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Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews
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Iron and Magic

by Ilona Andrews

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Iron Covenant (1), Kate Daniels (novella)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2591972,432 (4.31)6
"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"--Back cover.… (more)
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» See also 6 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)


I didn't want to read this book.

I mean, what would be the point? Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers is a violent, amoral, narcissistic killer who, in the previous Kate Daniels books, I'd have happily seen cleaved by Kate's sword or dangling in pieces from Curran's claws. Why would I want to read a book by a man like that?

Well, because Ilona Andrews wrote it and because I'd been told that it was a crossover book that I should read before the tenth Kate Daniels book. So it was the anally retentive pedant part of me that picked up this book, not my inner fanboy, but it's the fanboy who's writing the review.

"Iron and Magic" is surprisingly good.

The tone is darker, more muscular and more rage-filled than the Daniels books. Kate's I-have-to-save-my-people-to-prove-to-myself-that-I-have-not-become-my-father motivation is replaced by the sceptical pragmatism of the two main characters, Hugh and Elara, who are motivated by the knowledge that To-survive-I-have-to-make-a-deal-with-these-unpleasant-untrustworthy-people-that-I-may-have-to-kill-or-who-may-kill-me.

Most of my enjoyment from the book came from the same sources as the Daniels books: strong, complex, slightly unpredictable characters locked in a frenemy conflict, a twisty plot filled with new threats, excellent battle scenes, the ability to make me care about who lives and who dies and a constant pulse of well-timed humour.

A smaller part of me was applauding the skill with which Ilona Andrews engaged me in caring about Hugh d’Ambray's fate.

It was an object lesson in how to turn a figure of hate into a (sort of) hero in three easy steps:

Make him guilty and damaged
Give him something to protect from something worse than him
See him through the eyes of another monster

Make him guilty and damaged

The humanisation of Hugh d'Ambray began with showing him responding to the loss of his immortality and his exile from Roland by trying to drink himself to death. He's dragged from this by the senior members of the Iron Dogs. the force that Hugh built to prosecute Roland's will, who need his leadership to prevent them from being wiped out by Roland's vampires. The loyalty shown to Hugh casts him in a less selfish light and the vampires provide a credible and dislikable threat.

The guilt comes more slowly, but constantly, as Hugh starts to realise how he failed to question Roland's commands, no matter how brutal. Hugh is still a violent, dangerous man who pursues his self-interest without hesitation or regret but now that he's no longer doing Roland's will, he's forced to define the "we" that his self-interest covers and to consider the cost of his actions.

Give him something to protect from something worse than him.

Ilona Andrews knows that you make violence honourable by using it to protect the innocent. The Iron Dogs could never be seen as innocents so we get a community made up families of hippyish witches, holed up in a castle, surrounded by hostile or indifferent neighbours and under threat from the same vampires hunting the Iron Dogs. The threat is then amplified as a previously unknown force of magic-using warriors start to annihilate the surrounding villages. Now Hugh's violence is turned from the sword of a tyrant to a shield for the innocent.

The new bad guys are an inspired addition. Suddenly, Roland's people aren't the top of the food chain any more and the new Big Bad is alien, inscrutable and deeply scary. I hope they're part of the crossover to the Kate Daniels storyline.

See him through the eyes of another monster.

I think the master stroke of the book is the creation of Elara Harper, The White Lady and leader/protector of the community of witches. Elara is more dangerous and less human than the now weakened and mortal Hugh. She takes an instant dislike to him (which speaks well of her judgement) but is willing to use him and his Iron Dogs to defend her community.

Ilona Andrews version of witches has never felt wholesome. There has always been a whiff of rot and a twitch of insanity associated with them. Elara and her community carry a greater sense of threat with them than that. They seem... slippery. Elara certainly sees herself as a monster and so her view of Hugh is unique.
In a reversal of the development of the relationship between Kate and Curren, the relationship between Elara and Hugh starts with a marriage. True, it's a marriage of convenience to convince the world that these two, who each has a history of betraying allies, really are united. This device allowed intimacy without empathy between the two players and provided a framework for a "Taming Of The Shrew" theme with Elara and Hugh taking turns at being the shrew. Their mutual antagonism is credible as well as being fun. It gave a space for Hugh to continue on the path to humanity by expanding his definition of "we" to include Elara and her people and Elara's slow, reluctant growth of Elara's regard for Hugh made him more engaging.

Then there was the sex scene
Am I the only reader who'd like Audible to have a Skip-To-End-Of-Overlong-Sex-Scene button?

This book was going well. Then we had the sex scene that was almost a chapter long, almost all of which was cinematic i.e with a strong emphasis on what the sex looked like rather than what was going on on the heads of either participant. The fight scenes told me more about the hopes, regrets, excitements and fears of the combatants than this description of sweaty gymnastics provided on what was going on in Elara's or Hugh's head.

I could see that it moved the relationship between the two of them on and did so just before the big everything-hinges-on-this fight but I really didn't need a whole chapter on this.

I recommend the audiobook version.

Steve West does an excellent job as the narrator, His slightly rough, slightly Northern, very English voice for Hugh is inspired. He does a credible job with Elara and I felt like cheering when he used a Hispanic accent for the leaders of the Bouda Clan.

Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear an extract.
https://soundcloud.com/audiolibrary-a/iron-and-magic-iron-covenant-book-1-by-ilo... ( )
  MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
I was interested to see how a book from Hugh’s POV would go. Hugh has been a bad guy working as warlord to Kate Daniels’s dad. Now he has been tossed aside and stripped of everything he was given and worked for. Surprisingly the one thing he has is the loyalty of his men that are slowly being done away with by Roland. When Hugh is found drunk in the gutter by some of his men they get him back on the path of being a leader to them even if it is no longer in Roland’s service. With no funds and little food they take on a job of protecting a group of magic users that one of Roland’s vampires wants moved off some land. Elara is in a tight spot, she has very scary magic but doesn’t use it that often because of what it costs. Her people have been on the move for a while, but they have a place now and are trying to make a home. Of course it doesn’t last and she needs guards to protect everyone. Hugh and Elara come to an understanding to help both of their goals. One way to make sure it works is they wed. This is a political union only to make sure that people realize Hugh will protect the castle. And almost as soon as they are there they are set to work.

The story is good and finding out more about Hugh humanizes him in this story. I really though he was a total bastard in the Kate Daniels books. But this is written that you don’t have to have read the books to figure out what is going on and the nice thing is you also don’t need to read this to read the final Kate Daniels book. They complement one another but there is not a secret key in either book that you have to have to unlock any secrets.


( )
  Glennis.LeBlanc | Jan 6, 2020 |
I need to give this one a try again at some point! Read through the chapter a while back and could get into it, but I’m hoping it was just right book wrong time!
  RichlyWritten | Sep 23, 2019 |
I need to give this one a try again at some point! Read through the chapter a while back and could get into it, but I’m hoping it was just right book wrong time!
  RichlyWritten | Sep 23, 2019 |
This was a great start to the Iron Covenant series. This series features Hugh and Elara and takes place between books 9 and 10 of the Kate Daniels series. I enjoyed all the action and how that was balanced out with some romance. I always enjoy the Kate Daniels world as how it fluctuates between magic and tech.

This was Hugh and Elara's story and it was well done. I loved learning more about Hugh and his background. Him and Elara enter a marriage of convenience for the sake of both their people, as a result they end up battling the enemies of both Elara and Hugh throughout the book.

I enjoyed the humor throughout and the awesome magic too. I did get a bit sick of the constant childish bickering between Elara and Hugh, this was heavy handed at points. However, it ends up being a great story.

Overall I really loved this extension of the Kate Daniels world. There’s a ton of action here and some steamy romance. I always love this world and enjoy the humor throughout as well. While this could be read as a stand alone, I would recommend reading the Kate Daniels series first to understand the history and background of this world and the side characters. Highly recommended to fans of urban fantasy. ( )
  krau0098 | Jun 25, 2019 |
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added by AoifeT | editDear Author, Kaetrin (Jul 26, 2018)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ilona Andrewsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mollica, GeneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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