Title: The Iron Queen
Author: Julie Kagawa
Review: Meghan learns how to use her new-found Summer and Iron magic and kills the false Iron King, restoring the Iron Realm and preventing a devastating war from breaking out between the fey. Meghan Chase is half-fey and not only does she has Summer “glamour” (a.k.a. magic), she has also inherited Iron “glamour” from the previous King of the Iron Realm, when she killed him in book 1 of the series. In this world, the Nevernever (a.k.a. fairyland) exists over top of the land of the mortals. There are currently three factions warring with each other for various different reasons: King Oberon who is ruler of the Summer fey and Meghan’s real father, Queen Mab who is the ruler of the Winter fey and a false Iron King who is the self-proclaimed ruler of the Iron fey, a new group of fairies that have arisen in power since the dawn of technology in the human world. In the first book of this series, The Iron King, Meghan enlists the help of a summer fey friend named Puck and a winter fey Prince named Ash to rescue her little brother from the clutches of the previous ruler of the Iron Fey – King Machina. Meghan succeeds in killing Machina but must return to the Winter court to fulfill a bargain she struck with Prince Ash. In the second book of this series, The Iron Daughter, Meghan helps a being called Ironhorse – a rebel Iron Fey – to defeat the false Iron King and retrieve a magical scepter that was stolen from Queen Mab and has since instigated a war between Queen Mab and King Oberon. By the end of the second book, Meghan has succeeded in convincing Queen Mab and King Oberon of the existence of this new breed of fey – the iron fey – but she and her lover Ash are banished because love between Summer and Winter fey is forbidden. Meghan also discovers she may have inherited the powers of King Machina when she killed him.
The story begins with Meghan and Ash living at the edge of the Nevernever for a year. Meghan misses her home in Louisiana, and Ash tells her that he’s willing to disguise himself as a human and live with her in the human world. When Meghan tries to return home, however, she is attacked by minions of the Iron Realm. Fearing that her presence will bring harm to her family, she doesn’t return home and instead, decides to seek help from Queen Leanansidhe (Queen Lea), who is the Queen of those exiled from the Nevernever. Meghan suspects that Queen Lea has taken her foster father and she wants to find out why and get him back.
In book 1 of the series, Meghan had traded her memory of her foster father in order to gain the help of a gargoyle on her mission to save her little brother. She now returns to the gargoyle to re-claim her memory. After battling a fey creature to retrieve a magical token for the gargoyle, it returns all her memories of her foster father. As Meghan and Ash leave the gargoyle’s domain, they are confronted by an Iron fey named Glitch. Glitch tells Meghan that the false Iron King is trying to kill her because he wants to absorb the powers she inherited from King Machina. When Meghan refuses to go into hiding with him, he tries to kidnap her, and she and Ash are rescued by Puck.
Meghan and her group find Queen Lea. Queen Lea explains why she had to take Meghan’s foster father all those years ago – because Queen Titania (who is King Oberon’s official wife) was jealous that Oberon had cheated on her with a human woman and wanted to get revenge by hurting the human woman’s husband. Puck had alerted Queen Lea since he was desperate for help, and Queen Lea had taken Meghan’s foster father to safety. Meghan is angry that Puck kept this secret from her for so many years. Queen Lea agrees to let Meghan’s foster father reunite with her in exchange that Meghan retrieves a magical token for her.
Later on, Meghan and Puck have a spat, where Puck reveals he had also been exiled for daring to disobey King Oberon and going after her. Puck is hurt that Meghan, who had told him she loved him in the previous book of this series, now has reneged on her feelings. He leaves Meghan and Ash in a huff. Meanwhile, Meghan reunites with her father, who has lost most of his memories from having spent too much time in the Nevernever. Meghan and Ash spend a few weeks in the hideout where Queen Lea has been keeping Meghan’s father. During this time, Meghan’s father slowly regains his memories and Ash teaches Meghan how to fight with a sword and wield her summer glamour. Meghan finds she has trouble controlling her glamour. She and Ash find Puck, who is a being of the Summer Court, and learn from Puck that her magic is acting weird because she has both Summer and Iron glamour, magic which is traditionally incompatible. She will have to find a way to control both magic in order to get her full powers.
One day, the group receives a missive from King Oberon and Queen Mab stating that they are willing to lift the banishment from Meghan, Puck and Ash if Meghan agrees to go into the Iron Fey territory and kill the false Iron King for them. Apparently, Meghan is the only one who can complete this mission because, being half-human, she can resist the iron whereas most fey cannot. Meghan and her group meet with King Oberon and Queen Mab. Queen Mab gives Ash and Puck magical amulets that can absorb some of the power of the iron and allow Ash and Puck to better resist the iron magic when they accompany Meghan into Iron Fey territory.
Meghan, Ash and Puck enter the Iron Fey domain. They are joined by the cait sith called Grimalkin (Grim). In the previous book, Meghan had partnered with an Iron Fey rebel called Ironhorse. Ironhorse had died during the final battle for the scepter at the end of the second book. Now, Grim tells Meghan that Ironhorse wanted them to visit a being called the Clockmaker in an ancient city called Meg Tuiredh. Meghan and her group find the Clockmaker, who proves to be pretty unhelpful as he’s an absentminded man who only seems to know when major events will happen and where or why. The Clockmaker doesn’t know where the false Iron King is, but he gives Meghan a key along with a pocket watch, telling her that when the clock runs down, something will happen.
Meghan and her group decide to go to Machina’s Tower. In the first book of this series, Meghan had killed Machina in his Tower with a magical arrow, and Machina had been transformed into a tree. When they arrive at Machina’s Tower, the tree is still there, and they are confronted by Glitch who has his rebel camp located at the base of the tower. Glitch holds them in his custody, fearing that Meghan will put herself and her powers in danger. During their stay in his camp, Meghan receives a note from Prince Rowan. In the second book of this series, Prince Rowan, who is Ash’s brother, had betrayed his own people by joining forces with the false Iron King who promises him more power than he could ever have at the Winter Court.
Meghan and Ash manage to sneak out of camp to meet with Prince Rowan and hear what he has to say. Prince Rowan wants to strike a bargain with Meghan. If she agrees to marry the false Iron King, the false Iron King will agree to stop his march over the Nevernever. Meghan finds a loophole in the promise and refuses the bargain. Before he leaves, Prince Rowan reveals that their army is already marching towards the rebel camp and will soon be at the edge of the Nevernever.
Back at the rebel camp, war is stirring. Meghan finds she can communicate with pest-like fey creatures called Gremlins. She asks the Gremlins to join her at the edge of the Nevernever if they want to participate in the war. Meanwhile, she convinces Glitch to join forces with King Oberon and Queen Mab. As they march to the battlefield, Meghan senses that the false Iron King is approaching with his magical iron fortress. At the battlefield, Meghan explains to King Oberon and Queen Mab that she has brought them reinforcements. Everyone watches in horror as the false Iron King’s magical iron fortress arrives on the scene.
Meghan climbs into the fortress and uses her key to unlock a door that leads inside. She meets the false Iron King, an old half-crazed man named Ferrum. Ferrum succeeds in stabbing her and Meghan uses their close proximity to grab his arm and transfer Summer glamour into him, magic that an Iron fey like him can’t tolerate. This ends up killing Ferrum. The story ends with Meghan, who is mortally wounded, insisting that Ash bring her to King Machina’s tree. There, she somehow releases her Iron and Summer glamour magic to rejuvenate the lands. The story ends with Meghan declaring herself the Iron Queen.
I didn’t like this story because I didn’t care for the love triangle story between Meghan, Ash and Puck. I didn’t particularly understand why Ash and Puck find Meghan so appealing and why they are willing to go to the ends of the earth and even die for her. I therefore found it aggravating to digest the many pages and chapters of moody outbursts and romantic interludes that overpopulate the story. The story is full of scenes of Meghan contributing some minute bit of action and getting overloaded with praise from Ash and Puck at how capable she is. I find this utterly unbelievable and it jars me from enjoying the story.
My favorite scene was when Meghan chats with the Gremlins to get them to join her cause when the rebels are preparing to join forces with Oberon and Mab in the battle against the false Iron King. All that the other fey hear when the Gremlin speaks is static and chipmunk-like chitter-chatter. The scene is absurd and maybe even humorous enough to make me overlook some of the more tedious chapters in the story.
I think Meghan has grown a lot since the first two books of the series. Now, she supposedly has been trained to use a sword as well as her glamour magic. I still find her an aggravating character, however, as it was difficult for me to swallow why Meghan keeps trying to be a martyr in the story. There were so many scenes where Meghan seems to be the ONLY solution to ending the world and rather than thinking about how important that role might be, she is busy wasting her time fretting about the many ways she can put herself in danger without Ash and Puck also putting themselves in danger out of their love for her. The thought process behind this is absolutely laughable as Ash and Puck are the ones that seem to be doing most of the work for her and are, in fact, wasting their time protecting her when they could very well have accomplished her mission for her already. Basically, I don’t like how Meghan seems to think very highly of herself and her own importance – the whole plot of this series so far just seems so contrived and played out to make Meghan the Queen of Everything and the Most Beautiful and Valuable Lady, when she hasn’t really done much to deserve it, in my opinion. Even in the last few chapters of the book she still tries to be the martyr. Her brilliant plan was to allow Ferrum to stab her so that she could then touch him and transfer her deadly Summer magic into him to destroy him. Did he really have to stab her in order to do this? No.
Buy it here:
Also see: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa