Khanh the Killjoy

The Iron King - Julie Kagawa I don't think there's anything further I can add to what's already been said about this legendary book. There is so much to love, and very little I found objectionable. This is my second time reading it, with a more critical view, and I found that I enjoy it even more this time around.The plot in a nutshell: Meghan's little brother Ethan has been acting strange, and it turns out he has been replaced by a changeling. She and her long-time best friend Robbie (more popularly known as Robin Goodfellow, or Puck) goes into the Nevernever to rescue him. Along the way, she discovers the truth about herself, encounters numerous dangers (and a cat), and falls in love.Sounds like your typical YA fantasy, right? Oh, but this is so much more. As someone with a short temper for TSTL characters and unbelievable characters, I can tell you that there is nothing I can complain about here.I was starting to write a list of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, but there is so few of the latter two. And whatever there is that is ugly in this book is so eloquently described that it becomes beautiful, if only the writing. So here's the list of everything I love about this book.The settingThe Nevernever, in all of its lands and aspects, are beautifully and vividly described.A warm breeze blew into the closet, carrying with it a shocking assortment of smells—smells that should not be together in one place. Crushed leaves and cinnamon, smoke and apples, fresh earth, lavender, and the faint, cloying scent of rot and decay. For a moment, I caught a tang of something metallic and coppery, wrapped around the smell of rot, but it was gone in the next breath. And the creatures...In the scattered moonlight, faeries danced and sang and laughed, calling out to me from a distance. Satyrs whistled tunes on their pipes, piskies buzzed through the air on gossamer wings, and willowy dryads danced through the trees, their slender bodies waving like grass in the wind.The writing and environment so often makes or breaks a book, and in this case, it enhances the feel of a beautiful and dangerous world.The charactersMeghan is such a fantastic heroine. She is strong, tough, but so vulnerable. She acts impulsively sometimes, but never endangers herself or her loved ones needlessly.Meghan has her faults; she is obstinate and headstrong at times, but it's in a believable and rather sympathetic manner.I slipped into the baggy jeans and the wrinkled, smelly T-shirt, feeling a nasty glow of satisfaction as they slid comfortably over my skin. Burn my things, will he? I thought, dragging my sneakers out and shoving my feet into them.Little acts of rebellion...who among us hasn't dressed improperly for an important occasion as a teenager? Meghan's little acts of foolishness are largely harmless, the defiance of a teenager instead of willful obstinacy, and I like her all the more for it.Puck is Puck. He is capricious, a trickster, but he has more depth than that of a court jester. He is truly devoted to Meghan, and the mistakes that he made in the past has made him even more protective of her. Puck is even willing to endanger himself and endure punishment for the sake of his friend, and I am glad that he is by Meghan's side as she continues her quest. He adds an element of lightness to the serious feel of the novel, and his seemingly lighthearted stance is invaluable in helping Meghan keep her spirits up when things are fearful.Ash: Oh man, what a dreamboat. I love a good reformed rake in my Regency novel, and while this is in no way a similar story, Ash is the kind of bad boy that's every fangirl's dream. He is dark, scarred; he has a difficult past and a hard life as the son of Mab. His courtship with Meghan...if it can be called that, is a rough one. They're enemies, and he did try to kill her...“What!” I stared at him in disbelief. “You tried to kill me!"“Technically, I was trying to kill Puck. You just happened to be there. But yes, if I’d had the shot, I would have taken it.”Their reluctant alliance and their growing feelings for each other are so gradual that I can't even recall the exact moment when Meghan falls for Ash...or hell, when I fell for Ash.Grimalkin: I don't think I've ever met a talking cat I didn't like. I've loved talking cat guides in every fictional reincarnation I've ever read, be it the Cheshire Cat or Edgewood Dirk, and I can say no less about him in this book. I love his selfishness, his wicked sense of humor, his questionable morals, and his wisdom...“The Nevernever is dying, human. It grows smaller and smaller every decade. Too much progress, too much technology. Mortals are losing their faith in anything but science. Even the children of man are consumed by progress. They sneer at the old stories and are drawn to the newest gadgets, computers, or video games. They no longer believe in monsters or magic. As cities grow and technology takes over the world, belief and imagination fade away, and so do we.”The plot itself is fast-paced and action-filled. There is a lot that goes on in this novel; typically, I hate it. I like things to stay in one place. Rapid changes in settings are so often poorly done and lose my interest and credibility, and just confuse the hell out of me. This is not the case with The Iron King. Everything is paced as it should, and though the book moves rapidly, I never feel lost. I'm so glad I reread this book; it only improves in the reading.