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I have been looking forward to this book ever since I finished TITHE, and Holly Black most definitely does not disappoint. IRONSIDE picks up soon after the events in TITHE and VALIANT, and takes the reader on another breathless journey into the amazing and deadly world of Faerie.

Things have been uneasy ever since Roiben assumed the throne of the Unseelie Court, and with the threat of war in the air and Roiben's coronation drawing near, everyone is on edge. Changeling Kaye Fierch knows that she loves Roiben, but she feels increasingly unwelcome and out of place in the Unseelie Court. So the night of the coronation, determined to prove herself to Roiben and the rest of the court, she makes a formal declaration and pledges herself to him as his consort. However, faerie custom demands that a quest be undertaken before anyone can sit as the Lord's consort, and Roiben grants Kaye an impossible task: to find a fairy who can tell an untruth. Now she is forbidden from seeing or speaking to him until she completes something she knows cannot be done.

Kaye doesn't know where to go, because she has been feeling uncomfortable at home as well, knowing that she stole a human child's life. In a moment of desperation, she tells her mother the truth: that she is a changeling that was switched with Ellen's real daughter, the real Kaye, and she vows to retrieve her from the Seelie Court and return her to Ellen. She feels that this, at least, is something she can do, even if there's no way she can complete Roiben's quest.

But with all the tension between the courts there is nowhere safe, and in venturing into the Seelie Court to find her human counterpart, Kaye puts herself within reach of Lady Silarial. Silarial wants Roiben's throne, and she's willing to do anything, including using Kaye, to get it. Once again Kaye finds herself in the middle of Faerie politics, but this time Roiben's not there to save her, and she may not have a way out.

In my personal experience it is rare that a sequel ever lives up to the first book, but IRONSIDE does just that. Full of court rivalry, deception and betrayal, sword fights and murder, faerie curses, new romances, and even characters from VALIANT, IRONSIDE is another wonderful foray into the dark, gritty world of Faerie and will not leave readers disappointed. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you pound your pillow in frustration and clap your hands in delight. My one and only complaint is that this is the last book set in this amazing world.

Reviewed by: Andie Z.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 12 September 2007
IRONSIDE follows the story of Kaye, a changeling who we first met in TITHE.
During Roiben's coronation, Kaye makes the rash decision to declare herself to him, in front of the whole court. Tradition forces Roiben to accept this declaration by handing Kaye a quest. But the one he chooses, to find a faery who can tell an untruth, is an impossible feat, for such a faery does not exist. Kaye sees this quest as an act of betrayal by Roiben, suggesting that he set her such a task precisely because it was unachievable. Not able to see Roiben until she has fulfilled her quest, Kaye feels rejected. It is perhaps this rejection that makes her decide to tell her mother the truth - that she is really a pixie who was exchanged with a human child and left in her place. Feeling as though she does not belong in either the world of faerie, or the mortal world, Kaye enters back into the realm of faerie in order to find the human girl she was swapped with, so that she can be reunited with her mother.
But the faeries of Kaye's world rarely play fair, so it is not long before Kaye realises that, yet again, she is being played like a pawn in a battle between the faerie courts.

Although I did enjoy IRONSIDE, I did not find it as exciting as TITHE, hence only 4 stars for the rating. Personally, I felt that the pace of the book died down during the middle part, almost to the point that it became a chore to plod through. Perseverance paid off, however, and the pace picked up again towards the end. Because there were also characters from the second book, VALIANT, by the end of IRONSIDE you felt as though you had gotten complete closure of all the characters. As the end book in a trilogy, IRONSIDE has certainly done a very good job.
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I enjoyed this more than I did the previous books in this trilogy (TITHE and VALIANT) and yet, still did not find it a satisfying read.

The good news is that there's more story to this. The impossible quest is interesting (albeit you can guess how it's going to play out pretty much the moment it's set) and you get more of a sense of the politics between the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court. Luis and Dave make a reappearance from VALIANT, which I thought was well handled, especially because of the way it built on Luis's role as a fixer whilst further developing the relationship between the two brothers.

The best parts of the book though are those that focus on Corny. The character is a like a walking open wound - still grieving the death of his sister and recovering from his own experiences at the hands of the Unseelie Court, he's terrified by faeries and by his own vulnerability to them and that makes him determined to never give them power over him. In many ways, Corny is the most dynamic character in the book, he's the only one who is actively trying to take control of his own destiny and whilst he sometimes gets infected with Stupid Decision For Stupid Reasons Syndrome. When Corny brings a powerful curse down on himself at the hands of a faerie, it's a twisted blessing in disguise as it finally gives him the means to hit back at the faeries who would torment him and I think that Black does well to handle the exultation and despair that the curse brings him, even if I would question the means by which Corny and his friends try to deal with it as being slightly too contrived.

Unfortunately, the big problem remains Kaye. Just as in TITHE she is a reactive and passive character, always being tricked or manipulated by others so when you get to the scene where she finally stands up for herself, you really don't believe it. The scene where she confesses to her mother about her being a changeling should have been powerful and yet because you can guess how it's going to play out (not least because Kaye already knows how it's going to play out), it lacks the punch it needs. I also found that I just couldn't believe in the relationship between her and Roiben. Whilst I can see what she sees in him (in that whilst he remains underveloped and two-dimensional, he at least has a certain enigmatic quality), I couldn't see what he saw in her, which ruined the true love element that supposedly exists between them.

There are some powerful scenes in the book, notably the attack on the Unseelie Court, which I thought was well handled. I also continue to admire Black's skill in creating sensual and lyrical images - particularly where she describes the effect of the city on faerie folk. Unfortunately, the downside of this is to reinforce how superficial the story ultimately is and I was left wanting to see more expansion on themes and especially on the politics between the courts and the rivalries that drive it. Given the cruelty displayed by Silariel at almost every opportunity, why are her courtiers so loyal to her? Ethine would have been the perfect character to explore this, given that she's used as a pawn just as much as Roiben, and yet she remains unquestioning throughout, which I found frustrating.
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on 18 January 2008
The sequel to Tithe featuring some of the main characters from Valiant. Roiben is being crowned King of the Unseelie Court and Kaye, his Pixie girlfriend, takes it upon herself to declare herself to him at his coronation leading to being sent on a quest to become his consort. Roiben decides to send her on an impossible quest as he doesn't want her dragged into the torments of Court life; to find a faery who can tell a lie (impossible, no faery can lie). Kaye also decides it is time to tell her mother the truth about her, that she is a changeling and the real Kaye was stolen away by the faeries and replaced with her. To make things right Kaye tried to hunt down the original Kaye to return to her mother.

Comlications arise from the Seelie Court Queen, Silarial, who wants to rule both Courts as well as have Roiben back under her control. She will stop at nothing to obtain her goals and use whomever neccessary for her own ends including trying to find out Roiben's true name and gain control over him forever. Kaye and Corny enlist the help of Luis who has the true sight to complete both quests but end up tangled up further in the dangerous Court life.

I really enjyoed this book in the series, it was perhaps my favourite developing the characters from the first two books further. I liked that it didn't have a sickly sweet happy ending, the whole series has been like that though with violence, bad language, sex and drug abuse. I still don't recommend this for under 16s, although this one is the most accessible of the three.
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Roiben is now King of the Unseelie Court and Kaye has asked him to set her an impossible task. One that she finally achieves.

Corny and Kaye have met up with Luis and his brother Dave who is addicted to a Fairy drug called 'Never'. Luis can also remove curses and charms from humans which is just as well because Adair has cursed Corny.

Silarial is now Queen of the Seelie Court and is a nasty piece of work.

Holly Black never fails to write a good book about the Sidhe and how capricious, spiteful and malignant they can be.

Highly recommended for lovers of this genre.
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on 24 February 2014
follow up to the brilliant Tithe. original, clever, brilliantly written, great characters, likable fallible heroine. see my review of valiant for similar recommended title
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on 5 May 2007
Ironside starts off a few months after the events of Tithe and Kaye has been feeling lost as she doesn't know where she belongs, so she drunkenly declares herself to Roiben, and he sends her on an impossible quest.

Meanwhile Queen Silarial is still trying to kill Roiben, so Kaye also has to prevent her, though they don't know what she's planning.

She is joined on her quest by Corny, and also someone from Valiant(I wont give away who) which I was pleased with because i had not really seen Valiant as a sequel but more of a companion book.

I have to agree with the previous reviewer that Ironside completely lives up to it's prequels. It is a great book that will not disappoint.
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on 21 November 2013
This follows on from Tithe, and was an improvement on it. Kaye is allowed to be more proactive in this, although she does spend a lot of time mooning over Roiben. Roiben becomes somewhat more believable in this book. He's driven by obsession and hate, and torn over his sister (who herself seems to be torn between loving him as her brother and hating him as king of the Unseelie Court). The thread about Kaye knowing Roiben's true name had promise but never really went anywhere. I did like Corny. He's geeky and gay, but it is a little irritating how every bloke he meets (a) he fancies, (b) is gay, and (c) fancies him back.

Better than Tithe, as I say, but they've both been passed on. I reserve 5* for books I'd read again, and it falls a long way short of that.
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on 29 March 2008
After reading and enjoying 'Tithe' I decided to move on to 'Ironside'. The book returns the series of 3 books (so far) back to the story of the first and mantains the same charm that the first had. Kaye, the pixie herioine of the story, still has an originality and a roughness about her which makes the story a lot more interesting.

I read the book in one sitting and was pleased with it. However I didn't come away from it feeling that i had gained anything. I had read a nice story about a pixie and a fairy king but it wasn't that memorable - except the characters and i feel 'Tithe' was much better at sticking in the readers mind and carried a better storyline.

To sum up: Not a bad book, but it could've been better.
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