Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

Iron and Magic by Ilona AndrewsIron and Magic by Ilona Andrews
Series: The Iron Covenant #1
Published by NYLA on june 26, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 380
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy…But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work.

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.

Even though ten books is a really long series, I was sad to see Kate Daniels come to an end. I mean, it’s one of my absolute favorite urban fantasy series of all time, alongside October Daye and The Others, both of which you should read by the way. Obviously, I was thrilled about this spin-off series, even if I did do a puppy head tilt at Hugh d’Ambray as the MC. Spinoffs can be a tricky and disappointing business, but based on book one this one’s gonna be off the hook.

First things first, let me be very clear: DO NOT READ THIS BEFORE KATE DANIELS. It spoils the hell out of most of the Kate Daniels series, because it comes near the end. I watched someone read this first of all Andrews’ books, really enjoy it, and then DNF Kate Daniels because they already knew what would happen which made it boring. Um, this is why you read series in order GAH. Thus, I plea to you to read Kate Daniels first and then hit up The Iron Covenant. I know ten books sounds like a lot, but it is SO WORTH IT. The ships, you guys. THE SHIPS.

Taking a villain from Kate Daniels and turning him into a series lead is such an Ilona Andrews move, but it’s still impressive how they make it work. The thing that I love so much about Ilona Andrews’ books is that they don’t try to sugarcoat the bad things their characters do. They write hard worlds full of badass people who tend to do a whole lot of killing. They write some of the only ‘alpha male’ style heroes I actually like and ship. The reason that works is because they never excuse anyone’s behavior or try to pretend this serial murderer is actually a fluffy bunny. They’re complex people who act a certain way because of their background, and they know what they’ve done and have to deal with it. Basically, they write dark, fascinating characters who own who they are.

For the first couple of chapters, I was slightly on the fence with Iron and Magic. It opens with Hugh nothing like the Hugh from Kate Daniels. With Roland’s connection gone, his connection to his god and immortality severed, Hugh can scarcely function for the yawning pit of despair left behind and thus crawled into the bottom of many liquor bottles, a classic numbing technique. Some of his remaining Iron Dogs show up to sober him up and convince him to lead them again, because Landon Nez is out to kill them all.

The Iron Dogs end up getting a job defending a settlement in Kentucky, which Nez also happens to be targeting. To cement the deal, both parties agree that a marriage is needed: Hugh’s marriage to Elara Harper, who leads them. They actually get married but they’re faking it the whole time and they hate each other and it’s fantastic. Like, this is just so tropey and fantastic I can’t even. Elara and Hugh need to convince everyone that this is a love match, in an effort to improve both their reputations and to solidify the alliance. Because they can’t stand each other, Elara torments Hugh by blocking him every possible way and Hugh torments Elara by various public romantic gestures, like calling her annoying pet names. BEST.

At the outset, Hugh and Elara very genuinely loathe each other, and they make things very difficult because both of them are smart people but they don’t really want to work together. As they defend their new combined community from Nez and another mysterious army, they end up proving themselves to one another in various small and large ways, annoying each other along the way in a deliciously shippy manner. The evolution of their relationship from hate to…well, I wouldn’t quite call it love yet…mutual attraction and respect is excellently done.

Though Hugh is not yet my favorite male lead of Andrews’ (stiff competition there ooer) and I haven’t completely forgiven him for what he did in Kate Daniels, I’m definitely on board. His characterization is so deep and complicated, and they’re doing an amazing job with it. Though he was raised to kill and often mind-controlled, that doesn’t undo his guilt, and he also deals with seriously mixed feelings about Roland. Part of him just wants to go back to the way things were. He’s been abused and used for all of his life, and he’s done murdered god knows how many people.

Elara’s so reminiscent of Daenerys. The white hair obviously calls her to mind, but she also shares Dany’s unwillingness to bend and her strength. Unlike Dany, though, Elara doesn’t want to conquer the world; she just wants to protect her people and, if possible, anyone else nearby. She acts like an ice queen but she’s got a big loving heart underneath that exterior. Then again, so does Hugh. Elara’s such a badass in basically all ways, and I cannot wait to find out more about her past and her abilities.

One of the things that makes me love Andrews’ series so much is how precious all of the secondary characters are, and I’m not quite there yet (which is normal in book one), but I can tell I’m going to get there. Like, some characters died at one point, and they weren’t important at all, but I got the feels just because I knew how much it killed Hugh and Elara. The Iron Dogs are surprisingly adorable, particularly Bale who read Harry Potter to Hugh when he was injured at one point.

This series is gonna be damn good, just like Kate Daniels. Damn, I need book two.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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