The Iron Knight (The Iron Fey, #4)by Julie Kagawa Published 26 Oct 2011
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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…
To cold 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 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. And along the way Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.
"The Iron Knight (The Iron Fey, #4)" Reviews
First, let me say that I really enjoyed the previous installments of this series; so I'm not happy to squash this one down. Maybe I'm in a bad mood lately, or maybe my standards have suddently become impossibly high, but I didn't like this novel.
Brief recap of what this story is about: to be with girl, boy has to acquire a soul. To do so, boy must pass an unspecified test. Girl has to do absolutely nothing in the meantime.
For the first 2/3 I was so bored that I wanted to gouge my eyes off with a spoon.
The book is written in first person, from Ash's POV. Given that now he's kind of depressed, sad, tired, indecisive and generally behaves like an emo, that's not conductive for a lively read.
If you don't know what an "emo" is:
And then he discovers that his ex girlfriend is not dead, but is still pining for him. She's almost as depressed and sad and all-of-the-above as he is.
What a huge pile of depression and sadness. Shall we throw an emo party? (Or is that an oxymoron?)
From that point on, I trudged on just to see her die. Because it was obvious that sooner or later she would, possibly in a coherently sad and depressing way.
(Here I was thinking "if I'm lucky, she's going to cut herself or something")
Well, our depressed and sad characters face a series of pointless and wholly inconsequential challenges. I'm sure there's every sort of metaphorical significance in those, but all the philosophizing is lost on me. I just found these parts unnecessary. Maybe they were needed to give some thickness to the book.
And then Ash comes to the End of the World where he'll prove himself worthy of a soul. We are on chapter 15 out of 24, and you could delete all that's already happened without losing anyhing of the plot's backbone (as detailed in my nice recap).
The trial consists in three rather stupid tests. Sorry, but I'll have to need some spoilers here.
- The first test is [spoilers removed]; and no one has ever done that before!? Please.
- The second test is [spoilers removed]; same comment as above.
- The third test is [spoilers removed]. As this require some insight in the future, it can be confused with the normal course of events. For me, this part was a continuous string of WTFs.
Finally, [spoilers removed].
Bottom line: don't bother with the actual book, just hit all the spoilers above and call it a day.
In the meantime, I'm going to pull a certain author down from a very high pedestal.
This review is meant as a joke. I don't intend to belittle depression or other kinds of psychological distress. I've suffered of depression myself, so believe me, I should know.
Actual rating 4.5 stars
Plot - 4.5 out of 5 stars
Really enjoyed it. It was exciting, action-packed, mysterious with a great mid-way plot twist and a very sweet and satisfying ending.
Writing Style - 4 out of 5 stars
It's very simple but with very beautiful and detailed descriptions. Every time there is a POV change, there is a slight change to match the voice of the person. Within the story, there's a lot of foreshadowing to later plot points which are a bit easy to catch on to.
Characters - 4 out of 5 stars
We get a new point of view in this book compared to the rest of the books in this series. Ash, one of the male protagonist in this series, takes center stage and becomes the main voice as he takes a journey for love. I liked getting the chance to get to know him better and more in depth in this book. He's strong and brave and determined. But he also shows a lot of vulnerability and openness that we hadn't seen from him before and it was really interesting to see the complexity of his character closer. He's torn about a lot of the possible decisions in his future and it was great to see him be a little on the weaker side throughout this book. We also get some of my lovable Puck, whom I love and who is one of my favorite characters of this series.
Since I haven’t written reviews for the first 3 books I would like to start off by saying that all four of the books get 4.5 stars from me. I was pleasantly startled to see that it was really easy to get absorbed into this world and I got through each book pretty quickly. When I started this series, I think the first thing I noticed was that the plot for each book is relatively simple and the figuring out the twists and turns was not a hardship at all. Despite the simplicity of the storyline, I was shocked to see that books somehow always managed to keep me wanting to read more.
The books were overall very entertaining and in due course of time, grow on you. The ‘fairy’ world of Nevernever comprises of the Seelie Court, the Unseelie Court, and now the Iron Kingdom. I enjoyed seeing the incorporation of the characters from A Midsummer Night’s Dream as humans began dreaming of them. The idea that myths, stories, and simply remembering a creature from a story fuels their existence in the book.
Our protagonist, Meghan, is not one of my favorite female leads but there is a vast growth in her character when compared with her personality in the first book. In the first 2 books I feel like she has a hard time keeping her emotions from overriding her actions so they lead to situations that could have been better or even completely avoided, but in the third book she is more put together and makes well thought out decisions and comes into her own. I truly admire her loyalty to the people who matter to her and her willingness to do what is right even if it is very much easier to extricate herself from the issue.
I also really love both Ash and Puck, both of them have great personalities and are the most loyal friends you will find. Those last chapters revealed a lot about both Ash and Puck not just to us but themselves. Puck's fame and other people's opinions and previous encounters with him are truly amusing. Reading about bits of their past as best friends is so endearing it make my heart want of shatter into a million pieces.
And you can't not love Grimalkin.
I don’t think the entirety of how attached I’d become to this world, to these characters hit me only when I was reading this final book. As I neared the end of this book the reality that I was actually going to leave this world of faeries, love, and friendship hit me like a punch to the gut. Each of the character in their own way have grown on me to the point that I will always want to come back to these characters, I will truly miss this series.
I thought The Iron Queen is bad enough, but it was before I read The Iron Knight...
Julie Kagawa herself revealed in the interview at the end of this book, that The Iron Knight was written because her editor convinced her Meghan and Ash should not be broken apart.
Shame on you, editor.
So what should Ms. Kagawa do in order to get Meghan and Ash back together? What should she do to give her editor and all the Ash/Meghan shippers the Happy Ever After they want? Let's do a checklist:
(1) Put Ash on a quest to find a way to become human.
(2) [spoilers removed]
(3) We need some plot development and fight scenes! Put Ash and everyone else to go to the End of the World...otherwise nothing would happen in this book!
(4) Add A LOT OF ANGST and Ash carrying on about "Meghan I love you but you rejected me!!!!" whining into the story.
(5) [spoilers removed]
(6) Let Ash grant his wish...without having to pay any real price.
There're a few more reasons why I think this book is awful, but I will mention them when I have time.
Edited @30/04/2015 10:00PM:
Warning: all-out ranting starts here, don't like don't read:
Let's get down to business, shall we? First, let me tell you I didn't care much about Ash throughout the first three books, still I at least did think he is a decent love interest in Book 3 (Don't get me started with Book 1 and Book 2, I don't want to be reminded of Meghan's Too Stupid To Live, unreasonable lust with the mysterious ice prince) however it all changed after I read The Iron Knight.
In The Iron Queen, Ash hinted to Meghan about his dark past, and in this Book 4, his part is revealed and oh, dear goodness it only shows me how much of a bastard he had been during his long immortal life! I know, Ms. Kagawa might probably want to use Ash's dark past and his quest for redemption as a plot device to give Ash more depth, to make him different from the other brooding, darkly handsome YA male love interests, but unluckily Ms. Kagawa seems to go overboard on this part.
Well...I've read characters with dark past before, I've read characters redeeming themselves despite of their past wrongdoing. However, Ms. Kagawa had done TOO LITTLE to make Ash worthy enough for redemption. Supposedly Ash should go through three trials to proof himself and face his past mistakes, but in the end those trials are nothing, none of them is harsh nor torturous nor soul-shattering nor life-changing enough to prove Ash is indeed worthy of a soul.
Those ridiculous trials aside (plus the story about [spoilers removed] is just as ridiculous), Ash's backstory also makes one thing become clear: the romance between Ash and Meghan makes no sense. Although it's easy for me to understand why a TSTL little girl would fall in love with Ash, but on the other hand, what has Ash ever seen in Meghan anyway? What makes him love her so much? What makes Meghan different from the other love-sicked human girls he toyed with and then dumped without a second thought? The only explanation I can think of is: for the sake of driving the plot onward, Ash must fall in love with Meghan, so Ms. Kagawa just...made it happen, despite logic and reason and stuff.
To add insult to injury, Ash never has to pay any real price to gain a soul [spoilers removed]. By the end of the book, it becomes clear that Ms. Kagawa created nothing but one plot convenience after another to make way for a Happy Ever After.
The only problem is, does Ash deserve this HEA? Nap, in my opinion as TSTL as Meghan is, she still doesn't deserve to end up with a mass murderer (who obviously has never really confessed to her about his past wrongdoing). In my opinion, Ash should have been spending the next 100 years to redeem himself before he can win back the right of being with anyone else.
You know what, not every YA book needs to have a Happy Ever After, The Darkangel trilogy doesn't, and it's freaking awful to create one plot convenience after another to make way for your HEA!
But stupid me, what am I thinking? Of course Ash would be allowed to go back to Meghan ASAP in the end, of course Ash and Meghan would have their HEA, because it's what Kagawa's editor and her readers would want! This series is about wish-fulfilling and handsome boyfriends, just like most of the post-Twilight YA novels out there, it is not about realism, the art of storytelling and real redemption. Silly me.
I can only hope that this will put my heart at ease. After the iron queen, my heart felt shattered. I hope beyond hope that this ends up being ash and puck, their journey to find grim and hopefully mend the frayed fabric that was ash and meghan.
2.5 for the same reason The Iron Queen is a 2.5. Some parts are just so tedious and useless.
"I will be with her again, or I will die."
(this gif is everything)
Yeah, I know that there was all that oath thing, so he was obliged to keep his word, yadda yadda, but stil: gag.
•I did like Ash as main character more than Meghan; not that it took that much, considering that when I began to read The Iron Knight I could formulate just one intelligible thought, and it was: No more Meghan for a while. Yes. Yes.
(For further information, see The Iron King, The Iron Daughter and The Iron Queen and call Meghan all the names under the sun along with me.)
So, as I said, Ash was not that terrible. But then Ariella joined the gang, because apparently Kagawa is completely incapable of writing a book without trotting out a love-triangle. As if this were not enough, the explanation given for her return is totally plucked out of thin air, just because the author thinks that without all this useless, nauseating and gratuitous drama a story cannot be interesting, quite apart from the fact that she herself is contradictory in trying to give clarifications as to what actually happened: [spoilers removed]
To me, this is called ineffective and clumsy usage of narrative devices.
•What pushed me to give half a star more were the chapters in which Ash faces his three trials, which are the only parts of the book I found truly and completely interesting and that didn't annoy or bored me at all, except for the third trial, which in my opinion takes up too many space and could have been rewritten in a more effective way. My favorite is without doubt the second trial, when finally we get to see what a bastard Ash was in the first centuries of his life. It reminded me why I started this series in the first place, to see Faeries being mean, sly, sneaky and cunning. Which, sadly for me, I didn't. Not at all.
Had I known...
•The banter between Ash and Puck was funny to follow at times, just flat at others. And some of Puck's jokes are really off-putting. Sometimes I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
•Half of the plot is filled with random attacks from monsters and co. that have no connection with Ash's quest and whose only purpose is to fill with something a hundred pages more, thus my boredom and my luck of interest.
In a nutshell, what I recommend you is to steer clear of this series. My overall rating considering the four books as a whole is 2.5 stars out of 5 , so it's not utterly terrible, but reading these books was an agony for me. Besides, as I said, even without considering my personal feeling towards the characters and their attitudes, the series lacks of a solid structure and presents various logical inconsistencies. I can find very little of good in it, maybe only the main concept, which had, in my opinion, a lot of potential.
And I am sad for this, because, seriously, you have no idea how much I wanted to love The Iron Fey. It just wasn't meant to be.