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Holly Black – Ironside

February 15, 2010

14. Ironside by Holly Black (2007)
Modern Tales of Faerie, Book 3

Read my review of book:
1. Tithe
2. Valiant

Length: 323 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Started: 04 February 2010
Finished: 04 February 2010

Where did it come from? Christmas gift from a friend.
Why do I have it? See above.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 25 December 2008.

Changeling Kaye doesn’t
fit in, in the faerie world
or the human one.

Summary: After a bloody battle of succession, Roiben is poised – if not exactly ready and willing – to become the King of the Unseelie Court. When Kaye finally confesses her love for him at his coronation, he uses a faerie tradition to send her on an impossible quest: to find a faerie who can speak a lie… and she won’t be allowed to see him until she has. Heartbroken, she flees back to her life as a human, but things there aren’t much better: her friend Corny is feeling self-destructive and wants the things (and people… and fae) that are the most dangerous for him, and her mother reacts badly when Kaye finally admits she’s a changeling. Kaye has to venture to the Seelie court to find her mother’s real child… but when she’s there, she learns that the Bright folk can be every bit as nasty as the Unseelie fae, and that the Queen of the Seelie Court has designs on Roiben’s throne… and his life.

Review: Ironside is much more of a direct sequel to Tithe than Valiant was – it picks up Kaye and Roiben’s story not long after the end of Tithe. In theory, Valiant could be skipped, but one of its characters does play a fairly large role in Ironside, and this book does assume that you already know who he is. In any case, it was nice to return to the characters I already knew and cared about, and I think it made the book much more of a compelling read.

As you may have been able to tell from my summary, there is a lot going on in Ironside. It wasn’t so noticeable when I was reading; the story flows quickly and smoothly between various scenes and shifting points-of-view. After the fact, though, it was hard to put a pin on a single through-line of story. Nevertheless, Black’s brutally dark writing effectively conveyed each of the various pieces, and managed to make the book feel like a single seamless piece. Her world is as gorgeously built as ever, and I found all of the various loyalties and schemes much easier to detangle here than I did in Tithe.

However, while I enjoyed the story, and certainly devoured it really quickly, I never got as emotionally attached to any of the characters as I normally would have wanted. It could be that I simply didn’t identify with any of them, but something was keeping me at arm’s distance. I was also a little disappointed with the ending. I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but one piece of the way that everything worked out just felt too cheap, too easy given the weight of importance that had been put on it throughout the book. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: If you liked Tithe, you’ll want to read this one for sure, but it’s really not something that could stand alone.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Avidbookreader, Books & Other Thoughts, Dreaming Out Loud, Em’s Bookshelf, The Story Siren, Wands and Worlds
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Despite her casting him down to this place, despite the fresh bruises on his skin and the blood under his nails, Roiben still loved Lady Silarial.

Cover Thoughts: Similar to Valiant, the crown is not like I imagined it, but it’s still gorgeous (and shiny!), as are the leaves and scrollwork in the background.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2010 7:28 am

    This is the last one of the three that I still need to read. I love Valiant more than Tithe, but look forward to going back to their story.

    • February 16, 2010 10:10 am

      vivienne – It depends on what it was about Valiant that you liked, but I thought Ironside was actually a good mix of the two.

  2. February 15, 2010 8:12 am

    I think my husband would like this series. I’ll have to look for Tithe for him.

  3. February 15, 2010 9:07 am

    I keep trying to remember if I’ve read these books before – your reviews of the first two sounded familiar, but this one doesn’t. I’ll have to see if I can borrow them off my sister.

    • February 16, 2010 10:11 am

      Jenny – If you haven’t read them before, they should take you a day or two apiece, tops. If you have read them before… they should still only take you a day or two apiece.

  4. February 15, 2010 9:55 am

    Modern tales of Faerie? I like the sound of that!

    • February 16, 2010 10:13 am

      Bookjourney – They’re all very urban-feeling and dark, although I think Valiant goes the farthest towards incorporating the urban-ness into the actual plot.

  5. February 15, 2010 5:10 pm

    I wasn’t crazy about Valiant so I haven’t read this book yet. I should, though.

    • February 16, 2010 10:14 am

      Kailana – No fear, Ironside goes back to the story and characters of Tithe.

  6. February 16, 2010 7:46 am

    I read Tithe when it first came out but I haven’t read any of the others. I really, really need to though!

    • February 16, 2010 10:15 am

      Ladytink – I was the same way until a few weeks ago when I decided to get off my butt and just get them read!

  7. February 16, 2010 2:26 pm

    That is such an awesome cover. I will have to check out this series. It sounds so cool!

    • February 19, 2010 10:39 am

      Michelle – There are new covers with people on them that I don’t like nearly as much… I’m glad I got my copies with the old covers!

  8. Fyrei permalink
    February 16, 2010 9:26 pm

    Do you have to read the first few in the series to e able to read this one?

    • February 19, 2010 10:43 am

      Fyrei – You need to read Tithe but not necessarily Valiant in order to understand Ironside.

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