ARC Review: The Iron Knight (Iron Fey series #4) by Julie Kagawa
Banished from the Iron Kingdom, cast out by his true name by the woman he loves, bound by an unbreakable oath, Prince Ashallayn’darkmyr Tallyn will either find a way to become human and return to her side, or he will die. Filled with fantastical adventure, uneasy cameraderie, ethereal beauty, and vivid imagination, this fourth and final installment in the Iron Fey series will have you up all night, speeding through the story only to crave more and wish it would never end. The Iron Knight is a GraveTells Fave!
- Title: The Iron Knight
- Series: The Iron Fey – book #4
- Author: Julie Kagawa
- Prominent Characters: Ash, Puck
- Recommended reader age: 13+
- Sexual content level: very little, practically none
- Genre: Young Adult, romance-driven fantasy
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
Prince Ash and Robin Goodfellow are two of the most vibrant and magnetic characters I have ever read. I’ve read a lot. A lot of fantasy, a lot of scifi, a lot of romance… a LOT… and these guys continue to haunt me. I wish they were real so I could hang out with them or just watch them go about their every day activities. Their relationship is so complicated yet so deep, and their personalities are extremely different yet so very similar. I am far past the age of plastering my walls with teen magazine posters, but thinking of these two makes me seriously tempted to hang some discreet Team Ash and Team Puck banners… because who can choose between them?! I do not envy Meghan Chase! Ok, maybe a little… *grin*
The Cheshire Cat, the Big Bad Wolf, trees that move and a raft that propels itself to the End of the World. Practically every fairytale you can think of is touched on in this story, and some you wish you didn’t know. Dreams, nightmares, and the mysteries of the subconscious all float by our heroes as they venture closer to their impossible goal. The world Ms. Kagawa builds is immersive, fantastical, and wonderfully imaginative. It is a playground for the mind and a feast for the spirit. This story is something that must be experienced to be truly appreciated.
Many stories have fairies and some even talk about how they’re related to the old myths and beliefs, but The Iron Knight really takes that lore and enriches it. The fey are created by human imagination and dreams. They exist on their continued belief and remembrance in human minds. They strengthen and wither as humans fear, revere, and forget them. Our imagination is what births and kills them, giving fragile humans ultimate power over the immortal and mighty fey. Ash’s quest is to become human, looked down on as something less, weak, but the lessons he learns on his journey are lessons for us too.
Don’t be fooled into stopping at the Acknowledgments page, either! Tucked into the very end of the book are a Survival Guide to the Nevernever, a Q&A with Ms. Kagawa (and some surprise guests), and some discussion questions about the book. Very cool extras, especially the guide and the interview!
One last thing… this is the 4th book in the Iron Fey series, so you might wonder “Do I need to read the others first?” The answer is “No, not if you don’t mind spoilers.” I am completely new to Ms. Kagawa’s world of Winter and Summer and Iron Fey, and I was absolutely not lost at any point in the story. I also never felt like I was in a history lecture. The relevant details and happenings of past books are skillfully written into the narration and dialogue, and Ash’s first-person POV gives us a rare view into his pragmatic, determined, warrior’s psyche. Keep in mind that this story is the conclusion to the series, so you will definitely learn what happened in previous books. If you’d rather know absolutely nothing going in, I recommend you start with the first book, The Iron King. Else, dive right in and enjoy this masterpiece of a story… then come back and read the first three when you just MUST HAVE MORE!!
Who can be serious when fighting giant bog trolls? Obviously not Goodfellow…
There was movement on its broad shoulders, and Puck appeared, clinging to its back, a huge grin splitting his face. “All right,” he announced grandly, as the troll jerked and spun around, trying in vain to reach him, “I claim this land for Spain.” And he planted his dagger in the base of the troll’s thick neck.
When are dreams more than just dreams? When they fuel the lives of those who exist in the Nevernever…
“Just as story, belief, and imagination make us stronger, the lack of them slowly kills, even those in the Nevernever, until there is nothing left. That giant we saw? He is one of them, the Forgotten, clinging to existence by the thread of those who still remember him. It is only a matter of time before he is simply not there anymore.”
Offensive? Robin Goodfellow? Nah…
I looked at Puck, smirking. “I think you offended him, Goodfellow.”
He snorted. “If I ever worried about that, I’d never open my mouth.”
If you liked The Iron Knight of the Iron Fey series…
I’m having a tough time with this one. Usually I pick something that has similar elements and good writing, but in this case… a) it’s Young Adult, which we rarely review here on GT, and b) it’s romantic fantasy without ANY romance. And c) it’s incredibly vivid and leaves a haunting impression. I just can’t think of anything similar in the current GraveTells archive to recommend for you, so I’m going to go outside of our PNR/UF bubble and say The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It’s a female-friendly retelling of the infamous Authurian legends, and is beautifully crafted.
If you like the fey universe but don’t mind a good deal of smuttiness in your stories (i.e. you don’t need to stick to YA), Laurel K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series (starting with A Kiss of Shadows) is great. Be duly warned – this material is not for young eyes! It has graphic sex, violence, and gore, and makes no apologies for any of it. An excellent series for mature readers who like a little blood, scheming, and magic with their erotica.
The Iron Knight is a story of love lost and found, hope and hopelessness, brotherhood and regrets. It is a book about choices and consequences, sacrifice and acceptance, and ultimately, about understanding… really, truly understanding… what being human is all about. The Iron Knight is a beautiful, shining, heart-breaking story about life, and as poignant as it is, as conflicted as it made me feel, I want to live there in the Deep Wylds of the Nevernever on an endless adventure with Ash and Puck and the whole gang.
The Iron Knight is a GraveTells Fave, a must-read that you will keep on your bookshelf and read over and over.
Rating: The Iron Knight
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http://www.juliekagawa.com/ (Julie Kagawa’s website)
http://juliekagawa.blogspot.com/ (Julie Kagawa’s blog)