Decent, if not groundbreaking. Occasionally stilted and weighed down with expositionary dialogue, but nonetheless an engaging read and look at the lifDecent, if not groundbreaking. Occasionally stilted and weighed down with expositionary dialogue, but nonetheless an engaging read and look at the life of one of France's most infamous Queens. Though Madame Serpent was definitely not the best Jean Plaidy novel I have ever read, I can say I enjoyed it - for the most part - and that it was worth the $10 for the ebook....more
This was not Jennifer Crusie's best effort. It seemed weak throughout, lacking a compelling plot or a truly sympathetic main character. Kate is pricklThis was not Jennifer Crusie's best effort. It seemed weak throughout, lacking a compelling plot or a truly sympathetic main character. Kate is prickly enough to venture into diva territory, and I find the idea of a woman hunting for a boyfriend/husband pretty repellant. The men seemed to embody at least one standard cliche of males and bachelors in general, and no one seemed to have chemistry, much less even like each other very much. It's a pretty mindless, predictable tale with not nearly enough of Cruise's usual amount of humor and wit. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
Very simplistic and extremely predictable. The author is self-published and it shows, I'm afraid rather badly. The editing needs a lot of work. The wrVery simplistic and extremely predictable. The author is self-published and it shows, I'm afraid rather badly. The editing needs a lot of work. The writing needs polish, and a clear voice. It's a rather Mary Sue book, though not as bad as other, more successful ones. The two sequels I am not going to bother reviewing because they are much the same, suffering the same deficiencies and were read merely so I could complete the trilogy.
There is originality (trolls!) and humor in the story, if uneven and perhaps unintentional (I was usually laughing at the book, not with it.) I was genuinely surprised by a turn the plot takes late in the novel and thought it might show a bit of promise for a much better writer in the future. Switched reads quickly and simply, but sadly this book makes little lasting impression; it's a generic YA fantasy in the brand of Twilight et al., with an unlikeable and dull Mary Sue protagonist in a strange magical world of which she is the unwitting center. ...more
Still a five-star read the second time through, though I wasn't as blinded to the faults of the novel. Love it, hate it, ignore it or not, The HungerStill a five-star read the second time through, though I wasn't as blinded to the faults of the novel. Love it, hate it, ignore it or not, The Hunger Games is a juggernaut in the publishing/movie world and will continue to be for at least the next 3 years. Katniss may not be my favorite YA heroine, but she is up there among the best. ...more
While not perfect, Catching Fire is just as enjoyable and engrossing as The Hunger Games. No, it is not without flaws. What it is, though, is a book tWhile not perfect, Catching Fire is just as enjoyable and engrossing as The Hunger Games. No, it is not without flaws. What it is, though, is a book that is captivating, horrifying and one you can't put down or stop thinking about, until you've finished.
There are problems in the novel, most of them stemming from the fact that Collins did not initially plan to write any sequels to The Hunger Games, so the beginning of the book foundered a bit and searched for connecting plotlines and overall themes to extend to all three novels.
I will start Mockingjay momentarily, because I actually care about her characters. They're more than cliches, and they are interesting people. For instance, who knew Haymitch had it in him? I absolutely have to know what happens to everyone in the books that's lasted so far.
Overall, a great book, and definitely one of the best I will read this year. ...more
A satisfying conclusion to the outstanding series. None of the problems I had with Catching Fire are present in Mockingjay. The end was more than satiA satisfying conclusion to the outstanding series. None of the problems I had with Catching Fire are present in Mockingjay. The end was more than satisfactory, it was moving and appropriate. It is hard to end a well-loved series in a way that all fans will be happy (J.K. Rowling did an amazing job on her final novel, whereas Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn was painful to read), but I think Collins' Hunger Game series ended on a very very high note. I am sad to leave this world, this character behind. Collins created a world that people connected to, loved, hated and ultimately couldn't get enough of. I hope she continues to write in the same vein as this series (dystopian/sci-fi), so I will have something quality to read in the future. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
A veeery short look into a multi-layered subtle game going on in the Angels/Otherworld that Eve Levine inhabits and polices. Short, sweet and with jusA veeery short look into a multi-layered subtle game going on in the Angels/Otherworld that Eve Levine inhabits and polices. Short, sweet and with just enough action to keep the pages flipping, this novella keeps in tune with the fun and wit of the rest of the Otherworld series. A snack worth munching on between larger meals. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
This was a good book. It wasn't great, though it had potential to be and hopefully so do the sequels; it was fresh, vibrant and unexpectedly lively. TThis was a good book. It wasn't great, though it had potential to be and hopefully so do the sequels; it was fresh, vibrant and unexpectedly lively. The pacing is fluid and unhurried and filled with enough tension to make the pages fly. The climax is not the most exciting or gripping, honestly, but it is interesting and with enough surprises to keep your attention. The main character was well-written, and I truly liked that she didn't immediately become dependent on either boy to define her character or her desires. Yes, she leaned on one for help and support but she did so without losing her identity for his. She's feisty without being a parody of feminism, she's clever and enjoyable to read. However, there was a particular part of the novel, near the end, when Aislinn's nonreaction to a rather important plot point left me disjointed. Literally, it made no sense for her not to have any sort of LARGE reaction to the revelation. It completely pulled me out of the narrative right at a pivotal moment and I never sank back in as completely. Aside from Aislinn, Donia was another favorite of mine. Beira largely seemed a cat without claws for ninety percent of the events of the book. She was intimidating, vocally sadistic and cruel, and bitchy, yes, but we never actually see her do anything (to the Summer Court.. she takes out her own with no compunction) but hiss and threaten. Most of the characters are detailed and real (Keenan, Seth, Donia, Beira) but a few were token characters that didn't add anything essential but emotional baggage for Aislinn (Grams, friends/teachers at high school) to worry over/possibly leave behind. The virtues more than make up for the flaws in the book. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable, quick read....more
A terrific beginning to a sure-to-be entertaining series. Sullivan starts off very well in his first published novel with the first of the Riyria ReveA terrific beginning to a sure-to-be entertaining series. Sullivan starts off very well in his first published novel with the first of the Riyria Revelations. A gang of likable rogues, most notably led by Royce Melborn and his buddy-cop-esque comrade Hadrian Blackwater (bonus points for using the name Hadrian!), they are successful, entrepreneurial thieves. Both are dangerous, sarcastic and interesting characters. Royce is the more malevolent, withdrawn character of the two and has a rather mysterious, mostly unexplained dark past. Hadrian supplies most of the light banter throughout the book and a lot of the humor as well. Alric is the unwitting, untried Crown Prince of Melengar that gets caught up in the tangled web around the two thieves. Over the course of the events in the book, Alric matures a great deal and his character went from a selfish childish boy to an honorable man. In terms of female characters, the options seem to be rather limited: Gwen, the clever and kind prostitute with a heart of gold, and Arista, the Princess of Melengar, a determined intelligent young woman. Gwen makes scant appearances in the novel but it is made clear she's much more than her profession. Arista is more in the spotlight, being of the royal family and acting regent of her kingdom. She's capable, smart and daring enough to be the only one to search out the dangerous, inscrutable Esrahaddon. It's a fairly light fantasy series, as opposed to the darker, grittier (I'm really tired of that word as applied to fantasy books) trend. It's very fluid and easy to read. The pacing is excellent; the exploits and adventures move the plot forward marvelously and without adding unnecessary action. The focus is clearly on the characters, the betrayals, alliances, secret meetings, rather than on world-building or giant armies marching into calamitous battle. A very nice beginning to a fresh and vivid new series from a very promising author. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
Avempartha is the second in a series of standalone novels called the Riyria Revelations, and picks up two years after the infamous escapades of RoyceAvempartha is the second in a series of standalone novels called the Riyria Revelations, and picks up two years after the infamous escapades of Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater in Essendon castle. The first book was primarily about a simple sword heist that was not-so-simple at all and all the fall out from said sword-theft/assassination. The second book centers more on the machinations of the Church and whatever measures it deems it has to take to find the Heir and crown him as Emperor once more. Avempartha is a fine sequel to The Crown Conspiracy, building on the knowledge of the world we have from the previous book to create an intricate, delicate and creative world. More backstory on the history of the world, the Empire, the Nyphron Church, the elves and dwarfs are all expanded upon from the first book, creating a credible and believable basis for a world-wide tension among all the races. No longer in Alric's realm, we find our heroes in Colnora, a moderately sized city and the urban center of Avryn, where they are stunned to learn someone has been asking for them... by name. Investigating this anomaly, Royce and Hadrian find themselves enmeshed with a force even they cannot defeat alone. My personal favorites, the charming and funny Pickerings, make an appearance in the novel with two scions of the House, Mauvin and Fanen, joining our intrepid rogues in an unprecedented showdown. The Art, as magic is called in this universe, is expanded upon greatly. We learn more about what used to be possible, how Art functioned and was needed in the days of the Empire to its sad decline to the state it is in during the novels. Esrahaddon, as inscrutable as ever, appears as a harbinger of evil? good? One is never certain what his end game is, who he is using and most of all, what he knows. Esra is by far the most dynamic character in the series thus far, though Hadrian is another personal favorite of mine. Arista is a main character in this novel as Melengar's foreign diplomat and official Ambassador but her brother Alric does not appear. Arista continues to grow into a flawed, intelligent and above all, believable character. At times frustrating, at times determined and likable, Arista continues to grow and change as a character. Royce and Hadrian and clearly the heart of the series. Their interactions and dialogues are like old friends that can count on each other, and in the end that's one of the things that keeps me coming back to this series, the relationship between Riyria. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
This is yet another riveting entry in the Riyria Revelations series. A year after defeating "Rufus' Bane" in Thrace's tiny village, Hadrian, having loThis is yet another riveting entry in the Riyria Revelations series. A year after defeating "Rufus' Bane" in Thrace's tiny village, Hadrian, having long been weary of his mercenary, wandering lifestyle with Royce, wants something with meaning to define his life other than thieving and spying, even if it's for the Crown. Royce wants to hang on to the life he's achieved with any means necessary- even deception from his closest and only friend. Drawn again into international conflict with Melengar's sneaky princess Arista, Royce and Hadrian have to accomplish this one last job before potentially splitting ways. Intricate and deftly woven, this is another amazing ride with Royce, Hadrian and Arista appearing, along with the renamed Thrace as Modina. I do have to say I had a "I KNEW it moment!!" right before the end of the book, only to have my jaw drop on the VERY LAST PAGE with sheer and utter surprise and freakoutery. A lot of theories I had planned out from this idea were dashed to pieces with a very few words. It was a masterfully, marvelously well done plot twist. These are books that can be read separately, but I do have to say some prior knowledge of recent events and people involved are somewhat necessary to understand the full gist of the power plays, manipulations and deceptions that take place across the board. These characters, especially Hadrian and the surly Royce, are beloved and cherished to me now. I'm very fond of them, and the plot twists and history behind each build a better picture of each. Hadrian, a man full of promise but no outlet and tied to an eccentric friend that really only trusts him alone. Royce emerges as a man with a heart at least, but just for a select few and the reasoning behind his demeanor. A very entertaining read from start to finish. I would highly recommend this series and I hope that the concluding three books are on the same standard as the first three. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
Really more of a 4.5 but benefit of the goodreads system = 5. Deeper thoughts later. Now: In a setting worthy of Zelazny with its intricate and deadly fReally more of a 4.5 but benefit of the goodreads system = 5. Deeper thoughts later. Now: In a setting worthy of Zelazny with its intricate and deadly familial intrigue, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was a more than pleasant surprise. I expected a typical high fantasy novel: full of magic, scheming, unwitting heroines, dastardly but lovable rogues, you know, the whole usual bit. I think Patrick Rothfuss said it best about this novel when he said, "I have a great love of fantasy that does something a little different, and this book is a little different in a whole lot of ways." I got all that I expected and more, with twists and surprises I never saw coming. The entire novel, from the innovative world/political system to the mythological aspects of the Gods, was a well thought-out, superbly-executed, hugely entertaining-to-read first novel.
The story jumps right off from the first paragraph; we meet Yeine, our Darre protagonist immediately. This novel is much more about her inner struggle, or with her relations, than an epic war or battle; it's more personal and close. The first-person perspective is used very effectively with Yeine: I constantly felt like I was reading/speaking with her the entire time. The narrative is scattered and hesitant; a clever device as she's slowly remembering, constantly re-fitting this story as she's imparting it to the readers (Yeine even occasionally breaks the third wall and addresses the readers directly, but it's appropriate and works for the novel). Her style is very informal and as a "barbarian" of the High North, it fits. The first of many intriguing twists on fantasy cliches: Yeine is not white, nor of the ruling caste, and is from a barbaric matriarchal society. Instead she's described as "darkling" and is constantly reminded of her low status among her pale, cruel Amn relatives.
A lot of themes are touches on throughout the novel. Race (and racism), gender, slavery and even religion are not shied away from. In a world where the ruling race is the pale-skinned Amn, who in turn are truly controlled by a single large, monstrously cruel family (the Arameri, to which Yeine reluctantly belongs) who are regarded as the height of civilization while being the depth of depravity, the "barbarian" Yeine is actually the most humane. The Arameri do not allow slaves on their lands, yet they house four of the most enslaved creatures in existence. This was yet another twist of Jemisin's; this time on the fantasy cliche of a God's War or the Fall of Gods. Enslaved former Gods after the war among the The Three in which the Itempas won. For millennia, the Arameri have caged these expunged-from-history Gods as weapons to ensure their power and a gift from the winning side. There was Nahadoth, the Nightlord and his three surviving godling children Sieh, Kurue, and Zhakkarn. The mythology and origins of the Gods from the Maelstrom was creative and well-planned.
There was almost an East-Asian feel to the atmosphere of the story. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms certainly did not feel Eurocentric or written with the Western world in mind, though Yeine's homeland felt almost Amazonian in its ferocity and independence. This individuality in a time of many medieval-type fantasy novels was a another nice touch I appreciated: these creative ideas can make or break a novel. The novel felt fresh and new, unlike a familiar retread of a much-used storyline. There is no over-reliance on magic to solve the world's or even Yeine's problems; it's more cerebral than that. When the magic does come into play, it's restrained or deftly applied to the characters. (view spoiler)[ I thought that unwittingly possessing a part of a fallen Goddess's fractured soul was uniquely witty way to reinvent the young girl with immense but hidden power stereotype. (hide spoiler)]
The only complaints I had were these: the love scenes between Yeine and Nahadoth. They were a little cringe-worthy and cliche; I think for the next book I'd like to see a little more finesse, perhaps more belief in a relationship before two people (Gods? Swirling masses?) hop into bed. I'd also like to see a wider view of these Hundred Thousand Kingdoms that the Arameri control. Only Sky, center of the Amn, is described at length, though even then only the nobles or privileged Amn are shown with any details. Yeine's homeland Darr warranted an occasional mention and one visit, but that was nowhere near enough to sate my curiosity about the warrior-women society.
The ending, though it what was expected even foretold throughout the novel, had quite the surprise attached to it. While completely concluding and resolving the stories and plots within this first novel, it managed to be the perfect cliffhanger for the next in the series, The Broken Kingdoms. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Consider me a fan of this series! While it may be a bit premature to announce that after reading just oRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
Consider me a fan of this series! While it may be a bit premature to announce that after reading just one book of a planned four (with two novellas as well), by the end of this book I did not want to stop reading. Despite its flaws, despite my initial apathy towards the main character, I was completely won over by this faery tale with a modernday twist.
Meghan Chase is our female main character, a teenage girl of half-human and half Summer Faery lineage. She's special and unique and wonderful, but only in the Nevernever (aka Faeryland - a name I hate and will not use for this review.) At home in backwoods Louisiana, she often feels ignored and neglected by her mother and stepfather. She has one friend, Robbie Goodfell to rely on and depend on in hard times (like in this book when her brother Ethan is abducted and replaced with a creepy creature that looks just like him...) Meghan's determined, very impulsive, intelligent but occasionally annoying. She thinks she's a lot more capable than she actually is -- such as when setting out to rescue Ethan she makes various stupid decisions leading to more than a few repetitive situations where she must be saved by another. The good thing about Meghan Chase is that she adapts and she learns quickly; she doesn't make the same stupid decision twice. Her flaws and faults make her a more fleshed out and real character, in my opinion. Once confronted with the facts of an alternate, hidden fae world, Meghan doesn't bore the reader with thirty pages of "but HOW?!" and "it's just so impossible" or some such nonsense. Instead she does what made me like her more and more as she is confronted with unlikely and dangerous situations: she constantly adapts and plans her next move.
Her best friend Robbie in turn on their quest is revealed as the beloved Robin Goodfellow of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. A living extension of the mythology of this world, of the idea that human belief creating and sustaining the Nevernever, its Courts, peoples, creatures, etc., Robbie has existed for hundreds of years because he is continually popular within human culture. As Puck, I liked the character much more than Robbie. His personality is much more fleshed out and real as opposed to the goofy best-friend stereotype he was in Meghan's mortal life. Puck's irreverent humor and whip-sharp sarcasm were a nice contrast to Meghan's more straight woman act. Sad as I am to say though, in this love triangle my support definitely belongs to the broody Winter Prince, Ash. Though a bit of their relationship is troubling (half the time he's either trying to kill Meghan or she thinks he is), I've always been a fan of the mysterious, strong silent type, a type Ash fits completely. I know I usually despise love triangles in YA supernatural stories, but I was genuinely fond of both love interests so I was not too harsh when considering the inevitable wishwashy back-and-forth to come. It also helps that the triangle doesn;t consume too much of Meghan's inner monologue; as of yet she views Robbie as only as best friend though I predict that will change within a book. I also was a bit miffed at how fast both Ash and Meghan went from "I think you might be trying to kill me and I don't trust you" (about 200 pages) to "Oh my god I love you" (about 30 pages). As much as I like each character, I want more credibility than that, please. Ash is a Winter Prince of the Unseelie Court and Meghan a Summer Princess of the Seelie Court - it's not going to be that easy for two kids to be together when their families are mortal enemies.
Outside of the characters, the author clearly has a vivid imagination and has let it run wild. The easy style makes for fast reading, so it's easy to get caught up in the action and miss the side allusions to a fully-realized and populated world. The author is very visually descriptive without trying too hard to make the words shine, so the focus is on what is said, rather than how it is said. Like the changeling who took Meghan's brother's place that was mentioned earlier. many creatures in this novel are pretty creepy and unsettling. The list of familiar and new-to-me malevolent creatures reads like a horror movie: ogres, goblins, kelpies, norrgens, wisps, redcaps, glaistigs, etc. All were unique and reminded me of fairy tales before they became glossed-over happily-ever-after tales, when they were dark and full of danger and no one in the story made it out as good as it began.
While not human and not monsters either, the fae population of both the 'good' (Seelie/Oberon/Titania/Summer) and the 'bad' (Unseelie/Mab/Winter) at large seem morally grey, with neither side acting particularly humanely nor kindly towards Meghan in her plight. While the Summer Court may not be as openly sinister as the Winter Court (openly stating how much the nobles would like to drink Meghan's blood is disconcerting) neither Oberon nor Titania is sympathetic. Titania is actually enjoyable madcap and malevolent towards her husband's daughter, further isolating Meghan in the only world she has felt at home. While I might have wished for more personality from Oberon or even a sliver of affection shown for his daughter, the overt animosity of Titania worked better to keep Meghan moving and plot advancing. I had hoped for more of Mab as well, but clearly she is to play a much larger role in further books. I look forward to how Kagawa will distinguish her version of the popular Winter Queen from all the rest.
This is an unexpectedly engrossing story. For one populated with old, well used characters and a familiar plot, the Iron King still manages to be original and completely fun faery tale. From vivid action sequences that pop off the page, to a modern-day twist on age-old lore about Fae themselves, I was engrossed in this story, this world and cannot wait to jump into the next book, the Iron Daughter....more
Round number two in the Iron Fey series with Meghan Chase might suffer slightly from a sophmore slump, hoRead This Review And More Like It On My Blog!
Round number two in the Iron Fey series with Meghan Chase might suffer slightly from a sophmore slump, however, as it was the middle branching book in an (originally) planned series of three, some faults were to expected. A bit uneven with pacing and tension (the Winter Formal high school dance scene tossed into the action threw me off for several pages), this was nevertheless a fun, diverting journey into a fully-realized and often strange world. In this book, we find Meghan in the hostile Winter Court, having just killed the Iron King to save the Nevernever from his poison.
This second installment jumps off from the first page; it almost feels like an extension from book one, a later chapter in that same book. The ease with which I was caught up in Meghan's mind and world was astonishing: it was as if I had never left. Though this was a book much more emotional in tone (I'll get to that in a bit) and feeling, I had the same sense of fun and adventure, mixed with interesting and dangerous fae creatures that I experienced and so delighted in while reading The Iron King. The mix of traditional faery lore coupled with new, innovative and creative mythology is unique to Kagawa and absolutely well-thought out and planned. I hate when authors have a great concept and only use it half-heartedly; the fully-realized Iron fey that Ms. Kagawa has envisioned is the best hook this book has to offer. While there is the traditional Summer/Winter Court animosity to keep the both the tension and stakes high, it is the mysterious and implacable Iron Court which dictates the dance those two powers will play. While the first book's plot was simple and essentially outlined from the first chapter, the plot of this second book is more nebulous, with several different subthreads throughout the story.
One of the things I did not love so much about The Iron Daughter was the teenage "why doesn't he love me anymore" angst. Meghan is in love with a mortal enemy of her people, had been warned many times (in The Iron King, Winter's Passage, the beginning of this very novel) that weakness is death in the Winter Court and he cannot be weak in his love for her. Instead of accepting that, "hey, I'm in my enemy's palace, maybe I should do what I am told" Meghan has an emotional hissyfit over Ash's "aloofness." It is very grating on my nerves that a previously capable, intelligent and independent girl cannot handle a situation she's been continually forewarned about. Instead of using her brain to realize Ash is protecting her as best as is possible, Meghan lost major points with me for being too Bella Swan-esque. A character that was not that naive and silly previous to this event frustrated me more than anything else in the novel. Another minor irritation of mine was that in this novel, Meghan forgets several key "faeryland laws" she KNEW in the first book! A little continuity, please -- either Meghan knows not to eat the food, or she doesn't. The constant back-and-forth of what she does know versus what she should know got old.
I was happy to see that the Winter Court was more expanded upon. In its madcap, viscous and chaotic way, the Court and its sidhe were described beautifully and hauntingly. I find myself wishing for more glimpses into the day-to-day life of the fae in this realm, and in the Summer Court. While Mab doesn't appear enough to give a sense of an individual personality (besides a White Witch proclivity to freeze her enemies alive in ice), her two sons besides Ash do finally make appearances. Sadly, besides our well-known players from before and the two Winter Princes Sage and Rowan, no other character in the Winter Court is fleshed out enough to make a permanent impression. This is a problem I had with the secondary villains as well. Only one villain SPOILER (coughRowancough) was malicious enough and present enough to really achieve the same level of malevolence as the Iron King from the first book.
Sadly, a couple scenes almost feel like filler, and the first quarter moves more slowly than the rest of the novel. However, once the titular Iron Fey are introduced back in the fray, calamitous things start to happen and fast. The love triangle because solidified as both Ash and Puck are drawn to the half-human Summer princess, but happily it does not overtake essential plotlines with its banality. The constant repartee between the two male sidhe is amusing and real; they come across as two teenage boys trying to constantly out-do the other. The camaraderie that has built around Meghan's little band (Ash, Puck, Grim, Ironhorse, etc.) enhances successively, the more this disparate group works together. In a world full of segregation and hate, it is interesting to see that the only people/fae that continually save the Nevernever are a ragtag, motley bunch that should never have met, nor even suffered the others to live. In a world of intolerance, these characters are the only ones to display humanity. Meghan, for all her problems and her family in the real world, refuses to walk away and take the easy road. Ash, as Winter Prince, rebels against laws he's followed his whole life. Puck disobeys Oberon numerous times to help Meghan. These characteristics have made me love these characters.
The uneven pacing, and random filler scenes, along with Meghan's initial personality change, make this a more uneven novel than the first. Still enjoyable, still fun and original, The Iron Daughter suffers from many of the problems of being a "mid book" in a trilogy (though now there are four novels - quadrology?) By no means did these relatively small problems in the novel dissuade from my affection for this series/author/heroine/Ash - I am jumping into The Iron Queen later today....more
In what was originally planned as the concluding book in the Iron Fey series, The Iron Queen neatly tieRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
In what was originally planned as the concluding book in the Iron Fey series, The Iron Queen neatly ties up most plot-lines, while creating enough new questions and emotions to trouble the reader long after the final page wraps up. Meghan, Ash, Puck and Grimalkin must once again team up, and struggle with each other and the forces of the Courts to save the Nevernever from the iron poisoning of the false king. This unlikely group of lovers, enemies, friends, and cats is the heart of all these novels; each character adds something unique and necessary to the mix. One of the things I love about this book is that in a world of harsh segregation and racism, it is a motley bunch from all three realms (Winter, Summer, Iron) that volunteers to save everyone, regardless of their affiliation. From the Court of Summer (Meghan herself, Puck), and Winter (Ash), and Iron (Ironhorse/Glitch/gremlins) and even the independent cait sith (Grimalkin) this group of individuals sets out to achieve what no 'normal' group of faeries would even contemplate.
In the third foray into this compelling and entrancing world, further glimpses of the Nevernever outside of the Summer and Winter Court are shown. Societies and cities (like the giant city of Mag Tureidh) are shown, and even become important settings for the novel. I appreciated the change of scenery in the story: in the first two books The Iron King and the Iron Daughter, the focus is mostly on the Iron fey themselves and the world they've created. The explorations of the group allow them (and the reader) a view into the Iron realm, Arcadia, Tir Na Nog, the wyldwood and everywhere else they must go. Each new place and denizen serve to illustrate how dangerous, alluring and just different from humans all the fey, Sellie/Unseelie/Iron are. With such a large and varied realm like the world of faery, Julie Kagawa teases and hints with details of a place that seems both plausible, interesting and above all, dangerous. Another thing I like about this author's style is that the details of this world are slowly doled out and revealed, making it appear that as Meghan discovers this world, so does the reader.
Speaking of revelations, there is much more insight into the periphery characters than in previous novels. Ash is shown to have more sides than just the "broody, silent, sexy protector" he's been shown to be and Puck demonstrates his capability for more than just pranks and clever name-calling. The love-triangle issue is dealt with fairly quietly and easily, a fact for which I am most grateful. Meghan herself continues to grow and change in a strong character arc, that over several books, has impressed me greatly. In the first book, Meghan is a passive and almost weak girl. When taunted by her schoolmates Meghan cowers in the restroom. In the Iron Daughter, Meghan gains a bit of backbone; enough to confront to powerful faery monarchs. Here, in the Iron Queen, Meghan takes the initiative to learn self defense and "fight her on battles." While the line itself may be a bit hokey and cheesy, I can't help but love when a formerly passive heroine actually decides to change, to take charge and do something. Brava for Meghan. I respect her more for not simply standing back and letting her boyfriend protect her. Meghan's increasing confidence in herself, as well as in her intelligence has waxed large over these books and one of the highpoints of them. Another note about Meghan that I really liked: for a character that is so imbued with potent, unique power, Meghan rarely makes use of her glamours. This relatively human aspect, among characters that shift into birds and turn to ice, keeps Meghan relatable in an inhuman setting. The focus is on Meghan herself, rather than what she can do.
This novel certainly does not suffer from the slow start of book number two. Instead of introducing us to a new and unfamiliar place as before (the Nevernever in general, the Winter Court), the action launches straight from the first page. Picking up right after the final words and events of the Iron Daughter, the Iron Queen wastes no time in getting to plot and the huge problem facing the Nevernever and its traditional fae population. The battles between the Summer/Winter Fey and the Iron Fey are stark and bloody. Described with a gory and gritty feel, the battles came to life and resonated with each character. Mab and Oberon were impressive in battle; I did have hopes for more close scenes but since the main story is Meghan away from the central conflict, I cannot complain too much. The finale/climax was detailed in its superb execution and fulfilling, while managing to wrench my heartstrings and leave me lamenting several twists and turns I had not foreseen. The overwhelming message of this novel, and the ones preceding, is that family is who you love, not who shares your blood.
Though these books are not without problems and faults, I wholeheartedly have loved this series. I am delighted that there is a fourth book about Ash. I'm also intrigued that it is the only one not from Meghan's perspective; it will be interesting to see the Nevernever and also Meghan herself through another's, non-human eyes. ...more