4.5 stars, originally published at Winged Reviews
The Iron Knight far exceeded all my expectations, although it was bittersweet knowing it was the final book with these characters. It was a fantastic end of a fantastic series.
I really can't go on enough about how much I enjoyed reading this book. I'm trying to write this review without too many spoilers, but I can't promise one or two subtle ones won't come through, so please proceed with caution. It was at its heart a quest story, done really, really well. It had a hero, a group of misfit companions, lots of traveling, trials and finally a grail: Ash's humanity.
The book picks up where The Iron Queen
leaves off. Meghan is now queen of the Iron Fey and Ash can't be with her because iron is poison to him. So Ash and the legendary Puck (who can't resist a good adventure) try to search the faerie realms for a way to turn mortal—to have a soul—so he can live with Meghan in her realm.
Julie Kagawa's world-building was at her best in this book. The Nevernever, a place full of trickery and the ever hostile war between the Winter and Summer courts, was brought alive through the Wyldwood, the River of Dreams, The End of the World, the Testing Grounds. My favourite place was Phaed, where faeries live who have lost their name because no one remembers them any longer. Every page that was set in Phaed made me feel an amazing mixture of chills and sympathy. In fact, everywhere our heroes went felt truly menacing and you really got the idea that they were trying to achieve the impossible.
The book also made me love who I thought I would never love, Ash, the former prince of the Unseelie Court. I know, I know, Ash is a heart throb, but I've always thought he was cold and unfeeling and I am definitely Team Puck all the way. However, having him as the narrator really made a difference. I discovered his rather dry sense of humour, and a real purpose about him that I've missed. That said, Puck also shined spectacularly and his dialogue during some of the slower parts of the book really saved it. I really enjoyed seeing their love/hate relationship blossom to the fullest. A true bro-mance indeed!
The rest of the companions from the always entertaining Grimalkin, to the Big Bad Wolf of fairy tale legend and especially the mysterious Ariella, who I felt truly brought the series full circle. The lack of Meghan definitely did the story good, in my opinion, because it gave so many of the other characters a chance to shine.
The best part of the book, was near the end. The 'dream sequence' during one of Ash's final trials, was so well conceived, had so much heart and emotion and flowed so seamlessly into the story was so heart-wrenching and well-integrated. I was heart-broken, because I believed it, even though it may not have been real. I felt a great amount of emotion, and for a book with a narrator as Ice Boy himself, that was a great feat.
Just falls short of 5 stars for me because of some of the pacing was a little slow, but I thoroughly enjoyed the banter throughout. I will miss all the characters, especially you Puck, you glorious trickster you. It's been wonderful going on a journey with them and I can't wait to read what Julie writes next.