THE IRON TRAITOR
By Julie Kagawa
*Contains MAJOR spoilers, proceed at your own risk*
ALRIGHT, Meghan’s little brother: what’ve you got?
The Iron Traitor is Book II of the Call of the Forgotten Series, based in Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey world. This is a spin-off series that switches the narrator from Meghan Chase to her younger half-brother, Ethan. The Lost Prince is the first book, in which Ethan reconciled (somewhat) with his fear of the fey by going on a little Faeryland adventure of his own. On the way, he befriended (somewhat) his sister’s princeling son, Kierran; Kierran’s boring summer fae love interest, Annwyl; and he more-then-befriended his classmate Makenzie, who is dying of leukemia and thus finds the fey world exhilarating.
Before we begin:
I’m an uber huge fan of The Iron Knight (Iron Fey Book IV), which had no annoying Meghan and focused on Ash and Puck’s bromance as they underwent one of the most creative and jaw-dropping fantasy adventures ever through Faeryland—to the “End of the World” itself. Everything was well-paced and plotted, and the characterization? You couldn’t ask for better character chemistry. So I was super excited to hear about Kagawa re-visiting Faeryland in the Call of Forgotten Series, although I was apprehensive when I heard the narrative voice would shift to Ethan.
Ethan’s okay. He’s not too riveting, but he’s not one-dimensional, either; he’s just kinda a guy who wants to do the right thing. And who cares, when he’s gonna show us more of Faeryland, with its devious, deal-making Fae, intricate world-building, and the king of one-liners, Grimalkin.
In Iron Traitor, Ethan attempts some semblance of a normal life with his now-girlfriend, Makenzie, before he receives news that Kierran has gone missing. Since Kierran’s life revolves around Annwyl, a very passive but beautiful banished Fae who is Fading, it doesn’t take too long for Ethan to figure out that Kierran is attempting to stop her Fade by dealing with some very seedy characters. All Fae fade if they spend too much time away from Faeryland or if they’ve been forgotten by humankind. Speaking of, the Forgotten Fey are back, and they’re determined to no longer remain forgotten in the minds of humans through any means necessary.
Ethan jumps to help Kierran and Annwyl (hey, it’s more interesting than anything he’s got going on at home) and thus faces a series of difficult decisions as to how far he will go to save a loved one’s life—which successively get harder and harder, and more convoluted, and more destructive.
Of course, such decisions don’t seem to be too difficult for our boy Kierran, and you have to give him points for how long he’s able to manipulate the group. At other times, you have to rant. Excuse me for a moment.
KIERRAN, Kierran, Kierran. *Pats him on the shoulder and sighs*. Okay, maybe Ethan gets a pass on Politics 101 because he obviously spends his school days hanging out in the principal’s office rather than in class (*cough, cough* and is content to blindly follow your rebellious little teenage butt around *cough*). But Mr. Prodigy Son of Meghan and Ash! When the merciless Queen Titania--who is an awesome wicked character in her remorselessness but who has never once done something remotely beneficial to others—makes you the following offer:
How ‘bouts dis: you go into the realm of my SWORN enemy, the Winter Fae, and kill off this giant mysterious beastie living in the heart of the Frozen Wood, and then I’ll consider lifting dear sweet Annwyl’s banishment. Consider. Consider. CONSIDER.
A.k.a: ha ha, no.
Her insane offer is so blatantly obvious that Annwyl’s reinstatement ain’t never gonna happen that she’s practically insulting the main characters’ intelligence. Which is funny, but they take her seriously. How desperation dost blind the brain past any sense of reason (Kenzie, that would have been a good time for you to step in). Let’s consider why Titania would want some age-old power living in her opponents’ realm dead. Hmmm, out of the goodness of her heart to get a terrible monster off the Winter Queen’s plate? No. If it’s causing havoc in the Winter realm, then she has a lot of motivation to let it be. So why would she want a beneficial/neutral creature in the Winter realm gone? Obviously by getting rid of it, then it will benefit Summer somehow. Make Winter more vulnerable. Probably piss them off a lot. And since she’s so vague about why she wants it dead, then you know the stakes are pretty high—as in game-altering-causing-a-war type of high. Maybe a little more negotiating and turning the attention back to Summer and asking if there’s any pesky Fae running around Summer’s territory that they could get rid of, they would be able to tease out her true intentions instead of accepting her lies at face value.
But then we wouldn’t see Ethan and Co. face down a giant, terrible ice monster, and who doesn’t want to see Ethan fight an epic battle with an ice monster out of Kagawa’s fantastic imagination? No arguments here.
So Kierran’s soul is being corrupted and he doesn’t give a damn about Winter and Summer. Clearly this corruption comes with a little stupidity, too. But whatever. We get a cool journey through the Winter Realm and an epic showdown. From there, you’d think the answer would be to knock Kierran out and have his ass fired from the “saving Annwyl” operation, but he’s more interesting when he’s running around causing mayhem. And boy, does he. The interesting question in the third book—besides if we’ll see Titania fight more—is if Kierran can redeem himself.
*END OF SPOILERS!*
So if you can suspend your disbelief for more than just the hobgoblins running around New Orleans and understand that all of the characters’ actions are going to be along the lines of: “Yeah…we probably shouldn’t be doing this…but what the hell. We’ve gotta save what’s her name—Annwyl,” then you are in for yet another entertaining adventure in Faeryland, far more intriguing than Book I: The Lost Prince, in my opinion. Kagawa brings up fascinating dilemmas like how the fey know they can live forever…as long as they aren’t forgotten (what must they do to ensure that?) and I still think her Summer/Winter Fae conceptions are some of the best ‘round fantasy town. Here’s to Book III—and given the shocking (but not unforeseen) cliffhanger to Book II, whatever delightful surprise Kagawa has waiting for us next.
Recommend for fans of: Melissa Marr, Richelle Mead, Andrea Cremer
Upcoming April Book Review: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins