Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Review - The Iron Knight, Julie Kagawa


I've finally finished Julie Kagawa's The Iron Fey series, closing with the fourth and final book The Iron Knight (well, its the fourth if you're not including the novellas).

I was a bit dubious at first, as I said in my review of The Iron Queen, I'm not a huge fan of series that change narrator part way through. I just about tolerated New Moon so wasn't going in to this book with high expectations, figuring it would feel a bit disjointed.

However, I was actually really impressed. I thought I'd miss Meghan as the narrator but I really didn't. Ash, Puck, and Grimalkin were more than enough to carry this story (which makes me doubt my previous reviews) and a handful of additional characters held it together nicely.

From the very first book in the series The Iron King, it was blindingly obvious to me that we would eventually meet Ariella, and what do you know, here she is. This is the only character I really didn't wan't to appear in Ash's story because I feel she was a pointless addition. Kagawa is not going to write a whole series of books based on the relationship between Meghan and Ash then throw a spanner in the works right at the very end where Ash goes 'Oh Hey Ariella! Lets go make babies again' - No. Ash would clearly have never chosen Ariella over Meghan after all that build up, so why even bother posing the obstacle?

Again, you have to give it to Kagawa for her description in the book, and in fact, the whole series. She has a wonderful way with words and knows just the right amount of weird to include to really make you think 'God, this place is creepy'.

I loved that Meghan was still a relatively dominant character of this book, and giving her dialogue in the dream scene was a really nice idea as it felt like their relationship was kind of renewed at that point. Puck, as always, was a welcome presence in Ash's story. It was almost a little insight in to the previous relationship they had, hunting and fighting together, but at the same time still addressing the current tension between the two.

In terms of characters, the question that I did want answered was 'what the hell is Grimalkin?'. I kind of expected him to reveal himself as some bad ass deity type character but nothing ever came about, which I think is a shame. I would have proffered more focus on Grim than bringing back Ariella.

The romantic in me also wanted more of an epic reunion for Ash and Meghan at the end (and also hated Ash's fourth trial - the living the mortal life bit. Sad face for Ash), the ending felt a bit rushed to be honest and the very last paragraph really soured what could have been a great close to the series - Ariella was a main character for 1 book, and not even an interesting one at that, why close the entire series with her and Grim? But hey ho.

All of that said, I really enjoyed the story from Ash's perspective, and I loved Puck's ever annoying presence, but something just didn't quite sit right with me. I mentioned in my last review that The Iron Daughter was my favourite book in the series and I still stand by that. I felt like there was a lot of entertaining build up, for a pretty unsatisfactory and dull ending, so I'm going to give The Iron Knight a 3.5/5.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Review - The Iron Queen, Julie Kagawa

I finished reading this book last night and got that warm and fuzzy but mixed with a tinge of sadness moment when you finish a book you really enjoyed. I couldn't be bothered to write a review last night as I was shattered so I figured I'd leave it until this morning, assuming the feeling would last.

However, it didn't, so that has made me look back on the story with a renewed cynicism. I liked the book, don't get me wrong, there were a lot of improvements on The Iron King and The Iron Daughter.

The characters were definitely strong, Ash and Puck really came into their own and it was nice that they became integrated into the story as a pair, rather than individually. I enjoyed their relationship developing again just as much as I did watching Meghan and Ash becoming more of a couple.

Thinking back though, the thing that I wasn't convinced about was the actual story. There were a lot of moments where I thought 'Hmm, okay. Even in a faerie novel, I don't believe this...'.

Example number 1, Meghan has like a week of training with Ash and suddenly she's a fighter.

Example number 2, when she runs into battle on the horses and she says she's not scared. Are you kidding me? A 17 year old who's still new to the whole faerie thing and still hasn't mastered her powers is not scared of running into a war with three different races? Yeah right.

(POTENTIAL SPOILER) Example number 3, both Ash and Grim have said to Meghan that she needs to learnt to use both Summer and Iron magic together, but she says she can't do it. Then Machina tells her and she's like 'sure thing boss!' and hey presto, she's super faerie.

I know I sound ranty but I was really looking forward to this after The Iron Daughter, and while I don't think it was any worse, I definitely wouldn't say it was better. I did enjoy it though, just one or two niggles.

And the ending! Oh god the ending! I'm not usually a fan of novellas or stories for other perspectives but I'm going to have to read The Iron Knight just to get Ash out of my system I think. I gave The Iron Daughter a 4.5/5 but I think I'll drop this one to a 4/5.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Review - The Iron Daughter, Julie Kagawa

Okay, so in my review of The Iron King (The Iron fey, Book 1) I wasn't the most enthusiastic about the book, giving it a 3.5 out of 5.

The main reason it didn't quite grab me was the relationship with Meghan and Ash, it just wasn't deep enough for me - saying that, there were a lot of other things in the book that made me want to read the rest of The Iron Fey series (that, and I've heard nothing but rave reviews about it).

Ignoring the novellas, The Iron Daughter is the second book in The Iron Fey series and, in my colloquial opinion, absolutely decimates The Iron King! It's just better. Better writing, better dialogue, better storyline, better relationships. Better in every way.

I'm so glad I gave this series a chance because, halfway through book 3, The Iron Queen, it's turning into something pretty great. But anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, The Iron Daughter starts off with Meghan a prisoner by choice in the Winter court. Ash refuses to acknowledge their relationship/feelings and she's freezing all the time. I won't give away any spoilers but the action starts pretty quickly in this book and so does the development of Meghan and Ash's love.

I believed it a lot more this time around. Kagawa does a good job of presenting Ash's torn feelings of guilt and regret over Ariella's death and at the same time really makes you feel bad for Meghan as she sees that. This is what I wanted from The Iron King, more depth and more conviction to the relationship; and throw in the involvement of Puck and good lord, its a goodun. (Desperately trying not to give away spoilers).

Aside from the love triangle going on, we meet a couple of new characters, Leanansidhe and Paul probably being the most significant newbies, Ironhorse being a very significant oldie, Grimalkin sticks his tail back in, and our contagious friend Virus is back, too.

We get a little more insight into Meghans abilities and her connection to Machina and the Iron Realm. It's pretty easy to guess the outcome and therefore the premise of The Iron Queen, but if you hadn't guessed it half way through the book, a few choice words from Ironhorse will solidify it towards the end.

Overall, the mix of characters, scenery, and storyline make this much more interesting that the first book in the series. The Iron Daughter still leaves a few pretty big, unanswered questions lingering, and if they aren't enough to make you read book three, the enduring sure as hell will!

I'd give this one a 4.5/5, much more interesting than The Iron King and I'm getting the feeling the series only gets better.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Review - The Iron King, Julie Kagawa

So I'm currently reading The Iron King (The Iron Fey, Book 1) by Julie Kagawa.

I know I'm pretty behind on this, given that The Iron Fey series is now on book 6 (a couple of those being novella's) but I'd never heard of the books and they sounded like my kind of thing. Hey, better late than never.

I completely get where Kagawa is going with the storyline of these books. You have the Nevernever, a Faery world that exists as a result of human imagination, currently being destroyed/poisoned by the Iron realm, the progressive imagination of electronics and technology. The hero's need to destroy the Iron King and save the Nevernever. (In short).

The concept is actually long overdue and while I can appreciate that, something about the book didn't grip me. I think its the relationships between the main characters; there's Meghan, the half Summer fey, Puck (Robin Goodfellow), the Summer fey King's right hand man, and Ash, a Winter fey Prince.

Puck has been in love with Meghan forever but she meets Ash once or twice and decides she's in love with him. It just wasn't enough for me. The relationship between Ash and Meghan just didn't have enough substance and it feels like he is still waaaay too in love with his dead ex to really care about Meghan. It was all very 'meh'.

Puck, on the other hand, I really liked. Its a shame he disappears half way through this book because I think he and Meghan could make a pretty good pair. You also have Grimalkin, the talking cat, who is a relatively likeable character. there's something not quite trustworthy about him but ultimately he just comes across as one of those misunderstood characters who there to keep you anticipating deception.

The descriptions of the Nevernever were really great, too. Some really wacky scenarios and characters; Kagawa has a knack for making you picture an entire scene by not actually describing that much, which I like. It's enough to let you create the images without being forced to read through pages of descriptions.

Overall I did like the book, just not so much the relationships. I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series as I'm intrigued to see how things change Meghan to come into her powers and also to see how the relationships will pan out. I've just started the second book, The Iron Daughter (The Iron Fey, Book 2), and its pretty much jumped straight into action, so it's looking good so far.

As far as The Iron King goes, I'd probably give it a 3.5/5.