Review: Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

May Contain Spoilers

While I was excited for the release of Iron and Magic, I was extremely skeptical that Hugh could ever achieve a believable redemption. This guy has been awful for almost the entirety of the Kate Daniels series. He almost starved Christopher to death and left him in a cage of his own filth, he had a favorite character murdered, and he whisked Kate away to Mishmar, where she almost died. He cheerfully invaded cities, ordering the murder of the citizens, and did many other unsavory, non-heroic acts. How then, could this rotten to the core guy be redeemed?

I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’m going to be light on the plot details. It took me a while to get into Iron and Magic, but it wasn’t because of the book or the writing. I am in a major reading slump, news of current events are sometimes too awful to contemplate, and work has been busy as heck. I’ve also had an incredibly busy summer, bought a Nintendo Switch, and all of that cut into my reading time and ambitions. Anyhoo, once I had the ability to focus a little better, I breezed through this. It actually helped reset my reading meter, and once I finished it, I immediately started Magic Triumphs, and I polished that off very quickly.

Back to this book. Hugh has had a rough time since being so coldly banished by Roland. Roland was Hugh’s everything, and now that the blood bond between them has been cruelly severed, Hugh has spent the last few months wallowing in self-pity and alcohol. When the leaders of his Iron Dogs track him down and tell him that Nez Landon has been murdering Hugh’s former troops, including one of his best friends, they finally break through the fog that’s settled around his mind. Hugh needs to protect what’s his, but right now, he has nothing but the filthy clothes on his back to accomplish this daunting task. Nez, on the other hand, still has the favor, and all of the resources, offered by Roland.

Enter Elera Harper, a woman who desperately needs protection for her people that only Hugh can offer her. She has everything he needs and wants – a castle, the means to fund his troops, and food (glorious food!). Since his troops are starving, Hugh agrees to a marriage with Elara. They don’t get off to a great start, and one of the niggles about this book was their constant bickering. After a while, it got annoying.

Iron and Magic does a great job setting up events for the final Kate Daniels book Magic Triumphs, so for goodness sake, read this first! There will be several things that seem to come in from left field if you don’t. Thankfully, I read did read this first, and it made both stories that much more solid. There are overlapping characters, and while the events here take place about  a year prior to Magic Triumphs, everything fits so well together, like an interlocking chain.

I really liked Elara. I wish I knew more about what she actually is, but I’m sure we’ll get more background in the next book. She is just as powerful as Hugh, if not more so, and holds herself up to his menacing blustering very well. She is more than capable of dealing with calamity without Hugh, she just lacks the manpower to ensure the safety of all of her people. All in all, they make a great team, even if their initial dealings with each other are on rocky ground.

Getting back to Hugh and his redemption. I didn’t completely buy it in this book, but by the end of Magic Triumphs, I was all there. I’m not going to spoil things, but Hugh comes across as an extremely flawed human being, who was ceaselessly manipulated, and, yeah, I’ll forgive him for being such a dick in prior encounters. To get the whole picture, though, I feel that you do have to read Kate Daniels 10, in order to get full closure from the people he hurt the most.

This had more romantic elements than the Kate Daniels books, and I liked that. The pacing might have been bicker, bicker, fight monsters, fight monsters, share long passionate stares, bicker, bicker and fight some more, but I loved it. The pacing was good after Hugh got to the castle, and I enjoyed how he and Elara worked together and made a formidable team, even when they wanted to stab each other in the throat.

Iron and Magic is a great entry into the world of Kate Daniels, and shows that there is life in this universe without having Kate and Curran be a part of it all the time. This helped get me out of a horrendous reading slump, and I am looking forward to book 2.

Grade: 4.25 stars

Review copy purchased from Amazon

About the book:

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.