Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

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"I'd expected to die that day.  I was ready.  Being ordered by my True Name to walk away, leaving Meghan to die alone in the Iron Kingdom, nearly shattered me a second time.  If it wasn't for my oath to be with her again, I might've done something suicidal, like challenge Oberon to a battle before the entire Summer Court.  But now that I've made my promise, there is no turning back.  Abandoning my vow will unravel me, bit by bit, until there is nothing left.  Even if I wasn't determined to find a way to survive in the Iron Realm, I'd have no choice but to continue. 

I will be with her again, or I will die.  There aren't any other options."

I’ve only recently come to enjoy Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series.  I’m so glad I finally did!  The series has been so much fun so far and The Iron Knight will not disappoint.  This time the story is told from Ash’s perspective, which I’m certain will delight legions of Team Ash fans. 

When we last saw Ash and Meghan, she had released him from his duty as her knight and banished him from the Iron Realm for his own safety.  Ash made a solemn promise that he’d find a way to be with her again.  The Iron Knight follows him, accompanied by Puck on his journey to become human in order to reunite with Meghan.  Of course, Grimalkin is there as their trusted guide and to provide a cool head and quick wit.  As with the previous books, Kagawa has created a world so rich in detail that it’s easy to get immersed in it and not want to leave. I was so transfixed by the story that every time I was away from the book, I’d think, “I have to get back to Ash.”

Throughout his journey several things happen to Ash that make him question his motives.  I had never doubted his devotion to Meghan but it was an eye opener to watch him come to terms with his decision with who he is.  Is he following through on his promise because he’s a man of his word or is it because he is truly in love?  The trials along the way strengthen his resolve as he learns what it means to be “human”.  There are uncomfortable, gut-wrenching moments particularly when Ash is forced to face the horrendous actions of his past.  It's remarkable to see his once cruel and heartless side and still feel compassion for him.  And there are other moments when I admit I shed a tear or two.  Through it all Ash learns about friendship, loyalty, forgiveness, love and discovers his own humanity.

Among the many highlights of the book is the interaction between Ash and Puck.  We’re all already familiar with the animosity between them and how their once unlikely friendship turned to hatred.  The Iron Knight delves deeper into their estrangement by going beyond Puck’s non-stop banter and Ash’s cold shoulder treatment until they’re ultimately forced to confront each other. It's a tense moment where you're left holding your breath.

Coming to the end of The Iron Knight reminded me of the first time I read The Hobbit.  By the time it was all over and done, I felt like I had gone through everything that had happened in that span of time.  The story this time is less about Faery politics and more about the struggle to find redemption and the opportunity to reinvent oneself.  And the incredible descriptions have left fantastic images in my head that I wish I could see this world as a movie right now.  The Iron Knight easily deserves 5 stars.

~ Bel

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