The Iron Knight

This book actually came out a few months ago, and I’m ashamed to say that I just now got around to reading it. The Iron Knight, by Julie Kagawa, is the fourth and final (?) installment of the Iron Fey series.

I was a bit disappointed at how the last book, The Iron Queen, ended. I really wanted there to be a happy ending! The Iron Knight began where the previous book left off, with Meghan in the Iron Realm, and Ash and Puck still in their respective courts. As normal fey, iron was lethal to them. Even though he knows that trying to be with her might very well kill him, Ash is determined to find a way to be with his love.

Ash and Puck finally find Grimalkin, that sassy and adorable feline, who acts as a bit of a guide in Ash’s quest to obtain a soul. As a Winter fey, he knows he cannot survive in the Iron Realm, but as a human, with a soul, it would be possible. He is, quite literally, on a journey to the end of the world, encountering places in the Nevernever that have been long forgotten, or considered myths.

There are certain events along the way that make Ash question his decision, bringing back powerful memories and feelings from his past. But the promise that he made to Meghan cannot be broken, so he decides to continue on the path he had previously chosen. When he finally reaches the end of the world, he must be tested. These tests are brutal and force him to realize what it means to be human. His body will become weak, his reflexes slower, his senses dulled. And after a lifetime of this, he will die. To be human is to be mortal. When he understands this, he is forced to consider all the implications of his decision.

While I won’t ruin the ending by including any spoilers, I will say that I liked the ending to this book and the series much better than the end of the last book, (and the initial ending of the series). There were quite a few heart wrenching moments in the story, and during some parts, I couldn’t see any way for the story to end well. Ash seemed trapped and destined to be apart from Meghan, but he still actively looked for a solution. And there was more than one instance of true love, and the sacrifices made for it.

I sincerely love the author’s writing style and the way she can put so much feeling and emotion into the words. I’m sad to say goodbye to Ash, Puck, and Meghan, but they have the promise of a full life teeming with possibilities ahead. And I’m looking forward to reading Julie Kagawa’s new series, the first book of which is scheduled to be released this April.

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Summer’s Crossing

I just finished reading Summer’s Crossing, the newest work in Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey Series. This novella was only published as an e-book, and like her last e-book, Winter’s Passage, it was offered as a free download. Quite generous of the author.

Summer’s Crossing picks up where The Iron Queen left off, but it is a story about Puck and Ash. Meghan is only in the thoughts of these two characters during this story. Ash and Puck are beginning to look for Grimalkin, when someone else finds them instead. It is Leanansidhe, and she’s come to call in a favor that Ash owes her, in exchange for the fact that she helped Meghan. Queen Titania has stolen one of her new toys, a prized Violin that she wants back. Ash’s task is to stroll into the Summer Court and steal back the violin. Since he is a Winter fey, his only chance at succeeding is with Puck’s help.

Along the way, when Ash has gone off by himself to hunt, King Oberon appears before Puck, letting him know that he will not be at the Summer Court and will be out of their way for the task at hand. He doesn’t care much for the attention that his Queen has been giving to her new toy and feels a bit ignored. Oberon also hints that if the Winter Price somehow disappeared or came to harm while in the Summer Court, Meghan would then be free to court and win Meghan Chase. King Oberon disappears and leaves Puck with a lot to consider.

Pucks glamours Ash into a Summer Knight and takes on a similar guise himself, marching them straight to the middle of the Summer Court where Titania awaits. But will Puck aid Ash in his task or will he betray him in the hopes that with Ash out of the picture, he might someday be able to win Meghan’s love himself?

This was a very quick read, and of course very entertaining, showing a bit more of Puck’s character, and Ash’s as well. I still want to find out what happens next in the series, but that will have to wait until the publication of The Iron Knight, in October. But this novella was a nice morsel to snack on while waiting for the final installment.

The Iron Queen

The third book of the Iron Fey series was released this month, and like the first two books, I couldn’t put it down! The Iron Queen, by Julie Kagawa, continues the story of Meghan Chase, picking up where The Iron Daughter left off.

At the beginning of the book, an exiled Meghan and Ash are planning to visit Meghan’s family, but when they arrive, some iron fey are waiting for them. They want to capture Meghan and take her to the false king. Meghan knows that she (and her family) will never be safe until the false king is defeated, and that the longer he remains in power, more and more of the Nevernever will be destroyed.

Queen Mab and King Oberon have a short-term alliance, fighting the Iron Fey together. They also know that the false king must be stopped, but the only one who can enter his realm is Meghan, and they already exiled her! So, they make Meghan (along with Ash and Puck) an offer of pardon. Their exile will be lifted if Meghan agrees to kill the false king. Knowing that there is really no other option, Meghan accepts.

In addition to the usual cast of characters, a few more were introduced. It turns out that since Meghan defeated King Machina, the gremlins now consider her their master. One such gremlin, Razor, was especially cute, and I guess as cuddly as iron can be. Also, the rebel leader (there are still iron fey who are loyal to King Machina and oppose the false king), Glitch, was an honorable character as well.

Meghan, Ash, and Puck finally figure out exactly how to get to the false king. While Ash and Puck are busy fighting other fey, Meghan comes to the conclusion that the only way to defeat him is to sacrifice herself. She fully believes that she is going to die and after the false king is gone, asks Ash to take her to the great tree that is now King Machina. Knowing that staying in the Iron Realm too long will kill him, she uses his true name and tells him to leave, wanting to save him before she dies. Of course, she doesn’t die, though. Instead, being the one to wield the power of Machina, she has instead become the Iron Queen, and her duty is to her people and her Realm. And since killing the false king, the Realm has borders and is no longer encroaching on the rest of the Nevernever.

The new Iron Realm incorporates both Summer and Iron, and Meghan is half summer fey, which allows Puck to visit. However, the Winter Prince still cannot be around iron without getting terribly sick and even dying, so Meghan does not see Ash again. As a faery queen, she knows she has time, but she still longs to see him.

At the end of the book, Meghan goes to visit her family (her mother, stepfather, and little brother). After being gone for over a year, she is finally able to tell them about what has happened to her. After a tearful goodbye, she leaves the house. She believes that she can feel Ash’s presence, but then convinces herself that she is imagining things. She returns to the Iron Realm with Glitch, her first lieutenant. However, Ash and Puck are both there watching her. Ash knows that he must find a way to be with her in the Iron Realm, which sets up the scene for the fourth (and final) installment in the series, The Iron Knight.

I do have to say that while I did tremendously enjoy this book, it was not my favorite of the series. I think The Iron Daughter still has the top spot. I was really expecting a different ending, one in which Meghan and Ash would be together. I wanted the fairy tale, but ended up getting the faery tale. Anyway, it seems like Ash is determined to do what it takes to be with Meghan and I’m excited to find out how his story unfolds.

The Iron Daughter

As I said as few days ago after reading Winter’s Passage, I was definitely ready to be immersed in Julie Kagawa’s newest creation. The Iron Daughter is the second book in the amazing Iron Fey series. I couldn’t put it down; the story and characters had my undivided attention from the very beginning and are still lingering a couple of days after finishing the book.

It begins with Meghan already in the Unseelie Court. She isn’t exactly sure how long she’s been there, but she knows that she has been deserted by Ash. She hasn’t seen him since their arrival weeks, or maybe even months, ago. She is alone, and is Queen Mab’s prisoner. Still, no one believes her about the existence of the Iron Fey, except Ash, who is MIA. This is unfortunate as they steal the Scepter of the Seasons from the Unseelie Court, leaving Queen Mab to blame the Summer Court. She punishes Meghan and prepares to wage war against King Oberon.

Ash finally shows up and realizes that for Meghan to have a chance to survive he must deliver her to the Seelie Court, but he is still icy and causes Meghan to question what, if anything, is actually between them. Meghan is not one to go willingly though, and has her own ideas about getting back the Scepter. If it is not found and returned soon, the Courts will end up destroying themselves.  Puck, finally awake and healed, makes his appearance and once again, the three go in search of the Iron Fey.

The quest leads them into the mortal realm and “The Between,” which is exactly what it sounds like, a place between the mortal realm and the Nevernever. During one of their stops, another character shows up, one who left his shoes on a lakeshore. I expected his presence at some point, but definitely not in this way.

This book was full of action, and with every turn of the page, even more action! And also the romance triangle continued, and definitely heated up. During many parts, Meghan is convinced that Ash cares nothing for her, and that he even used glamour in the past in order to manipulate her emotions so that it would be easier to get her to go with him to the Unseelie Court. So, it was easier for Meghan to turn her thoughts to Puck sometimes….

Finally, the three are able to steal back the Scepter and expose the Iron Fey to the other Courts. With the war between Summer and Winter ending, (at least for the moment), Meghan and Ash are supposed to go their separate ways, to their own Courts. It is a well-known fact that Summer and Winter are forbidden to be together, something which has been true for all time. Ash and Meghan are forced to make a difficult decision, the result of which I’m sure will have repercussions in the future.

Oh, and who is the Iron Daughter? I’ll just say that she was who I suspected all along, even before I read the book. 

I love this series, and what makes it even better is that it is the first series from this author. She’s definitely talented and has such an imagination. Her description of places, characters, and raw emotion are fantastic. And did I mention that the covers are absolutely beautiful? I’m looking forward to her future works, and not just The Iron Queen (which will be released February 2011), but any other stories she choses to bring to life someday.

Winter’s Passage

A few months ago I read the extraordinary debut novel The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa. It is the first novel in The Iron Fey trilogy. While waiting for her second book to be released, Julie made available a short novella, Winter’s Passage, which takes place between the first two novels.

This is definitely a short read, being less than 50 pages. However, that’s long enough to pack in excitement, action, and of course, a bit of forbidden romance between Meghan and Ash. The story begins with Meghan fulfilling her contract she made with Ash, to go with him to the Unseelie Court in exchange for him having helped her rescue her little brother from the Iron Fey. Meghan has just one request before they go on their way, though. She wants to see Puck.

They take a trod to New Orleans and find that Puck is still “asleep,” healing from his wounds. It is unknown if he will wake up tomorrow or in another century. Not being able to do anything other than apologize to the sleeping Puck, Meghan continues her journey with Ash into the Nevernever. And of course, Grimalkin, everyone’s favorite feline, makes an appearance as well.

On their way, Meghan and Ash feel eyes upon them and soon discover they are being stalked by an ancient hunter. Not wanting to giveaway too much information, I’ll just say that this hunter was sent by someone. Shortly after “defeating” the hunter, Unseelie knights made their entrance into the story. They had been sent by Queen Mab to escort the Prince and the half-breed back to the palace. Ash immediately seemed icy and indifferent. Meghan began to wonder if she had misunderstood everything between them, questioning Ash’s true feelings. The story ends with the arrival at Tir Na Nog, a massive underground city.

While very short, Winter’s Passage left me wanting more. What happens to Puck? Has Ash just been acting, or using glamour, in order to get Meghan to the Unseelie Court? And where did Grimalkin go? It’s a good thing I’ve got The Iron Daughter on hand, as I’m ready to dive in!

The Iron King

The Iron King was first recommended to me through a friend, who is also a friend of Julie Kagawa, the author. I perused the author’s website and this website, which is devoted to the Iron Fey books. I was immediately intrigued, and I knew I just had to get my hands on this book. But I discovered a problem. The book is only published in paperback (or as an ebook). Anyone who knows me should understand how difficult it is for me to buy anything other than a hardcover to grace my shelves. However, for Ms. Kagawa’s creation, I sucked it up and purchased the paperback. I was not disappointed. This is the author’s debut novel, and even so, I was thrilled with the result. This is the first faery, or fey, book that I have ever read, and I have to say, this book interested me in reading more of this genre.

Meghan Chase is about to turn sixteen years old. She lost her father when she was six when he just disappeared. Now, she has also lost her younger half-brother. He has been kidnapped by faeries. To rescue him, Meghan journeys into Nevernever, Faery land, with her best friend, Robbie, whom she has just recently learned is none other than the infamous Puck.

Meghan’s journey takes her through the wyldwood, a neutral, and less tame, part of Nevernever. Here, she is treated as a plaything of some of the fey, nearly killed by a beautiful pale stranger’s arrow, and almost eaten. And she meets Grimalkin, the snarky yet lovable cat who becomes her guide. Her adventures take her through the Summer Court, where she learns things about herself she never could have dreamed, and through Tir Na Nog, the Winter Court. She finally finds herself in a different part of Nevernever, a place that was previously unknown to both the Summer and Winter Courts, and that threatens to destroy the rest of Nevernever as it expands.

Throughout her adventure, Meghan is accompanied by her long-time friend Puck, Grimalkin, and Ash, the dark-haired pale stranger. Ash is a Winter Prince who has been charged with delivering Meghan to his mother, Queen Mab. Unable to resist Meghan, Ash makes a contract with her, and for now, agrees to help her on her quest to find her brother, something that Puck is not overly thrilled about. While full of action and adventure, The Iron King also has an element of romance, with a subtle love triangle in the mix.

This book is a terrific read, full of very realistic characters and emotions. I absolutely can’t wait until August, when Meghan’s story continues in The Iron Daughter. In this book, I hope there will be a bit more romance, and Meghan and Ash will confront their feelings and what their involvement may mean for themselves and their families. But that’s just what I hope to hear about…I’m confident there will be so much more to the story. Ms. Kagawa has already distinguished herself as a successful and talented author, and I look forward to reading all of her future endeavors…even if they are in paperback.