Firstly, a huge thank you to Lauren for sending me a copy of The Iron Crown in exchange for an honest review.
Fenn’s first and only memory is finding himself in the middle of a forest, face to face with a dragon spirit mocking him, all knowledge gone apart from his own name.
Lost and confused, his only hope for answers is Calidra—a woman living on the edge of the world with her partner. Forced to return home when her father dies, Calidra has put off facing her estranged mother for seven years, and she begrudgingly helps Fenn, forging papers for him so he can avoid the Queen’s Inquisitors.
But her mother is the least of her worries when they discover an ancient enemy is rising again. It should be impossible with the Iron Crown in power—and Fenn is terrified he might unwittingly be playing a part in the war’s resurgence.
Surrounded by vengeful spirits and powerful magic, Fenn’s desperate attempt to find his way home might well alter the fate of Tassar, and every power in it.
This novel is told through three to four different perspectives, they all weave together so well that it doesn’t feel disjointed or confusing. We also got a great amount of time in each different perspective so we got to really understand the characters and the different parts of the world, this also makes the novel feel very well paced. We don’t linger too long anywhere and we don’t rush through scenes, this is truly a novel that you have time to savour.
perspective changes. I loved how it began with Fenn, I thought this was a great introduction to the world for the readers as Fenn has lost his memories and is experiencing this world for, what feels like, the first time just like we are. Despite the seriousness of losing his memories, I also enjoyed the moments of humour in the novel too. All of the characters complement each other really well, we have Fenn who just wants to understand what’s going on, Calidra who is suspicious of everyone and Jisyel who is just a ball of sunshine. We do meet additional characters along the way, I love how Selys subverts the traditional view of a shrine priestess and although we meet Apollo later on in the novel I was immediately attached to him and his family.
MacRae has a talent for writing characters with so much depth and personality that, if it wasn’t for the occasional dragon, this would feel like a genuine story with real people. Speaking of dragons, I really loved the role that dragons / spirits have within the novel and how they are treated in the same way as the characters. Although they are powerful and intimidating creatures, each one we come across has a distinct personality which makes them feel more than just the guardian of the ocean or a forest. As an aside, I also loved the fact that griffins were included in the novel too, it’s very rare that I see this and it was just a refreshing change, especially when they also have personalities like the dragons do.
I thought the novel progressed really well and felt very natural. I liked how the introductory plot of Fenn looking for his memories stays through the novel whilst expanding upon it to see a much bigger problem and, seemingly, threat that this world is facing. What would have been very carefully considered in terms of plot structure just seems so effortless when it comes to MacRae’s presentation and writing style. Whilst we have, what appears to be, a very obvious main enemy, there are also subtle nods to the fact that we can consider there to be enemies in many other places. This world is definitely not as black and white as it may seem at the beginning and I can’t wait to see how this develops over the series.
Overall, this was a wonderful first novel to the series with an ending that has left me so excited to see what happens next! Whilst we, unfortunately, have to wait until Spring 2022 for the next instalment, a sort of prequel novella, The Citrine Key, is available now to make the wait a little easier (you can even get a free copy if you sign up to MacRae’s mailing list)! This series is shaping up to be a must read for fantasy fans and one that we should all make room for on our shelves!