The Iron Knight

The Iron Fey series is back with the final installment. (No, really, it's the FINAL one... until the next series starts up, that is.) If Julie Kagawa could have had her way, she probably would have opted to end the series on the wistful/slightly tragic note that The Iron Queen brings to the table, but no, she yielded to her begging publisher and fans... and so we have The Iron Knight. Those who haven't tackled any of the other books should definitely not start here, but fans of the series to date will inevitably be quite pleased with this storyline, as it tackles obvious problems and tosses in some fun twists in a truly Julie Kagawa style.

At the end of The Iron Queen, Meghan assumed leadership of the Iron Realm and, heartbreakingly, released Ash from his sworn vow to be her knight and protect her, as the fey cannot survive in her world of iron. Despite this, Ash promised that he would find a way to be with her or die trying, and The Iron Knight is that journey. His unlikely (slash way-obvious) companion on this journey is Puck, Ash's former best friend turned sworn enemy who Ash has pretty much stopped trying to kill since Puck lost out to Ash in the battle for Meghan's affection. (If you forgot, Ash and Puck's relationship went sour many years ago when Ash's girlfriend was killed and Ash blamed her death on Puck's actions. Ash swore that Puck would die at his hand, but the bros came to an unofficial truce.) Together with the cat Grimalkin, the three of them set forth to find the end of the Nevernever. There, Ash hopes to find the Testing Grounds at the End of the World, a place where Ash might be able to gain that which could allow him to survive in Meghan's court -- a mortal soul in exchange for his immortality. Consider what that would mean to Ash and Meghan's long-term relationship and you'll see why it's a big deal and he isn't too keen on voicing his plans aloud to anyone, even if they all understand what he's doing. Just the same, this is his quest and along the way, Ash, Puck, and Grimalkin pick up two surprising companions on their journey... one of whom is very shocking indeed.

I won't say any more in means of summary, because quite honestly, fans of the series will be reading this book without a review's encouragement. Those on Team Ash will swoon and those on Team Puck will see this as something to tide them over until Kagawa focuses her talents on crafting a novel solely for Robin Goodfellow. And even if you're on the fence about the series (as I was for the first two books), then you'll still probably read The Iron Knight simply because you're so close to finishing it all and you might as well just do it. It's certainly worth the read if the series gives you any pleasure, but it could never supplant The Iron Queen as the best book of the series.

Personally, I was rather pleased with Kagawa's twists, but ultimately found that one inparticular (involving the most surprising companion) didn't carry quite enough weight in the end and only fulfilled a minimal purpose to put certain issues to rest without much to keep the complication going. Once we get through the Nevernever to the End of the World, my favorite twist comes in to play, but things resolve with a disappointing predictability. The ending will be a shock to no one and should make fans who need a Happily Ever After (HEA) quite happy indeed, but one feels like Kagawa's heart isn't totally in the ending. Kagawa has confessed online that she's a bigger fan of the Ultimate Noble Sacrifice Ending as opposed to the HEA, and so one can almost hear her reluctant sigh, even if she is pleased with the level of fan devotion that all demanded a tidier end for Meghan and Ash. However, given that the whole book seems like a concession to fans, I have to give Kagawa props for coming up with the diverting ideas that she did. Now, folks, let's let her do a book with an UNS, because even if hearts break, I'll bet that it would be her best book of all.

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