Wow. This book is brilliant. If you know the series – and if you don’t, you should – you’ll know the dark, brooding, gorgeous Prince Ash of the Winter Court. Well, this is his story and it’s awesome. Here we get to know him in greater depth than ever before and it makes for a dark and gritty tale with all the simmering passion we’ve come to love from this character.
Above, I was going to say the ‘tortured soul of ‘Ash, but because he’s a fey, he doesn’t actually have a soul and that’s the big problem he has to overcome. As a winter fey, he cannot live in the Iron realm with his beloved Megan, and in order to fulfil his promise to return to her side, he has to gain a soul. This is a simple but powerful premise and not an easy goal to attain, but if we know anything about Ash – my heart pounds at the mere sound of his name – we know that he doesn’t give up easily.
First, he must find Grimalkin, the cat who can lead him to the Seer who can tell him how to gain a soul. The Seer tells him that he has to go to the end of the Nevernever , through the briars to the testing grounds where he must endure the gauntlet to get to the end of the world. There the guardian will set him a series of trials, the prize of his success is a soul. The risk is madness or death.
But Ash does not go alone. The enchanting Puck, his old friend and nemesis is at his side every step of the way, and through this tale we also discover a greater depth in him. The Big Bad Wolf also joins the team. He sees this as a great adventure and he wants to be in it, because every time the tale is told, he will become stronger and more enduring. Remember that when we forget the fey, they fade away. The wolf is another wonderful character, his strength and selflessness reminding me of Ironhorse in book two of this series. Puck’s attendance gives the story its all important lightness. Without him, Ash’s trials would be unrelentingly dark, and the ongoing banter between the two ‘frenemies’ is always a delightful part of the Iron Fey series. Here we see the reasons for Ashes oath to kill Puck and also a resolution to the ongoing problem of when this will happen.
Julie Kagawa has a wonderful imagination and the ability to write highly evocative prose that allows us to see her world in all its richness and glory, and to experience her character’s lives as if they were our own. This has always been a major drawcard for me in her books, but here she has even more to offer. The Iron Knight has real depth.
In order for Ash to claim his prize, he must know what it means to be human and what he is giving up. So we get to think about what it means to be human ie having a conscience, a human body with all its limitations, a human heart with its strength and frailty, and mortality. These are big themes and Julie deals with them brilliantly as Ash struggles to come to terms with what each of them means for him. How can he reconcile himself with the cruelty of some of his past actions, and how much is he willing to give up for the woman he loves?
The Iron Knight put Julie Kagawa firmly back on the top of my list of favourite authors. I totally forgive her for my disappointment in the ending of ‘The Iron Queen’, the third book in the Iron Fey series. The first book (The Iron King) seemed very young at first, but soon showed the imagination, passion and depth of characterisation that characterises this series. I loved the second book in the series but this, the fourth one, is even better.
I could rave for hours about all the wonderful scenes but it’s better you read it for yourself. You don’t have to have read the rest of the series to enjoy this book either. I give the Iron Knight 5 stars and a big hurrah. I’m considering it for an M-award too. It’s certainly one I’d like to read again.
Watch THE IRON KING book trailer
Missed the first 3 books in the series? Watch the book trailer to see what they were all about… :
The Iron Knight – behind the scenes cover shoot