Review: The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa

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The Iron Traitor (The Iron Fey: Call Of The Forgotten #2) by Julie Kagawa
Paranormal Romance-YA
October 29, 2013
Harlequin Teen

Reviewed by Tori

Favorite Quote: “You can’t save everyone. Sometimes, you have to make the decision to let them go.”

Ethan Chase once again finds himself up to his neck in the machinations of the Fey when he is forced to go back into Nevernever to help find his nephew, Keirran, the Iron prince. Keirran is determined to help all the Forgotten fey from fading, especially his love, Annwyl. Keirran’s determination has placed him on a dark and dangerous path that threatens both the fey and human worlds. As Ethan struggles to save his nephew and himself, the next choice made will decide his fate.

The Iron Fey: Call Of The Forgotten is a spin off of Kagawa’s best selling Iron Fey series. I recommend reading the Iron Fey series first or at least the novella, Iron’s Prophecy, before starting this series. It offers hints at why Meghan Chase (Queen of the Iron Fey) went to incredible lengths to keep Ethan and Keirran from ever meeting each other.

The Iron Traitor picks up right where The Lost Prince left off. Ethan and his girlfriend Kenzie have survived and made it back from Nevernever alive, though Ethan has now been forbidden to see Kenzie again. Ethan just wants to be left alone but Annwyl comes to Ethan, begging him to help her find Keirran who has once again disappeared. Ethan travels to Nevernever, along with Kenzie and Annwyl, and finds Keirran just in time to stop him from making a horrible mistake. Ethan offers a substitute solution, only to discover that his choice has opened the door to an outcome that may destroy them all.

“Anger is not the only emotion that can force us to consider terrible things. There is only so much a soul can only take before it is broken.”

I enjoyed the The Iron Traitor in that I liked submerging myself back into Kagawa’s fantasy world but I find it still seems a bit repetitive, in that our protagonists are forced to suffer and sacrifice for their loved ones and friends, and will ultimately have to choose their sides in what seems to be a never ending battle. This series is more emotion based. Ethan struggles with his hatred of all things fey and his jealousy over what he deems is his sister’s betrayal. She left him to be with the fey and he has never forgiven her or the fey for that. He holds them responsible for all the misery in his life.

Sacrifice is a strong theme the storyline is based on and while I don’t see much growth character wise I do see an interesting coming of age trope that circles both Ethan and Keirran. Ethan starts out hating the fey and in the beginning would have had no issues with destroying them all. They have ruined his life and he wouldn’t shed a tear if they were to all disappear from the world. Keirran, on the other hand, wants to save his world and showed a strong compassion for all fey, including those who are considered disposable. We watch in this installment as Ethan and Keirran seem to flip sides. Ethan’s opinions change somewhat concerning the fey, no longer wishing death to all. He begins to understand the delicate balance that is necessary for all their survival. He also begins to understand that his sister did not abandon him out of spite or lack of love. She had to follow her own destiny as he is being forced to follow his.

Keirran, on the other hand, becomes more focused on only saving the fey he wants and shows a remarkable lack of compassion for anyone else who isn’t necessary to his plan. Keirran is becoming more selfish and reckless. His mission to save the love of his life leads him to make decisions that make no sense. He mourns that he and Annwyl can’t be together because he is iron and she is summer yet he is constantly reminded his parents went through the same thing, so it is possible for them to be together. He uses his powers to get what he wants, disregarding the consequences until he is faced with the results of his actions. Ethan shows the most growth in that he begins to acknowledge and deal with the real reasons behind his hatred of the fey.

Character wise, I’m still not team Kenzie. Kenzie is annoying and frankly useless beyond her use in drawing Ethan out of his shell of self imposed isolation and showing him the stronghold love can have on someone.

You can’t push the whole world away because of them Ethan. […] They can control your life—what you do, how you act—or you can.”

She helps a little physically but we really only see her throw herself into the fray along with Ethan only to once again succumb to her mysterious illness. She is a stress point for Ethan. She wants adventure and to live her life on her own terms, which is understandable, but she doesn’t seem to realize that her being there only places Ethan in more danger as his attention becomes divided between keeping her safe and staying sharp enough to survive Nevernever.

Annwyl is more interesting this time around and enjoys a deeper emotional role. We learn more of her past and get hints towards her future. I adored seeing Puck, Grimalkin, and Razor again. And, of course, Ash and Meghan. We don’t see much of them, but then, their story has been told. I did miss seeing Leanansidhe, though. The Queen of the Exiles continues to be one of my favorite characters with her dark morbid humor. I hope she comes back soon as she plays an important role in the lives of those fey who are lost and forgotten.

What I miss most in this series is the strong undercurrent of love that the original series carried. Platonic and romance wise, I don’t get a strong sense of chemistry between the characters in here. We are told why they make the choices they do but I’m never convinced of the truth behind them. It’s a predestined path Kagawa has them following and it feels contrived at times. This may be because we have all been here before. Nothing offered is truly new or astounding and it was done much better in the original series.

The world building is almost nonexistent in this installment. Kagawa spends a majority of the book examining personal ideologies, expanding our knowledge of the Forgotten, and setting the stage for the finale. Multiple subplots are introduced as our protagonists begin to choose the paths that lead them towards their fate. We are introduced to a few new characters who play small but important parts in the Forgotten storyline but we aren’t shown really anything new in terms of fey. Kagawa brings in the other courts, assuring us that nothing is what it seems and all actions have consequences. The main conflict is a tense entity that builds from page one. Action packed from beginning to end, we are left with a cliffhanger that stuns us with the stark betrayal that has occurred.

While once again I’m not blown away by this spin off, the similarities to the main series are just too strong to be ignored, I continue to find myself intrigued by the emotional battles Ethan faces and with the 180 ending that changes the entire story.  I know I will be reading book three, title and release date to be announced, if just to see how Kagawa can make this work.

Rating: C

Previous Julie Kagawa reviews

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