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The Iron Knight (Iron Fey) Paperback – October 25, 2011
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About the Author
Julie now lives is Louisville, KY with her husband and furkids. She is the international and NYT bestselling author of The Iron Fey series. Visit her at juliekagawa.com.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
"Oy, ice-boy! You sure you know where you're going?"
I ignored Robin Goodfellow as we wove through the gray murk of the wyldwood, pushing farther into the soggy swamp known as the Bone Marsh. Mud sucked at my footsteps, and water dripped from twisted green trees so covered in moss they appeared sheathed in slime. Mist coiled around the exposed roots or pooled in sunken areas, hiding what lay beneath, and every so often there was a splash in the still waters farther out, reminding us that we were not alone. As its name suggested, bones were scattered throughout the marsh, jutting out of the mud, half-hidden in tangles of weeds or shimmering beneath the surface of the water, bleached and white. This was a dangerous part of the wyldwood, more so than mostnot because of the catoblepas and the jabberwocks and other monsters that called the dark swamp their home, but because of the resident who lived somewhere deep within the marsh.
The one we were going to see.
Something flew past my head from behind, barely missing me, and spattered against a trunk a few feet away. Stopping beneath the tree, I turned and glared at my companion, silently daring him to do that again.
"Oh, hey, it lives!" Robin Goodfellow threw up his muddy hands in mock celebration. "I was afraid it had become a zombie or something." He crossed his arms and smirked at me, mud streaking his red hair and speckling his pointed face. "Did you hear me, ice-boy? I've been yelling at you for some time now."
"Yes," I said, repressing a sigh. "I heard you. I think the jabberwocks on the other side of the swamp heard you."
"Oh, good! Maybe if we fight a couple you'll start paying attention to me!" Puck matched my glare before gesturing around at the swamp. "This is crazy," he exclaimed. "How do we even know he's here? The Bone Marsh isn't exactly on my list of favorite vacation getaways, prince. You sure your contact knew what he was talking about? If this turns out to be another false lead I might turn that phouka into a pair of gloves."
"I thought you wanted an adventure," I said, just to annoy him. Puck snorted.
"Oh sure, don't get me wrong. I'm all for tromping to all five corners of the Nevernever, getting chased by angry Summer Queens, sneaking into an ogre's basement, fighting giant spiders, playing hide-and-seek with a cranky dragongood times." He shook his head, and his eyes gleamed, reliving fond memories. "But this is like the sixth place we've come to look for that wretched cat, and if he isn't here I'm almost afraid of where we're going next."
"You don't have to be here," I told him. "Leave if you want. I'm not stopping you."
"Nice try, prince." Puck crossed his arms and smiled. "But you're not getting rid of me that easily."
"Then let's keep moving." It was getting dark, and his constant chattering was getting on my nerves. Joking aside, I did not want to attract the attention of a hungry jabberwock and have to fight it in the middle of the swamp.
"Oh, fine," Puck sighed, tromping along behind me. "But if he's not here, I refuse to go to the Spider Queen's palace with you, ice-boy. That's where I draw the line."
My name, my full, True Name, is Ashallayn'darkmyr Tallyn, and I am the last son of the Unseelie Court.
There were three of us at one time, all princes of Winter, myself and my brothers, Sage and Rowan. I never knew my sire, never cared to know him, nor did my siblings ever speak of him. I wasn't even positive we shared the same sire, but it didn't matter. In the Unseelie Court, Mab was the sole ruler, the one and only queen. Handsome fey and even wayward mortals she might take to her bed, but Mab shared her throne with no one.
We were never close, my brothers and I. As princes of Winter, we grew up in a world of violence and dark politics. Our queen encouraged this, favoring the son who earned her good graces while punishing the others. We used each other, played vicious games against one another, but we were all loyal to our court and our queen. Or so I'd thought.
There is a reason the Winter Court freezes out their emotions, why feelings are considered a weakness and a folly among the Unseelie fey. Emotion corrupts the senses, makes them weak, makes them disloyal to kith and court. Jealousy was a dark, dangerous passion that ate at my brother Rowan until he did the unthinkable and turned on his court, betraying us to our enemies. Sage, my eldest sibling, fell to Rowan's treachery, and he was only the first. In a bid for power, Rowan sided with our greatest enemies, the Iron fey, helping their king nearly destroy the Nevernever. I killed Rowan in the end, avenging Sage and the rest of my kin, but retribution cannot bring either of them back. It's only me now. I am the last, the only remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court.
And I'm already dead to her.
Rowan was not the only one to succumb to emotion and passion. My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl. A girl named Meghan Chase, the half-human daughter of our ancient rival, the Summer King. Fate brought us together, and despite everything I did to shield my emotions, despite the laws of our people and the war with the Iron fey and the threat of eternal banishment from my home, I still found myself falling for her. Our paths were woven together, our fates intertwined, and before the last battle I swore I would follow her to the end of the world, to protect her from all threats, including my own kin, and to die for her if called to do so. I became her knight, and would have gladly served this girl, this mortal who had captured my heart, until the last breath left my body.
But Fate is a cruel mistress, and in the end, our paths were forced apart, as I'd feared they would be. Meghan became the Iron Queen, as was her destiny, and took the throne in the kingdom of the Iron fey. A place I could not follow, not as I ama faery creature whose essence weakens and burns at the touch of iron. Meghan herself exiled me from the lands of the Iron fey, knowing that staying would kill me, knowing I would try anyway. But before I left, I swore an oath that I would find a way to return, that someday we would be together, and nothing would separate us again. Mab tried to convince me to return to the Winter CourtI was her only prince now, and it was my duty to come homebut I bluntly stated that I was no longer part of the Unseelie Court, that my service to her and Winter was at an end.
There is nothing more terrible than a spurned faery queen, particularly if you defy her a second time. I escaped the Winter Court with my life intact, but just barely, and I won't be returning anytime soon. Regardless, I feel little regret at turning my back on my queen, my kith and my home. That part of my life is done. My loyaltyand my heartbelongs to another queen now.
I promised I'd find a way for us to be together. I intend to keep that promise. Even if it means trekking through a sprawling, deadly marsh in search of a rumor. Even if it means putting up with my fiercest and most annoying rival, Robin Goodfellow, whodespite all his attempts to hide itis in love with my queen as well. I don't know why I haven't killed him yet. Maybe because Puck is Meghan's closest friend, and she would mourn him terribly if he were gone (though I can't understand why). Or, maybe, deep down, I'm tired of being alone.
In any case, it matters little. With every ruin we search, every dragon we slay, or every rumor we unearth, I'm one step closer to my goal. Even if it takes a hundred years, I will be with her in the end. Another piece of the puzzle lurks somewhere in this dreary swampland. The only difficulty lies in finding it.
Thankfully, despite Puck's constant griping and complaining, the jabberwocks decided not to see what the racket was about and come stalking through the marsh to find us. That was just as well, because it took nearly the whole night to find what we were looking for.
At the edge of a scummy pond stood a house, faded and gray like everything else. A picket fence made of bleached white bones surrounded it, naked skulls topping the posts, and a few scraggly chickens milled about in what passed as a yard. The hut was old and wooden, creaking faintly though there was no wind. The most unusual thing, however, wasn't the house itself, but what held it up. It stood on a pair of massive bird legs, gnarled and yellow, blunt talons digging into the mud. The legs were crouched low, as if sleeping, but every so often they shifted restlessly, causing the whole house to shudder and groan.
"We're heeeeere," Puck sang softly. "And can I say that the old gal hasn't gotten any less creepy than when I saw her last."
I narrowed my eyes at him. "Just shut up and let me do the talking this time. It was bad enough when you insulted the centaur chief."
"All I suggested was that we could've used a ride out of the meadow. I didn't mean from him"
Sighing, I opened the bone gate and crossed the weed-choked yard, scattering chickens in front of me. Before we reached the steps, however, the door creaked open and an old woman emerged from the darkened interior. Tangled white hair framed a lined, wrinkled face, and sharp black eyes peered out at us, bright and gleaming. In one gnarled hand she held a basket, in the other a butcher knife, stained with the blood of many victims.
I stopped at the foot of the stairs, wary and alert. Old as she appeared, the witch of this house was powerful and unpredictable. If Puck said something stupid or accidentally insulted her, it would be vastly annoying if we had to fight our way out.
"Well," the witch said, curling bloodless lips to smile at us. Crooked yellow teeth flashed in the light like jagged bits of bone. "What do we have here? Two handsome faery boys, come to visit a poor old woman. And if my eyes don't deceive me, that's Robin Goodfellow I see before me. The last I saw of you, you stole my broom and tied my house's legs so it fell over when we tried to catch you!"
I repressed another sigh. This wasn't starting well. I should've known Puck had already done something to earn her wrath. But at the same time, I had to fight the urge to smile, to laugh at such a ridiculous thought, the house falling on its face in the mud because the Great Prankster had tied its feet together.
I kept my expression neutral, as it was obvious the witch was not amused in the slightest. "What do you have to say for yourself, villain?" she continued, shaking her butcher knife at Puck, who ducked behind me in a pathetic attempt to hide, though I could hear him trying to muffle his laughter. "Do you know how long it took me to repair my home? And then you have the gall, the absolute gall, to leave my broom at the edge of the forest, just to prove you could take it. I've half a mind to stick you in the pot and feed you to my chickens!"
"I apologize for him," I said quickly, and those sharp black eyes suddenly turned on me. I held myself tall, unafraid but still polite, lest she lump me together with the buffoon at my back. "Excuse this intrusion, old mother," I continued formally. "I am Ash of the Unseelie Court. And I need your help, if you would hear me."
The witch blinked. "Such manners. You were not raised in a barn like that one, I see." She stabbed her knife in Puck's direction, wrinkling her long nose. "And I know who you are, son of Mab. What would you have of me? Be quick about it."
"We're looking for someone," I said. "He was rumored to be traveling through here, through the Bone Marsh. We thought you might know where he is."
"Oh?" The witch cocked her head, giving me a scrutinizing look. "And what makes you think I know where this person is?"
"Not a person," I corrected. "A cat. A cait sith. In some tales he's known as Grimalkin. And in some tales he's been rumored to keep company with a powerful witch out in the swamps, whose house stands on chicken legs in a fence made of bones."
"I see," said the witch, though her face and voice remained expressionless. "Well, I admire your tenacity, young prince. Grimalkin is not easy to find in the best of times. You must have come very far to seek him out." She peered closely at me, narrowing her eyes. "And this is not the first place you have searched. I can see it on your face. Why, I wonder? Why does he come so far? What is it that he desires so badly, to risk the ire of the Bone Witch? What is it you want, Ash of the Winter Court?"
"Would you believe the cat owes him money?" Puck's voice came from behind my shoulder, making me wince. The witch scowled at him.
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Objecting to this state of affairs, Ash is determined to do the impossible. So, accompanied by Puck, Grim and eventually a few others, Ash sets off for the End of the World to gain a soul. Yeah, going to the End of the World to earn a soul sounds really corny, but it actually, to my surprise, works. It is very well done and cleverer than I thought possible. It is a bit strange to hear the story from a perspective other than Meghan's, but Ash is an interesting narrator, and I didn't mourn Meghan's absence over-much. Because, let's face it, the interaction between Ash and Puck is one of the things that make this series great. And there is a lot of that here.
“I will be with her again, or I will die. There aren’t any other options”
This is Ash’s journey to find a way to gain a soul so that he can survive the Iron Realm and stand beside the woman he loves. But what must a Faery do to be able to host a soul. The trials will be difficult and heartbreaking. I initially loved seeing the world from Ash’s perspective but I came to really miss Meghan in the story. We get a few glimpses of her but she is missing from the story until the end, for good reasons, but I still missed her.
Ash must also come to terms with the love that he lost so many years ago and his feud with Robin Goodfellow. I really loved Puck in this story. It is clear that Puck is very much in love with Meghan still but he puts everything on the line to help both Meghan and Ash so they have a chance at happiness. We also get to see the loss of Ariella from his side.
“You don't think I regret what I did, every single day? You lost Ariella, but I lost you both! Believe it or not, I was kind of a mess too, Ash. It got to a point where I actually looked forward to our random duels, because that was the only time I could talk to you. When you were freaking trying to kill me!”
Grimalkin of coarse has the key to finding a way to become mortal and will be going along for the journey. He in his great Cat fashion has a wonderful way of looking at the situation. It is often entertaining and slightly frustrating for the other characters involved. The journey is also joined by the big bad wolf of tales.
“I swear there must be like some secret code. All mysterious ancient temples must have a minimum of at least seven thousand steps to the front door.”
It is a journey of seven thousand steps or more. There are a few parts of the story that dragged a little for my and that was mostly due to the emotional angst that Ash was feeling. After being so sure of Meghan in The Iron Queen it was difficult to watch him waver. But in the end there will be no doubt as to who he is meant to be with.
I honestly only have a few small issues with the story but they are all hinged on wanting to see more of Megan and Ash together. This Journey has come to an end and it was a great ride. I look forward to reading the other series set in this world in the future about Ethan and get a peek at Meghan and Ash in the future. It was a beautiful tale with sacrifices, pain, hope and a love so strong it would go to the end of the world.
*Quick Spoiler Alert*
Ariella comes back and Ash ends up saying something along the lines of "Even if I wanted to leave Meghan for her, I couldn't because I gave an oath to go back to her". What the heck? I would have loved a little explanation on how he actually ended up loving Meg more than her even though he'll 'always love her' or some kind of thing like that. Geeze Ash u made me think for a lot of the book you may have loved her more than Meg and you would leave Meg for her. Glad that wasn't the case...but that inner struggle could have been explained a little more...
*End of spoiler*
So in this book Ash goes on a journey to find a way to always be with Meghan. You really get to see how Ash grew up and how his past was, how he's truly sorry for what he did, and why he 'hates' puck so much. I really, really loved the fact that Julie let us all know what really happened in detail and how sorry Puck was and is for what happened. This conclusion helps you see the mistakes and feelings Ash has, and that makes him so much more...human. He seems so much realer in this book than he does in any other to me.
And of course, what's a journey without the hilarious Puck and the dagger-tipped tongue of everyone's favorite feline? Not one I want to read! Haha! Don't worry, this book may overall be pretty darn serious (even Puck gets serious at one point! WOW!) but it's not without Julie's wonderful humorous Puck and Grimmalkin.
Overall, this book nicely details Ash's life and feelings and gives this series an ending that may not be all wrapped in a bow, but that's what I like about it. It's a good, solid, (thank the Lord) happy ending without all the 'happily ever after' crap we know isn't true! They all love each other, yet she doesn't try to hide that they will have troubles. This book has a perfect ending to an absolutely amazing series! I defiantly recommend this to those (like me) who absolutely love the Iron King Series! Ash, Puck, Meghan, Grimmalkin, and all!
Top international reviews
There was no better way to end this series than by letting us inside the head of Ash as he faces his hardest challenges yet. As he fights his way through the Nevernever to reach the End of the World as he attempts to earn his soul and become human so that he can be with Meghan in the Iron realm.
There is hardly any Meghan in this story but I really didn't find myself missing her. We know her story and the decisions she has made. This is all about Ash, his past, his present and his future.
The same cast of characters are along for the adventure... Ash, Puck, Grimalkin, a new face and an old one also come along for the ride. There are a lot of trials and tribulations that are faced along the way and not everybody makes it out alive... The world building has continued to be exceptional in this series. I know quite a bit is pulled from previous fey stories and legends but Kagawa has blended the past and future seamlessly.
Puck is his same old self, funny, caring and loyal. I have never hidden my love for Puck and why would I want to? He is the most amazing character and as much as I have also come to love Ash I do feel for Puck. He has appeared to have accepted Meghan's decision to be with Ash but you can see there is still hurt there. Obviously with Puck being Puck I think he will be able to move on, of course at his age this can not be the first time he has been in love and will not be the last. It is obvious that he loves Ash as a friend just as much as he loves Meghan and he does want them to be happy. I loved that we were able to see Puck and Ash's relationship evolve into something new. The vow that Ash made to kill Puck long ago was made at a moment of anger and pain. It has always been apparent that his heart was never in the task. If Ash really wanted Puck dead I believe it would have been taken care of a long time ago. It was nice to see them working through their problems.
In order to know what it is to become human, Ash must face his past. The walls that he has built up over his long life, the damage he has done to others around him, the death he has caused, the heartache... He has not always been a very nice guy. He also feels what it will be like to have a human body. His strength and agility will disappear. He will be able to be at Meghan's side but at what cost? He is her Knight and has vowed to protect her forever. When you are mortal the days will add up, unlike when you are fey and time does not matter.
The choice is difficult and it is one that can not be changed once made. What will he choose in the end?
I have read a few stories here and there that Kagawa had intended the Iron Fey series to be just the three books. I would have gone insane if it would have ended after The Iron Queen. To be honest it would have been hard for me to pick up anything else she wrote because I would have felt there was an empty space that needed filled. I truly say that The Iron Knight has filled that empty space and I am very happy with the way this series has ended.
Now with that said, there is a spin off series starting very soon, The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten. There is one final novella that I must read before I can start The Lost Prince but I am very excited to see where this world will be taking me next...
"There is nothing more terrible than a spurned faery queen, particularly if you defy her a second time. I escaped the Winter Court with my life intact, but just barely, and I won't be returning any time soon. My loyalty - and my heart - belongs to another queen now."
Rainy Day Reads
This book was, in my opinion, the perfect ending to this series. It was a great, fun, emotional, powerful story that literally took you on a journey and showed you the many strengths of the secondary characters in this series. It was interesting, unique, and really enchanting. I was overjoyed while reading this book and I just really loved the ending of it to pieces. I truly enjoyed Ash as a narrator and simply could not recommend reading this series just to read this book more. The series as a whole was really enjoyable, but it was this book that really tipped the scale for me. So, what are you still reading this for? Go and get started on the Iron Fey series NOW.
I honestly don't even know where to begin with this review and I don't even think I could write a review that will do this book the praise it deserves but I will say this, The Iron Knight had everything I could have asked for and more. Julie Kagawa has utterly surpassed my expectations and blown all previous books away with her truly amazing writing, her creative imagination and her gift for storytelling. Not only has she done a fantastic job with this novel but she has left me utterly speechless. Never have I felt so much joy and sadness for a book before but that's what I'm left with. I'm left with Joy because it's the most perfect ending to a fantastic series and sadness because it's finally come to an end. Not only am I sad to be leaving these characters that I love but I am also sad that I didn't get to spend more time with them as I wished. After only discovering this series a few months ago, I feel my time has come to an end too quickly. But, I do believe it was the best possible way because the excitement I had when I first started this series, is still with me now even though I've finished the final book.
Looking back on all four books, I honestly would have been sad had it of ended with The Iron Queen therefore I am truly grateful to Julie to have continued on with the series and created another amazing piece of work. Ash has always been a favourite character of mine, I've loved him from the start and if it's possible I think I love him that much more now. This story shows him in a completely different light, you get to see his deepest darkest secrets and somehow still manage to love him. Julie definitely did the right thing by doing this book from his point of view, I know it was sad to leave Meghan behind but she's not truly forgotten. Honestly, if could rate The Iron Knight 10 out of 10 I would. This book is definitely my favourite out of the series and this series is definitely my favourite out of everything I've read.
Thank you once again to Julie Kagawa for captivating us, compelling us and taking us all on this incredible journey with you. Even though the series has come to an end, it will truly not be forgotten and will be forever in our hearts.
The Iron Knight is written from Ash's perspective. For Ash fans out there that's a winning component in itself but what I loved about it so much was the way Kagawa has conveyed his character. I really felt that now that I could see how Ash thinks and expresses himself that I understood his character much better. I particularly loved the exploration of his relationship and constant fued with Puck - reading about this from Ash's point of view and being able to see that they are actually great friends was a huge reason why I loved reading this book.
The story itself is the best so far though. This time Ash is on a quest to become human and with the help of Grimalkin (everyone's favourite cat), the Wolf (who you might remember from one of the novella's Kagawa has written) and of course Puck (the cheeky summer fey). The quest is so much fun to read about! Ash must journey to the end of the world (yes really) and find the battle grounds where he must complete a series of tests to become human. The journey to the end of the world was gripping in itself and full of lots of different fey but the tests Ash had to complete were so gripping - I just couldn't put the book down.
Each test Ash completes will show him what it truly means to become human. In particular, he will learn what it means to no longer rely on being a Winter Prince, being weaker than the fey, feeling guilt and pain. To demonstrate this we get to revisit all of the things that Ash has done in the past, so we get a really brilliant insight into his past and backstory. Of course we do get to see Meghan once or twice too so she isn't completely out of the picture; after all Ash's quest to be human started because he was banished from the Iron Realm where Meghan is because of the effects it has on his health.
Overall, I found this book reignited my love for Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series. I had enjoyed the previous stories but was beginning to feel that they were becoming repetitive and lost interest a little bit. However, after reading the Iron Knight I can't recommend this book enough and I can't wait to see what Kagawa will do with her spin-off series starring Ethan Chase as the lead.
I'm hoping that book 5 will sort of show us how Meghan and Ash are getting on in the future, even though it's in Ethan's pov. :)