Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews
Series: The Covenant Series #1
Release Date: 26th June 2018
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.
I have been excited about this book since it was first announce over on Andrew’s blog. I mean, a book about Hugh? Who wouldn’t be excited. I was even more excited when I was riding on the bus to work last week and a blog post from them popped up saying that the book was available for request via Netgalley. So I went on over, logged in and low and behold, right above the book cover it said I had been invited to view this book. Cue freak out on bus.
So I have been slowly reading this book since Friday, pacing myself and trying not to binge read. It was hard. Really hard. Basically this is everything you would expect from Andrews. Witty, funny, full of history, action, suspense, romance and all that rich urban fantasy goodness.
I doubt that it comes as much of a surprise – to those of you who have read Andrews before – that the plot for this story is fantastic. I wondered in the beginning how she could take Hugh and his Iron Dogs and give them a story worth reading given the fact that Hugh has been essentially a major villain in the Kate Daniels world for some time. But things have definitely changed for Hugh since Roland abandoned him and cast him out and Iron and Magic brings to light some things that will definitely have you reevaluating your thoughts on Hugh.
Hugh has fallen from grace in a sense. His whole life was built up around following Roland, serving Roland and now he has nothing and he has hit rock bottom. But underneath all the guilt and hatred there is a man in there who still cares about what happens to the men and women who follow him. And even though he has all but given up, he will be damned if he gives up on them. I like that Hugh’s main drive in this book wasn’t to find a way back to Roland or find a way to get revenge – it was doing anything he had to do to give the Iron Dogs a home.
Andrews isn’t trying to find redemption for Hugh – there is no absolution for some of the things that he has done – but he is far from the person he was when he did all of those horrible things – but now that the blood bond to Roland is broken, the real Hugh is shining through. Hugh’s sole focus now is taking care of those who have always followed and stood by him and protecting his new found family and home at all costs.
Obviously Roland was mentioned quite a bit in this story given the major roll that he had to play in Hugh’s life. I really liked getting a glimpse of Hugh’s life before Roland and it was interesting to see that there was more to Roland and Hugh’s relationship than Lord and obedient servant. I cannot elaborate more on that because that would be a spoiler.
Elara is much like Hugh in some ways. Yes, she is kind and selfless and good (things that many would say Hugh is most definitely not) but there is also a darkness in her much like Hugh. And she will also do all she has to do to protect those who follow her and in turn, her followers are devoted to her entirely.
Both Elara and Hugh are as cantankerous and stubborn as each other and watching the two of them bicker at each other even though there was some very obvious chemistry between them (that they were both determined to ignore) was hilarious.
“And just to be crystal clear,” Elara said. “This marriage is in name only.”
“Sweetheart, you couldn’t pay me enough.”
Pink touched her tan cheeks. “If you betray us, I’ll make you suffer.”
“We haven’t even married yet, and I’m suffering already.”
“We have that in common,” she snapped.
They both leaned back at the same time. He was marrying an ice harpy. Fantastic. Just fantastic.
Besides the obvious Elara and Hugh storyline there is much more at work in the debut for this spin-off series. Hugh is still being hunted by the Golden Legion, a new and mysterious force is slaughtering the people in the towns in the area surrounding their new home, Elara is trying to keep her people safe from Roland’s men who have been relentlessly pursuing her to sell them her land, and Hugh is still trying to figure out what the hell his new wife really is because no one will tell him.
If there is one thing that Andrews does well it is action scenes and this book is no exception. The action scenes are as intricate and well thought out as the Kate Daniels series and the rich history and folklore behind the creatures is equally so.
If you have read Andrews before you know that they are Masters at World Building. Even though this story is based in the Kate Daniels world, it had more of a medieval feel to it than any other book in this universe so far. Which might have had something to do with the castle and the swords and the fact that even though this is a post-apocalyptic fantasy type story, it was set in a rural area far from the city that were used to seeing in the Kate Daniels world. This definitely gave it an interesting new vibe and really set the tone for this book.
Mysterious and slightly creepy, this book definitely kept me guessing and had me hooked to the page.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book to review. This in no way affects my thoughts or opinions on this book.