Friday, March 20, 2020

ARC Review: The Iron Crown (The Darkest Court #3) by M.A. Grant

The Iron Crown (The Darkest Court, #3)
After the last Faerie Civil War, the leaders of the magickal pantheons stripped the shining Seelie Court of its power and tasked the dark Unseelie Court with maintaining the natural balance of the world. 

Ages later, a twisted intrigue throws the balance of all Faerie into ruin and ignites a new civil war. 

Discounted by his family and haunted in the Unseelie sidhe, Queen Mab’s youngest son, Lugh, leads the Wild Hunt on quests across the dangerous Wylds. At his side is his best friend, Keiran, a Viking rescued from death centuries earlier. Between Lugh’s uncanny gift for being in the right place at the right time and Keiran’s power of persuasion, they’re revered across the Wylds—as long as Lugh keeps his true identity hidden from the people of the Sluagh. 

Keiran and Lugh have loved each other for centuries—as friends and brothers in arms. Lugh has long since put aside his romantic love for Keiran to protect their friendship. But with the looming war in Faerie and the ghosts of the dead dogging Lugh’s every move, Keiran realizes there may be room for romance between them after all, if only they can survive. 

Rallying the Sluagh to fight in the looming war between the Seelie and Unseelie seems an impossible task. To achieve it, these childhood best friends will have to free Lugh from the restless souls haunting him and turn the tides threatening not only their growing love, but the balance of life and death itself.

Todd's rating:

Winter is coming!

Wait, wrong universe, but I definitely got that same sort of pins-and-needles, action-packed feel from this last installment of "The Darkest Court" series that I did from the last few seasons of "Game of Thrones".

Much like the first two books, a large part of this book was an introduction to one of Queen Mab's three sons, and their eventual love interest, not only discovering who they were now, but also a lot of back-story surrounding events that happened in their pasts.

Here, we met Lugh, the youngest brother, who'd fled the Unseelie sidhe centuries ago, after being (literally) haunted by ghosts of the past, in favor of roaming Slaugh territory as leader of his Wild Hunt, helping the non-Fae caught between the Summer and Winter Courts politics and general fuckery.

By his side was his best friend and most staunch ally, Keiran, a human that he'd rescued from near-death long ago. Saying their relationship was complicated would be a huge understatement, but for all intents and purposes, they'd been platonic partners for centuries.

This was a love story, but I'd say that it was much more of a "fantasy" romance than an "epic" romance, since the story was infinitely more focused on the non-stop action and overcoming the bad guys than sitting around and lovingly braiding one another's hair while talking about their deep, undying feelings for one another.

I mentioned Lugh's ghosts of the past, but the landscape over which the Wild Hunt is dragged for most of this story was *very* directly affected by the ghosts of the present.

Although Queen Mab had charged Lugh to rush to a potential ally to request their assistance in the Winter Court's imminent battle, the aforementioned ghosts continued to pinball Lugh off course along the way, seemingly with little rhyme or reason, but in the end, all of those side trips led Lugh and Keiran to the place where they ultimately needed to be to succeed and save the day. For everyone.

The story fully delivered on its promise of an exciting, arduous ride, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I was hoping for a slightly deeper level of feels than the book possessed. I'm all for intense action, but at my core, I'm mainly an intense romance kinda guy.

All of the angst came completely from external sources, with no real in-fighting between the MC's, for which I was thankful, seeing as how I've had enough "Big Misunderstandings" to last me about a buhjillion goddamn lifetimes, and the steam was about as fade to black as I've read lately.

One of my favorite parts of this story was how the previously-distant and aloof brothers finally began reconnecting, in spite of their cold and seemingly-uncaring mother's attempts to play them against one another. In that regard, the series ended in a very good place as far as I was concerned.

I'd rate this story at around 4.25 stars and recommend it to any fans of M/M fae fantasy.

My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

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