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Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews
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Hugh D’Ambrey, the great Biblical wizard’s Warlord, has been banished from his presence. For decades, longer, Hugh was Roland’s servant and a lethal, terrifying fighting force and general. And now he doesn’t know who he is

But his soldiers rely on him, people hold grudges, his rival Ness especially. They need safety, they need a home - but who would trust them

Ilara and her people need protection. They’ve been driven to run for too long but are now secure in an actual castle… but they have no soldiers. And Ness wants their land.

It’s not a romantic match… but it is a practical one.

It is so hard to review an Ilona Andrews book. It’s hard because the things that make these books so special - the awesome world building, excellent characters, massively fun storylines and tight, descriptive yet well paced writing are pretty much the same in every book. Early on they set the bar at awesome and kept repeating the same levels of awesome and that leaves me with a happy stunned with joy, grieving because I’ve finished it and then flummoxed on how to produce a review that isn’t a duplicate of the last review

This book follows Hugh D’Ambrey - a very different standpoint from Kate given how he has been such a major villain for much of the Kate Daniels Series and how he is, pretty much, The Worst. I admit to having some reservations - I’m not against redeemed villain narratives but all too often they’re done far too simplistically which rarely if ever actually touches real redemption and usually amounts to a handwaving of their past

But this worked. Because it didn’t try to redeem Hugh. Hugh is a monumental bastard and always has been. He doesn’t claim to be different, Ilara doesn’t think he’s different, even the fact he wants to preserve his people isn’t presented as making him a good guy. Even exploring his toxic relationship with Roland and how Roland controlled him isn’t used to redeem or excuse him (though it does include some really excellent character growth moments as Hugh basically learns how to be Hugh without Rolan’s overwhelming presence). Even meeting old enemies who are grudgingly willing to work with him isn’t presented as forgiveness, even when he apologises. Even his own levels of self-hatred and self-recrimination: all of this is here but, at the same time, I don’t think the book ever intended me to think “Hugh is a good guy now”.

And I really like his relationship with Ilara. Firstly she’s an equal - she has her people and he has his both are the supreme leaders who have earned a vast amount of loyalty and even as the two factions begin to blur, it never happens in a way that undermines either of them. Neither are ever the junior partners and while he clearly has combat advantages over her in some situations, she is equally clearly the one with by far the most powerful magic.

And they hate each other which I love. Yes, I know I talked about persistence not being a virtue and love interests whose dislike is worn down by one party’s persistence. But that isn’t happening here - Hugh and Ilara marry for political reasons, so people will believe that their alliance is real (especially since Hugh. under Roland broke a whole lot of alliances). But Hugh and Ilara despised each other from the very first day and their sparring is glorious. Their searing loathing for each other (even as it slowly melts into respect but is never ever not a battle) is hilarious and mutual - Hugh isn’t setting out to win Ilara’s heart and Ilara

I also like the grounding reality that their conflicts can bring - with them arguing over how much things cost and how large Hugh’s monetary demands are. In fact I love that as an entire branch of the storyline - while fighting the many arcane and terrifying enemies that face the castle, they also take time to make alliances with local authorities, overtures to nearby towns and establish business and trade deals to maintain and increase their wealth. This mix of the mundane with the magical is compelling and also makes them even more cemented as leaders (and helps further them as peers since Ilara is more of an expert in this field)

Ooh, bouncing to another thing I love - those myriad arcane threats. In a world setting that has set up an enemy as epicly as the Kate Daniel’s series (there was a moment in a previous book where who and what Roland was was finally spelled out and it was EPIC enough that I couldn’t sit down) but at the same time in this glorious complex and varied world there’s never just one threat or one enemy. I like that there were problems from all sides.

The world - oh the world - the shift between magic and tech, the vampires, the various gods and magical beings and magic waves and out of control nature and just EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING. All explained awesomely without info dump or being too sparse. It’s perfect, perfect, perfect.

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  FangsfortheFantasy | Dec 4, 2018 |
At first I read this only because it's set in the same world as the Kate Daniels' books. But it was Hugh, see, and I hate Hugh. Everyone hates Hugh. He deserves to be hated. (I still kind of hate him.) But I like Elara, the woman who is too powerful and too frightening to be tolerated by any other than the people she protects. Hugh and Elara make a deal to marry in order to combine resources to protect all of their people, his and hers. They don't like it, they don't like each other, but they'll do anything to keep the people who depend on them safe.

The marry your enemy for the greater good trope works for me, especially when it includes the sly pleasure of teasing the person you claim to dislike. Hugh changed in this book and it was believable, something I wasn't expecting.

This is a good addition to the world Kate inhabits. It broadened the world and made it fresh again. ( )
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
I was surprised how much I liked this book. In the Kate Daniels books, he is a villain but here is character is peeled back. You understand why he was a villain and you see that he is able to change and become something more. I'm looking forward to more books in this series to see what he becomes and also what Elara is and what she becomes. At this point, she is a mystery. ( )
  phyllis2779 | Sep 15, 2018 |
Of course I love this book! How could I not? I have been really eager to get my hands on this book and love the fact that the whole concept started out as an April Fool's joke. Being the awesome people that the writing team of Ilona Andrews are, they decided to make this book happen when their fans showed a desire to read it. I did wonder how I would feel reading an entire book about Hugh. Hugh is one of the bad guys! I can tell you that I enjoyed every single moment reading this book.

This book is set in the same world as the Kate Daniels series. I do think that readers could enjoy this book without reading this series but I think it would work best if read in order. If you were to read this book before reading Kate Daniels, there would be quite a spoilers for the series. Plus Kate Daniels is awesome and you don't want to miss those books.

Hugh is one of Roland's men in the Kate Daniels series and as I said earlier one of the bad guys. As I read this book, I started to understand Hugh and some of the things he has done made more sense. At the start of this book Hugh is pretty much at rock bottom. His men are doing well and he knows that he needs to do something to improve the situation. He makes a deal with a village to offer protection in exchange for food and shelter by marrying Elara who has her own set of abilities.

Hugh and Elara were so much fun together. They bickered constantly and I have to say I loved every moment of it. I don't know if I have ever had so much fun watching two people fight. Despite their disagreements they grow to have a mutual respect for each other. They also quickly prove to be very honorable and committed to making their agreement work.

This book had everything I was looking for. There were some pretty comical scenes with great banter. The characters were wonderful and I really getting to see a few favorites from the main series make an appearance. There were some exciting action scenes and a finale that blew me away. I can't wait to read more about this group of characters. ( )
  Carolesrandomlife | Jul 16, 2018 |
This book is an amazing start to a new series about respect, redemption, love and loss. This book hits all the best points of fantasy and romance-strong characters, lots of magic, ancient creatures, and action that keeps the pages turning long after bedtime. Hugh d'Ambray has hit rock bottom after his split with Roland. Elara Harper is the mysterious and revered leader of a settlement nestled in a magical forest in Kentucky. Elara needs an army and Hugh needs a home. Their arranged marriage is supposed to unite the two groups, not turn into a real relationship. When an enemy from Hugh's past threatens the entire settlement, he and Elara must put aside their differences, and share a few secrets to save everyone. ( )
  SevenAcreBooks | Jul 11, 2018 |
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added by AoifeT | editDear Author, Kaetrin (Jul 26, 2018)
 
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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.
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