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The Conflict Between Technology And Tradition In The Iron Fey Series

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Despite the fact that there are numerous issues with The Iron Fey series, that the handling of the concept could have been so much better and that I wish it was grittier and less romance-focused, I can’t help but love the premise upon which Kagawa rests her story.

The series (which started with The Iron King) is about the clash of our older world – the pre-technical years when myths and imagination played a bigger role in life – and our world nowadays with its constant evolution. The clash occurs between the more traditional fairyland – Kagawa chose to use Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – and the ‘fairyland’ that is the creation of technology, iron faeries with iron glamour.

Whether or not the subtlety was on purpose or whether it’s a happy coincidence, the idea running in the background is that technology should not take over. Kagawa clearly wants the mythical faeries to survive but at the same time she makes the iron fae understandable.

And it’s for that reason I wonder if the subtext was accidental, because Kagawa seems to be saying that neither side ought to win, that both should co-exist. Personally I like this idea; but because the iron fae’s very existence destroys that of the others, I’m not so sure about it.

To me, purposefully included or not, the book is a warning about how we are letting the new subtract from the parts of tradition we should keep, taking over our previous dreams and what we’d now call our ‘offline’ lives. Losing fairy stories, no longer considering the existence of fairies, would surely be a loss for our world, and no matter how hurtful some of the traditional fae are to Meghan in the book, they are surely needed. (Indeed in most cases fairies are considered dark and mischievous anyway.)

I specifically wanted to write this post before finishing the series because the titles of the books indicate what will happen. Personally I believe the best way to end the series would be to push back the iron fae, as it seems it wouldn’t affect the mortal world, but I think Kagawa has something different in mind.

This isn’t to recommend the series, per se – it’s a fantastic premise somewhat wasted in its fantasy high-school-romance naïve-heroine genre, but if you are okay with delving past that to get to the discussion you might enjoy that discussion (the discussion being subtext).

I’m finding the characters disappointing and the second book was filler from start to finish, yet I can’t stop reading because of that great theme.

Whether you’ve read the books or not, what do you think of the theme of technology versus tradition?



August 30, 2013, 10:03 am

I’m not sure this series would be for me but I do like the sound of technology versus tradition. While the modern is far more comfortable on the whole I think many would argue we lost some of the magic of the world. Can you imagine once when fire was our only source of heat and light. When night time was really dark! You can understand why they would create stories of faeries and demons.

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