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The Iron Covenant #1

Iron and Magic

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2018)
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.

392 pages, Paperback

First published June 18, 2018

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About the author

Ilona Andrews

110 books29.7k followers
Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army. Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.)

Gordon and Ilona currently reside in Oregon with their two children, three dogs and a cat. They have co-authored two series, the bestselling urban fantasy of Kate Daniels and romantic urban fantasy of The Edge.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,630 reviews
May 11, 2021
⚔️ Slayer & Sarrat's Corpse Tour Buddy Read (S&SCTBR™) with the IA Addicts and stuff ⚔️

Not raising my rating this time around because I'm afraid GR will implode if I do. You are quite welcome.

And the moral of this rerereread is : Hugh and Elara Bucky, a match made in heaven.

More or less, yes.

👋 Until next time and stuff.

[September 2019]

🐈 The Adventures Of A Brave Little Kitty Buddy Rerererereread (TAOABLKBR™) with the IA Addicts 🐈

Previous rating: 10.256548995 stars. And a half.
New rating: 11.5788698 stars. And a quarter.

And the moral of this rereread is : dear Santa Claus Claws Shrimp, I want a gigantically colossal, three-headed elephant with tusks that shoot lightning for Christmas. Thank thee kindly and stuff.

Errr…That’s not exactly what I had in mind but it’s the thought that counts, right? Right. Santa Shrimp, you’re fired.

👋 Until next time and stuff.

[April 2019]

Previous rating: 8 stars.
New rating: 10.256548995 stars. And a half.

And the moral of this reread is : BRING. THE. COWS.

👋 Until next time and stuff.

P.S. I want to be Elara when I grow up. And NOT because she knows how big Hugh's other head is. Ha.

[May 2018]

Actual rating: 8 stars. And that's coming from a non-hysterical Hugh non-fangirl. Which should tell you something and stuff.

To think that this book started as a bloody shrimping April Fools’ joke three years ago. To think that some slightly obsessed maniacs people still insist on calling it The Hugh Book. Well I’ll have you know that:

This book is no longer a jokepointing this out in case you hadn’t noticed. You are quite welcome and stuff.

There is much much much much MUCH more to this book than His Smug Assholeness (HSA™).

Glad we cleared that up.

Soooo, let’s get the Smug Assholeness stuff out of the way real quick first. As a proud non-member of the Hugh Devouring Horde (HDH™), I must admit I didn’t quite know what to expect from this story. Except for pure awesomeness, that is. Because, as the first law of the universe states, any IA book = pure awesomeness = DUH. But I digress. So, if I’m to be disgustingly honest here, I have to say I always thought Hugh’s character was a bit one-dimensional in the main series : he’s Dear Daddy’s Roland’s ruthless, vicious, self-satisfied asshole of a warlord. And that’s it. Roland barks *tries to impersonate Roland’s BIG voice* “GO SKEWER THINGS, WARLORD MINE!” and off on a rampaging field trip Hugh goes. Which he, to his credit, does with much gusto and delight.

Okay, that’s not exactly my idea of a rampaging field trip but whatever floats your little boats, my Clueless Barnacles.

Yes, it is revoltingly true, the whole My Name is Hugh the Bastard and I Slaughter/Squish/Chop Things on Demand thing never did much for me. Until this book, that is. Until the Incredible Authorlords (IA™! Ha!) put Hugh through their much-coveted Super Marvelously Marvelous Complex Character Making Machine (MMCCMM™), that is. Thus effectively turning him into one of the most interesting IA™ characters ever. Yes indeed. Okay, so the process was a little painful for HSA™. I mean the IA™ did put him through a whole fishing lot to get him all complexed out and stuff. But that’s the price to pay for having your own novella, young Padawan. Still, I almost feel bad for poor little Hugh here, all fished up in his little head because spoiler spoiler spoiler went all spoiler spoiler spoiler on him and ended up spoilering spoilering spoilering him, too! Yeah, it sucks shrimp time to be HSA™ right now.


1/What he has been, and is going through adds tons of depth to his character, so yay for us and too bad for him and stuff, and 2/He’s been such an unredeemable bastard until now that he had it coming and stuff. Besides, although Hugh finds his little self in quite the predicament right now (because spoiler spoiler spoiler, remember?), he is and shall forever remain Hugh, His Smug Assholeness. I mean, you know the famous saying: “you can take the smugness out of the asshole, but you can’t take the asshole out of the smugness. And vice-versa.” Which isn’t even remotely true, as far as I’m concerned. And doesn’t make that much sense, when you think about it. But who gives a fish anyway? So. Hugh = newly acquired, yummilicious complex personality + “Hey, I’m a complete dick and I know it!” + God’s gift syndrome =

More or less.

No wonder Elara couldn’t resist the guy and fell in lurve with him at first sight. I personally think it’s his humble, sunny persona that won her over. Plus, he’s really good with words (especially romantic ones), and sure knows how to sweet-talk a lady. I mean, who could ever resist being called a screeching, rabid harpy or a bitch? No one, if you ask me. I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s physiologically impossible. Ergo, Elara most logically succumbed to Hugh’s undying charm.

See? Her face really lights up when he’s around!

Then she promptly proceeded to create the Burn Baby Burn Elara School of Take That You Bastard (BBBESoTTYSB™). That’s the power of lurve for you!

“Say cheese, love.” Elara gave him a brilliant happy smile. “Cheese, dickhead.”

These two make such an adorable couple, they almost killed me with cuteness while I was reading the book.

“Wait.” She held up her hand. “Let me check if I care.” Hugh glared at her. “No,” she said. “Apparently, I don’t. It’s good that we got that straightened out.”

As his Furriness would tell you, honesty is key in a relationship. It’s the secret to a long, blissfully happy marriage and it’s obvious Elara knows it.

“You just have to tell me which head you want chopped off, the top one or the one you usually think with.”

Told you it was 💕lurve💕 at first sight for Elara! Which, now that I’ve kidnapped adopted her, will probably make it a little difficult for her to adjust to life in my High Security Harem. But it’s all for the best, and she’ll come to realize it soon enough (whether she wants to or not). She’s a fiercely intelligent gal, after all. Besides, I’m pretty sure she won’t be able to resist my crustacean wiles very long. Also, she’s a Badass Magic Powerhouse (BMP™)and I just know she is going to love being my nefarious consort and taking over the world at my side. Anyway, I was going to tell you lots of other stuff about my new, supremely yummy girlfriend, but I realize now that spoiler spoiler spoiler and stuff, so I’ll just say this: Elara kicks much ass, and Elara is super MINE. QED and stuff.

Oh, do you remember when I told you that there was much much much MUCH more to this book than His Smug Assholeness? Want me to tell you about it? You don’t? Oops, too bad.

Sorry for the interruption. Felt the irrepressible urge to dance all of a sudden. No idea why. Sorry, what? You love my outfit, you say? Why thank you! So nice of you to say!

What makes this story super extra special crunchy with serrated pincers on top (don’t ask), is that even though it is set in a universe most of us are, um, you know, vaguely familiar with because we’ve read each installment in the series 200,000+ times, it kinda sorta feels like discovering a brand new world and stuff. And how did the IA™ manage such a feat, you ask? By making us see this um, you know, world, through the eyes of characters who do not belong to the Pack. And that, my Flimsy Decapods, is quite the eye-opener. The insight it gives on the series as a whole is a teensy little bit amazing. Not only that, but it helps assert The Iron Covenant has a series in its own right Because new awesome players and new, different circumstances and new, shifting power balance and new super cool magic/non-magic/whatever/everything stuff and new vile creatures cuddly pets, and millions of new bloody-stinking-fish-I-need-to-know-now questions.

And if that ⤴ wasn’t nearly stupendous enough, the IA™ decided to throw in a wondrous cast of wunderliciously edible secondary characters , kickass fights and battles as usual duh what where you expecting eyeroll, 🌺flower power🌺, scrumpalicious cameo appearances by Spoiler Spoiler Spoiler, Spoiler Spoiler Spoiler, Spoiler Spoiler Spoiler and, get this, Spoiler Spoiler Spoiler (got me jumping up and down like a rabid barnacle on crack that one, yes it did)! They also added a most generous helping of deliciously graphic gore and blood and violence oh my yay. And no sexual tension and/orsex whatsoever. Oh, no. There is none of that yucky stuff to be had here. Nope nope nope. Absolutely not.

Get it? Good.

➽And the moral of this I Might Be Somewhat a Little Bit Biased in the Anything Even Remotely IA Related Department but a Hugh Shrimpette I am Not So Trust Me on this One You Perhaps Possibly Can Maybe Crappy Non Review (IMBSaLBBitAERIARDbaHSIaNSTMoTOYPPCMCNR™) is:

P.S. Next time someone says bring the cows,” I’m going into hiding. And so should you, puny humans. So should you.
P.P.S. Worry your little selves not, you members of the Hugh Devouring Horde, for I don’t see His Smug Assholeness as High Security Harem material. Yet.

ARC most generously and super awesomely provided by the IA™ in exchange for reassurance that the murderous crustaceans shall never be unleashed upon their humble abode.

Book 2: Untitled - to be released 2019 sometime in the next century. Maybe.

[Pre-review nonsense]

A crappy non-review through my two little grey cells slowly creeping its way is. Posted most expeditiously it shall be. Perhaps. Maybe. I'll try to post it before we all die of old age, anyway. Or before the book is released. Or before spoiler spoiler spoiler. Whichever comes first.

P.S. I have a gift for all you poor souls who haven't had the chance the read this slightly stupendous book yet! Here is some exclusive, behind-the-scenes footage from this book! Featuring Hugh and Elara! It's super secret, previously unreleased stuff, so I'll put it in a spoiler because, um, you know, it's super secret, previously unreleased stuff.

Profile Image for Anne.
3,918 reviews69.3k followers
September 8, 2018
Like everyone else (or not, apparently!) who reads KD, I've hated Hugh d’Ambray for all the horrible things he's done to Kate and her friends for YEARS.
So, now I find myself asking Andrews:


Yeah, Hugh is fucking awesome. <--what?
It's like my mind can't fully wrap itself around that sentence. It just rattles around in my head like some sort of complex math problem!
To be fair, though, anything past 2nd grade arithmetic constitutes a complex math problem to me.


And yet, somehow, The Andrews have managed to turn one of the most reviled characters in the Kate Daniels series into someone I can't wait to read more about.


Just roll with it...

The most important question is, of course, how in the world do they get you to forgive Hugh for all of the unforgivable deaths and torture he's been responsible for over the years...right?
Psst. Here's how they do it:

Ok, ok. I'll stop being an ass and let you in on something important...for real.
THIS is supposed to be read before you read Magic Triumphs. The stuff in that book happens after the stuff in this one, and if you're like me, then you'll want to be in the know when you go into the finale of the Kate Daniels series.


Best part? This is a trilogy. Which means we get at least two more books in the KD world! Awww, yeah!


So what happens in this one?
If I tell you, it will ruin the surprise. And, trust me, you're going to want this surprise.
But there is a cool castle, a powerful alien enemy, a war horse that seems a lot like a unicorn, and marriage to a woman who may be the most frightening thing Hugh's ever seen.


Iron and Magic can be read as a standalone.
But why would you want to do that?!
Highly recommended for fans of Kate Daniels!
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
January 4, 2020
Reread January 2020, because the last Ilona Andrews book I read, Sweep of the Blade, felt a little flat and I wanted to compare them. Yep - this one’s definitely better.

Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Since Magic Bites was first published in 2007, the husband-and-wife writing team known as Ilona Andrews has developed a devoted fan base in the urban fantasy genre with their KATE DANIELS series. But all good things must come to an end, and when Magic Triumphs, the tenth novel in that series, was published in August 2018, the Andrews team announced that it will be the end of that series. But they left themselves some welcome loopholes: the IRON COVENANT series, beginning with Iron and Magic, will be a comfort to readers who will miss Kate Daniels. It’s set in the same world, and many familiar characters from the KATE DANIELS series make cameo appearances in this novel. Iron and Magic is true to the KATE DANIELS series but adds some new dimensions to it. (There will be a few minor spoilers for the KATE DANIELS series in this review.)

Hugh D’Ambrey, the main character in Iron and Magic, has been a dangerous enemy to Kate Daniels since the third book in the KATE series, Magic Strikes. For many years he was one of Roland’s two chief servants, sharing in Roland’s magic and immortality and leading the Iron Dogs, a powerful, elite private army. After a major misstep in his plotting to bring Kate to his master, Hugh was abandoned by Roland, who cut Hugh off from his power and magic. Hugh reacted by going on a months-long bender, trying to drink himself into oblivion.

Hugh barely manages to pull himself back together in time to save what’s left of his Iron Dogs, who have been decimated, killed off one by one by Landon Nez, another of Roland’s servants who leads his vampire masters. Hugh and the Iron Dogs manage to regroup, but they have no funds and are starving, and finding a new base where they will be at least somewhat protected from Roland, Nez, and other enemies is difficult. They finally find a haven in Berry Hill, Kentucky, where there is a group of magic practitioners led by a woman named Elara, who has a particularly powerful type of mysterious eldritch magic. Elara’s group desperately needs the military protection that the Iron Dogs can supply … but because each group mistrusts the other, the key advisors decide that it’s necessary to cement the alliance with Hugh’s and Elara’s marriage.

Hugh and Elara are not thrilled about this plan. Hugh calls Elara the Ice Harpy, among other names, and they argue and insult each other every time they talk. The only thing they agree on is that it will be a marriage in name only (famous last words, I know). But soon enough, other conflicts and troubles arise that require Hugh and Elara to cooperate.

Iron and Magic has compelling main characters in Elara and Hugh, who take the antagonism that frequently showed up in the early stages of Kate and Curran’s relationship and amp it up several notches. Combativeness characterizes every aspect of their relationship, including their steamy sex scene. It’s a credit to how well-rounded these two characters are that I didn’t lose all patience with their ongoing battle of the sexes. For one thing, their banter is amusing:
“I told you it was stupid. I told you things always got out. You dug your heels in.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Wait.” She held up her hand. “Let me check if I care.”

Hugh glared at her.

“No,” she said. “Apparently, I don’t. It’s good that we got that straightened out.”
Also, both Hugh and Elara are intelligent and powerful individuals, and they’re each able to bend just a little with each other, and to give the other credit where it’s due. Hugh turns out to have some unexpected depths to his character, and Andrews found a clever way to explain away at least some of Hugh’s horribly coldhearted actions in the KATE DANIELS series.

Andrews is excellent at drawing a magical post-apocalyptic world with imaginative and compelling details. When Hugh stalks around Elara’s castle and plans (and executes) the addition of a moat to help fend off Nez’s vampire attacks, the details of the moat-building are realistically woven in. Intriguing and vivid descriptions give life to the story in so many ways: precisely-described sword fights, the military strategies involved in battles with vampires and other magical enemies, the problems with near-indestructible armor, a devotedly loyal war dog, a mischievous white horse that glows in moonlight and almost seems to have a horn.

Iron and Magic is set shortly after the end of Magic Binds, the ninth book in the KATE DANIELS series. Even though it mostly focuses on Hugh, his Iron Dogs, and a whole new set of characters, there are several appearances by characters from the KATE series, and a lot of plot nuances rely on being up to date with that series. I don’t really recommend picking up Iron and Magic if you haven’t read at least a few of the KATE DANIELS books, and the more the better. But for fans of that series, Iron and Magic is a must-read.

Initial post: I finally got an ARC of this new Ilona Andrews novel! *does jazz hands* Guess I know what I’m reading tonight!

It’s set in the KATE DANIELS world, and Hugh D’Ambrey, Kate’s long-time enemy, is the main character. Does Hugh have some redeeming qualities? We will see ...
Profile Image for Sophia Triad.
2,239 reviews3,456 followers
July 2, 2018
Mind blowing.
And the best book I have read this year so far.

---Spoilers if you haven't read Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9)---

I haven't realised how much I have missed Kate Daniel's word before I started this book.
But I have discovered a much more interesting eye-catching world. The world of warlord Hugh d’Ambray.

His world initially is dark, full of self-pity and abandonment. His adopted father, his god, the light and warmth of his life abandoned him. Roland has thrown him away like used goods.

“You’ve failed me, Hugh. I have no further use for you.”

Now, Hugh tries to drink himself to death and he basically does not know where he is, what time it is and what date it is. He is holed up alone with his alcohol-saturated vomit, while the void (caused by Roland's absence) gnaws at him.

Thankfully, the Iron dogs will not leave their Preceptor, their leader alone. They have chosen their side. They need him. Not Roland. Thus, Roland has sent Nez and his vampires to kill them one by one.

“Get up, Preceptor”

Hugh was always a bad boy. And Roland's bitch. He has killed, slaughtered, tortured for Roland. He took down cities and civilizations without asking questions for centuries. I believe most readers did not like Hugh-especially the ones who adore Kate Daniels. Hugh was always planning against her independence. Her father wants her and Hugh was trying to give her to him by destroying her friends and her lover.
Now, Hugh has no purpose. Therefore, he will need to find one soon otherwise his handpicked soldiers will all die.

Okay, so what starving, homeless Iron Dogs will suggest for their survival? Quite simple. Hugh should get married. The bride has already been found and she has a convenient castle and plenty of food.

Elara Harper and her people only want peace and to sell their herbs and medicines. Unfortunately Nez wants their castle and their land and he has turned all the people from the surrounding villages against them. They need warriors and protection. Iron dogs are soldiers and they need food and a place to crash.

Hugh and Elara will get married early in the book, although neither of them is thrilled about it....

Elara Harper: “You want me to marry Conan the Barbarian?” A drop of acid slid into her tone.
“An attractive barbarian,” Dugas pointed out.
“I suppose so, if you’re looking at it from a purely animalistic point of view.”

Hugh d’Ambray: "You will marry me, because you have no choice. You won’t win this fight with farmers. You need a cold ruthless bastard like me, and I’m the only one here.”

Well, it does not matter what they think because these two are quite a much. They keep exchanging funny insults, one tries to best the other, passion sizzles and Hugh’ soldiers and Elara's people watch mostly entertained their barters and arguments.

��No more talking,” he told her. “Come here, Elara.”
She laughed softly.
“I said come here.” He sank steel into his voice.
“You have no power over me,” she told him. “I don’t obey your orders.”

Hugh has definitely seen clarity for the first time away from Roland. All the cornerstones of his life have fallen: Roland gone, his position as Warlord eliminated, his immortality over. But now he has a place, here in the castle, and a purpose.

But after some time, he will start wondering what is Elara exactly. Because surely she is not human and she is not just a witch.

On the other hand Elara knows exactly what Hugh is.

“He’s a monster. Like me.”

And she is a clever girl. She knows that she can trust him.

“He puts himself between evil creatures and small children. He protects us. He is my monster, Commander. Should any rough men come here and try to take what is ours, he will remind them of that.”

Will the castle fall? Hmmm...
People will die. With horrible deaths.
There will be magnificent battles. And sacrifices. And losses. And tears.
New indestructible monsters, like Mrogs.

If it comes back, Hugh will kill it. That’s what he does. He protects us. It will be okay.

And a few well-known boudas (werehyenas) will appear for an interesting parenthesis.

As I have said, the best book of the year for me – at least until this summer.
Exceptional “yin yang” book cover.
Seriously badass war scenes. I have to admit that Ilona Andrews can write better battle scenes than sex scenes. And I am absolutely fine with this.
Finally the whole atmosphere reminds more Lord of the Rings and less Kate Daniels technology-magic world. Modern technology was in the far away background.

Well done!

Now we need to wait a bit for the next Iron Covenant book and the last Kate Daniels’s book, Magic Triumphs.

Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,608 reviews1,481 followers
May 14, 2021
4th Read just as great, if not better than all of the other times I read it. - I love being back in this world.

3rd Read held up great - After a few just eh reads its time to pick up a favorite and read something I know I'm going to love.


4.5 Hugh you are a Bastard Stars

Audio Note I love Steve West as a narrator. I know he isn't everyone's cup-a-tea, but he is totally mine. I think he brought something to Hugh that was missing for me before and helped me want some kind of redemption for him. He helped make Hugh human. I totally enjoyed my second read of this book even more with the audio.

Beta read for the Andrews and I loved so many things!!!

Look I've never been head over heels in love with Hugh. He is the bad guy and I'm not really into them most of the time. BUT....this has the White Warlock Elara in it and the Departed (I have no idea who they really are but I'm looking forward to finding out). Even if Hugh isn't your favorite Elara is a strong independent woman with some awesome magical stuff happening and a group of people living in a castle. I'm so in this series for Elara!
Magic snapped out of Elara, lashing Hugh’s senses, a focused torrent unlike anything he’d felt before.

So Hugh and Elara end up in an arranged marriage. They both have some serious baggage and enemies out there and so it makes sense to team up as each has something the other needs. But, it isn't love at first sight and while they put on a good show when others are watching, when it is just he two of them the banter is funny and biting.
“Oh look, my skin isn’t smoking,” Hugh murmured.
“You’re overdoing it with the PDAs.”
“We’re newlyweds. If I threw you over my shoulder and dragged you into the woods, that would be overdoing it.”
The image flashed before her. “Try it. They won’t even find your bones.”
“Oh, darling, I don’t think you’ll have any trouble finding my bone.”

Seeing what happened to Hugh after Roland purged him is very interesting and like most people who have suffered a tragic loss and had their entire way of life upended he is struggling to find who he is without Roland pulling all the strings. It is a hard thing to look hard at your life and not be happy about the choices you made. He has spent the last while filling the emptiness inside with violence, alcohol and sex in no particular order. But he is trying to find a reason to climb out of the hole he is in and Elara and the people who follow her might give the Iron Dogs the one thing they've never had. A home.

Elara and the Departed. Well we only have enough time to just scratch the surface of this and I for one am excited to dig deeper. The backstory there seems like it is going to be very interesting and full of great lore and magic like only the Andrews know how to do.

Initially this was going to be one book, but why settle for one when you can have three. Yes that is right Elara and Hugh get a trilogy of their own. The good news is THREE BOOKS, the bad news is that all three of the trilogy are set before Magic Triumphs. Stop grumbling...I've read Magic Triumphs and I don't think this will be a problem since for the most part this side series is self contained. But there is a bit of a relationship jump between the end of Iron and Magic and the final Kate Daniels book, but seriously like we didn't know that is where we would eventually get to.

I'm just thankful we are getting more time in this world and my new question is who are Hugh's parents? I think I know who his mom is and if I'm right *mind fucking blown*

So to sum up

Hugh you are a serious piece of work


Elara you are going to drive him a little crazy and I think he probably deserves it. I love the way you 'handle' Hugh.


Bucky you are a special kind of awesome and Hugh's perfect new....horse???


Quotes are from the Beta version of the book and may not be in the final copy. Thanks to Ilona and Gordon Andrews for the opportunity to be a small part of this book.
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
725 reviews1,201 followers
October 27, 2019
Iron and Magic somehow managed to become my favorite Ilona Andrews book to date! It joined a very small percentage of books allowed on my all-time favorites list, and no one is more surprised at that than me.

It’s a true testament to these writers’ skills that they managed to make me fall in love with a book about a character I don’t even like. And furthermore to get me feeling deep empathy towards him. I can say with confidence coming out of this book that I’m 100% rooting for Hugh (even though he’s still an ass ;P). He was always an interesting character in the Kate Daniels series, written well and all, but I couldn’t think of a character I’d least like to read more about. I tell you what – it’s a good thing it wasn’t left up to me. Hugh’s story was brilliant!

One of my biggest joys in life is reading argument scenes between Ilona Andrews characters. Each person is so well-rounded (even the side characters) that they feel like real people. And the inter-character dynamics always gives them that extra spark of life and makes them incredibly relatable. Even though some of these conflicts are repeated across series, I find them so delightful that I don’t mind seeing it over and over. Because Hugh is such a hard-headed personality, the “intense negotiations” in Iron and Magic were especially satisfying. He has truly met his match in Elara.

The pacing in Iron and Magic was fantastic – leading up to a jam-packed ending that had me glued to the pages. I can’t believe how much rich content they managed to pack into the last 10% of the novel. So good! They were already my favorite authors, but that killer momentum is was truly set this novel ahead of the rest in my mind (for what it’s worth, Magic Strikes also landed on my favorites shelf – to give you an idea of the comparative quality we’re dealing with here).

I love the Kate Daniels series, but appreciated how far out of that familiar framework this story took me. It felt like a fresh fantasy read, but still had enough references and politics to keep it in the same vein. I can’t wait to see how things are going to come together in Magic Triumphs (the Kate Daniels finale) because I’m thinking there’s going to be even more crossover.

Overall, every aspect of Iron and Magic worked for me, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Recommendations: Iron and Magic takes place right between Magic Binds (book 9 of the Kate Daniels series) and Magic Triumphs (book 10 of KD). The story is a spinoff, and very much connected to the main series to the point where I’d urge you to catch up with Kate Daniels before reading Iron and Magic as this book discusses almost all of the major spoilers from that series. However, of you happen to be caught up and on the fence about this one – READ IT!!! You won’t regret it. :)

I’d like to thank Inscribe Digital (NYLA), Ilona Andrews, and Netgalley for the chance to read and review an early copy of Iron and Magic!

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com

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Storm Born (Dark Swan #1) by Richelle Mead Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1) by Ilona Andrews Dark Currents (Agent of Hel, #1) by Jacqueline Carey On the Edge (The Edge, #1) by Ilona Andrews Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, #1) by Kim Harrison
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
873 reviews1,763 followers
July 11, 2018
Ever since the departure of Hugh d'Ambry from Kate Daniels, I have missed him. Okay, okay, I know he is one of the bad guys but he has this charisma that is hard to resist and easy to like even after all the facades that the guy keeps and try to show himself as a real baddie.

As the blurb suggests Hugh got himself a bride here but don't let yourself fool thinking about all the romantic moments that a newly wed couple has . This is a marriage of convenience where Hugh & his “dogs” get the shelter and food while Elara and her people get the protect from the vampires.

But it can be easily seen that in this match that comes with a long list of terms and conditions, bride and groom are evenly matched. They both are strong headed, stubborn, and very much ready to rip each others throat at any given moment. It was so much fun to see these two fighting each other while putting a united front to scare the enemy.

This story also shows the side that Hugh did his best to hide from the world. The little child in him that crave paternal love, and how he hard he tries to be in good graces of Roland and to be accepted by him again. This exiled child would go to any lengths to impress Roland. His better half has her own powers and scary magic which she is scared to unleash unless she is ready to lose herself. Not much was explained about Elara here and am eager to explore her past and her deadly magic and how/why she posses this magic.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and now like a junkie I will wait for my next fix of their new book, all the while rereading their other books.
Profile Image for carol..
1,537 reviews7,877 followers
March 23, 2020

A lack-luster entry into the Kate Daniels universe. I essentially bought it because it was cheap, and because I needed an airplane read. Thanks to Covid, my trip was canceled, but I still needed a quick distraction. Did this work? Kind of.

Hugh, for those not in the know, is a Major Villain in the Kate Daniels series, and I was curious to see if he could gain a redemption angle. We have his brief history as a foundling child, then a depressed man trying to drink himself to death after Roland separates Hugh from him. Anything in-between was rare, either in flashbacks or in explanation to his new employer. Mostly, Hugh reflected on the enormous void in his life, frequently. Had it been me, I think I would have spent more time in his early years, building that dysfunctional relationship between Hugh and Roland so that the reader can appreciate how positive traits can be twisted, and explain how we were supposed to admire/like this person who kidnapped people and starved them to death. Routinely. As it is, the emotional plot is of a man bereft of his leader (in the many senses of the word) and who is only given meaning by his few remaining soldiers, the Iron Dogs. Since they find meaning through employment (not really a band of moral mercenaries here), it feels far less worthwhile than it could.

The job, of course, is guarding a town, which for some reason means an arranged marriage with Elara, the leader of the group. Set romance level to 'adversarial,' and cue the insults. "Harpy." "Bastard" ad nauseum, resulting in a

There's a few moments of trademark Andrews world-building that seem potentially interesting, but most never are filled out. Hugh ends up with a horse that occasionally glows. Although Elara's powers are hinted at, they aren't well elaborated on.

The plot is a little scattershot: bring the Iron Dogs together. Find a job. Make the job work. There seems to be people missing from a nearby settlement and Elara is convinced her people will be blamed. Who/what are these strange soldiers in the woods? Are there gods involved again? Yet somehow, it lacked the interest of any of the Daniels' wars and I'm a bit at a loss to say why. Perhaps because of low emotional investment in the characters.

Did I waste time reading this? Probably, but I would have just been wasting it somewhere. I wasn't like I was going to do anything useful or educational. I just wish it could have been a more satisfying diversion.
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,164 followers
July 4, 2018
They did it again!
How does Ilona Andrews manage to write magic?
Hugh & Elara are both awesome!

It starts with an alliance through marriage. They hate each other in the best possible way and show it through snark, sarcasm, name-calling, and threats. It's awesome!

It must be love!

His people are desperate for money, food, shelter. Her people are desperate for protection. Of course, he's still Hugh, and her people may not exactly fall in love at first sight with him.

"We should poison him," Savannah said.

"Why do you always want to poison people?" Dugas asked her.

"I don't want to poison people. I want to poison d'Ambray."

I just love a character who can inspire such strong murderous tendencies in otherwise peaceful people.

If you are a Kate Daniels fan, you need this book. There are a few characters who show up from Kate's group, and there is a lot of talk about Kate.

If you aren't a Kate Daniels fan, this book will make no sense to you. You will be like an old lady at a fuckerware party - confused, but still a little turned on, although you're not sure why..

Oooh, how do I get invited to one of these? If I throw a party do I get a premium kidney as a hostess gift?

We are introduced to a ton of new characters and they are awesome because they have some very cool magic skills. I'm looking forward to this as a series. I've even picked out who I want the next couple to be.

I don't want to spoil too much, but if you are a fan of Kate Daniels, go and get this book. You need it.
Profile Image for Corina.
759 reviews2,128 followers
December 17, 2022
RE-READ September 2020 - sometimes all you need is a redeemable bad guy :D

This is probably my fourth time reading Iron & Magic since its release in 2018, and I've been impatiently waiting for book 2 ever since.


OMG OMG OMG - I honestly did not think I would like Hugh as much as I did.

Iron and Magic is a spin off series of my beloved Kate Daniels, and it follows bad boy Hugh on his journey, after being banished and cut off by his master and God Roland.

Reading his side was eye-opening. 

I personally loved how the authors explained his side of the story. His feelings, and lack of feelings because of Roland's absence made complete sense. And it wasn't surprising that I liked him from the very first page. Hugh's need of being needed was raw and all consuming. After being cut off, he required a base for his soldiers, and they expected him to give them purpose and place to call home.

When Roland found out about Elara, things suddenly settled into place. She needed someone to keep her people safe, and he would get a castle for his soldiers to call home.

Perfect, right??

LOL - not so much.

Hugh and Elara had a hard time not killing each other. Their back and forth was hilarious, and sparks flew almost non-stop. I must say, Elara couldn't have been any better for Hugh. She was feisty, powerful, an expert in her field, loyal, dedicated and devoted to her people. She stood up to the Warlord, didn't cower or back down, and when it came down to it she stood her ground and challenged him when needed.

I loved their dynamic. I found myself smiling, and I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of their stories. There is so many much more that needs to be addressed. 

I was tickled that some of my old cast favorites had cameos that promised of epic things to come. 

So again, BRAVO for writing an amazing and utterly satisfying novel. I can't wait to read Magic Triumphs, it sounds like it will have some answers already.

Oh, and one word UNICORN!!!!!! I almost peed my pants laughing my ass off. 

Profile Image for Aisling Zena.
635 reviews462 followers
January 4, 2019
4.5 stars

30/12/18 Review now posted.

It's so easy to sink in an Ilona Andrews book, it's actually ridiculous. I sank so deep in this one, I forgot to highlight anything. I'm not particularly good at highlighting anyway but I became so engrossed in the book, it didn't even cross my mind. So, why not 5 stars if I was so absorbed? Two tiny, little things really. Elara annoyed me at certain points, even though I saw her point, and the ending. I just wanted a tad more from it. Which is greedy of me, as usual. Especially, considering Hugh's book started out as an April Fools joke.


And who would have guessed when we were first introduced to the big, bad Hugh that he would end up in a marriage of convenience and not only make it work but we'd absolutely adore the result. Because, personally I did not see this book coming. Sure, it's in the Kate Daniels universe and the world is familiar but whatever I had concocted in my head about it, was not what I read and all the better for it.

Elara is a wonderfully mysterious addition and along with her people and their powers pushed the book and it's plot to another level. I think that if I had known Elara first instead of Hugh I wouldn't have gotten annoyed with her. As it stands though, I knew Hugh first and I already have a soft spot for the big lug.


I said it before and I'll say it again, Ilona Andrews are fantastic authors. Brilliant and near genius. I try hard not to miss anything they write because I know I'll love it. And I'm cutting this review short because a) there's lots of awesome reviews for it already out there and b) it's the Christmas Holidays and my daughter is currently test feeding me jelly beans whilst poking me repeatedly to go play with her. So, to get to the point, it's an awesome addition to the Kate Daniels saga and a spin-off series I definitely plan to follow. If you have not read these authors yet, you are seriously missing out big time!


So frigging excited!!!


And as promised on the Kate Daniels #10 review, here are all the snippets and news for Hugh's book!!!

So Ilona Andrews have been teasing us with little snippets of Hugh's book on their blog and facebook. I think all their snippets are delicious and should be shared. Sharing is caring after all.

The category:

And individually by chronological order posted:


Tiny excerpt: Elara D’Ambray


And the name of the series is: THE IRON COVENANT!


We have a Release Date 26/6/18

Giant Excerpt : http://www.ilona-andrews.com/book/iro...

There's also a contest to find the series name for this after reading the excerpt. Enjoy!


Available now On Request at Netgalley! Fingers crossed but I doubt I'll get it. Good luck all!


Still on Pending on Netgalley for this.. Just put me out of my misery already and reject me. This state of ambivalence and hope is killing me.
Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,258 reviews8,707 followers
November 28, 2021
Iron and Magic finds Hugh d’Ambray sleeping off the previous night’s booze in his own filth.

His god has turned his back on him. He has no purpose.

He’s broken.

Or he thinks he is, until he sees the severed head of a childhood friend, a man killed b/c of his loyalty to Hugh.

Then he’s mad.

He finds a new purpose: providing for and leading what remains of his elite soldiers.

To do this, he needs to find someone who is as desperate for help as he is. When he finds such a group, a partnership is proposed and accepted, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Mysterious White Lady is mysterious.

Suffice it to say that this first installment of Hugh’s story post-Roland is well worth the wait and I cannot wait for what comes next. Definitely a must-read before MAGIC TRIUMPS.


Series title announced: THE IRON COVENANT.


I read the first four chapters of this beauty yesterday, and lemme tell you . . . I. Am. Excite.


Ye gods, I love Hugh.

And even if you're a big weirdo that doesn't love Hugh, I don't think your going to be able to help feeling sorry for him. We're going to learn a lot about what it means to be blood bonded to Roland, and superficially it sounds somewhat similar to the Aes Sedai/Warder bond in WoT.* As in when that bond is broken (or in Hugh's case, deliberately severed), the servant half of the connection is consumed by the absence.

You: Consumed how? O.o

Me: It's complicated, but it's kind of like an emotional cancer so intense that it's physically agonizing. Like if you existed in a constant state of internal rot, but it's intangible, so there's no end in sight. ALSO there's an element of compulsion involved (the master can manipulate the feelings of the servant, without their knowledge if said master has finesse, and something tells me Roland has finesse) . . .

You: O_____O

Me: Right? 😱

That's my impression, anyway. Like I said, I've only read four chapters, so who knows what the expanded version of this separation looks like. The point is that it's damn painful and feels hopeless. *rubs fist over heart*

Point of clarification: for anyone else in a mild state of panic that the aging aspect of this whole scenario meant that unless Hugh miraculously discovered a way to slow it or a new source of longevity, his days were numbered a la:


Worry not. A shortened lifespan is relative to your expectations, so to Hugh, who is potentially hundreds of years old and had anticipated many more centuries, 80 - 100 years feels like a blink.

SO. Are your appetites whetted?


*THE WHEEL OF TIME by Robert Jordan.

Jessica Signature

My other reviews for this series:

A Questionable Client (Kate Daniels, #0.5)
Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)
Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, #2)
Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, #3)
Magic Mourns (Kate Daniels, #3.5)
Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels, #4)
Magic Dreams (Kate Daniels, #4.5)
Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, #5)
Magic Tests (Kate Daniels, #5.3)
Magic Gifts (Kate Daniels, #5.4)
Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels, #5.5)
Retribution Clause (Kate Daniels, #5.6)
An Ill-Advised Rescue (Kate Daniels, #5.8)
Magic Rises (Kate Daniels, #6)
Magic Steals (Kate Daniels, #6.5)
Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels, #7)
Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels, #8)
Magic Stars (Kate Daniels, #8.5, Grey Wolf, #1)
Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)
Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels, #10)
Curran POV Collection
August 8, 2018
Okay so Hugh turns me on even more BUT I STILL HATE HIM OKAY!!!!!? Like when I think of Hugh I get to understand the Blackwidow a bit more, you know?

Elara on the other hand.. Oh, she's wife material that's what she is💜

I'm so gonna re-read this before the last KD comes out :ppp

Update: Expected publication April 2018



Profile Image for Marta Cox.
2,571 reviews191 followers
May 29, 2018
This couple write urban fantasy that is magnificent. Such a well developed world here that cleverly intertwines with the Kate Daniels stories that so many know and love. It’s almost uncanny how this alternate universe feels vivid and alive and now the ultimate bad boy steps up to stake his place and boy is this book an absolute humdinger !
What can I say about Hugh and this book ? Ok fans already know that previously Hugh failed to secure the victory over Rolands daughter Kate that he demanded. Now Hugh is no longer the golden boy and is sinking into oblivion as he is left bereft without the perceived love of Roland that he basked in. Being cast aside has left Hugh empty and yet somehow the Dogs who previously followed him have to instill fire back into him as they are all slowly but surely being eradicated.
Elara needs a buffer between her people and those who seek to take the land they have claimed. So an alliance with an army looking for a secure base would surely be the answer . In accordance with old traditions a marriage could help cement good relations but be prepared for thunder and lightning because neither Elara or Hugh are exactly cosy slippers by the fire types! Elara knows what is at stake but does Hugh really know exactly who or what he has married ?
The big question here is how do the authors redeem someone who has brought so much pain to others ? My answer is love . Hugh loved Roland with all that he had and yet that still was never going to be enough. If he is capable of that depth of devotion then yes redemption is possible. Hugh might feel there’s no hope for himself but he pulls himself up by his bootstraps and seeks salvation for those loyal Dogs who have always followed him. That right there is what the authors focus on and even as the last page unfolded there’s still no doubt in this readers mind that Hugh feels strongly that he should protect those who are his.
I won’t ruin the plot but yes there are obviously vampires and their somewhat unpleasant pilots in this story. Plus a new foe to vanquish but you just know that Hugh will have something up his sleeve . The action is frequent with character development that brings those supporting Elara and Hugh to life. Perhaps best of all though is Elara whose icy demeanour constantly challenges Hugh but my lips are sealed. Whilst admittedly this isn’t exactly an emotionally driven romance it is one that pulsates with heat . Honestly I loved it and hated that life intruded on my reading time. With this book the authors have definitely hit the ground running and I can’t wait to read what they have in store for us next. Hugh is back with a bang and whilst not totally exonerated his character and previous actions make a lot more sense. So if this book brought Hugh to life I’m guessing the next will reveal more secrets about Elara . This trilogy is fast, furious and jaw dropping, don’t miss it !
This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
Profile Image for  Teodora .
304 reviews1,641 followers
April 22, 2021
4.5/5 ⭐

It was just

I am personally in love with both Elara and Hugh and ugh they are so hot and goals and perfect together.
Profile Image for Adina ( On hiatus until next week) .
827 reviews3,240 followers
October 19, 2019
I think I am in love. Joking...maybe

First of all, do not be fooled by the 1 at the end of The Iron Covenant. The book takes place in Kate Daniels world and it is situated between book 9 and book 10, which is the end of the series. There is no way anyone should start with this novel or read it before KD 9. However, it is compulsory lecture before reading the Grand Finale. I read it already and I can confirm this one should be done first. There is no problem with that because it was great and it has a lot of Hugh in it.

Hugh, the bad guy, a MC? Yes, who would have thought he is not such a bad guy after all. Well, me because I had a bit of a guilty crush over him even though he did some not so wonderful things to Kate and her friends. You would righteously think it would be difficult for the Andrews to redeem his characters but no worries, they managed it just fine.

What I found different was that the book was written in 3rd person which allowed the authors to get in the head of both Hugh and Elara. She is also an interesting character so there is no way to get bored in this novel (contrary to KD 10 but we will talk about that in due time).

So, Hugh is drinking his remaining days because "daddy" banished him. He is found by some of his centurions and convinced that life is still worth living. For revenge, if not for anything else. His army is decimated by the Golden Legatus and in order to save them, Hugh require a safe base and resources. For that they need someone desperate enough to want to strike a deal with them. Here enters Elara and her people, not the trustiest of allies, possessing a strange kind of magic but in great need of protection. In order to seal the deal wedding bells are ringing.

The dialogue between the two newlyweds (not entirely happy with the situation) has even more bite than the one between KD and Curran in the beginnings. The action is almost non-stop and everyone is so bad-ass.
Profile Image for Kat.
Author 8 books353 followers
January 15, 2022
When I saw this was coming out, at first I was conflicted because, ugh, Hugh D’Ombray! I totally hate Hugh, don't I? But I should have known Ilona Andrews could get me to fall for any character with enough time, and sure enough, they managed to turn me into a Hugh fan by the end of it, eager for the next two installments in the series. Our favorite villain was made completely sympathetic with good backstory and present day action that meshed his history plausibly with a redemption arc.

I loved Elora, and loved that while this was set in the Kate Daniels world, it also had a sort of LOTR feel of it, set in a castle out in the middle of nowhere with the threat of danger constantly looming. A completely awesome relationship between Hugh/Elora that sizzled, and amazing fighting scenes! You just wanted them to come onto the page together so they could scream at each other with that awesome snarky banter! Loved this one!

Please excuse typos/name misspellings. Entered on screen reader.
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,855 reviews846 followers
September 29, 2018
Re-read September 25th 2018 by audio. The audio was fantastic!

As the description points out, Hugh was Roland’s warrior, but has been cast out, cut off from Roland’s magic and when we first meet Hugh here, he’s in bad shape. Hurting as he was Hugh didn’t fully grasp his Iron Dogs were loyal to him, not Roland. Now that they’re being hunted down, and murdered Hugh must get himself together, get his Iron Dogs back in fighting shape to meet the threat.

Elara and Hugh have things each other need to survive, Elara has a castle, food, and supplies Hugh’s Iron Dogs’ desperately need, and Elara needs protection for the people in her keep. To make their alliance believable they decide to marry. They hate each other on sight, Elara has already heard the rumors of Hugh and expects him to be a terrible man, and Hugh views Elara a cold harpy. This is a marriage of convenience, but of course I was hoping for it to turn into more! Love-to-hate relationships are so much fun and loved every verbal sparring match between these two! Really made things heat up!

Hugh was quite a despicable character in the previous books, so when I first heard there would be a book centering on him I wondered if I could ever view him as the “hero” or like him. Shouldn’t have worried because Ilona Andrews pulled it off splendidly! You don’t have to do this because there’s enough information to get the picture, but I did go back and skim through some of the events in Magic Rises (book 6) and Magic Breaks (book 7) to remember exactly what happened with Hugh, Kate, The Pack, and Roland. Some of his actions seemed unforgivable, but we were only looking at them through Kate’s eyes. Here we get Hugh’s motivations, and some important insight about Roland’s influence on Hugh here in Iron and Magic. It made ALL the difference in my opinion of Hugh and I ended up rooting for the guy!

Elara is likeable right off the bat, she’s completely loyal and protective of her people, strong and intelligent in her actions. Elara is also a person (?) of powerful magic, but she’s a mystery and I look forward to finding out more about her in the coming books.

The fight/battle scenes were exciting, full of danger, and action, and easy to follow. I was surprised and thrilled by what’s revealed about Hugh, his skills and powers. Elara is a bit of an enigma, not sure what she is yet, but I have some ideas. When she steps into a fight you take notice, and I was stunned by a certain villain’s reaction to her in the end!

Iron and Magic
was fast paced and riveting! We get Ilona Andrews at their best, and what they’re known for as writers: exciting action, multi-faceted, compelling characters, interesting mythology, and of course my favorite: romance! I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book!

A copy was kindly provided by NYLA via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review is also posted at The Readers Den.
Profile Image for Sarah.
3,336 reviews1,017 followers
January 29, 2021
1st read - May 2018
2nd read - June 2018
3rd read - June 2018
4th read - July 2018
5th read - October 2019
6th read - November 2020
7th read - January 2021

I have been excited about the idea of a Hugh book since way back when it was just a silly April Fool's joke on Ilona and Gordon's blog so of course I was over the moon when I found out it was actually going to be written after all. Hugh has always been a brilliant villain in the Kate Daniels series and a character that I desperately wanted to know more about but I have to admit I wasn't quite sure how he could be redeemed into a character I could root for. I have total faith in the Andrews writing team though and this isn't the first time they've pulled off the almost impossible, they've managed to make Hugh a complex character, maintain his total a-holeness but still make me love him and that's quite an achievement!

This is the first book in a spin off from the Kate Daniels series, Iron and Magic is designed to be read after Magic Binds but before the final book Magic Triumphs and I would highly recommend sticking to that reading order to get the most out of both series and avoid giving yourself any spoilers. In fact, if you're reading this review before you've read Magic Binds stop right now and go catch up with my all time favourite series. You'll thank me when you're done, I promise!

Hugh has done some pretty inexcusable things throughout the series, he's hurt a lot of characters we care about and caused a lot of trouble for Kate and Curran so I've never looked at him as a good guy but it was still pretty shocking to see Roland abandon him the way he did. Hugh is now completely on his own and it's had a huge affect on him but it is his Iron Dogs that pull him back from the edge. They need him if they're going to survive and Hugh is in a difficult situation because he has no way to provide all the things they need. He ends up seeking a marriage of convenience with Elara, she has a castle full of people and plenty of supplies but they are in danger and in need of protection, Hugh, on the other hand, has trained soldiers who are desperate for a home and willing to fight to defend it.

This isn't a marriage built on love or even on trust, in fact it's far closer to insta-hate because Hugh and Elara rub each other up the wrong way from the moment they set eyes on each other, which leads to some glorious banter let me tell you! This is two leaders who are willing to do anything to protect their people and if that means marrying the enemy then that's what they'll do. Their relationship is gradually changing but there's still a long way to go before I'd consider them a happy couple and I'm really glad about the slow build romance we're seeing here. Romance is definitely not the focus of the story, it's just a nice little extra going on in the background.

Instead the focus is on getting to know Hugh better and meeting some of the Iron Dogs, as well as finding out about Elara and her people. At the moment I have far more questions than answers about Elara but I can already tell you she's totally fascinating and more than capable of standing her ground against Hugh - there couldn't be a more well matched pair than these two. As always with Ilona Andrews books you get the most wonderful side characters and I love that we're introduced to a completely new set of characters here. Hugh is the only familiar face for most of the story (there are a couple of cameo appearances later on though) and even with him we get to learn so much that we never touched on in the main series so there is a lot of new territory to cover here and I loved every minute of it.

This story was everything I could possibly have wanted and I'm so excited to continue reading about Hugh, Elara and their people. It's taken me a long time to write this review because I've been in a bit of a blogging slump lately but I've been completely obsessed with this book since it's release and I've already read it four times so that should give you some idea about how much I love it. As sad as I am that the main Kate Daniels series is coming to an end I'm extremely happy that Hugh and Elara are going to be around to pick up the reigns when Kate and Curran slip off into retirement!


Thoughts after first read:

Well that was bloody awesome! I can’t wait for the rest of Hugh and Elara’s trilogy & I’m more pumped for Magic Triumphs than ever.

OMG OMG OMG I HAVE IRON AND MAGIC!!! Thank you Netgalley!

Go away world, I'm not doing ANYTHING until I've finished reading!

Profile Image for Gavin.
863 reviews393 followers
December 31, 2018
I was a little wary of this one in the early stages but I did manage to warm to both the story and the characters as the book progressed and ended up being quite happy with it! The story was a mix of action, humor, and weird magical creatures and magic. So it was much like the regular Kate Daniels books but with a tighter cast.

This was the opening book in a Kate Daniels spin-off trilogy featuring Hugh d’Ambray. I was a little worried going into this one as while I'd initially been quite intrigued by Hugh when he first appeared in the Kate Daniels series I felt like he had turned too villainous in his last couple of appearances to be a character I'd have been able to invest in as a lead character. Especially in a tale that expected me to buy into a Hugh related romance!!! The first 25% to 35% of the story seemed to feed into my fears as while I felt the story was engaging and interesting enough I was struggling to like Hugh. He seemed like a bit of a bullying, drunken, violent, wastrel of a guy and that was tough to like. The good news was I did like his love interest, Elara, and a few of the secondary characters so that kept me reading in the early stages. As we learned a bit more about Hugh and as he found a new purpose in life I began to find him a bit easier to understand and was even rooting for him as the story pushed into the later stages. I do like a good redemption tale and I think Hugh showed good growth over the course of the story so I'm hopeful that I might even be able to find him likeable as the series develops.

The plot was actually quite fun. Cut off from Roland his limitless resources Hugh finds he has no shelter, no cash, and no food to feed the Iron Dogs who chose to follow him into exile rather than stay in Roland's service. What he does have is a lot of enemies left over from his time as Roland's lead Warlord and a bunch of new enemies among his rivals still in Roland's service. Elara Harper is the leader of a people and Castle that find themselves with more enemies than they can hope to defeat as her home has come to the attention of Roland and some mysterious new magical creatures are plaguing the area and killing people. A marriage of convenience is soon arranged between between Hugh and Elara to unite their people. It gives both parties something they desperately need but given both Hugh and the mysterious Elara have dark reputations there was no guarantee they would no end up killing each other before their various enemies managed the feat!

It was all pretty fun and enjoyable. Well, it was when I warmed enough to Hugh to invest in his romance with Elaria! Elaria was a bit of a mystery but despite the hints of dark magic and scary powers she always proved very easy to like. Hugh was tougher to warm to but he did grow on me and I did end up enjoying the banter between the pair. The romance built slow enough that I got the time I needed to warm to Hugh so I could invest in the romancy stuff by the time it came on heavier in the later stages.

Most of the cast in this story was new but one of the villains, Landon Ness, and a few familiar faces like Raphael, Andrea, and Ascanio mall made cameo appearances. Ascanio was the pick of the bunch and I really did enjoy seeing him through Hugh's eyes. I always feel like the Andrews to a good job of showing a new side to familiar characters when they let us glimpse them through a new POV.

The one thing the finale scenes in this one made me realize is I like the Andrews story and writing best when they are writing the quiet moments of banter between the characters rather than the big action scenes!

I feel like this story got better and better as it went so I'm quite hopeful of enjoying the second and third books in this series even more now that I've warmed to a bunch of characters I was wary of in the early stages of this story. So basically I feel like the essential worldbuilding stuff was done here so I expect to enjoy the sequels right from the first page:)

Rating: 4 stars. I'm fairly hopefully the sequels will to this as without my early issues with Hugh I'd likely have rated this at least half a star higher.

Audio Note: This was narrated by Steve West. I'm not sure what to make of his performance. He did well in a lot of aspects but the flaw for me was the fact that he just did not seem to nail the delivery of the humour as well as Raudman does when she narrates the Kate Daniels books. I felt like he improved as he went in that regard so perhaps it was just a case of him needing time to get a feel for it? Not my favourite West performance but I do feel like he did a decent job and avoided any annoying accents so I was happy with him.
Profile Image for Mei.
1,881 reviews414 followers
July 5, 2018
( (Elara) “You want me to marry Conan the Barbarian?” A drop of acid slid into her tone.
“An attractive barbarian,” Dugas pointed out.

(Elara) “He’s a monster. Like me.”

Ahhh... I've missed this world!
And I'm so happy to read about Hugh! He was the uber-villaain in the Kate Daniels series! He's the man who killed some of my favorit Kate's friends!
So I was curious to find out how IL would make him a hero! What a job!

And they did it! They ABSOLUTELY did it!

Don't think that Hugh has become a nice, loving man! No, no, no! He's still bad news! He's still kills and maims. He's still a core-deep a**hole he always was! But... here you got to understand why and how.

With Roland's rejection, he was freed to think with his own head and to front the results of his actions. It's like he lost part of his soul; that part that was owned by Roland - and it's the best thing that could have happened to him!

Obviously, at the beginning he's not aware of his fortune, but during the book we see him own completly his soul, filling the void that tortures him.

At the end he's still not a lovely and sunny person, but he's aware that he has find a real and true home!

What to say about Elara? I didn't know IL would create something that can rival Kate, but they did it!

Elara is nothing like Kate. She's not a warrior, she's a strategist. She's tough in her own way, but that toughness is subtle, veiled. Her tounge is her weapon of choice and she wields it magistrally, as Hugh discovers!!

She's also something very powerful, but we don't find out exactly what she is. We do find out that she's so powerful that even Roland is afraid of her! WOW! I want to know what so badly!!!

We're given a brief glimpses into her history, but nothing specific. It's frustrating and titillating at the same time! LOL

Obviously Hugh and Elara clash since their first meeting, but they work together so well for the benefit of their people. First each of them works with the other for its own people, but at the end the division blurs and there's no more "my people; your people", but only "our people".

I loved every sarcastic, taunting, hurtful things they say to each other with exquisite politness and with a smile on their lips!

And I loved their dedication to their people and their wellbeing!

The action was awesome too! The descriptions of the battles, the new beings introduced, new type of magic, it was all awesome! Bloody, crude, gut-wretching, but all GOOD!!!

And we get to meet again some characters from the Kate's series! Loved that part!

I loved everything here and I'm so looking forward to the next one, as I understood that it's going to be Elara's story! I hope we finally find out what she is!!!
I would also like to see how this series merges with Kate's! Because it is inevitable!!!
Profile Image for Beth.
3,129 reviews263 followers
January 28, 2023
Hugh d’Ambray, once Roland’s gold pupil, has be cut off since his actions toward Kate Daniels. His elite fighting group, the Iron Dogs, are being hunted and destroyed. There only hope is to find a fortress to call their own and they need Hugh to get off his drinking binge and form them into the team/family they’ve always been.

Search for a refuge, Hugh’s men find Elara’s castle in Kentucky. The provision for their truces is a marriage between Hugh and Elara. In turn, Elara will provide refuge, food and pay and Hugh’s men will protect Elara’s group of magically enhanced crew.

It is hate turn to appreciation relationship with a cast of characters that had me riveted to the pages.

Enemies new and old are willing to test this fresh partnership and its going to take everything they have not to become a victim, let alone not kill each other.

What can I say, if the writing team of Ilona and Andrew write it, I’m going to read it. That has lead me to some amazing and fantastical hours of reading and NEVER have I been disappointed.

I wasn’t sure I was going to love this spin off because its lead is a “misunderstood Warlord”, Hugh D’Ambray, but they even made him a character you can’t help but stand behind and cheer for... I know go figure, but there it is...

Then Ilona Andrews added a new and mysterious super power, “the White Lady, Elara and I was hooked! Can’t wait for more on her and what she truly lies behind all that mystery!!!

Once again, I was captivated by amazing characters, fabulous storytelling and crossovers that have fans of the Kate Daniels series swooning for more. I didn't want this novel to end, Ilona Andrews left me wanting more!

I received this ARC copy of Iron and Magic from NYLA. This is my honest and voluntary review. Iron and Magic is set for publication June 26, 2018.

My Rating: 5 stars
Written by: Ilona Andrews
Print Length: 406 pages
Publisher: NYLA
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Genre: Paranormal Romance | Urban Fantasy

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Iron-Magic-Cov...
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/iron...
Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/iron...

For more reviews check out Tome Tender's Book Blog or find us on Facebook.
Profile Image for Kate.
2,072 reviews311 followers
February 13, 2022
All stars and all the feels. Absolutely effing EPIC. This is one of these times where capitals are a must. Hell, I bow down to the awesomeness of this author and can’t wait for more.

Characters & Chemistry

Ever since I met Hugh d'Ambry in the KD series I was smitten. It felt wrong to have a lady boner for him because he was the enemy. Roland's right-hand man. Preceptor of the Iron Dogs. A butcher. A killer. But I just couldn’t help myself and here it is no different. He is flawed and a tortured soul. My smittenness turned into full out blown love. Nuff said. Moving on!

Elara Harper the White Warlock is one of the best heroines I wouldn't put her on Kate Daniels level, but it is a close call. She has She calls herself unclean. Cursed. An abomination. A protector of her people against the Undead and the Remaining. deal with the devil. As they are the Departed.

There is an underlying connection and chemistry but these two can't afford to show weaknesses to each other and they really do not like one another. They want to be equals. But in time the fondness that they have for one another starts to seep into their interactions.

Writing, Plot & Pace

The Plot as always is top notch. The Iron Dogs are being hunted down one by one and being killed by Landon Nez. The left-hand of Roland, the leader of the Golden Legion. It is time for Hugh to get out of his drunken stupor and lead the Iron Dogs. The Iron Dogs need a base and Elara and her people need protection. So, a tentative alliance begins. A mutual agreement. A marriage of convenience. But right till the very end we are missing out on the big picture.

There is a smooth flow to the writing and it is all fast paced and action packed. The secondary characters add additional depth to the story that I would love to see them all get books as well.

One thing that is commendable toward the author’s that Hugh’s character development when he realizes what Roland did in suppressing his conscience, his guilt for all the things that had done. We see him going through his inner demons and coming out on top. Hugh faces a choice that will either lead him down a path of destruction again or not. Let’s just say he makes the right choice. He is a protector instead of a butcher.

Got to say that I am intrigued as into what Elara is.

Update I made a mistake, he has sex with the airhead Vanessa remember it is a marriage of convenience. But once he is married, Vanessa tries to get back into his bed but he puts a stop to it. Not really cheating IMO.

We get to see Raphael, Andrea and Ascanio. And it is amazing. Last but not least. Hugh makes a statement and picks a side. I am so happy I could shit exclamation marks.


I always get nervous when I receive a book/ARC by an author that I adore and here it was the same. But when it comes to these two there is no need to be nervous.
Iron & Magic made my favourite 2018 shelf. It is action packed, totally kick arse and fast paced. A medieval vibe within a world that alternates between tech and magic.


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 photo New ARC_zpsdpyxs3wn.jpg

New name, new series; The Iron Covenant.

First of all only a trilogy? Please say they will be more.

I imagined Hugh D'Ambray to be different to what he looks like here

This is what I thought:

I will need to do some adjusting.
Profile Image for Maria Dimitrova.
744 reviews139 followers
September 11, 2022
Yep, 7 (or maybe it was 8th? I'm not really sure anymore) re-read and I still adore this book. It's my go to read for when I'm feeling under the weather.

Official buddy read with IAA following the release.

So this is my second read in about two weeks time. Yes, it's that good. But more importantly this time I read the official book not the ARC and I have to tell you people always, always get the real book. It not only does it help the writers but you sometimes get unexpected surprises like additional scenes. But even if there weren't any extra scenes (okay it's only one scene but it was brilliant) the foreword alone made it worth it. Now onto the actual review part.

As I said in my previous review I highlighted the hell out of this book. Like there are 134 highlights and 60 notes. Because I tend to talk to the characters and for some reason I really needed to say a few things to Hugh. That reason being me hating his guts for 6 books. He is a fascinating character. He was fascinating even when he was more or less two dimensional. And now that he is more fleshed out and I get to spend some time in his head I'm even more bewitched. That doesn't mean I've forgiven him for all the shitty things he did to Kate and the Pack but there's a potential for redemption there. Also I enjoy the heck out of his suffering and am looking forward to the day he meets with Kate and Curran and they try to skewer him.

I went on and on about Hugh in my original review so now I'll focus on the rest of the cast. Starting off with Elara. She's amazing. Just the type of woman that can stand to and by a man like Hugh. I love her dedication to her people and their safety, to their wellbeing and happiness. She loves them so much and they return the sentiment. She's just a decent being and she manages to bring forth some of Hugh's long dormant better qualities. Usually at a price but still she manages. And their battles are hilarious! My core muscles are sore from laughing and I can't pick a favourite quote! If you want a typical exchange between those two, here's one:
“Arrogant dickhead!”
“Screeching harpy.”

She has awesome powers that remind me a bit of what Anita Blake and Ace Dante can do. She's something ancient and speculating on what she is is half the fun of this book. I'm itching to learn more about her, The Departed, the Remaining and how the hell did she become whatever she is. But mostly I just enjoy being in her head and seeing the fierce devotion she has for those she considers hers.
“You’re my husband, Hugh. We no longer walk alone. We are each other’s shelter in a storm. As long as you want to stay here, you’ll have a home. I’ll never abandon you.”

There's a plethora of new characters introduced in this book and their combined potential is staggering. All those new shiny powers that open up this amazingly rich world even more take my breath away. Because part of me is terrified by Magic Triumphs and the end of this era. And now the execution has been postponed. I'm still terrified but I have something set in this world to look forward to. And I also have a whole new wishlist of potential spin-offs. Yes, if I have it my way IA will be writing in this world until I die of old age. If they happen to perish before me I want their ghosts to keep writing. And I went on a tangent again. Sorry, I'm just too excited.

This time I made myself go slowly. I deliberately stretched it for over 10 days so I could savour it all. I went back and forth, took notes, checked my ARC for what I've highlighted there, was surprised at how many details I'd missed while galloping to the finish line the previous time. And today when I read the last word I wanted to jump right back in. But I will make myself wait for the release of the audiobook for the next reread. I'm still trying to pretend that I'm not that obsessed ;)

Original pre-publication review:
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Actual rating: + description

I knew the book will be awesome, I just never expected it to be so brilliant!

I've been fascinated by Hugh since the first time he walked on page. That doesn't mean I didn't want to kill him time and again and in the most excruciating ways possible. He is such a fucking asshole that he just owns the page when he shows up. He brings out all those primal feelings that I personally can't decide if I want to fuck him or slice him to tiny little pieces. So I could totally sympathise with his new wife Elara. I enjoyed his suffering, I enjoyed when he was beaten down and spend way too much time telling him "You're a moron! What did you expect to happen?". In fact about a third of my copy has notes attached (thank God for Kindles because if I had to get a post-it note to plaster all over a physical copy it would look monstrous) where I'm talking to Hugh and making fun of his life choices. You see I usually don't bother to actually write the things I'm saying to the characters in my head. It's just I'm lazy. I might highlight here and there and leave a couple of notes and that's it. I literally highlighted half the book. Every snappish conversation, every time Hugh got his nose rubbed in, every time I laughed out loud and made people look at me like I'm a raving lunatic. And there were a hell of a lot of those moments.

I know some people would find parts of this book objectionable. But to me those parts were perfect because it's Hugh and this is his nature. And if you've read the books so far you should be prepared for them. It doesn't mean you have to approve of his actions, in fact it's better if you don't. But to write it any other way, IA would have to break character and it would ruin both the book and the series. Hugh is the way he is and if you can't stomach that, please don't vent your annoyance at the authors. Staying true to character isn't easy and pulling off a stunt like this one, where by the end of the book you actually feel sorry and root for Hugh, is simply amazing. And it's one of the reasons why an IA book is an automatic pre-order for me.
Profile Image for Geri Reads.
1,232 reviews2,041 followers
June 26, 2018
4.5 stars!

Ilona Andrews are one of those authors that can't seem to do no wrong, and they proved that once again with Iron and Magic.

Filled with interesting characters, pulse pounding action, and vivid world-building, Iron and Magic will leave you breathless with excitement. Fast-paced and well plotted with some of the best battle sequences I've read in my whole life, Iron and Magic exceeded all my expectations, and then some!
“There is a tried-and-true method of making an alliance appear secure,’’ Lamar said carefully.
Hugh glanced at him. "A union,'' Lamar said, as if worried the word would cut his mouth.
‘’What union?”
‘’A civil union, Preceptor.’’
‘’What the hell are you on about?’’
Lamar took a deep breath.
‘’Marriage!’’ Bale yelled out.
Hugh stared at Lamar. ‘’Marriage?’’
They had to be out of their minds. ‘’Who would be getting married?’’

Iron and Magic opens a few months or so after Hugh was exiled. Roland left him, taking away Hugh's lifeline to his magic and favor. He's become nothing but a shell of his former self, and a drunk who basically sleeps in his own piss and vomit. Hugh has hit rock bottom. Not only that, his Iron Dogs are being hunted one by one by Nez. It took a group of his loyal centurions to straighten him out long enough to broker a marriage deal with a mysterious group of people called the Departed, who're looking for someone to defend them against a threat by Nez. And I have to say, I felt some sort of satisfaction watching Hugh hit rock bottom.

It's not me being mean but if you must know, before I go any further: I didn't like Hugh in Kate's books. I legit hated him a few times while reading it. I was unimpressed by his posturing, nor was I amused or happy about his pursuit of Kate. So when Ilona Andrews said they're giving Hugh, not just a book but a spin-off series, I was hesitant. But in hindsight, after finishing Iron and Magic, I shouldn't have been because these two authors managed to change my mind.

Did they manage to redeem Hugh? It's a start. A really, really good start. And in a way, I'm grateful they didn't make him good GOOD. He's a gray character, and I think he will always be in some ways so their decision of not make him suddenly noble and good made perfect sense. And it served the story so well.
‘’If it helps, your prospective bride has to be talked into the marriage as well.’’
‘’Perfect. Just perfect.”

However, as much as I enjoyed reading about Hugh's turn from villainy to heroism, what made--or should I say--who made this book for me was Elara. Elara Harper was vaguely mentioned in Kate Daniels but I couldn't remember the exact book. I'm quite sure she was vaguely referenced there, if not by name, then certainly by reputation.

Anyway, Elara was the standout character here. She's mysterious and gave it as got as she got. She could go toe to toe with Hugh with no problem. And she's not a Kate-type character either. She's more subtle and she's hiding a truckload issues and powers I can't even begin to fathom. We're given sort of a hint of her abilities in this book but the range of her powers or the depths of her issues, and how she came to be and what she is wasn't revealed in this book. But based on what I've read so far, I can't wait to see where Ilona Andrews will take this character, because she is a wildcard.
‘’This marriage is in name only.’’
‘’Sweetheart, you couldn’t pay me enough.’’
Pink touched her tan cheeks. ‘’If you betray us, I’ll make you suffer.’’
‘’We haven’t even married yet, and I’m already suffering.’’
‘’We have that in common,’’ she snapped.

Now for the elephant in the room: the romance. If you're familiar with Ilona Andrews, then you would know that they don't really write straight up romances despite authoring my favorite OTP of all time. They write Urban Fantasy. That said, they're giving us one of my fave romance tropes ever and they did it really, really well. Hugh and Elara couldn't stand to be in the same room together. Elara doesn't trust Hugh, and vice versa.

And for awhile there, I thought their romance would never get off the ground because it was a slow build. But slowly, Ilona Andrews built up their romance in a way that, again, made sense for both their characters. Hugh will never be that guy who will fall immediately in love with someone and suddenly spout poetry. It's just not in his DNA. Same with Elara. And I'm totally okay with that. It made their eventual coming together worth it. And boy, was it worth the wait. Hugh and Elara burned up the sheets together. Honestly, I'm still blushing every time I remember their sexy time together. Whew!
‘’We’re newlyweds. If I threw you over my shoulder and dragged you into the woods, that would be overdoing it.’’
The image flashed before her. ‘’Try it. They won’t even find your bones.”
‘’Oh darling, I don’t think you’ll have any trouble finding my bone.”

As much as I enjoyed the romance between Hugh and Elara, my favorite parts of this book were the battles. There were two major battles in Iron and Magic and both were epic, the last battle especially. Vividly written and filled with so many character moments, these scenes were outstanding in every respect. It was tense and brutal. Not to mention, the stakes were sky-high for the characters. Ilona Andrews continue to impress with their battle writing skills. Don't even get me started on how awesome their world building is with its rules and conditions. I didn't think there was anything else that they could add to this world but i was wrong. They expanded this world and made it even richer.

Fans of Ilona Andrews will find plenty of things to love about Iron and Magic. Whether or not you were a fan of Hugh D'Ambray or not, this book is a must-read!


I voluntarily reviewed an ARC provided via NetGalley
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,975 followers
August 5, 2018
It seems like I'll be reading everything the team of Ilona Andrews writes, EVEN IF the first glance doesn't really strike me as something I'd love.

Like... Wut? Another paranormal romance? Look at that cover. *chokes on a laugh*

No! Please! No more!

And yet, this old big bad of Kate Daniels and his new bride still struck a nerve. Hugh grew up with the same crappy "father" as Kate, with all the blood magic and crappy parenting and world-crushing (literal) ethos that comes with Roland.

This is not that story, although some elements do show up in spectacular fashion.

Rather, this is a medieval-ish story of a lord and a lady who are both the masters of their domain, who hate each other, but who have married for the sake of alliance. Add a bit of Cthulhu-horror magic, raiding parties between the cycles of tech/magic in the world, fluffy pastries, and a hot romance that swings from hate to passionate love in all the grand traditions, and I've pretty much summed up the whole book.

Really. It's the journey. Not the end. :)

Oh... wait... it IS a paranormal romance! *laugh*

And you know what? I don't care. I'm hooked.
Profile Image for Maria V. Snyder.
Author 82 books16.9k followers
December 18, 2018
I listened to this book. I love listening to Ilona Andrews books because of Renee Raudman does a fantastic job and the books are well written. This book is narrated by Steve West and I did have some trouble adjusting to his voice, but once I was pulled into the story - he did a wonderful job!

I was reluctant to even read this book because it's about Hugh d'Ambray who I HATED in the Kate Daniels series. Who I wanted to die! My friend Michelle who I trust 100 percent for book recommendations said I had to read it - that Hugh is redeemed. Yeah, right - I thought. But it's Michelle so I bought the audio book. OMG she was right. Loved this book so much. If you've read the Kate Daniels books - this is a must read! The story takes place between books 9 and 10 in the Kate Daniels series - I've only read up to book 7 so there were a few spoilers, but nothing major.

So now I love Hugh - it's a Xmas miracle ;)
Profile Image for Deborah Obida.
673 reviews602 followers
May 30, 2022
Book 5 on my 2019 read-a-thon.
Finish a series

I found out about this series last year when I was looking for IA series to read and I told myself the KD series is way too long, ten books is a lot. I opened it to begin and realized that I had to read KD series first, I was pissed.

With no other option I jumped into the KD series. Here I am 10 months later, having read the first 9 books of KD, I've made my way to this. After reading this I have to admit it was worth the wait.

This book exceeded my expectations for it, I was thinking the authors will justify Hugh's actions when he was still connected to Roland but they made him feel guilty as he should be. He felt bad for all he did as a preceptor and loosing his life purpose as a preceptor. I actually felt bad for him and I'm glad I did because it makes me human.

The razor-edge flash of ending a life, one after another, the endless chain of deaths he caused, the blood, the pain, watching friends fall, the screams, the clamor of metal on metal, the staccato of guns, failing, breaking, burning, getting up again and again, and killing… Everything that he used to shrug off and that now haunted his nightmares, he let it all out. He owned all of it. He was ordered to do it, he was praised when he succeeded, and it didn’t matter, because every drop of blood, every last gasp, all of it was his fault.

Elara the second protagonist is so awesome, she is perfect and I love her character so much. She is extremely powerful magically and can also fight with swords.

The relationship between Elara and Hugh is amazing, here's a few quotes of their dialogues

“I don’t believe you.”
“Wait.” She held up her hand. “Let me check if I care.”
Hugh glared at her.
“No,” she said. “Apparently, I don’t. It’s good that we got that straightened out.”

“Arrogant dickhead!”
“Screeching harpy.”

The Iron Dogs surprised me, didn't know what I was thinking they'll be like, but they were so awesome. They remind me of Malazan soldiers, the way they joke around are they for each other is awesome. My favourite is Bale, he's awesome.

He got there just as Bale came running from within the castle, half-dressed, his hair sticking up.
“Vampires!” Bale bellowed and pointed behind them. “You fought vampires and I didn’t get to go?”
The Dogs snickered. Hugh cracked a smile.
“It was a glorious battle,” Lamar said. “You slept through it all.”
Bale stared at him, incredulous. “You took Lamar? Lamar instead of me?”
“Don’t worry,” Lamar said. “I’ll tell you all about it.”

The plot is amazing, arranged marriage/ hate to love is one of my favourite troupe and I adore the way the authors portrayed it. Through some life threatening situations into it and add a desperate Hugh to it and we get a great story.
Profile Image for Pippa DaCosta.
Author 69 books1,511 followers
July 2, 2018
If you're a Kate Daniels fan this is a MUST, don't skip it. If you're not a KD fan, I imagine you can still read this BUT you're going to miss all the little nuances that make this such a fun read. Without that KD background, some of the random characters appearing might leave you scratching your head.

I actually preferred this to many of the KD books. Full of action, snark, and character development, it's exactly what you'd expect from the Ilona Andrews team. The lead female was a little bit flat, but being the first book, I understand why so much of her was held back for later exploration. This is definitely Hugh's book. I'm pleased to see he wasn't turned into some gooey eyed love-struck fool - no insta-love here!

A fun, exciting read in the KD world. A MUST for fans.

(I initially rated it 4 but it deserves a 5 just for putting Hugh on a prancing unicorn).

Profile Image for Lacey (laceybooklovers).
2,019 reviews10.1k followers
February 28, 2021
Soooo good, and I can already tell that the rest of the series is going to blow my mind. I've been dying for Hugh to get his own story ever since he showed up in the Kate Daniels series, and I can say that I'm not disappointed. I love Hugh and Elara, and I love that their story falls under the marriage of convenience trope. Individually, both are fascinating characters that I can't wait to learn more about, but together, they take their mutual hatred for each other on another level. I'm so ready for more!
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