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The Iron Queen (Iron Fey) Paperback – January 25, 2011
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About the Author
Born in Sacramento, CA, Julie Kagawa moved to Hawaii at the age of nine. There she learned many things; how to bodyboard, that teachers scream when you put centipedes in their desks, and that writing stories in math class is a great way to kill time. Her teachers were glad to see her graduate.
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.
Eleven years ago, on my sixth birthday, my father disappeared.
One year ago, on the very same day, my brother was taken from me, as well. But that time, I went into Faery to take him back.
It's strange how a journey can change you, what you can learn from it. I learned that the man I thought was my father wasn't my father at all. That my biological dad wasn't even human. That I was the half-breed daughter of a legendary faery king, and his blood flowed in my veins. I learned that I had power, a power that scares me, even now. A power that even the fey dread, something that can destroy themand I'm not sure I can control it.
I learned that love can transcend race and time, and that it can be beautiful and perfect and worth fighting for but also fragile and heartbreaking, and sometimes sacrifice is necessary. That sometimes it's you against the world, and there are no easy answers. That you have to know when to hold on and when to let go. And even if that love comes back, you could discover something in someone else who has been there all along.
I thought it was over. I thought my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices for those I loved, was behind me. But a storm was approaching, one that would test those choices like never before. And this time, there would be no turning back.
My name is Meghan Chase.
In less than twenty-four hours, I'll be seventeen.
Déjà vu, right? Shocking how quickly time can pass you by, like you're standing still. I can't believe it's been a year since that day. The day I went into Faery. The day that changed my life forever.
Technically, I won't actually be turning seventeen. I've been in the Nevernever too long. When you're in Faery, you don't age, or you age so slowly it's not worth mentioning. So, while a year has passed in the real world, I'm probably only a few days older than when I went in.
In real life, I've changed so much I don't even recognize myself.
Beneath me, the tatter-colt's hooves clopped against the pavement, a quiet rhythm that matched my own heartbeat. On this lonely stretch of Louisiana highway, surrounded by tupelo trees and moss-covered cypress, few cars passed us, and the ones that did flew by without slowing down, tossing leaves in their wake. They couldn't see the shaggy black horse with eyes like hot coals, walking along the road without reins or bit or saddle. They couldn't see the figures on its back, the pale-haired girl and the dark, beautiful prince behind her, his arms around her waist. Mortals were blind to the world of Faery, a world I was a part of now, whether I'd asked for it or not.
"What are you afraid of?" a deep voice murmured in my ear, sending a shiver up my spine. Even in the humid swamps of Louisiana, the Winter prince radiated cold, and his breath was wonderfully cool against my skin.
I peered at him over my shoulder. "What do you mean?"
Ash, prince of the Unseelie Court, met my gaze, silver eyes gleaming in the twilight. Officially, he was no longer a prince. Queen Mab had exiled him from the Nevernever after he refused to renounce his love for the half-human daughter of Oberon, the Summer King. My father. Summer and Winter were supposed to be enemies. We were not supposed to cooperate, we were not supposed to go on quests together and, most important, we were not supposed to fall in love.
But we had, and now Ash was here, with me. We were exiles, and the trodsthe paths into Faerywere closed to us forever, but I didn't care. I wasn't planning to ever go back.
"You're nervous." Ash's hand stroked the back of my head, brushing the hair from my neck, making me shiver. "I can feel it. You have this anxious, flickering aura all around you, and it's driving me a little nuts, being this close. What's wrong?"
I should've known. There was no hiding what I felt from Ash, or any faery for that matter. Their magic, their glamour, came from human dreams and emotions. So Ash could sense what I was feeling without even trying. "Sorry," I told him. "I guess I am a little nervous."
"Why? I've been gone almost a year. Mom will hit the roof when she sees me." My stomach squirmed as I imagined the reunion: the tears, the angry relief, the inevitable questions. "They didn't hear anything from me while I was in Faery." I sighed, gazing up the road to where the stretch of pavement melted into the darkness. "What am I going to tell them? How will I even begin to explain?"
The tatter-colt snorted and pinned its ears at a truck that roared by, passing uncomfortably close. I couldn't be sure, but it looked like Luke's battered old Ford, rattling down the road and vanishing around a curve. If it was my stepdad, he definitely wouldn't have seen us; he'd had a hard time remembering my name even when I'd lived in the same house.
"You tell them the truth," Ash said, startling me. I wasn't expecting him to answer. "From the beginning. Either they accept it, or they don't, but you can't hide who you are, especially from your family. Best to get it over withwe can deal with whatever happens after."
His candor surprised me. I was still getting used to this new Ash, this faery who talked and smiled instead of hiding behind an icy wall of indifference. Ever since we were banished from the Nevernever, he'd been more open, less brooding and angst-ridden, as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. True, he was still quiet and solemn by anyone's standards, but for the first time, I felt I was finally getting a glimpse of the Ash I knew was there all along.
"But what if they can't deal with it?" I muttered, voicing the concern that had been plaguing me all morning. "What if they see what I am and freak out? What if they don't want me anymore?"
I trailed off at the end, knowing I sounded like a sullen five-year-old. But Ash's hold on me tightened, and he pulled me closer against him.
"Then you'll be an orphan, just like me," he said. "And we'll find a way to get by." His lips brushed against my ear, tying my stomach into about a dozen knots. "Together."
My breath hitched, and I turned my head to kiss him, reaching back to run my hand through his silky dark hair.
The tatter-colt snorted and bucked midstep, not enough to throw me off, but enough to bounce me a few inches straight up. I snatched wildly for its mane as Ash grabbed my waist, keeping me from falling off. Heart pounding, I shot a glare between the tatter-colt's ears, resisting the urge to kick it in the ribs and give it another excuse to buck me off. It raised its head and glared back at us, eyes glowing crimson, disgust written plainly on its equine face.
I wrinkled my nose at it. "Oh, excuse me, are we making you uncomfortable?" I asked sarcastically, and it snorted. "Fine. We'll behave."
Ash chuckled but didn't attempt to pull me back. I sighed and gazed at the road over the colt's bobbing head, looking for familiar landmarks. My heart leaped when I saw a rusty van sitting in the trees off the side of the road, so ancient and corroded a tree had grown through the roof. It had been there for as long as I could remember, and I saw it every day on the bus to and from school. It always told me when I was nearly home.
It seemed so long ago, nowa lifetime agothat I'd sat on the bus with my friend Robbie, when all I had to worry about was grades and homework and getting my driver's permit. So much had changed; it would feel strange returning to school and my old, mundane life like nothing had happened. "I'll probably have to repeat a year," I sighed, and felt Ash's puzzled gaze on my neck. Of course, being an immortal faery, he didn't have to worry about school and licenses and
I stopped as reality seemed to descend on me all at once. My time in the Nevernever was like a dream, hazy and ethereal, but we were back in the real world now. Where I had to worry about homework and grades and getting into college. I'd wanted to get a summer job and save up for a car. I'd wanted to attend ITT Tech after high school, maybe move to the Baton Rouge or New Orleans campuses when I graduated. Could I still do that? Even after everything that happened? And where would a dark, exiled faery prince fit into all of this?
"What is it?" Ash's breath tickled the back of my ear, making me shiver.
I took a deep breath. "How is this going to work, Ash?" I half turned to face him. "Where will we be a year from now, two years from now? I can't stay here foreversooner or later, I'm going to have to get on with my life. School, work, college someday " I broke off and looked down at my hands. "I have to move on eventually, but I don't want to do any of those things without you."
"I've been thinking about that," Ash replied. I glanced up at him, and he surprised me with a brief smile. "You have your whole life ahead of you. It makes sense that you should plan for the future. And I figure, Goodfellow pretended to be mortal for sixteen years. There's no reason I can't do the same."
I blinked at him. "Really?"
He touched my cheek softly, his eyes intense as they gazed into mine. "You might have to teach me a little about the human world, but I'm willing to learn if it means being close to you." He smiled again, a wry quirk of his lips. "I'm sure I can adapt to 'being human,' if I must. If you want me to attend classes as a student, I can do that. If you want to move to a large city to pursue your dreams, I will follow. And if, someday, you wish to be married in a white gown and make this official in human eyes, I'm willing to do that, too." He leaned in, close enough for me to see my reflection in his silver gaze. "For better or worse, I'm afraid you're stuck with me now."
I felt breathless, not knowing what to say. I wanted to thank him, but those words didn't mean the same in faery terms. I wanted to lean in the rest of the way and kiss him, but the tatter-colt would probably throw me into the ditch if I tried. "Ash," I began, but was saved a response as the tatter-colt abruptly came to a full stop at the end of a long gravel driveway that stretched away over a short rise. A familiar green mailbox balanced precariously on its post at the end of the drive, faded with age and time, but I had no trouble reading it, even in the darkness.
My heart stood still. I was home.
I slid off the tatter-colt's back and stumbled as I hit the ground, my legs feeling weird and shaky after being on horseback for so long. Ash dismounted with ease, murmuring something to the tatter-colt, which snorted, threw up its head and bounded into the darkness. In seconds, it had disappeared.
I gazed up the long gravel road, my heart pounding in my chest. Home and family waited just beyond that rise: the old green farmhouse with paint peeling off the wood, the pig barns out back through the mud, Luke's truck and Mom's station wagon in the driveway.
Ash moved up beside me, making no noise on the rocks. "Are you ready?"
No, I wasn't. I peered into the darkness where the tatter-colt had vanished instead. "What happened to our ride?" I asked, to distract myself from what I had to do. "What did you say to it?"
"I told him the favor has been paid and that we're even now." For some reason, this seemed to amuse him; he gazed after the colt with a faint smile on his lips. "It appears I can't order them around like I used to. I'll have to rely on calling in favors from now on."
"Is that bad?"
The smile twitched into a smirk. "A lot of people owe me." When I still hesitated, he nodded toward the driveway. "Go on. Your family is waiting."
"What about you?"
"It's probably better if you go alone this time." A flicker of regret passed through his eyes, and he gave me a pained smile. "I don't think your brother would be happy to see me again."
"I'll be close." He reached out and tucked a strand of hair behind my ears. "Promise."
I sighed and gazed up the driveway once more. "All right," I muttered, steeling myself for the inevitable. "Here goes nothing."
I took three steps, feeling the gravel crunch under my feet, and glanced over my shoulder. The empty road mocked me, the breeze stirring up leaves in the spot Ash had been. Typical faery. I shook my head and continued my solitary trek up the driveway.
It wasn't long before I reached the top of the rise, and there, in all its rustic glory, was the house I'd lived in for ten years. I could see lights on in the window, and my family moving about in the kitchen. There was Mom's slender frame, bent over the sink, and Luke in his faded overalls, putting a stack of dirty plates on the counter. And if I squinted hard enough, I could just see the top of Ethan's curly head, poking over the kitchen table.
Tears pricked my eyes. After a year of being away, fighting faeries, discovering who I was, cheating death more times than I cared to remember, I was finally home.
"Isn't that precious," a voice hissed.
I spun, looking around wildly.
"Up here, princess."
I looked straight up, and my vision was filled with a thin, shimmering net an instant before it struck me and sent me tumbling back. Cursing, I thrashed and tore at the threads, trying to rip through the flimsy barrier. Stinging pain made me gasp. Blood streamed down my hands, and I squinted at the threads. The net was actually made of fine, flexible wire, and my struggles had sliced my fingers open.
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Top Customer Reviews
In this epic conclusion to Meghan's journey, she and her fey love, Ash, have just been banished from the Nevernever, forced to live out their days in the mortal world. Though they are no longer a part of the fantastical world of the fey, life is never boring for them.
The false king of the Iron Realm is still out to get Meghan and put an end to her life for the gain of her iron powers. An attempted kidnapping delays any plans she may have had for returning to any semblance of a normal life.
Meghan and Ash are forced to seek shelter in the home of Leanansidhe, the Exile Queen. While in the safety of the In Between, Meghan trains in both magic and sword-fighting in order to better defend herself, while trying to regain the connection she'd thought long-lost with her mortal father Paul.
Things do not stay peaceful for long, though. After many 'weeks' of training, the arrival of each a Summer and Winter representative will again change Meghan's life forever; the Iron Fey are more powerful than ever, and the destruction of Faery appears imminent. Meghan is the only one who can take down the false king, and she will stop at nothing to do so, especially when it may mean the return of her beloved Ash to his home in the Nevernever.
Together with her Knight, Ash, her best friend, Puck, and her cait sith, Grimalkin, she will venture into the Iron Realm to once again accomplish the impossible. The fate of Faery rests in her hands, and she is just the half-breed to bring peace to all the lands.
I would strongly recommend this and every other book belonging to this amazing series to any who adore the world of fantasy, enjoy a story about destiny and faith, and overall, for those who believe that there are things worth dying for; things that are worth fighting for with every bone in one's body, and would stop at nothing to protect what's important.
I've adored this series for many years, and will adore it for many more to come. Thanks be to Julie Kagawa for her amazing writing skills, and her courage for releasing her world into our own. Many wonders can be found in her works, and I've had the extreme pleasure of discovering many of them in the words from her little worlds. Thanks again Julie!!
Everyone will enjoy the books in this series as it has a little bit of everything. Happy reading! I'm on to the next and can't wait!
I have always thought the supporting characters in this series are exceptionally wonderful. They are unique and lovable and strong-willed. The world is an old idea with a new fascinating concept melded in. It is certainly a great series that I have been enjoying. However, I have made no secret of my sometimes dislike of Meghan...especially in The Iron Daughter. I found her whiny, selfish, and annoying in moments. Now, I LOVE the direction Kagawa went in The Iron Queen and the remarkable growth of Meghan Chase. Everything that I have disliked about her before has been completely turned around and she is now a heroine that I can stand behind.
Meghan has some high odds stacked against her. She has some very tough choices to make as well as some great people on the path with her. I have never been emotionally attached to her before so the books were fantastic, but didn't move me. This one had me laughing harder, brought me to tears, and had me gasping in surprise.
Plus, there was a TON of fantastic action. I like it when books keep moving. Kagawa kept up a steady pace of entertaining dialogue, twists and turns, and sword-play (complete with battle clothing in gauntlets and armor).
The only bad that I caught while reading this one was that Meghan got so upset with Puck over something that should make her upset, but not as outrageously as it came across. Something similar had happened previously with a different reaction from her. However, given how quickly she moved away from this and began growing into a stronger more selfless character, I was not very bothered by it.
I must say that I love Ash. The two of them around each other now are wonderful. He was so different, so open, and was a character that it's obvious has a wall up but has let Meghan in and therefore me as the reader. There's some definite romance in this one.
Anything that I didn't like about the previous books was absent from this one. The Iron Queen is a fantastic read with absolutely fabulous characters, a story that was beyond entertaining, and an ending that made me dive into the next one immediately. WHILE I was reading parts of the book, I still didn't know how things were going to turn out just two paragraphs later. It was more intense and had more twists and turns. Definitely recommended.