The Iron Knight (Iron Fey #4) by Julie Kagawa
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Released: October 26th 2011
Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.
Unless he can earn a soul.
To cold, emotionless 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 solemn 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. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.
And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Reading this, I couldn't help but think of that Buffy episode where Spike gets a soul. This is how I imagine that episode looking if it were dragged out and Spike had taken people with him.
I finished the Iron Queen with, as I imagine most people did, an OMGG!!!! and immediately bought this for my kindle. I settled down, prepared to fall back in love with all the characters, to get transported to a magical world and go on an epic quest to the very ends of the Earth...literally.
Unfortunately, this time, that didn't happen. I don't know what it was, but the story didn't grip me as much as the previous 3 did, and without that avid attention, I began to notice the flaws.
Ash's narration was a lot duller than I expected it would be. He was a lot less snarky, less witty than I imagined, instead coming across as bland. I disliked his constant asides, his musings about the past, his revisitings to events we've heard about countless times. I got fed up with all that and honestly, a little fed up with Ash too.
Puck as well, I found irritating, and even Grimalkin, the wonderful Grimalkin, lost some of his appeal. I've said it all this week but I don't actually think Julie Kagawa is that good of a writer, despire being an amazing creator of stories, and by this book we're seeing a lot of repetition in terms of conversations, banter and memories. I got fed up of hearing Ash referred to as 'ice-boy' or 'prince' or Ash moaning about Puck's inability to stay quiet, or still, or out of trouble. I don't feel like there's been much organic growth in terms of the characters and so I've struggled to make any lasting connections to them.
The plot seemed to be dragged out, I did get a bit fed up of the trip at a few points. Though I did like the final bit, with the tests, I thought that was clever though again I could see several points where Julia Kagawa has pulled inspiration from other things (the riddle, for example, hello Fifth Element?) and ultimately it was unshockingly predictable.
For me, there was a general air of not caring very much present throughout this. I felt a bit like Julie Kagawa was coerced into writing it because it'd sell loads of copies, not because she actually wanted to. I also had issues with the editing; at one point a character shows up knowin exactly what Ash wants to do and then later in the book asks him about his quest. Plus the constant repetition of words/phrases/actions etc really should have been addressed. I think reading all 4 in very quick succession (just over a week, I think) has really impacted my view of them. Having each one so fresh in my mind has really allowed me to draw comparisons and notice similarities more than I usually would. Whilst this is a shame as I think it has affected my enjoyment of this final book, I enjoyed reading a series in it's entirety in one fell swoop, not something I get to do often.
I really wanted to like this, having loved the previous 3, but ultimately I think I would have preferred it if this one hadn't been written, if we'd been given the tragic ending of The Iron Queen instead of this half-hearted attempt at a happily ever after.