Saturday, October 5, 2013

Review - Iron Crowned (Dark Swan #3) by Richelle Mead

The UK cover - it's so much prettier!
Title: Iron Crowned
Series: Dark Swan #3
Author: Richelle Mead
Release Date: 2011
Pages: 375, Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 4.07 stars
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
My Content Rating: 18+ (Explicit sex!)

Summary from Goodreads:   Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham is the best at banishing entities trespassing in the mortal realm. But as the Thorn Land's queen, she's fast running out of ways to end the brutal war devastating her kingdom. Her only hope: the Iron Crown, a legendary object even the most powerful gentry fear...

Who Eugenie can trust is the hardest part. Fairy king Dorian has his own agenda for aiding her search. And Kiyo, her shape-shifter ex-boyfriend, has every reason to betray her along the way. To control the Crown's ever-consuming powers, Eugenie will have to confront an unimaginable temptation - one that will put her soul and the fate of two worlds in mortal peril...

*NOTE: This review contains spoilers for Storm Born and Thorn Queen (books #1 & 2 in this series).* 

I have to say that I was just a bit disappointed in Iron Crowned.  I thought that Storm Born was good (but not great), but then I really enjoyed Thorn Queen and was eager to find out what would happen next.  Unfortunately, there were some things in this third installation in the series that kept me from really loving it - mostly having to do with the love triangle.

In this book, Eugenie and Dorian are now a couple and have gone to war with The Rowan Lands (since Dorian killed Eugenie's rapist, who also happened to be the Prince of Rowan Land).  Eugenie hates that the war is affecting so many people in the Otherworld and she wants desperately to end it.  So, when a seeress tells her that finding the Iron Crown will make her enemies fear her so much that they will end the war, Eugenie reluctantly decides to accept the quest.  Dorian suggests that she take ex-boyfriend Kiyo along for the ride because his half-human blood will allow him to cross the Iron Lands.  But, when Eugenie gets the crown, she finds that it's more than what she bargained for.

The negatives:
  • The love triangle that won't quit.  If you've read books one and two in this series, you're probably not surprised to learn that Eugenie is still bouncing back and forth between Kiyo and Dorian in this book.  If one of them does something that she perceives as being "wrong" she just jumps back over to the other guy (and for some reason they keep taking her back).  And I HATE cheaters - apparently Richelle Mead is a fan of them because she seems to have her lead characters cheat a lot.  Eugenie justifies her actions again and again, but I just kind of wanted to strangle her.  So, while I enjoyed the parts of this book that made up the actual plot, those parts were often totally overshadowed by my frustration with Eugenie, which sucked some of the enjoyment right out of them!
What I Loved:
  • Jasmine.  While I was frustrated that Eugenie didn't grow much as a character during this book, I was happy to see that Eugenie's sister Jasmine did.  I actually started to kind of like Jasmine - which is amazing considering what a brat she was when the series started.  Heck, she was practically a voice of reason about some things!  I loved that Eugenie and Jasmine started to have a real sisterly relationship.
  • Family tension.  While Eugenie and Jasmine got closer in this book, Eugenie's relationship with her step-father was still incredibly strained, which also bled into her relationship with her mother.  I really felt for Eugenie - her main support system had been yanked out from under her.  I thought that the family dynamic was handled realistically and I was invested in their relationships from the last two books, so I really enjoyed this part of the book.
  • The climactic ending.  This book definitely ended on an exciting note.  While parts of what happened frustrated me (I won't say precisely why), I was very invested in the story at the end and I'm eager to see how Mead wraps up this series.
Iron Crowned suffered a bit from middle book syndrome, but I thought it ended with a bang and I'm excited to see how the series will end.  I'm hopeful that Mead will redeem Eugenie for me in the last book (pretty please!).  3.5/5 stars.