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Literature / The Iron King

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The Iron Fey is a series of Young Adult novels by Julie Kagawa, dealing with the misadventures of young Meghan Chase in Faeryland.

The Iron King (Not to be confused with the tokusatsu show) is where our story starts. Meghan finds out that her father was not the insurance salesman she thought he was, but was instead Oberon, king of the Summer Court of the Fey. She also finds out that her best friend, Robbie Goodfell, is actually Robin Goodfellow, better known as Puck. She ventures to faery lands to rescue her brother, but finds herself caught up in the politics of the world, and is forced to fight against the iron court, a brand new court formed as human dreams begin to shift toward technology. Along the way, she meets Ash, the son of the Winter queen, whom she agrees to accompany in exchange for his help dealing with the iron court.


The next part of the series is the novella "Winter's Passage", which follows Ash and Meghan as he takes her to the winter court per their agreement, but along the way they are attacked by a creature sent by Oberon to "rescue" Meghan.

The Iron Daughter opens with Meghan a prisoner of the Winter Court, where she dreams of the Iron King she killed at the end of The Iron King. She feels betrayed by Ash, who must pretend not to care while they are in the court. The two are forced to leave when one of Ash's brothers steals the Scepter of the Seasons, which he intends to give to the new Iron King in exchange for power. Ash, Meghan and Puck go after it, with the help of Ironhorse, who tells them that the new king is a fraud. The group retrieve the scepter, but Ash and Meghan are banished to the Mortal realm.


Book 3, The Iron Queen, picks up where The Iron Daughter left off, as Meghan and Ash approach her human home. When they arrive, they find her home being attacked by iron fey under the orders of the false king. The two decide to flee to Leanansidhe, also called the Exile Queen, for shelter. Along the way, Glitch, a former lieutenant of the Iron King and current leader of the rebels against the false king, attempts to take them into custody for Meghan's protection, fearing that all would be lost if the false king captured her. While training to go after the false king, they discover that in addition to the Summer glamour she gained from her father, Meghan also has Iron glamour gained from killing the Iron King back in book 1. The three return to faery after Meghan and Ash's banishments are lifted, and Meghan takes her rightful place.

Another novella, focusing on Ash and Puck's adventures, follows Iron Queen, titled "Summer's Crossing".

The fourth book, The Iron Knight, came out in November 2011. Said book should not be confused with Iron Knight

This series contains examples of:

  • After-Action Healing Drama: When Meghan frees Ash from Virus's bug, after he's been badly wounded.
  • After-Action Patch-Up: After the wolf attack and after the escape from the Unseelie Court
  • Almost Dead Guy: Meghan's knight in The Iron Knight
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Rampant. This is Faeryland, after all.
  • A Friend in Need: Meghan to Grumley — and vice versa.
  • An Aesop: The Iron King's Aesop seems to be "Great adversity helps make people stronger." And...well, "Don't piss off the fairies."
  • An Ice Person: Ash, and other members of the Winter Court.
  • Animorphism: Puck favors the form of a crow, though he can do other animal forms. A phouka can turn into any animal they want to be.
  • Asshole Victim: A bitchy cheerleader makes fun of Meghan after a particularly vicious school prank. Puck loses it and turns her nose into a pig's snout. The trope is subverted, however, when Meghan meets the same girl again later, finds that she's matured quite a bit from enduring teasing about the pig snout, and actually feels a bit sorry for her (and angry at Puck).
  • Baleful Polymorph: Being in the wrong place at the wrong time can get a human turned into whichever animal strikes an angry faery's fancy. Titania even threatens to turn Meghan into a deer, and then unleash her hunting hound on her.
  • Berserk Button: Puck. Make fun of Meghan. We dare you. Ash has a soft spot for Meghan as well, but he does his best to hide it so that his evil family members won't kill her to get to him.
  • Betty and Veronica: Puck, Meghan's best friend and a mostly trusted servant of her father, is the Betty while Ash, the youngest son of the enemy court, serves as the Veronica.
  • The Big Bad Wolf
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Queen Mab, the Iron King Machina, and many Always Chaotic Evil faeries have this on a day-to-day basis. Even somewhat less evil characters, like Oberon and Titania, can get this when they're significantly angered.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Any time Meghan, Ash, and Puck are travelling together, they make up this trope.
  • Broken Masquerade: Meghan finds out what's really going on within the first five chapters of book 1.
  • Cain and Abel: The Iron Daughter, Rowan fights Ash as he tries to rescue Meghan from the court. Later, they learn that Rowan let the Iron Fey into the court, where they killed the oldest brother, Sage.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Grimalkin.
  • Cats Are Superior: Grimalkin certainly feels that this is true.
  • Changeling Tale: The story really sets off when the Faeries kidnap Meghan's younger half-brother and replace him with a foul-mouthed monster brat.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Of the "Unrequited Love" flavor. Puck has really fallen hard for Meghan, but, as of yet, Meghan seems to think of him as only her best friend.
  • Cold Iron: Faeries are very vulnerable to it.
  • Commonality Connection: When Angie drives Meghan home.
  • Crush Blush: After a fraught moment with Ash, she thinks she must be the color of a fire engine.
  • Dances and Balls: Ash insists on having the dance when they meet at her father's court.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday: The first novel opens the day before Meghan turns sixteen, and the plot really kicks off on her birthday.
  • Dead Guy Junior: The catfish promises to name a grandchild after Puck if only he's let go.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Defrosting Ice Prince: Ash's Character Development progresses this way.
  • Disappeared Dad: It's actually disappeared stepfather in Meghan's case. He was kidnapped by faeries around the time she was six.
  • Doctor's Orders: The nurse gives them to Ash and Puck.
  • Dream Land: Dream River: Ash and Puck, on their quest
  • Duel to the Death: When Puck and Ash meet
  • Enemy Mine: With Ironhorse
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Meghan soon discovers that humans are playthings at best in the faery world. At worst, they are food. And the fact that she's half fey does not help at all.
  • Evil Matriarch: Both Faery Queens count.
  • Evil Redhead: Well, Puck isn't exactly...oh, wait. He's Fey. Of course he's evil. Just not as evil as generally everyone else in the Nevernever.
  • Exact Words: Meghan uses this to escape her half of a contract.
  • The Exile: Lots. Leanansidhe is their (self-appointed) queen).
  • Extra-ore-dinary: An ability held by some members of the Iron Court.
  • The Fair Folk: Many of the fey shown in the series come off this way, even Puck and Ash.
  • Fiery Redhead: Puck.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Titania and Mab.
  • Green Thumb: The basic form taken by Summer Glamour.
  • Guile Hero: Par for the course in Puck's characterization, as anyone who's read A Midsummer's Night Dream will confirm.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Meghan is blonde. She's also a little less naive and innocent than most heroines of this trope, but she's still described as a good-hearted, noble dreamer.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: As the daughter of the Seelie king and a human mother, Meghan is despised by everyone, except Puck and usually Ash.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Human mother, Faery king father.
  • Heroic Bastard: Meghan.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Under Virus's control.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Ash's brother Rowan has these, as does Titania. They aren't nice people.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each of the main books is "Iron Noun of Person":
    • The Iron King
    • The Iron Daughter
    • The Iron Queen
    • The Iron Knight
  • I Have a Family: so pleads a catfish
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Meghan's characterization generally favors this description of her eyes.
  • Invisible to Adults: Young children like Meghan's brother Ethan can see magical things. Generally they grow out of it, but artistic people like Meghan's mother sometimes retain some of this ability.
  • Invisible to Normals: Anything magical has this kind of power over grown humans. Even Meghan, who's only half normal, only noticed magical things out of the corner of her vision until she turned sixteen.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Or, in Ash's case, "It's not you, it's my evil Fair Folk family members who will eat you alive just to annoy me."
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Quintus is willing to go after Ash while he's prisoner.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: The Iron King sends several after Ash and Meghan. They don't act up to standard.
  • Lady and Knight: In The Iron King, Ash swears a Knight's Oath to Meghan.
    • It is implied that his relationship with Ariella may have incorporated a similar aspect.
  • Land of Faerie: Most of the story takes place in Faery, also called the Nevernever.
  • Love Triangle: There are three, so far.
    • One Type 4 in the main cast. Ash and Meghan are in a relationship, but Puck has an unrequited crush on Meghan.
    • Two Type 7's concerning Meghan's parents. Oberon and Meghan's mother cheated on their respective spouses to produce Meghan, but it only lasted for a one night stand.
  • Magically Binding Contract: To the point that one needs to be careful when saying "thank you" to anybody in the Nevernever, since those words basically mean "I owe you one." Faeries will take Meghan at her word for that, and try to call in the debt later. Though the Iron Fey are not as big on this as the other types of fey.
  • Magitek: Used by some of the Iron Fey.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Oberon knew, but Meghan had believed her mother's husband was her father.
  • Masquerade: One has been held around Meghan for her protection since she was an infant.
  • Meaningful Name: The Leanansidhe calls all her captive men "Charles" — or "man".
  • Mook–Face Turn: Meghan tries this on Tertius
  • More Hero Than Thou: Ash and Meghan dispute over her leaving him behind
  • Multicolored Hair: Very common amongst Faeries of any kind.
  • Mysterious Past: Meghan realizes that Puck and Ash have history when they fight.
  • No Body Left Behind: An interesting variation. When fey of any kind are killed, their bodies disappear and leave something else behind (be it a thornbush, needles, ice, branches, etc.). This, however, does not always happen instantly, the time it takes can vary.
  • Not a Game: Puck tries this on Meghan to persuade her to go.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: The nurse gives Puck no quarter on this.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: In the battle, and in the River of Dreams
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Besides the regular fey, who, like all fey, are born of human dreams, there are the Iron Fey that gave the series its name, fey born of dreams of technology, science, and progress who are immune to iron.
    • The second series introduces a new category of fey: The Forgotten, fey that have been forgotten (which would normally mean their death), but have managed to survive by using Vampiric Draining to drain other fey of their glamour, killing them, and can even drain the glamour of half-fey, which, while not killing them, seems to have some negative effects (one effect that could be taken either way, depending on how the hybrid views it, is the loss of the ability to see fey).
  • Our Souls Are Different: Fey don't have them.
  • The Pardon: Offered as a bribe, to escape exile.
  • Playing with Fire: An ability of some Summer Fey.
  • Precision F-Strike: Ethan drops one of these early in the first book, one of the many signs that he's not really Ethan.
  • Pretty Butterflies: Puck assures Meghan she can have a dress of butterflies and diamonds.
  • The Promise: One way to draw up your Magically Binding Contract.
  • The Quest: Ash's , in The Iron Knight
  • Redhead In Green: Yeah, Puck basically cleared out all of the Red-head tropes. It's impressive, actually.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Puck is the Red to Ash's Blue, just as pretty much all the Summer Fey are the Red to the Winter Fey's Blue.
  • Releasing from the Promise: Is an insult to the fey.
  • Rewriting Reality: Humanity's dreams alter Nevernever
  • Rousing Speech: Meghan gives one to Glitch and the other resisting iron fey
  • Sacred Hospitality: The Leanansidhe invokes this
  • Scullery Maid: Titania makes Meghan this.
  • Single Tear: Ash cries one as they escape from Virus and him.
  • Succession Crisis: To the throne of the Iron King
  • Theme Naming: Mab's three sons: Sage, Rowan, and Ash. This is also an example of Family Theme Naming and Plant Theme Naming.
  • Thicker Than Water: Despite losing all memory of him, Meghan feels a strong obligation to help her "father" — despite having learned that there is, in fact, no blood connection.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: How Meghan learns that her brother has been replaced with a changeling.
  • True Sight: Meghan's is strong due to her father's identity, but up until the beginning of the first book it has been kept controlled by the fact that every year until her Dangerous 16th Birthday, Robbie would dose her with Mistwine to suppress it.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Ash, Puck, and Meghan. Grimalkin gets thrown in there too for a while, but that does not change the team dynamics one bit.
  • The Usurper: The Iron King who took over from Machina, which is why Ironhouse resists
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Puck uses this a lot, though he usually favors Animorphism.
  • Weather Dissonance: While the Spectre is missing.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Titania is this IN SPADES for Meghan. The girl was lucky not to be turned into a deer or something equally edible.
  • With a Friend and a Stranger: Meghan runs away from the Seelie court in the company of Puck, her childhood friend, and Ash, her currently unknown enemy who is only kept from killing her by virtue of a Magically Binding Contract.
  • A Wizard Did It: In-Universe example, every time Grimalkin does or says something unexplainable (apparently even for faery standards) his only answer is "I am a cat", Meghan even lampshades it once by menacing to throw him out of the balcony if he answers her with that.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Quintus; Ash taunts him with it.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: The power of the Iron King goes by this.
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: The nurse objects to young idiots who try to move about when wounded.

Alternative Title(s): The Iron Daughter, The Iron Queen, The Iron Fey, The Iron Knight


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