The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

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The basics

Title: The Iron King

Author:

Series: The Iron Fey #1

- The Iron King (February 2010)
- The Iron Daughter (August 2010)
- The Iron Queen (January 2011)
- The Iron Knight (October 2011)

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Goodreads Summary:

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil, no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

In short

Meghan Chase is a princess of the Seelie Court (kingdom of the Summer Fey), and is half-fey half-human. She is unaware of her heritage, and lives in a small town, with her family, and best friend Robbie, who is actually Robin Goodfellow, the Erlking’s favourite lackey, send to guard Meghan. On her sixteenth birthday, she comes home to discover her brother Ethan stolen by the fey, with a changeling in his place. Meghan and Robbie travel to Nevernever, the land of the fey. After stepping into Nevernever, they are chased, hunted, and captured by all sorts of creatures, and even end up getting separated before Meghan finally reach the Seelie Court by herself. The Erlking, Oberon, reveals her true identity to her, and tells her that he doesn’t have her brother with him. Meghan stays with the Summer Fey until the Elysium, during which she meets Ash, the youngest Unseelie Prince. That night, she escapes from the Summer Court with the cait sith, Grimalkin’s help, and travels to the Winter Court to search for Ethan, joined by Puck on the way. They reach the Winter Court, only to be intercepted by Ash as soon as they enter. Meghan strikes a bargain with him, and enlists his help. They hear that the Iron King, Lord of the Iron Fey (who none of them has heard of), is holding Ethan prisoner. They reach the Iron King, who asks Meghan to be his queen in return for Ethan and Ash’s freedom. She refuses, and uses her own new found power to defeat him, striking the killing blow with an arrow made of Witchwood, the only weapon that can defeat him. Meghan and Ethan return home, and within a few minutes of homecoming, Ash returns to take Meghan to the Queen Mad, Queen of the Winter Court, and his mother, which was her end of the bargain they made.

What went down

  • Meghan lives in a small town in the middle of the Louisiana bayou with her mother, step father, and half-brother, Ethan. On her sixth birthday, her father, Paul, disappeared mysteriously, and has never been seen since.
  • A few days before her sixteenth birthday, strange things start happening – the computer monitor glows with threatening words while she’s attempting to tutor, she sees a strange boy on a horse in the mist, her friend Robbie appears differently when she glances at him – and they reach a peak on her birthday, when she comes home to find her mother hurt, and her brother Ethan acting vicious and violent. Robbie tells her that Ethan’s been kidnapped by the fey, with a changeling left in his place. Meghan decides to get her brother back, and Robbie agrees to help her.
  • Robbie reveals his true identity to Meghan – he is Robbin Goodfellow, aka Puck, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is actually a true story. After Meghan gathers a few supplies, He takes her to Nevernever through the closet in Ethan’s room. Parts of the wyldwood are consumed by darkness, dying slowly, but it seems to be a strange kind of dying, not the usual kind from when mortals forget about Nevernever.
  • Puck & Meghan are hunted by the strange boy she saw in the mortal world. Puck diverts him, sending Meghan up a tree, where she meets a cait sith, Grimalkin. He agrees to take her to the Seelie Court, but it would put her in his debt. On their way, Meghan is caught by some goblins and about to be eaten or killed, when Grimalkin saves her life. During the esccape, Meghan is caught in the shoulder by an arrow laced with Dreamlace venom. She is saved by a moonlight creature which walks out of the light. Soon after, knights of the Seelie Court come with summons from King Oberon, and lead then to the Summer Court.
  • The King reveals to her that she is a princess, his daughter, and that Puck was sent to the mortal land to keep her safe and away from Nevernever. As punishment for his disobedience, Puck had been turned into a raven. He denies any knowledge of Ethan, but says that she must stay in the Summer Court until Elysium, because of the fact that she could be used as leverage by his enemies. He also takes her life debt to Grim on to himself.
  • During Elysium, the Winter Court arrives, lead by their ruler, Queen Mab, and her three princes. The youngest prince is the boy who had been hunting Meghan & Puck, named Ash. While the festivities are on, a chimera storms into the court and goes on a rampage. Ash saves Meghan, and both the Seelie & Unseelie Court warriors work together to kill the beast.
  • In the after math, Grim & Meghan leave the Summer Court and make their way to the Unseelie Court. They are intercepted by Puck, who has come to take Meghan back to Oberon, but they convince him to stay. But as soon as they enter the Seelie Court, they meet Ash, waiting for them. Puck and Ash duel, but are interrupted by the arrival of the Iron Horse, who claims to have come to take Meghan to the Iron King, Lord of the Iron Fey, who has Ethan hostage. Puck & Ash manage to fight him off, but they’ve never heard of the Iron Fey, so they’re cant lead Meghan there. Ash makes a deal with Meghan to not harm Puck until they find her brother, but in return, once they do find her brother, Meghan would have to accompany him to Queen Mab.
  • Grim tells them of an oracle in New Orleans who might have some knowledge that might be of help. The oracle agrees to give them information in exchange for one happy memory of Meghan’s. She tells them that the Iron Fey were born of the dreams of iron and technology that mortals dream of, and since iron is poisonous to normal fey, they were slowly killing Nevernever. She tells them where to find the Iron King, Machina, as well as how to kill him.
  • When they leave the oracle, they come by Virus, the Iron King’s second lieutenant, who can manipulate people’s brains using a chip that worms its way in and allows her to rewrite its programming. She sets a whole group of people on the three, and orders them to capture Meghan, while killing the rest. They escape, but Puck is injured, and they take him to the dryads of the park to heal him. While there, they speak to the Elder dryad, who the oracle indicated might have a weapon to kill Machina, and she gives them Witchwood, the only weapon that can kill Machina, from the heart of her own tree. Ash fashions it into an arrow. The dryads offer to show them the way to Machina’s realm, in Deep Tangle, but Grimalkin is suspicious of that point of entry, offering to show them another way. When they refuse his offer, they part ways.
  • Since Puck is still getting well, Ash & Meghan travel to the Deep Tangle by themselves, growing close to each other. Machina’s realm is heaped with iron scrap, with pack rats scurrying around, hunting for metal treasures. The overwhelming presence of iron has a weakening effect of Ash, but he pushes on. That night, he tells Meghan about Puck’s and his history together – how he, his lady Ariella, and Puck were best friends, before Puck’s thrill for danger got them face to face with a wyvern, which ended up killing Ariella before dying itself. To avenge Ariella, Ash has made a vow to kill Puck, or die trying.
  • The next day, they are captured by the Iron Horse and the three Iron Knights, and taken prisoner. They are stripped of their weapons, including the Witchwood arrow. The pack rats come to help them, and Ash stays back to ward off the iron soldiers, sending Meghan off.
  • The pack rats take Meghan to their king, the previous Iron King, Ferrum, who had been felled by his trusted first lieutenant, Machina. He refuses to help Meghan, but lets her go free. The pack rats lead Meghan to the base of Machina’s fortress, and return her weapons to her, which they had salvaged.
  • When Meghan reaches the top of the fortress, she finds Ash immobilized on a cog. As she frees him, she realises that she is surrounded by Machina’s men; it was a trap. Machina arrives, and makes his men leave, citing the reason that he doesn’t want Meghan to feel uncomfortable. He shows her where he has Ethan trapped in a cage, and proposes a deal In exchange for Ethan’s and Ash’s freedom, she had to become his queen. Meghan was one of a kind, valuable, because she was the only fey (other than the Iron Fey) who was impervious to iron.
  • She refuses his offer, and uses her own newfound power to draw power from the trees nearby and bind Machina with thick roots. While Ash distracts him, Meghan kills Machina by driving the Witchwood arrow into his heart.

How did it end?

With Machina’s death, the tower starts to crumble, collapsing in on itself. Grim appears suddenly, and ushers them out safely. They fall through the trod, and into darkness.

When they awake, they’re in the school computer lab, and Ash is nowhere to be seen. Grim tells Meghan that he had left as soon as he woke up. When they come out, they realise that three months have gone by since they were gone, and everyone thought she had died.

Meghan & Ethan go home, and the changeling goes up in smoke as soon as it sees the real Ethan. Her mother realises what had happened, and tells Meghan of how she ran away from them when they took her husband, Paul, who never knew Meghan was not his daughter. Strangely, Meghan has no memory of him.

A little while later, Ash arrives, to ask Meghan to keep up her half of the bargain, to take her to Queen Mab. Meghan leaves, promising that she’ll be back soon.

anything else

Changeling: A faery offspring that has been switched with a human child.
Kelpie: A horse-like monster that lives in underwater
Mistwine: A type of feary wine that when taken in large quantities can make you forget things.
Seelie Court: The Court of Oberon. Also known as the Summer Court
Trod: Portals that allow travel between realms.
Unseelie Court: The Court of Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness. Also known as the Winter Court.
Witchwood: A living wood containing the spirit of nature and the power of the natural earth. Found only in the hearts of the most ancient of trees.
Wyvern: A cousin to a dragon, but not as intelligent, it is a beast that is highly territorial.

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