Discussion Post | Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

Birdie Bookworm and I spent a large chunk of 2018 rereading and discussing the Kate Daniels series, but then, sadly, we dropped the ball and didn’t finish up with Magic Triumphs. We’ve decided to remedy that, starting with Hugh’s book, Iron and Magic. This is actually a spin-off from the Kate Daniels series, but the events that happen in it are taken into account in Magic Triumphs, so I think it’s pretty important to read this one first. We’re starting the discussion here, on my blog. But we’ll be finishing up on Birdie’s blog. So don’t forget to click here so you can read the conclusion of our epic thoughts on Hugh and Elara!
Please keep in mind that as this is a discussion post, it will include spoilers for this book and for the Kate Daniels series.

 

 

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.

| Spoilers Galore Book Discussion |

Iron and Magic opens up with a prologue from the first moment Hugh meets Roland.  Did this change your perspective of either character?

Birdie: Yes and no. I always thought there was something about Hugh that could be redeemable. The first time I read the Kate Daniels series I walked away feeling like I’d glimpsed good in Hugh. The second time I read the series I saw him as more villainous but I wasn’t able to let go of those initial feelings of compassion completely. Roland, I actually went opposite. Again reading the Kate Daniels books I felt like there was a chance he could be redeemed, but when I read Hugh’s book I lost all compassion for Kate’s father.

Angie Elle: No. I mean, I of course felt bad for Hugh and what he’d been through. But it didn’t really change my perspective of who he was as an adult. For Roland, it solidified him as an opportunist. I freaking love to hate that man. He always has a plan, but he’ll invite anyone he can along for the ride. He’s great at improvisation.

Were you hooked from the beginning?

Birdie: Yep. I was hooked immediately. I’ve always been drawn to Hugh’s character.

Angie Elle: No! I felt like it took forever to get going. But I’m not surprised, and I’m not necessarily put off by that. It took three tries before I made it through Magic Bites, and it’s now probably my favorite Urban Fantasy series of all time.

Birdie: Not ‘probably’, Angie.  It is your favorite.  😀

Angie Elle: You only say that because I ask you to reread it with me every year. 😉

Hugh was a pretty prominent character in the Kate Daniels series, so we know him some from there. Did you go into this book with any preconceived notions because of that?

Birdie: Like I said, only the idea that there was something underneath what we were seeing that was ‘good’. I think it was in his ability to heal. I felt like there were times you saw a sense of compassion in someone injured. Almost as though the man he became was not the man he was supposed to have been. Or, maybe the idea that someone with that healing strength was destined to help and not harm. I don’t know.

Angie Elle: To be honest, I never gave Hugh a lot of thought outside of who he was to Kate. The only thing I knew going in to this was that I didn’t like Hugh, and I was curious to see if he could be redeemed for me.

Did you feel like Elara was a good match for Hugh?

Birdie: Yes.  I loved the opposite-ness of them. I loved that she was strong enough for him, but in a different way. One thing I never ever saw was chemistry between Kate and Hugh. They were too similar. Elara is powerful and strong, but she and Hugh are like salt and pepper. Equally important, but providing different essences.

Angie Elle: I have to reserve judgment on this until I read the next book. I feel like because we knew Hugh so well, it was Hugh’s book, and Elara was along for the ride. Oddly enough, I wish I knew her better going in. I wish she had a novella about just her. Because at this point, I feel like she is someone who works better alone. And it’s something I’d like to see on a larger scale than just in the basement of Baile. I feel like this is a book that should have brought them together, but I didn’t really feel like it did that on anything other than a superficial level.

Birdie: Interesting. I totally agree that we need some of ‘pre-Hugh’ Elara, possibly how The Departed happened. But, I didn’t feel superficially for her. The end, the saving of Hugh, was a big deal for me. I loved that they have already started changing each other. I did wonder if the next book, which used to have a picture and title, says “The Story of Elara Harper” so it’s possibly going to fill in the gaps, maybe.

Angie Elle: I hope so. Because I don’t find anything particularly alluring about her as a heroine.

Do you think there was enough world building in Iron and Magic that someone who hasn’t read the Kate Daniels series could jump on here and feel like it was fleshed out?

Birdie: Nope.  I would warn anyone who wants to read this book, that they have to read Kate Daniels first.  You’re coming in blind.  It really should have been considered Hugh #1, but Kate #10, and Magic Triumphs should be #11.  You shouldn’t read Magic Triumphs without reading Hugh’s book, and you shouldn’t read Hugh’s book without reading the Kate Daniels series.

Angie Elle: Totally agree. I think they did an OK job jogging my memory, but it wasn’t a comprehensive overview of the world, which you do need if you’re going to enjoy this reading experience. And conversely, I feel like I missed something the first time I read Magic Triumphs…which is ultimately what led us here. Will I enjoy Magic Triumphs more the second time around after reading Iron and Magic first? I don’t know. But I sure hope so!

Birdie, Exactly! Imagine if you didn’t have any memories to jog. I feel like it would have had so many important plot holes.

What was the most surprising thing you learned about Hugh in this book?

Birdie: The most surprising thing was discovering that when Kate thought Hugh was torturing Ascanio, but really he had to break him to heal him.  It was an eye opener, how Ilona Andrews used protagonistic perspective to tell two different stories. It was brilliant.

Angie Elle: Yes. That was pretty interesting, but I do wonder if it wasn’t backpedaling on the authors parts, and they just really lucked out in having it all come together. Because at that point, Hugh’s book was still a pipe dream, if I remember right. But still, yes. It was pretty enlightening. But it didn’t make me like him any more.

For me, it was the ferocity with which his men followed him, even without Roland there to hold everything together. I still don’t understand why, except that I know Hugh is supposed to be lost, and I guess they are, too. What inspired such loyalty? Why are they devoted to the point where they’ll dry him out and follow him? I still feel like this needs to be fleshed out for me.

Birdie: I suppose it could be backpedaling, but my guess is it wasn’t. I feel like by that point they had mentioned writing a Hugh novel, and I think they already had ideas about who he really was and the kind of power Roland had over him. If I was a betting woman, I’d say it was their plan the whole time. It worked out too perfectly.

Don’t forget to visit Birdie Bookworm here to read the last half our discussion!

3 thoughts on “Discussion Post | Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

Add yours

  1. Whoops! Well, glad you were able to come back to finish your series discussion. I was one who didn’t realize the significance of this book so I skipped it and went straight to Magic Triumphs. I still need to come back to this one, but I was waiting until Magic Triumphs wasn’t as fresh in my mind.

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  2. I just love this discussion on this book. This is the one book I havent read that is part of the world and I need to. But I have become so endeared to this world that Ilona Andrews Definitely you have made me realize that I need to read this book since there is so much in here

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  3. I totally agree, Kate Daniels needs to be read first before this one. I can’t wait until we get the next Hugh book, but I haven’t seen any dates yet.

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