The Iron Crown by M.A. Grant

The Iron Crown by M.A. Grant

This is the third in a tightly woven series where the events overlap to create a beautiful tapestry founded in Celtic myth yet with elements all its own. Each novel is a gay romance where troubles in the fae world impinge on the relationships. This connection makes everything more complicated in some ways, but in others, moves fate and circumstance to bring the lovers together.

Part of what fascinates me, and why I’m speaking first on the series as a whole, is how each novel is unique. It’s not just the characters, but the circumstances and the challenges they face while moving the overall plot forward. This is never truer than with Lugh and Keiran, the youngest son of Queen Mab and a Viking child rescued from his destroyed village in the wake of the last great fae war.

Unlike the other novels, theirs is not a new connection. Instead, they’ve grown up together, fought, raced, and celebrated together for most of Keiran’s extended human life. The connection between them vibrates off the page from the first mention, though they each believe their relationship is platonic. It shows in casual touches, how Lugh leans into Keir’s strength, and their silent communication no one else shares.

The two of them are a puzzle. Lugh has no faith in his magic and believes everyone would reject him if they knew the truth of it. This belief weighs on him, eating through his confidence and setting him apart when all he wants is to be close. He sees his abilities as a sign of weakness when they show his enduring strength.

Keir knows he’s there only because of Queen Mab’s reluctant consent, a tool to protect Lugh when she cannot understand what drives her youngest son away. This poisons his self-confidence and makes him discount all the ways the fae of the Wylds honor him as The Horned God’s Poet. He has earned his place in the Wylds and the Wild Hunt by his own measure.

Don’t let those descriptions make you think either spend their time bemoaning, though. They take on the world to protect their chosen family and home. While Roark’s and Slaine’s stories could possibly be read in either order, it’s Keir and Lugh who culminate the greater tale, and in a way that makes sense while being unpredictable. Just as they grow in their relationship, their connection with the world and their people grows in this novel. They change from adventurers with a purpose to an integral part of the Sluagh and balance from a direction none expected.

It’s a powerful story on a personal and larger scale. There were moments when my breath caught and tears threatened, not always grieving ones either. What binds Lugh and Keir together is also what holds them apart. There are both closed- and open-door intimacies as the romance fulfills its happy promise, but not everything resolves so cheerfully.

I found the way each story had a lesson to teach about perception fascinating as well. We learn of Slaine first from Roark, with his limited understanding of events creating a tainted impression, but Lugh is different. The facts of his actions are correct. It’s the why neither brothers nor mother can see that changes everything about those actions. I was not looking forward to Lugh’s tale, though I should have known better after reading Slaine’s. Now, I consider it my favorite in many ways. The unseelie princes are so very different and their relationships equally varied.

As must be clear by now, I enjoyed the series and this book very much. Stop reading me talking about it and try the series yourself. It’s creative fantasy, believable romance, and has a powerful moment or ten that I suspect will linger.

P.S. I received this Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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