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The Iron Queen - Julie Kagawa
As you may have guessed if you have read my past reviews or my book blog, I am very much book obsessed! I am always hunting for new books to read and love it when I come across a series which pulls me in from the very beginning. The Iron Fey series is certainly one set which falls into this category, and although the second book gave a slightly bumpy ride, I felt compelled to carry on reading, and so glad that I did!
After reading the first two books in paperback form for the great price of £2.00 each from the local discount book store; The Works, I felt I could not wait and one-clicked my way to this third book on Amazon for £2.99 on the Kindle.
There are four main books in this set with a few very short novellas in between as well as a second series which jumps off of the back of this series.
With all that said, let me take you into my thought train of this third book of The Iron Fey series.
IN A FEY LAND NOT TOO FAR AWAY...
"My name is Ashallyn'darkmyr Tallyn, third son of the Unseelie Court...Let it be known--from this day forth, I vow to protect Meghan Chase, daughter of the Summer King, with my sword, my honor, and my life. Her desires are mine. Her wishes are mine. Should even the world stand against her, my blade will be at her side. And should it fail to protect her, let my own existence be forfeit. This I swear, on my honor, my True Name, and my life. From this day on..." His voice went even softer, but I still heard it as though he whispered it into my ear. "I am yours."
Please note: Some minor spoilers in the blurb rewrite!
Not long ago, everything Meghan Chase had ever known was turned on its head. Half human and half Summer Fae, Meghan was pulled through the closet (literally) and found herself in the middle of a fairy war, and with the oncoming forces of the Iron Fae getting stronger, Meghan would have done anything to help protect the mysterious land, though after her true love is exiled, she knew there was nothing else that mattered more to her than following him, and so she too found herself exiled from the Fairy world she had come to love.
If Meghan thought that would be the end of all she had come to learn, she was wrong, for The Iron Fae are still looking for her, and with the oncoming storm, she will be pulled back kicking and screaming unless she takes the offer on the table from the Winter and Summer royalty, an offer which may end up killing her...
Meghan is not alone, though, and with the help of her knight and jester best friend, alongside the well loved talking cat, she will venture into a land that may be the death of her and everything she loves...
The first book in this series was astounding! I had never quite read anything like it before. Think A Midsummer Nights Dream, modernise it, bring it into the real world, and turn it on its head. Add in a large amount of weird and wonderful creatures and you still have not come close to the impact of 'The Iron King'. The only real gripe I had of this first book was the fact that it was so over-crowded! The second book took a huge step backwards, and although the slightly calmer feeling was a breath of fresh air, it almost lost its excitement and adventure. Luckily, the series had already sunk its teeth into me and I continued on to the third instalment, and I am very glad that I did. The author finally found the perfect mid-point in her writing, and we were able to enjoy a large amount of excitement without being bowled over with information, characters and magical worlds on every single page. It is almost as though the story had settled into its skin and felt confident in the story telling without having to impress us with an over-abundance of unnecessary things. The height of this series so far, in my opinion.
The story itself began a little slowly and it did look as though it was going to take the same route and style as the second book, though once Meghan entered the world we had come to love once more, the excitement exploded. It is a shame it took a little long to get to this point, though it was well worth the wait. Although the first part of the story was a little slow, it was still interesting and paved the way for what was to come in the second half of the book. Relationships and characters themselves seemed to grow stronger in this first half, which enabled me to really start understanding and empathising with both characters and situations, so although it was a slow start, it was necessary. I just wish it could have written with a little more energy as the second half held, and then it would have got the full five stars from me!
The author also cut down the annoying recaps which were in the previous book as well as the novella in between which was both annoying and off-putting.
If you have already read my past reviews, or the past books themselves, you will know that there is a love story among the fantasy based storyline. This has been on the back burner in the past couple of books, though this one really starts to focus upon this aspect in a much stronger way. Among the fantasy situations, the delicate love story is written in such a sensitive way that it is almost beautiful. There are a few slightly sickly moments which made me cringe, and I am a hopeless romantic, though other than these few moments, I feel that this aspect of the story is written in a fantastic way and really lights up the whole story.
Looking at the characters further, I feel that this was the book to really get to know the main characters. Although I had my favourites before this book (one being the brilliant talking cat, Grim, who is a fantastic character all round), I did not really feel for the characters or their situations as much as I felt I should have. This book changed all that, and suddenly I felt my heart strings being tugged with certain characters, and yes, there were many times in which I became emotional and either shouted or cried out with dismay at what was happening to these fictional characters as though they were really there in front of me (much to the amusement of my own cat Merlin, especially when I jumped up with emotion at one point, forgetting he was on my lap! He still has not forgiven me!).
The main characters were written with such feeling and emotion and I loved reading every minute of their story. Their personalities became much more well rounded and they really started to take on some great personas. They were not completely flawless, however, though this was easily ignored with the excitement of the story. The minor characters were not as well built up, unfortunately, though again, the focus remains more on a select few that this is another factor which can easily be brushed under the carpet.
There is quite a lot of predictability in this book, though there is also some huge shocks and surprises in store, and when I say huge, I mean edge of your seats, eyes wide, emotional shouting surprises!
So what makes this book any different to other books along these lines?
In comparison to the previous books in this series, I have already mentioned that the main difference, which is certainly a very positive distinction, is the fact that this book has finally reached the mid-way point of writing with excitement galore without being over-powering.
Of course, there are so many fantasy based stories out there that it is difficult to bring something completely new and original into the world, though this author has managed to in many ways. I have not read a book so well written that centres around fairy tales, especially that from Shakespeares mind, in such an inventive way. I fell in love with these books from the beginning and continue to love them, and part of this is due to the extent of originality with many parts of the story.
One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story.
So how does the ending of this book compare?
It is very difficult to explain how I am feeling about the end of this book without giving away too much, and so I will say only a few little things about this ending! It is amazing! The shock factor is certainly there, with a lot of emotion both in the pages and in my own mind. Although I had guessed some aspects, I did nto see the full picture until it hit me in the face, and I was certainly not disappointed in the slightest. It was probably the best part in the whole book, even though it was slightly bitter-sweet.
In some ways, the end of this book feels like the very end of the series. I could certainly see it working as a trilogy, though after we think it has all ended, the author throws even more our way and leaves it open for another book which I am very much looking forward to reading with a sense that it will be very different from this one, though just as exciting.
The story was 358 pages long and worked very well at this length.
"It's not everyday I get to tell someone I was attacked by a pair of flying reading glasses. Ow"
This book has a few flaws and does have a slow start, though in the main, this has been the best read of the series so far and I would recommend the series just on this book alone! The story is much stronger than the previous book and the characters really bloom as the story continues. It is a wonderous read and I am looking forward to seeing where the next book will take me.
"A little warning would've been nice. You couldn't have said, 'Hey, as part of your training today, I'm going to beat you senseless'?" - Meghan"