by Ilona Andrews
Series: The Iron Covenant #1
Publisher: Ilona Andrews
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
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.
If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that I’m an Ilona Andrews fangirl. I eagerly gobble up anything from this husband-and-wife writing duo and frequently try to shove their books on unsuspecting new reader friends. While they’re now known for several series, their biggest books are an urban fantasy series about Kate Daniels, set in a post-apocalyptic Atlantic devastated by alternating waves of magic and technology. While this book is the first in a new series, it’s a spinoff of Kate, and as such would be seriously confusing to anyone new to the world. And on that note – massive spoilers in this review for anything pre-Magic Triumphs.
First off, I was extremely skeptical of this book. In case you’re not aware of the background, this started off as an April Fool’s joke some years ago, since, honestly, who’d want a romance featuring one of the most hated villains from the Kate Daniels series? Besides killing off a beloved character, Hugh was also the dreaded Other Man in a love triangle with Kate and Curran. Not to mention, as Roland’s lackey, he was a bit one-note evil. I had a lot of doubts about how he could be believably redeemed while still acknowledging that he KILLED ONE OF MY FAVORITE CHARACTERs. Ahem. Folks, I was so, so wrong – I was rooting for Hugh after about three chapters.
“Roland discovered an unpleasant fact,” Lamar said. “We do not follow him. We follow you.”
After being cut off from Roland, Hugh is on the run with what’s left of his Iron Dogs, hunted by the Golden Legion. Starving and exhausted, they need a base to regroup. Elara, head of, well, a cult, needs someone to protect her people from her suspicious and unfriendly neighbors. And what better way to seal the deal than a marriage? Of course, while the main participants need to keep up appearances to outsiders, it’s quickly apparent that “My way or the highway” Hugh and “I’m called the White Warlock for a reason” Elara are immediately at odds. Even in the midst of it all, though, these are two smart people used to command, who will bicker and fight but in service of doing what’s they think is best for their people. I think what sold me on Hugh most of all was his commitment to both his people and Elara’s. The Hugh in this book is not the Hugh we’ve met before, for good reason, as getting cut off from Roland broke him completely. Watching him reform himself, while deciding which parts of himself he wants to keep and which to discard, was heart wrenching. Loyalty, though, it what makes both Hugh and Elara tick.
“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.”
And, oh, Elara. She’s the perfect foil for Hugh, unfailingly loyal and committed to her people and what’s best for them, even a sham marriage to a man everyone calls a monster. She’s smart and fierce, and she’s shrewd enough to put Hugh and his starving commanders in a conference room next to the kitchens when they first meet. The authors have a great knack for being able to write from someone’s POV while only hinting at that character’s secrets, and it was fun figuring out along with Hugh’s people exactly why Elara seems to view herself as a monster. It goes along well with the romance, which is, of course, hate-to-love and deliciously slow burn, with plenty of the authors’ trademark witty banter.
“What do you want more than anything? Tell me what it is, and I’ll rip the world apart to bring it to you.”
While we’ve had novellas and other books not from Kate’s point of view, they’ve all been Atlanta-based Pack, so having POVs from both Hugh and Elara was a fascinating new view of the world. There are several plot lines that are left unresolved at the end of the book, including one major one that I was disappointed about, but it is the first in a series. Overall, though, I simply cannot fangirl over this book enough, and highly recommend it to anyone who loves kickass characters, smart and hilarious dialogue, and a tightly-paced engrossing plot!