek, which is a plot approach that necessarily reduces the amount of exposure to the social or the political of these worlds, setting the weight of the story firmly on the shoulders of the characters and their banter and the monsters and obstacles in their way. Its a fun plot, but a simplistic one, and admittedly it does take a little while to get into the meat of it allAsh and Puck spend a good bit of time playing games with Baba Yaga and her hens hut before deciding that a good old-fashioned quest is the way to go. Although the dialogue is generally fun and carefree, there are times when it becomes intrusive and over-the-top, with Puck in particular the character given the role of explaining and emphasising, and thus ruining the subtlety of the other characters jokes. (And whats up with the random attempts on each others lives, Puck and Ash?)

It really is all a good deal of fun, though, and I suspect Indiana Jones is stamping his foot at not being involved in the shenanigans. The Big Bad Wolf makes an appearance, as does know-it-all puss Grimalkin, and there are riddles and puzzles worthy of Zork (but no grues, thankfully). Of particular interest to me was the challenges put to Ash when he decides that he wishes to become mortal: we see the brutal truth of his past, albeit watered down a little for YA tastes, and the realities of mortal flesh: a short lifespan, the ravages of ageing, and physical weakness. At one point Ash watches himself age and wither away while Meghan and his child remain young and beautifullosing them to time is an inevitable outcome of the choice he plans to make. Im sure its no huge surprise that despite all this, Ash decides to go through with it (mostly). But the cynic in me cant help but wish that he hadnt at all. Ash is willing to give up his entire identity, and his entire being, for another person, and though in some ways its interesting to see a guy, rather than a girl, do so, I almost wish that hed had the strength to turn awayor that the decision had been denied him.

In all, this is a solid read, although I would have liked some greater plot complexity and perhaps a grittier, more honest ending. Im certainly intrigued enough that Id read more of Kagawas work.

Rating: star Book Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawastar Book Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawastar Book Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawahalfstar Book Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawablankstar Book Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa (very good)

With thanks to Meryl L Moss Media Relations for the review copy

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Other books by Julie Kagawa:

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  1. Its a shame you didnt have the time to read the others first I think you would have enjoyed this more had you but I am glad you did like it

  2. Stephanie /

    I wish I had, too, but my book stacks are out of control :) I will go back and read them in the new year, though.