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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2007
I have been looking forward to this book ever since I finished Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, and Holly Black most definitely does not disappoint. IRONSIDE picks up soon after the events in Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale and Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie, and takes the reader on another breathless journey into the amazing and deadly world of Faerie.

Things have been uneasy ever since Roiben assumed the throne of the Unseelie Court, and with the threat of war in the air and Roiben's coronation drawing near, everyone is on edge. Changeling Kaye Fierch knows that she loves Roiben, but she feels increasingly unwelcome and out of place in the Unseelie Court. So the night of the coronation, determined to prove herself to Roiben and the rest of the court, she makes a formal declaration and pledges herself to him as his consort. However, faerie custom demands that a quest be undertaken before anyone can sit as the Lord's consort, and Roiben grants Kaye an impossible task: to find a fairy who can tell an untruth. Now she is forbidden from seeing or speaking to him until she completes something she knows cannot be done.

Kaye doesn't know where to go, because she has been feeling uncomfortable at home as well, knowing that she stole a human child's life. In a moment of desperation, she tells her mother the truth: that she is a changeling that was switched with Ellen's real daughter, the real Kaye, and she vows to retrieve her from the Seelie Court and return her to Ellen. She feels that this, at least, is something she can do, even if there's no way she can complete Roiben's quest.

But with all the tension between the courts there is nowhere safe, and in venturing into the Seelie Court to find her human counterpart, Kaye puts herself within reach of Lady Silarial. Silarial wants Roiben's throne, and she's willing to do anything, including using Kaye, to get it. Once again Kaye finds herself in the middle of Faerie politics, but this time Roiben's not there to save her, and she may not have a way out.

In my personal experience it is rare that a sequel ever lives up to the first book, but IRONSIDE does just that. Full of court rivalry, deception and betrayal, sword fights and murder, faerie curses, new romances, and even characters from Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie, IRONSIDE is another wonderful foray into the dark, gritty world of Faerie and will not leave readers disappointed. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you pound your pillow in frustration and clap your hands in delight. My one and only complaint is that this is the last book set in this amazing world.

Reviewed by: Andie Z.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2008
I was sucked into this trilogy upon recommendation by several friends. I must admit, I was at first quite skeptical as to whether or not a teen faerie tale would appeal to me, but I decided to give the first book (Tithe) a shot anyway. After reading Tithe, I was hooked on the delectable world Black had created, and wanted to read further.

Valiant, in some ways, was very disappointing to me at first. For the end of Tithe left some loose ends dangling precariously. I wanted to know, as many readers did I'm sure, what happened to Kaye and Roiben after that tale ended. Rather than picking up where Tithe left off, Valiant begins another story set in the same time and the same world. While mentioning some of the characters from the previous book, Valiant really is in many ways a stand-alone novel. Though Valiant doesn't really satisfy in terms of picking up Kaye and Roiben's story, it is quite an excellent read in and of itself. The lack of continuity between the books left me a tad skeptical to read the third. Nonetheless, the tales were both so downright intriguing that I had to read the third.

With Ironside, Black does a wonderful job of telling another wonderful tale, bringing in several characters from both books, and tying up some loose ends. Kaye and Roiben are back and the tension between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts has grown. Kaye, being the punk changeling that she is (I mean that in a good way) has gotten herself into quite a mess that she's working on sorting out. Luis is working on keeping him and his brother safe in ironside after the events that took place in Valiant. The Seelie queen's true colors are shining through upon Roiben's coronation, in which he formally claimed the Unseelie throne. Overall Black's writing seems to have developed quite a bit between all three novels, and it really shows in this final book. The plot is, for lack of a better word, much tighter and very well-developed.

On the whole, it's difficult to not fall in love with the world and characters Black has created in her "Modern Tales of Faerie," and it's hard to not find something or someone in these tales to relate to, no matter your age. I highly recommend the entire trilogy to any fans of fantasy literature, or anyone looking for a light-hearted romp through a fun and mystical adventure world. I'd love to see the characters come back in yet another tale in the future!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2007
I liked this book, I did but honestly I thought I would like it more. not that I didn't enjoy it, hard not to like Holly's work really. It's just that I felt it didn' carry quite the same weight as the other two. It's possible that because I liked Valiant so much that going back to Kaye's story interesting as it was, was like backsliding a little. Another reviewer pointed out that perhaps the reason Ironside is a slight let down is because we don't find out why Kaye was switched in the first place. I thought of that while I was reading, but I came to the conclusion some where along the way that there was no real reason that Kaye was switched, at least in the Kaye is secretly someone uber special, who's destiny will alter Faerie forever kind of way. I think it had more to do with the fact that Chibi-Kaye (I love that) was exotic looking and as such would have atracted the notice of the Fey, like an unusual piece of art, they wanted to collect her. Of course that doesn't reall account for why The Brite Queen wanted her looked after, but the books don't say that that is an unusual thing, or maybe I missed it. After all such a big thing is made of Pixies being low born it just doesn't make sense the the Seelie Gentry would single Kaye out. another thing is, I would have liked to know Kaye's true name, though I can see why Kaye herself woudn't want to know it.

But mostly the thing I found odd was that Ironside seems to be an ending. If this is the end why write Valiant at all, yes there are cameos on all sides through the three books but it's still off. Unless Valiant's purpose was to introduce Luis and Dave, but if it was why have Val as the center of the story instead of Luis and Dave themselves. I don't know, Guess I'm hoping there will be more books. it would suck to have all these questions go unanswered. And because these are some seriously good reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2009
Kaye Fierch knows by now that she's not human. She knows she's a pixie. She knows she's a changeling. She knows she's not her mom's kid. She knows she's in love with Roiben, the King of the Unseelie Court (Unholy Court in English, but what can you do, love is love, right?), and she's pretty sure he loves her back.

Unfortunately, she's not sure of much else.

Growing up's tough however you look at it, but when you're a solitary faerie girl who thought you were human until a few weeks ago, it gets that much harder. Not to mention your boyfriend's king of the evil faeries. Oh, don't forget, many of the other faeries, both evil and good, want to kill you. Add in the fact that you were responsible for the death of you childhood best friend, and are now doing what you can to take care of her gay brother, while your childish mother continues her unsuccessful attempts to rock stardom, you can sort of see the scope of Kaye's problems.

It's pretty bad. And it gets much worse: while celebrating Roiben's coronation, she gets drunk. Forgetting everything he has told her--chief among it, that he loves her, and that he wants her as separate from the Courts as she can get--she declares herself to him, i.e., promises to perform any quest for the honor of being Roiben's consort--as tangled up in creepy faerie politics as you can get, in other words. She won't be able to see him until she completes her quest. If she doesn't complete it, she will never be allowed to see Roiben again.

Roiben sets her an impossible task.

Heartbroken, Kaye is cut off from her love and what she wanted to be her world. Basically, she's got to take care of her gay friend Corny (almost as childish as her mother) all the while trying to survive in a world never meant for faeries. Her relationship with Corny deepens; they're basically best friends by this point. Kaye doesn't resign herself to a human existence, but she accepts, for the moment at least, that she totally blew it. She starts scheming how to see Roiben again, all the while wondering if she wants to--he set her an impossible task, which must mean he's sick of her, tired of her, beleives her unworthy of him.

Being who she is, she's torn between reuniting with him somehow, and tracking him down to kick his butt for doing this to her.

Kaye, however, cannot let go of Roiben or the faerie realm so easily. And, fortuitously enough, before long the faerie and human realms are in extreme danger again; the courts are warring yet again; and Kaye gets stuck in the middle yet again. This puts her in the perfect position to try and save the world--both from Silarial, the Queen of the Seelie Court, and her own Roiben, King of the Unseelie.

Admirably throwing her crushed feelings to the side during her attempts to save everything, Kaye jumps into the fray as soon as she can, at first siding with Silarial to destroy Roiben's Court, which, Kaye believes, due to erroneous information supplied from a world with which she is no longer in touch, is poised to ruin the world.

"Ironside" is just as dark as "Tithe", and just as good in terms of story. Roiben and Kaye's romance is nice because, although they are deeply in love, they're aren't obsessed, and they go against each other when they believe each other are in the wrong. Roiben is Kaye's most important reason for living, and vice versa, but they are by no means the ONLY reason for living; they've got other problems and other stuff to take care of, which they do. Kaye may be an inhuman changeling, Roiben an evil faerie king, but they come off as people. That's the best part; even in the midst of magic and horror, they're both believable, right down to Roiben's selective stupidity.

Again, "Ironside" is dark, and though billed as YA, some of the subject matter is mature. It's also scary in places; the faeries are still twisted sociopaths as a general rule, with a collective hatred for humanity. Kaye and Roiben are the only fey we know of who see humans as equal with faeries. Also, it stands on its own; though reccommended, you don't have to read "Tithe" to understand "Ironside."

The possible downturns: it's dark, it's creepy; it's a little mature (not dirty or anything, just mature); there are no real good guys; and--if this happens to offend you--Corny IS gay, and he DOES find romance, so if you're squeamish about that, you're warned--and though it has a happy ending, it's not a sugary or pleasant one. "Ironside" isn't a traditional fairy tale. Don't think Disney, or even Grimm; this story has more in common with old Irish, Welsh, and Scottish myths, though it's even darker than that.

All this aside, if you like psychotic faeries and believable leads, and if you like your books dark, gritty, realistic as possible, spooky,and, most importantly, GOOD--because this is a good, good, good, good, GOOD story--then do yourself a favor and pick up "Ironside".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2007
Teenager Kaye is a changeling, a faery swapped with a human baby in infancy, and was raised by humans and believing she was human as well. In the first book, Tithe, she learned her true nature. As Ironside begins, Kaye receives some deceitful advice just as her boyfriend Roiben, the faery king, is about to be coronated. Having had a bit too much to drink and not thinking clearly, she mistakenly follows the advice, setting into motion an impossible quest she must now undertake.

Along with Roiben, some other favorite characters from previous books also play meaningful roles in Ironside. For me, Ironside wasn't *quite* as good as Tithe, but definitely recommended, even if you're no longer a teen -- and I'm not. :)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2008
I bought Ironside and Valiant at the same time, although Valiant came before Ironside, i read Ironside first. I wanted to read more about the changeling faerie, Kaye, and her adventures. I then read Valiant. i would recommend to read the books in order to fully understand the plot. the three books flow really nicely. Valiant explains a lot of what Kay and her Friends go through in Ironside. I think that Tithe is the best of all three leading into so much revealing of characters and feelings. I would most definitely recommend one to buy all three of these amazing faerie tales at once. These books will open your mind to new thoughts and expand your imagination to higher creativity's.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 16, 2007
"Ironside", the third Modern Faery's Tale by Holly Black, is the best of the series so far. Black writes beautifully and she manages to set up very evocative quotes from classic authors to set the scenes for each chapter.

"Ironside" takes up a bit after "Tithe" and "Valiant". Roiben's coronation for the Unseelie Court is scheduled. Kaye realizes if she is to claim her love, she must declare for him and accept the quest he gives her to prove her love.

Meanwhile, Kaye also tells her Mother who she is and must restore the human child whose place she took to their home.

Favorite characters from both of the prior two series are back. It was delightful to see the casts of both these tales merge. One thing Black does very well is create characters that you want to know more about.

Black's writing is also tighter. She pulls you in and doesn't let you go til the tale is over. Black's work is very well done--some of the best new fantasy in both the young adult and the adult genres.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2008
Ironside is the third book in the Tithe series. After defeating the queen of the Unseelie Court, Roiben was finally going to take the crown and become king. But at his coronation, things don't go the way they're planned. Kaye overhears some fairies talking about a declaration and decides that she wants to declare herself to Roiben. In response he sends her off on a quest to find a faerie that can lie, in other words, he sent her on a seemingly impossible quest. However, the quest is the least of Kaye's troubles. Her best friend Corny has been cursed by a faerie and Roiben is on the verge of a war with the Seelie Court. Will Kaye be able to complete her task and return to Roiben's side in time to help stop the war? And what about Corny? Will he be doomed to be cursed for the rest of his life? Read Ironside to find out!

Holly Black has done it again! She definitely kept up well with the first two books of the series, Tithe and Valiant. Her books are filled with vivid descriptions that make you feel as if you were there inside her stories. Ironside is full of adventure, love, and the thirst for power. This book will keep you up late at night reading. The only problem I have with this book is that the ending wasn't as final as I would have liked. It seemed a bit open ended and I felt that there should have been more explained in the end. I had many unanswered questions like, What happens to Corny and Luis? And Will Roiben be able to rule over both Courts peacefully? Even though I was a bit dissatisfied with the ending, I still thought that it was a good and sweet ending and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I highly recommend this book to fantasy lovers. If you haven't read the Tithe Series, you are really missing out. So go get yourself a copy now!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2007
A direct sequel to Tithe, Ironside picks up two months after Tithe left off. At Roiben's coronation as King of the Unseelie Court, Kaye, drunk on faerie wine, declares herself to Roiben, who in turn sends her on an impossible quest to prove her love to him. Meanwhile, Kaye decides to tell her mother that she is a changeling, and the Queen of the Seelie Court attacks Roiben, leading to a series of quests wherein Kaye must find her human double, find a way to save Roiben, and bring Roiben a faery that can lie before she can see or speak to him again. Continuing with the vibrant magical atmosphere and faery world of Tithe, Ironside is the work of a much more mature and accomplished author: the characters are more realistically flawed while still being sympathetic, and the writing style is skillful and polished. Meanwhile, the story is still otherworldy, emotional, and honestly confronts difficult subjects. This book is not perfect, but it is a magical and enjoyable read, and I do recommend it.

I should note here that I have not read Valiant, which falls between Tithe and Ironside in the series. However, these two books do make sense without Valiant.

After reading Tithe, I had high hopes for Ironside. I hoped that it would have the same intense and well-conceived since of magic, but that it would exhibit Black's increased experience as a writer, and have better characters and a more polished style. I'm glad to say that my hopes were fulfilled on all accounts: Ironside contains all of the good qualities from Tithe and avoids many of the pitfalls of that first novel. The characters return, and continue with many of respective flaws: they drink and shoplift, they have deadbeat parents, they are immature and over-emotional. Yet these flaws are more realistic and the characters have gained good qualities. They have GEDs, they have real problems behind their emotional complaints, and they have become affectionate and sometimes even thoughtful. These are now characters that, however unusual or even non-human they may be, the reader can identify with, and the text benefits for it. The text also benefits from an experienced and matured writing style: the plot flows at a smoother pace and the climax and conclusion are better crafted and more complete, the repetition of phrases and actions is largely absent, and the overall text reads smoother and exhibits better editing. This book is written by an experienced author, and it is a sympathetic, well-paced, skillful piece of work.

Alongside these clear improvements, the magical and human aspects of Tithe remain in all of their glory. Black's faeries are vividly conceived and described, from the grotesque and violent Unseelie Court to the apple blossom-strewn Seelie Court. Even better: The Unseelie Court now has a sympathetic ruler, and the Seelie Queen is a villain, adding realistic complication and interest to the darks and lights of faery politics. Kaye's search for her human double explores new aspects of Black's faery life and culture, as does the journeys of the two human characters, one of which desires to be more than human, the other of which hates faeries. The multiple quests of the plot are a classic storytelling structure, and they create subtle but important character growth in all of the main characters. Black does not try to avoid mature subjects, but rather explores everything from homosexuality to love to death in a way that is respectful, honest, and still appropriate to a young adult audience (that is, there are no explicit sex scenes or exceptional gruesome deaths). Both magical and distinctly human, Ironside is at once enjoyable and avidly readable as well as meaningful and personally relevant.

While Ironside is by no means a perfect book (the characters and plot points are cliche, the dark court remains pointlessly dark, and Kaye and her friends in their personalities and experiences are not entirely realistic or deeply explored; all in all, it is not the most skillful or most memorable text), it is a great improvement and an enjoyable read. I believe that it makes more sense and is more enjoyable if the reader has already read at least Tithe, so pick up that book first. But Ironside shows a true step forward in Black's work as an author as well as being magical, meaningful, honest, edgy, and an approachable and swift read. I was happy that I picked up this book, and I do recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
In Ironside, the sequel to Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, world-weary Kaye, who's discovered that she's actually a pixie and not a human teen, pursues her love of Roibin, faerie king of the Unseelie court. Roibin, recently crowned king of the dark beings after seizing the throne by force, sends her on an impossible quest: find a faerie who can lie.

Kaye is still struggling with her newfound magical nature as a pixie, while her friend Corny, still grieving over the death of his sister, falls hard for Luis, the human they enlist to help them negotiage with the faeries. Kaye is the only one to know Roibin's full name, giving her complete power over him. The only problem is that his former lover Silarial, queen of Seelie, also wants to use Roibin as a pawn to control both courts.

Ironside contains much more graphic violence as the war between the faerie factions kicks into deadly high gear. The Seelie and Unseelie courts are locked in fierce battle, with high casualties on both sides, and Kaye may hold the key to preventing the death of those she loves.

An enchanting sequel, Ironside gave a much deeper look at Roibin's horrific past and the physical and emotional scars he bears. As with Tithe, there is a great deal of swearing, drinking / drug use, and violence, so sensitive readers beware. I can't wait to see what the future holds for Kaye and Roibin.
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