Monday, September 17, 2018

Ilona Andrews - Iron and Magic

Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming. Fast.
Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she's trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify.
Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies?
As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.”
Hugh and Elara may do both. 

Comment: What a complicated week I've had! I was a lot busier than I expected and my reading time has resented that. This book, which considering the authors and the theme, should have been read in one day and a half or two days actually took me four days. I'm glad I've read this book but I must also say that if I could have read it all in a row, I'd certainly have appreciated it even more.

This is the now famous spin off Iron Covenant series by author team Ilona Andrews. Their Kate Daniels' series is recognized by the clever characters, the steady plot and consistency. One of the characters that readers have come to dislike/hate is Hugh d'Ambray, who has repeatably tried to kill Kate or her friends or somehow ruin her life. However, this is the first of his books where he will have his own HEA. 

Yes, how can a villain be this redeemed but apparently there isn't a goal the authors can't meet and Hugh not only managed to find courage after Roland, the big bad guy "dumped" his services, and re-shaped his Iron Dogs team but he also found a place where they could get their focus back. In making a deal with Elara Harper, a mysterious woman in charge of an even more mysterious group of people, Hugh now has some of his self worth back but can it last when enemies are still trying to get revenge?

There are certainly mane adjectives one could use to talk about the bulk of the author's talent and eye for detail while writing. I've commented on several of their books so I won't repeat myself by saying all that but to simplify, they not only write well but are able to give the reader a notion of setting/characterization that I suppose it's not possible to ignore as being steady and well done.

This new story is quite interesting mostly because of who is the protagonist. I've read that the idea of this story begun as a joke or something along the comedy lines but apparently there isn't much these authors can't try and this book proved that even bad guys can have a heart.
This is basically the key element here: for readers who have devoured the Kate Daniels' series, Hugh was/is a bad guy. He was an opponent to Kate until some things happened and he got out of the way but he was not HEA material.
I guess I should say that while this book is perfectly well structured it's not as delectable if read without background.

Hugh is not a character that suddenly decides he is a victim so his past actions are meaningless now. This means that, in this story, we still see a not so acceptable behavior and attitude from Hugh. I don't think the authors could justify a turnaround on who Hugh is but it's satisfying to see they tried to humanize his decision based on what happened to him, on what he did in his past and a little bit in why he felt he had to do it. I will look for to see what will happen in the future (two?) books because now Hugh has come to terms about certain issues and how that will play out in a conclusion, I'm quite eager to find out.

This is not a book only about who Hugh is or why he was shaped to be this way but also about his courage and team behavior, in the sense he helps those he feels are his responsibilities. I think there is a good balance between several aspects of all the parts that make this character realistic. However I'd have preferred certain things to be better explored in detriment to others but... oh well.
Some battle scenes and fights - despite common in the worlds created by Ilona Andrews - just felt a little too much for me, I'd hae liked to focus even more on the little details and psychological side.

There's a romance starting in this story because Hugh has center stge but he enters a marriage of convenience with Elara to improve his team's survival chances but Elara isn't a wimp or a prop. She is a full created heroine who has many secrets. I liked some of their interactions and the convincing way they started to deal with one another. The next Iron Covenant story will weight more on Elara and her past and I'm curious to see how that will be matched with what happened to Hugh and the happenings in the central Kate Daniels' series final book.

This was a very well done story, many elements were well chosen, inserted enough to make the reader curious and I think this is brilliant since one can feel that there is a lot more to happen without having it all there promised but then not delivered. The authors have a great eye for detail and both Elara and Hugh seem to be a good match in personality and state of mind, something that would have been easily done another way. I'm glad I liked this book even if some pacing wasn't as consistent as I imagined it would but still, great job letting the reader wonder about and root for Hugh.
Grade: 8/10

No comments:

Post a Comment