Richelle Mead's site
Series: Dark Swan #3
Publisher: Zebra (US) Bantam (UK)
Release date: 22nd Feb (US) / 31st March (UK)
Spoiler Warning! Spoilers for previous books ahead!! (And spoilers for IC, but they're whited out below with another warning before them).
Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham is the best at banishing entities trespassing in the mortal realm. But as the Thorn Land's queen, she's fast running out of ways to end the brutal war devastating her kingdom. Her only hope: the Iron Crown, a legendary object even the most powerful gentry fear...
Who Eugenie can trust is the hardest part. Fairy king Dorian has his own agenda for aiding her search. And Kiyo, her shape-shifter ex-boyfriend, has every reason to betray her along the way. To control the Crown's ever-consuming powers, Eugenie will have to confront an unimaginable temptation - one that will put her soul and the fate of two worlds in mortal peril...
I've been a big fan of all of Richelle's series, and I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the Dark Swan series and I was really excited for Iron Crowned. Sadly, it did not live up to expectation for me. Before I read a couple of my friends who'd gotten their hands on it faster told me it was awesome, one of Richelle's best books, but it just didn't work for me. I can't say too much without giving away spoilers, so for once I will split this review in two, spoiler free, and then a spoiler section underneath which you'll need to highlight if you want to read it. I'd advise you don't unless you really don't care about major spoilers, or you've already read the book!
Eugenie is spending more and more time in the Otherworld, having to take care of her kingdom in the war but she's still a very reluctant monarch and is hoping to end the war without further bloodshed. There are so many twists and turns through Iron Crowned as Eugenie tries to find an end for the war and figure out her personal life, it should have felt fast and intense. Instead, I repeatedly found myself getting irritated with Eugenie, Dorian and Kiyo. Several of the side characters came as a breath of fresh air when they appeared, including Jasmine who's always seriously irritated me in the past. I actually felt for her more than any other character in Iron Crowned.
There were a couple big surprises to me in Iron Crowned, and they worked fairly well. The ending certainly leaves a lot of questions for what will come next, and I am curious to see where it all goes. It did have some good moments as well, it wasn't all bad, and I think Iron Crowned will work very well for a lot of people. Certainly one to make your own mind up about, if you've enjoyed the previous two books. Some of the character development is good, but a lot of it felt like a backwards step, or just a role reversal repeat of events that have already happened. Previously I'd enjoyed the Dorian/Eugenie/Kiyo love triangle (a rarity for me), but here it did nothing but irritate me. Mostly, I've just no idea what Eugenie was thinking a lot of the time. Her decisions about everything (be it about her kingdom, her divided loyalties, her men) so often being a case of act first, regret and ask questions later, got tired fast. I also felt there was a lot more sex in the book than either of the two previous ones, and I think virtually all of it was completely unneeded to advance the plot, which is something that tends to annoy me in UF. In PNR it's fine, but not something I expect (or want) from the Dark Swan series.
Overall Iron Crowned isn't a bad book, it has it's moments and it held my attention reasonably well. But it wasn't a book I enjoyed. Too much just irritated me rather then being an enjoyment. I'm pretty sad about that really because normally I love Richelle's work, she's one of my favourite authors. Can't always work for everyone though and I'm sure plenty will love Iron Crowned for the reasons that didn't work for me!
Now, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!! Highlight them to read them, read at your own risk. Specifics on why IC really didn't work for me:
Enough with the freaking back and forth between Kiyo and Dorian already!! Kiyo betrayed her, so she dates Dorian. Dorian betrays her, so she dates Kiyo again, his past betrayal forgotten. Kiyo betrays her again so she's begging Dorian for help and likely will take it in the next book, despite knowing he's got ulterior motives still.
Dorian. His betrayal wasn't actually that bad. Don't get me know, I understand why Eugenie was furious and all, and felt seriously betrayed. But he has always, always had ulterior motives and was going to show his true colors sooner rather than later. So what he did came as no surprise at all to me. I don't like him too much right now, but as a character he is fascinating.
Kiyo. Well I've thought he was a jerk and haven't liked him since about mid way through Storm Born. He did nothing to warrant Eugenie going back to him, and then he just got worse showing his true loyalties towards the end. How he reacted to Eugenie's news and decision was shocking and I still find it really hard to believe that he reacted so badly, to be willing to kill her. I may have never liked him, but I did think he loved her. Apparently not the case.
Eugenie. The back/forth with her was irritating enough, how she switched between guys based on who'd pissed her off that day. But I also found her continued apathy towards really stepping in to her role as queen really irritating. Her unwillingness to learn more about things was something I thought had been done with in Thorn Queen. I understood her indecision about what to do about her pregnancy, and I'm glad she's going the way she is. It's about the one thing about her that didn't annoy me at one point or another. Her taking over another land is something I'm not happy about either. So much for her not wanting power. And she's barely interested in the Thorn Land, so having another? Her divided loyalty between the human world and the otherworld is really starting to annoy me. I understand it, but I think she kind of needs to suck it up. If she won't give her kingdoms up (which she won't) then she needs to stop moaning about them, and how she wishes things could be simpler again and such, and deal with what she has. I thought she was doing that in Thorn Queen, but no, it continues.
Finally, I thought the hunt for the Iron Crown would be a big deal, but honestly, it wasn't really. Lots of action involved, but it was over and found quickly, then it was just Eugenie refusing to use it. Until she did. Which I wish she hadn't. The ideas behind the crown though, and how the fey fear it was actually an idea I really liked. It just fell flat for me.
...okay, that little rant makes me feel a little better. Would love to hear your comments, agree or disagree etc, be warned for those who don't want to read spoilers, that they may end up in the comments!!