I read the fourth book in Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Fey series, The Iron Knight, over the holidays and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you aren’t reading this YA series, and you love YA, treat yourself by picking up this series, which starts with The Iron King. In every one of the books in the series, Kagawa brings a sideways look at the familiar tales of Faerie. From conjuring up the iron fey, which is an utterly brilliant concept and executed to match, to the final book of Ash’s trials, the books go much deeper than the typical YA love triangle structure set in a future or fantastic world. Yes, there is romance, but to me, who is decidedly not a young adult, the appeal is the worldbuilding and the character development as well as the rich plots.

Kagawa does such a good job of presenting Ash’s choices and his trials in The Iron Knight and relating them back to what it means to be human that I wanted to applaud while reading (but I was staying at my mom’s and didn’t want to alarm anyone).  And she’s done this in every book — nothing is easy, everything is well thought out, and decisions have consequences. Seriously, while The Hunger Games gets much-deserved attention, if you or a fantasy-loving teen you know is looking for something new, check out The Iron Fey.

Have I gushed enough? Sorry… but when I get excited about a good book I have to tell everyone.

If you’ve read it, let me know in the comments — we can share notes. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Audrey Lockwood · January 3, 2012 at 9:07 am

As I said, I just finished it last night myself. I really enjoyed the whole series, and The Iron Knight was a nice finish.

*spoiler warning*

There were a few things that bothered me about it. I can’t remember much about the quality of the writing in the first three books, but in this final one I noticed so many clichés that I was frequently distracted from the story. I also thought that while the gauntlet sequence was entertaining and exciting, the pieces of it were predictable: the physical test, the mental test (and a sphinx riddle at that), and the test in which the characters face themselves (which felt a bit like a beginner d&d campaign). I agree with you that Ash’s trials were very insightful, though the one thing I did wish was to see more of the happy moments in Ash’s “human life.” I know that the mortality aspect was meant to be depressing in a way, but I didn’t feel like the morbidity was offset quite enough by the feeling of a close family.

All that said, there were a lot of things I really liked in this book. Julie Kagawa finally tied up the Ash/Puck loose end, which I was looking forward to almost more than seeing Ash and Meghan reunited. I loved reading the development of their relationship.

And of course it was very nice to see the happily ever after. I liked reading it from Meghan’s pov too.

As you said, the world of Faerie as Julie Kagawa envisioned it is such a vibrant place. I think hers might be my favorite of all the descriptions of Faerie that I’ve read.

And finally, I love Grimalkin. He’s been my favorite character throughout the whole series, and this book would not have been complete without him.

Patrice Sarath · January 3, 2012 at 8:24 pm

*spoilers spoilers but if you’ve read this far…*

I totally agree about the writing. My pet peeve is the use of “said-bookisms” when “said” would do. People whisper, thunder, mused, etc., and it was awkward. We could have told from context how they spoke, as Kagawa is pretty good about creating dialog that’s clear in that way.

See, I liked the sphinx. If you have to have trials, there should be a sphinx. And they get it wrong too, at first, and that was pretty awesome. The tests may have gone on a hair too long, but now I’m just quibbling.

Didn’t you love the fact that Grimalkin’s image in the mirror was just Grimalkin? I thought that was great.

The Meghan pov shift at the end worked quite well. I was glad we saw her since she was the heart and soul of the books of course.

And the guide to the Nevernever at the end was just delightful. You know there are kids out there looking for trods.

Audrey Lockwood · January 4, 2012 at 8:49 am

Ah, Grimalkin 🙂 Yes, I was delighted that he was “himself.” And I loved the little hints here and there that he and the Wolf weren’t actually as antagonistic as they seemed.

Patrice Sarath · January 4, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I did feel that Kagawa walked back a bit from setting up Wolf as the Big Bad, but again, quibbling. It was like Spike in Buffy.

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