Dec 19, 2011

Review: "The Iron Fey" Series by Julie Kagawa

Available on Amazon for $9.99
Warning: This review may contain spoilers.

I'm going to something that I rarely do: review an entire series. I've seen Kagawa's books floating around for a while now, but I didn't get around to buying them (all four) until yesterday. And I'm rather split on whether they were good purchases or not. But before I make any conclusions, lets go through the pros and the cons.

The series begins with The Iron King, which introduces us the series' protagonist, Meghan Chase, and Kagawa's interpretation of the land of Faery, or the "Nevernever." I have to admit, I almost stopped reading this just a few pages in. The stereotypical female worries and complaints and the cliche teen angst almost drove me right over the edge.

Thankfully, I decided to stick to it and kept reading. By the end, I was convinced that was a good decision. Kagawa's writing eventually evens out, and while the whole Scott Waldren thing annoyed me throughout, I felt that her development of Meghan was handled expertly.

Available on Amazon for $9.99
As the series continues into the The Iron Daughter and The Iron Queen, however, I felt myself begin to lose interest in Meghan's story. I knew where it would end up early on, and I felt like it became more of a "fulfilling one's destiny" plot line than anything else. I found myself drawn to the other characters more than the protagonist, and I was far more concerned with the conflict between Puck and Ash than I was with Meghan's various conflicts.

Her portrayal of the Summer and Winter courts was, on the other hand, fabulous, and their respective monarchs were--while having the expected personalities--quite refreshing characters. Their continual presence throughout the entire series provides a sort of balancing force that prevents the books from losing any steam along the way.

As for the other characters, my feelings are...well, split. I loved the portrayal of Puck (in fact, I loved the portrayal of the known fey in general; I feel Kagawa pulled it off quite well). His presence was a highlight throughout every book, and his witty dialogue really kept me going. His place as a member of the main love triangle was also a shining point. His internal struggles revealed him to be a well-developed, complex character.

Available on Amazon for $9.99
Grimalkin comes in as a close second to Puck on my favorites' list. While his perpetual disappearing acts began to get old by The Iron Knight (the last book), his stinging sarcasm never did. He balanced out the others characters quite nicely. The only real down side to Grimalkin was that I feel he served as a plot device too often. Basically, the entire series revolves around Grimalkin showing the characters exactly what to do and where to go with (with a snarky attitude).

The only character I have a real problem with is Ash. I tried to like him, really I did (and I do like many things about him), but I felt his part was just too predictable. In The Iron Daughter, I had his entire role completely figured out from the beginning. And it's only compounded in The Iron Knight. The entirety of the latter is told from Ash's POV (which, of course, makes it more of an outlier extra book added to what would otherwise be a decent trilogy, as the first three are from Meghan's POV), and there were a lot of parts that just had me rolling my eyes.

The appearance of Ariella, Ash's lost love, however, threw me for a bit, and I was interested to see where Kagawa would take it. Unfortunately, that too was entirely predictable, and from about the middle of the book onward, you know exactly what's going to happen to her.

Available on Amazon for $9.99
I think one of my favorite things about the series is the iron fey themselves. They're an odd bunch, and characters like Ironhorse, Glitch, Tertius, and the pack rats really add some interesting flavor to the series. The depiction of the Iron Kingdom was quite impressive as well. Acid rain that's really acid. A giant city, abandoned at the beginning of time by an extinct race of giant fey. Huge contraptions and buildings made of broken technology. The contrast to the other "natural" kingdoms and obvious (as I assume it is intended to be), but even then, it is quite stark and poignant, a reminder of how humanity has changed.

My overall feelings on this series are very conflicted. On the one hand, there are many characters I adore, and a lot of them are very well developed. In general, the plot isn't so predictable that it becomes boring, but there are parts I saw coming from a mile away.

Would I recommend this series?

Yes, I would. It is predictable in many places, and there are a few cliches. But in general, the characters are well thought out, the action is continuous and interesting and unexpected, and the plot as a whole is very original.

The Iron King Rating: B-
The Iron Daughter Rating: B
The Iron Queen Rating: B+ 
The Iron Knight Rating: B+

Overall Series Rating: B

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