The quest to be her knight in shining (iron) armour.
Publisher: Mira Ink (Harlequin)
Age: Young Adult
First Published: 25th October 2011
Date Reviewed: 6th December 2013
To be with Meghan, the new queen of the Iron Kingdom, Ash needs to become human. His traditional faery self will never stand being in the kingdom for long and now he has made an oath to Meghan he cannot break it. There must be a way to gain a soul, and together with Grimalkin, Puck, and the Big Bad Wolf, he is determined to discover the way. He might discover someone, too.
The Iron Knight is the fourth book in The Iron Fey series that is technically a spin-off as the series was satisfactorily completed by The Iron Queen. As a spin-off from a different viewpoint it will likely interest some fans and irritate others.
And it must be said that although the reader already knew that Ash wanted to find a way to be with Meghan, there is a lot in this book that could be considered clutching at straws. There is very much the sense that this book was written to keep the series going when it didn’t need to be, and there are some elements that bare questioning besides the basic reason d’etre.
This may be considered a spoiler but at the same time it must be discussed because of the way it changes everything you have read and believed previously: Kagawa has chosen to bring back a character who had died before the series begun. The reason is obvious – it creates angst, conflict – but it is undeniably unnecessary. And due to the events that occur, the emotions renewed, it ultimately means that the reader may feel short-changed by Ash and Meghan’s relationship; Kagawa, whether deliberately or not, makes a great case for Ash not being with Meghan. Furthering this the end of the book ensures that he pretty much has his cake and eats it – but not in a way that shows immortality, rather it confirms the supposed suggestion that Ash should not be with Meghan. It sets up a situation that no partner wishes their beloved was in, and means that the reader will likely close the book wondering how long Meghan would put up with it if she were a real person.
It must be said that if you’ve found Puck’s constant chatter and stupidity to be annoying previously, this book is not for you. In times of great anguish there is Puck being sarcastic, in times of death there is Puck being disrespectful, and so on. Puck is a constant source of ‘pulling you out’ of the story.
A great deal of the book is reigned by the above three points. But although they continue from beginning to end there comes a point where they are of no consequence.
Kagawa’s skill undeniably lies in the themes she creates, the studies and messages she proposes, no matter whether she follows through on them or not. (A previous example may be found in my discussion post about the use of technology in the series.) In The Iron Knight, this skill is shown in the author’s study of what it means to be human. This section of the book is fantastic – it is thought-provoking, heart-wrenching, and grounding, at the highest level. In order to gain the right to become human it is inevitable that Ash must contempt the meaning of mortality and humanity, indeed if he hadn’t the book wouldn’t have had a leg to stand on for the concepts the reader would want to bestow on Ash. This part of the book is lengthy, Kagawa details so much but not necessarily in the way you would expect. She ‘shows’ in every way, and explores the little things so easy to forget. It of course has the additional effect of making you feel sorry for what Ash will lose before you remember that you yourself will be going through the same, being what Ash wants to be; thus the book has an extra sobering effect. True to form, despite the extremely real impact this part of the book has on the reader, it is still fantastical. In fact this section is more magical and fairy-like than the rest of the book.
Once you’ve been through this section it is difficult not to feel that the rest has been worth it. It may not be in literal terms, but if this section was the swan song of the series then it would practically be a suite.
The ending does lessen the effect a bit. On one hand you could say that Ash’s eventual fate is a peace-offering, on the other hand it can be considered an opportunity wasted. Undoubtedly the overall atmosphere and tone of the series suits the ending Kagawa has written, but many readers affected by the study may feel as though an ending that suited the study would have had a profoundly moving conclusion.
In brief, The Iron Knight is unnecessary as a sequel, and the ‘revived’ character may dampen readers’ feelings in general. However as a study the book is excellent. This is a story that truly has something for everyone however each person must be willing to journey through that which they consider a trial to reach it, and it may not be considered enough of a reward to do so.
And as much as that may be a little off-putting it is irrefutably apt as it is exactly what the characters must do on their quest.
December 17, 2013, 2:06 am
I was completely disinterested in this series until I read The Immortal Rules. It was one of those books that are so good, I’d like to eventually try everything the author has written! Great point about the themes she uses her books to discuss. I think the thoughtfulness was big part of what made The Immortal Rules so good too :)
December 17, 2013, 10:18 pm
So I haven’t read the first of this series- the books that are all about Meghan. But I did start on the second part with The Lost Prince- the part that’s about Ethan. So far I’m really liking it.