Author: Julie Kagawa
Title: The Iron Knight
Series: The Iron Fey (4)
Publisher: Harlequin Teen (2011)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“My name—my True Name—is Ashallayn'darkmyr Tallyn.I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her.My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl…” GoodReads’ blurb.
There are many young adult books I love, but there aren’t many where I can’t pinpoint a single thing I did not like. I believe The Iron Fey is the one and only standing title in that category.
At this point, I think we all know how The Iron Queen ended. I think we all cried and screamed, and knew that it just could not end like that. The Iron Knight takes up this cry of despair and delivers a fairy tale happy ending – and in what a way!
Ash knows that, as a fey, he can’t stand besides Meghan. So, what’s left? Just as she has left behind her mortal world to become the Iron Queen, now he must leave Winter behind to become a mortal.
He probably does not realize what he’s trying to get, but luckily he’s not alone on the quest: Puck accompanies him, and of course, when we’re talking about impossible quests, Grimalkin the cat must come along! The three of them start a long journey beyond the limits of the Nevernever, and they find the most unexpected company along the way:
Their guide will be a character that I could not help but to love and to hate. To love, because her existence meant that Puck and Ash didn’t need to kill each other, that their friendship would not turn Ash into an Oathbreaker and destroy his soul. Hate, because old memories die hard and our prince does not need the distraction. She wasn’t as developed as the other characters, which might explain the little sympathy I had for her – or maybe my hate just won out! – but she does have a role to play, and her insight helps Ash realize what the important things are so all was good.
Their bodyguard is none other than The Big Bad Wolf. Yes, you read that right. I’ll admit that his first scene was scary, but two lines in I already loved him. He had that wise, hardened feeling of a fey older than time, and it was mixed up with the loyalty and the quirks of a huge dog. If that was not enough, he made the perfect counterpart to Grim – their dialogue was priceless! By the end of the book it was clear that they had some kind of friendly feud, and I cared more for the Wolf than I’ve cared for many other support characters (including our guide, and Meghan’s mortal father, and Oberon and... yeah, you get the hint).
By the way, talking about furry things, Grim still is a favorite. If you liked him in the previous books, prepare to read about more (and dare I say better? More prominent, in any case) unflappable cat moments. I felt we also got to know Puck better this time, if only because Ash point of view in relation to him is so very different from Meghan’s.
And Ash himself? Being inside his head, there were no ice prince moments. He might project the façade, but we could see every moment of pain, of remembrance, of indecision, of desperation.... And because we know how stoic he is, how he prides himself in his control, it was particularly touching to see his feelings. The prince needs to learn what being human is all about, and he’s not ready, not by a long shot – and we can witness how the realization cracks him every step of the way. The parts where he has to reach his destination, where his mission is clear, those he’s comfortable with, as I’d expect, but when he has to face the trials for Meghan... I even felt sorry for having thought he was a bit on the shallow part.
Ms. Kagawa excels in characterization, so probably I’ve not said anything new, but I felt I needed to stress the depth and the evolution of all characters involved, their unique voice. It really is a great series in that regard.
Another thing Ms. Kagawa excels at is world building. Even though by this volume the Nevernever was pretty much set up, and there was not much to add to it or to its inhabitants that was relevant to the story, she still manages to surprise us and to take us to unexplored places, places in the edge of dream and oblivion and nightmare, beyond the Courts. This alien place was a delight to explore, and the action felt like the perfect build up to the final trial.
I won’t say much about the trial, or about the results. I believe that would spoil the book for you. Suffice it to say that you’ll find human nature pinpointed, and you’ll look at life somewhat differently afterwards. At least I did.
There is just one thing I didn’t like about The Iron Knight: reading it meant that the series was over.
This was one wonderful trip. I loved the place it took me to, and I loved every step along the way. The characters are so real for me that parting is like parting from a dear, beloved friend.
The good thing is that I can revisit as many times as I want. I know I will.
Seriously: if you’ve yet to buy The Iron Fey, don’t let another day pass you by. You won’t regret it.
Rather, you will if you don’t. It was that special.