Ironside by Holly Black

Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: April 24th 2007


“They say that nameless things change constantly—that names fix them in place like pins.”

Roiben is to be crowned in the Unseelie court. Kaye, more uncertain of where she belongs than ever, decides to make a declaration of her love to Roiben. She expects him to humour her and give her a simple quest so that she may be his consort, but instead he tells her to bring him the impossible. A faerie that can tell an untruth. While trying to find a way around Roiben’s quest Kaye finds herself tangled in the war between the Bright and Night courts, and completing her quest may be the only way to save her friends, family and most of all Roiben.

The characters get a lot more development in this books, and even their more annoying qualities can be tolerated with better explanation. The relationships that blossomed were nice, although the ultimate conclusion was a little disappointing. The story felt like it was building up to something huge only to have it end rather abruptly and pretty well for all the main characters.

There was also the issue of certain characters flipping personalities too dramatically just when it was convenient for them to do so. The romance seemed weak even with characters outside of Roiben and Kaye who have always seemed ill-fit. This is the one thing Valiant managed to do better than both other books in the series.

The sequel in this trilogy feels even more out of place now than it did before. Valiant doesn’t need to be read to go from Tithe to Ironside. If anything it offers a little backstory for Luis (which could have just been supplanted in this book). Val, Lolli and the other characters either don’t appear or don’t appear enough to matter. It feels like it was an intermission to the main story, or at best a cute spin-off. It didn’t really need to be part of the series proper.

Despite mild improvements this series was at best, tolerable. There are better books about faeries, magic and urban fantasy. In fact Holly Black herself has written better books about the same subjects. It wasn’t awful, but there was a lot left to be desired. The characters from Tithe and Valiant could have been better integrated instead of pushing most from the sequel aside entirely. There also felt like there was a huge gap in the sidelined story about Kaye’s family. It was a disappointment to never know where she came from, even if she never intended to go back.

It’s not a bad series, but Holly Black has better works. However, Holly Black fans might still find it enjoyable.


Read this if you’re a fan of: The Darkest Part of the Forest


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