The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3)

The Iron QueenBy Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: January 25, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Source: Netgalley

My name is Meghan Chase.
I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who’s sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I’m not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.

Goodreads Summary

A long-time fan of all things fantasy and anything with heroines who save the day, I fell in love with the beginning of the Iron Fey series, The Iron King.  Kagawa’s faery Nevernever was imaginative, the story thrilling and I loved all of the oddball characters.  Meghan was a terrific champion and I couldn’t wait to read more about her.  Unfortunately, my affection start to wane by the time the series left off with The Iron Daughter.  I thought the romantic relationship between the two main characters had ventured into sap-land and that Kagawa had abandoned her best asset, the wildly interesting Nevernever for the bland and occasionally ridiculous top world story.  I’m so glad I didn’t give up on the series, because the third full installment – there was a small novella, Winter’s Passage – was even better than the first.

The Iron Queen picks up with Meghan and Ash having been exiled from Nevernever for choosing to stay together, an unforgivable sin for a Winter Prince and a Summer Princess.  While topside, they decide to head back to the Queen of Exile’s house to reconnect with the man Meghan had always thought of as her father (one of those dangling plot threads that annoyed me so much in The Iron Daughter), only to find their friend Puck has managed to get exiled alongside them.  Nothing goes smoothly of course, and they’re called back to Nevernever with alarming news and an offer: the false Iron King is encroaching farther into faery territory, destroying everything.  If Meghan will agree to locate and kill him, she, Ash and Puck will be allowed back into Nevernever permanently.

Most of the same conflicts have carried through from past books: there’s still tension between Meghan, Ash and Puck over their sort-of-not-really romantic triangle, Meghan and her father the Summer King still really don’t get along, Ash’s mother the Winter Queen is still angry with him for his betrayal and a lot of people would like to have the half-breed Meghan removed from Nevernever permanently, preferably on a cold slab.  What has changed is that the Summer and Winter courts are finally working together, albeit grudgingly, to oust the false Iron King.

The bulk of the book is the story of Meghan learning to fight, coming to grips with her different faery powers and dealing with her relationship with Ash.  Woven throughout is what made The Iron King such a success for me: an intricate layering of world-building (new and old) and the introduction of a cast of thousands (new and old).  Meghan has matured too and her interest in Ash has moved beyond making gooey eyes at him and into a genuine relationship where they talk to each other.  Ash’s iceman persona has also dropped, and his quiet and sincere acts of affection towards Meghan make it very easy to overlook the fact that there’s very little kissing even here.  There is one act of sexual contact alluded to, but no descriptive given.

For all of the terrific battle action (and there’s a lot of it) the ending here was a jaw-dropper that really does come out of nowhere.  I’m not sure how far in advance it was planned, if it was something that came about organically as this book was nearing an end or, well, what happened, but rather than the originally planned trio of Iron Fey books, there’s now going to be a fourth in the series.  The Iron Knight, Ash’s story, will apparently be published sometime in I’m assuming late 2011.

This was a stellar story, one that I can strongly suggest you keep a handful of Kleenex on hand for.  I also suggest you save a little cash for Ash’s story, because after you finish this, you’ll be pre-ordering.

My Rating: A-

Barbara

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