A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers can compare this faery lore (with Scottish and Shakespearean roots) with faery lore from other cultures and book series such as Artemis Fowl, The Mortal Instruments, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Also, there's a critique of the internet, especially social media, when Puck says, "Welcome to the Internet. Manufactured outrage is all the rage these days."
The importance of family and friends. Don't become what you fight against -- violence and anger beget more violence and anger.
Positive Role Models
Ash wants nothing more than to protect his wife and adult son from evil forces, and mentions repeatedly that he will do anything to protect them. He has to be talked out of losing himself to violence and hate in order to save them, and himself.
There are two strong female characters that don't need protecting: Meghan, the Iron Queen, and Nyx, a warrior guard. They also steer those they care about into making better decisions.
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Violence & Scariness
Skirmishes and all-out battles, all against nasty faery creatures. Many of these creatures lose heads and limbs and are impaled by ice shards, but it always feels more fantastical than gory except when one character is purposely swallowed by a gross creature in order to stab inside its throat. Main characters are forced to face fears, in one case killing not-real versions of loved ones that seem real. Talk of a redcap creature that steals human livers while people are asleep.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing by two couples and one couple shares a room.
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Mostly "dammit" in stressful situations and occasionally "bastards," "a--hole," and "hell." "What the f--" spelled like that.
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Products & Purchases
A few mentions of and one ride in an Uber.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A woman smokes a cigarette flute.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Iron Sword is the second book in the Evenfall series, which is a spin-off of the seven-volume Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa, which starts with The Iron King. The first book in this series, The Iron Raven, was easier to follow without reading the other series. The Iron Sword, however, makes many references to the main characters' history and their ties to the Nevernever and the mortal world. Without this background, this sequel is less engaging. Still, there are lots of skirmishes and battles that keep things exciting, all against nasty faery creatures. Many of these creatures lose heads and limbs and are impaled by ice shards, but it always feels more fantastical than gory except when one character is purposely swallowed by a gross creature in order to stab inside its throat. Main characters are forced to face fears, in one case killing not-real versions of loved ones that seem real. All other content is on the mild side with some light kissing, a scary spider lady smoking, and some swearing, mostly "dammit." One angry mortal says "What the f--," spelled like that, when under the influence of mean piskies. There's a jab at the internet and how it can make us all give into anger if we let it and a tie into the main character's realization that violence and anger begets more of the same.
Is It Any Good?
While this is a sometimes-thrilling averting-Armageddon faery story, it lacks the right narrator to tell it. In the first book in this spin-off series, readers follow Puck, and his romance with the warrior Nyx. He's complex and mischievous and funny and still has a lot to understand about himself. In this sequel, readers follow the perspective of Ash, the Iron King whose intense personal growth -- finding love, gaining a soul -- is behind him. Readers get right away that he wants to protect his family -- he says this countless times -- and also that he shouldn't get too angry and lose himself again. That's it. It would have been much more exciting to follow Ash's son Kierran on his adventures to the mortal world and to Wyldwood with the Big Bad Wolf.
The only time Ash's perspective makes the most sense to follow is during the climactic action when he fights against his violent Unseelie nature, and even just before when he fights his own nightmares. This draws the sequel to a close with some real tension. It also makes up for the first half of the book when Ash, Meghan, Puck, and Nyx make the rounds asking after Kierran -- and telling the same story of his disappearance three times in a row. Now that the path is set and the danger is total annihilation, the finale should be more consistently exciting -- especially if the author decides to pick a more interesting narrator to tell the story.
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