25 September 2011

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Iron Fey Website

Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.
Unless he can earn a soul.
To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.
Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her
irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.
With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.
To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.
And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.


The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa was not what I expected.  It's a book about a Fairy prince that has fallen in love with a human and this is a story about his journey to gain a soul so that he can be with his love.  My first impression was that this might be a sweet, lyrical and magical read.  You know, a summery diversion, something light and ethereal like...well, like fairies.

Ms. Kagawa has created a solid world built upon all the mythological and fanciful fairy tale creatures that have been passed down through the ages.  She writes with an authority I found beguiling.  Could it possibly be true that our imaginary creations live on in some other realm, fed by our thoughts, dreams and stories?  What if our imagination, our creativity, our world of make believe and fantasy were as real as our reality?  And what would happen to all of our progeny if we simple ceased to believe in them?
We are the product of their hearts and minds.  Without a soul we are immortal, yet empty.  Remembered, we exist.  Forgotten we die...
There is a central battle between good and evil at work in this book.  The forces of Iron seek to destroy anything it can.  Think of the rise of civilization, the increasing mechanization of our society.  Think of all that we, as a society, have gained and lost to the modernization of our world.  Then think of the amazing a natural wonders of nature itself.  The simple yet magnificent way a sunset can make you feel, the cool of the shade beneath a broad tree, how bees manage to fly.  These are the forces that struggle against each other in Julie Kagawa's world.  

The relationship between the characters is complex and iconic.  Ms. Kagawa knows her characters intimately and she writes them with confidence.  she portrays them with respect and gives them room to be themselves without apology, seeming to allow them to make their own decisions.  The Knight seeking a soul, is a seeker on a spiritual journey.  He is willing to give up all that he knows for the one singular purpose of being human, having a soul.  Might I say that he is like us all?  Seeking for that one thing that makes it all o-kay.  Some of us seek meaning in things, stuff we hope can fill that gap.  Others seek in the people we love or people we don't.  Still others seek for our souls, like the knight, we seek for our essential truth.

It is very important to note that this book is only the latest in a long series of books.  I have not read the rest of the series and really, it mattered not.  Ms. Kagawa manages to do what so many authors who write series books can not figure out how to do.  She seamlessly clued the reader into what happened in past novels without it feeling like an intrusion.  Just enough information to allow a new reader sufficient background yet not so much that seasoned readers feel like they are reading a rehashing of previous books.  Honestly, that talent alone is worthy of mention.

About Julie Kagawa:
 Born in Sacramento, California, Julie Kagawa moved to Hawaii at the age of nine. There she learned many things: how to bodyboard, that teachers scream when you put centipedes in their desks and that writing stories in math class is a fantastic way to kill time. Her teachers were glad to see her graduate. Julie now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband and a plethora of pets. She still laughs whenever she sees  centipede. Visit her at www.juliekagawa.com.


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