Cover Image: The Iron Crown

The Iron Crown

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

The Iron Crown is a great conclusion to a fascinating trilogy; it introduces Lugh and Keiran well and brings all the previous stories together, with a battle of almost epic proportions at the end. A very satisfying conclusion, I definitely wasn't disappointed by any of the twists or surprises. Lugh and Keiran were enchanting main characters; both were so noble in their own ways, nice and gentle despite being battle-hardened after centuries of adventures. And so perfect for each other - let me tell you, The Iron Crown had one of the slowest burn with lots of subtle pining. Centuries worth of love and loyalty, what a gorgeous story.

While I enjoyed The Iron Crown overall, there is one thing that stops it being perfection. For me, the first half was rather confusing at times. Those parts became clear by the end of the book, but my reading experience hindered and I'd rate first half as three stars. Now, the second half more than made up for it, it was more on the five star category.

I do recommend the series for anyone up for a solid M/M fantasy romance: the individual stories and romances from each book are all good, and there's a great overachieving storyline. There's definitely plenty of cunning, dangerous situations, takeovers, but also sweet, gentle moments.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoy this series. It was epic and intriguing and you can't help but be invested in the characters.

I enjoyed the relationship between the MCs; very little angst between the two of them, which I like. Sometimes when a lot of drama is happening 'out in the world' you just things between the MCs to be easy. That's what I got here and I was happy.

An excellent conclusion.
Was this review helpful?
A magical, thrilling, and romantic conclusion to the Darkest Court series, the Iron Crown centers on Lugh, the youngest prince of the Unseelie Winter Court, and Kieran, his longtime companion and protector.

I completely enjoyed their journey from a platonic friendship to a greater love and sexual intimacy, and I loved how they became true equals in the end. They had a truly special relationship that was built on long-standing trust, friendship, and loyalty. From the moment Lugh found Kieran, they were inseparable.

I was fascinated by the pair’s magical abilities, which turned out to be more awesome and important to the main plot than I first thought. And I liked how their partnership was so vital in identifying and defeating the main villain.

I liked how the villain and the princes’ mother Queen Mab were complex and interesting characters as well. And I liked how the brothers came through for each other and their family, while treasuring and fighting for their found families.

I hope the author writes more fantasy m/m romance, because I enjoyed this series very much. (It’s even better in audiobook!)
Was this review helpful?
The Iron Crown is the conclusion to what has been a powerhouse series. This time we get to see the third brother, Lugh and his forever companion Keiran. Throughout the other two books we have heard about Lugh and his decision to live in the woods with the Slaugh instead of in the Winter Court, but we never learned the why. With the Iron Crown we learn about the Shades that drove Lugh from his home and the way they haunt him to this day. We also learn his history with Keiran: the seidhr and his poet. I really enjoyed meeting the members of the Slaugh and especially the members of the Hunt. One of my favorite part was when everything finally came to a head in the war between the courts and the dispicable Goodfellow. The final battle was something to behold with justice served and the ultimate sacrifice of a very polarizing character. But the best part? The bonding of the brothers at last. Watching Roarke, Slaíne and Lugh finally be a family and be true brothers to one another was pure joy and I hope we get some more shorts along the way with their visits together. The Triumvirate rules at last, as it should be and the weight of the crown is a little less heavy at last.
Was this review helpful?
This is a book that requires your undivided attention because a lot happens. This is also not a book that you can read as a standalone because a lot of what happens is tied to the previous books in the series. For that reason alone, I see a reread of both The Prince of Air and Darkness and the Marked Prince followed closely by The Iron Crown in my future reading schedule. 😉

This book is the conclusion to an epic tale of Queen Mab and her three sons and it does an amazing job of tying all the threads together. Lugh and Keiran have been together for centuries and a sense of duty to the Queen and gratitude for being saved aren’t the only reasons that Keiran has sworn to protect the prince. Although they think it’s well hidden, even from each other, their love story began a long time ago, they just never acted on it physically. They also don’t act on it throughout most of this book, yet their love for each other is obvious.

There are a lot of twists, turns, betrayal and heartbreaking loss in this epic finale. There is also a fair amount of hope and redemption.
Was this review helpful?
*~~*ARC kindly provided from the publisher/author to me for an honest review *~~*

Full review to come

5 stars
Was this review helpful?
OF the three books in this series this one is probably my favorite. It is peak idiots/friends to lovers and it was such a wonderful ride to watch Lugh and Keiran navigate how to go from being the closest of friends to lovers. I think my favorite moment is the oh shit he just drank from my mead tankard right where my lips have been oh shit I'm in love. I also appreciated seeing the other two brothers and their partners but that neither of them took away from Lugh and Keiran
Was this review helpful?
I often have to prep myself for the ending of a series— especially one I’ve enjoyed. By the end, I’ll be saying good bye to these characters and their world. The Iron Crown marks the ending of The Darkest Court trilogy of books by M.A. Grant. It stands to reason that this one would focusing on Lugh, the youngest of Queen Mab’s children. Kieran had been previously also introduced as his right hand, his best friend. And there is a sizable chunk of this book that intersects prior events in the first two.

The final installment of The Darkest Court trilogy felt much more focused on the Slough and their history, which makes sense as they are technically the third party of whole conflict. It rounds out most of what was missing in terms of the 'why' of the war.

Lugh has long been in love with Kieran. There was a single rejection in their past and with that they had settled into a deep friendship instead. Grant has hit me with slow burn after slow burn this series. It doesn't change here. There is a hefty amount of longing for more, but the weight of responsibilities and conflict take precedent. 

The actual final battle portion felt slightly rushed. I was starting to almost worry there wouldn't be enough pages left for a resolution- I was wrong by the way; there even is an epilogue I was quite happy with. Actually by that point I was sad to let them all go, I was so fond of all the characters. For me the satisfaction I got from each book was consistent and I was so pleased and happy with it overall.
Was this review helpful?
The Iron Crown is the third book in M.A. Grant's m/m fantasy romance series and I think it's my favorite. The first book is enemies-to-lovers and contains a fair bit of torture and a brewing war. The second is friends?-to-lovers and again... torture and war violence. This one contains a friendship-to-lovers romance SEVEN HUNDRED YEARS in the making. Lugh's human bodyguard/best friend Keiran has been by his side since Lugh was a young teen and rebuffed Lugh's sexual advances once when Lugh was an older teen. And then 700 years passed and Lugh is still convinced that Keiran wants nothing romantic from him. They sleep next to each other every night, they comfort and encourage each other, they do everything a long-term couple would do. And they're absolute idiots. Seriously. 700 years of pining.

Readers will be swept up in the political and strategic events, but the romance is never shoved to the back burner. Grant's plotting and pacing skill is evident in the balance of internal and external conflict, even if the book does run longer than I really had the patience for.

As a series reader, I was especially happy that Grant brought back the previous two couples but didn't let them steal the show. Those four men were naturally integral to the war planning and action, but unlike many other series, this final book didn't lose its way in wrapping up the previous romantic arcs.

In all, The Iron Crown was a satisfying conclusion to a great series. I look forward to more!

Suzanne received a copy of this book from the publisher for review.

Content Warnings: war violence, mental ghost invasion?, references to torture, references to child abduction and murder
Was this review helpful?
Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Sarah – ☆☆☆☆☆
With each book, this series has become more epic in scope. As the leader of the wild hunt, Lugh’s story feels miles away from the courtly power struggles waged by both Lugh’s brothers. Lugh’s book reads like an epic quest as the hunt moves through the Wylds attempting to protect the Sluagh people. Where book one mixed the contemporary world with high fantasy, this book is more like the second, set firmly in the fairy world. Lugh doesn’t have much skill as a courtier, so this is a book full of gritty action and bloody battles that culminates in an epic battle that will alter the entire fairy world.

Keiran and Lugh are possibly the most developed characters in the series and I really love the relationship between the prince and his poet. Unlike the first two books, this isn’t a traditional romance. Keiran and Lugh work together, battle together, and have enjoyed a platonic partnership for centuries. Both are more pragmatic than romantic, and their focus is on the battle they are preparing for, not their changing relationship. I love their rare, awkward emotional moments and the small glimpses of softness under their battle-hardened exteriors.

Personally, I enjoy political intrigue more than gory battles so this isn’t necessarily my favourite of the three books. Other readers will enjoy the fast-paced action and the escalating tension in this final story. And though I’m still a little confused about how the timelines of the three books match up, all the pieces of the series come together beautifully in the final epic battle at the end of this book. I’ve loved this series from the start and while I can see potential for multiple spin-off books, I feel like this is a satisfying end to the trilogy about Queen Mab’s three very different sons.
Was this review helpful?
I love this series. I love it so much, and the last book did not disappoint. 

The story of Keiran and Lugh is one so emotional and so sweet. You can feel the link between them and watch it get more intense at the story goes on. Grant, as always, does an amazing job weaving a fantasy tale in between the emotional moments. It's a story of court intrigue and careful steps to avoid land mines and war, and although the romance is a central point, it's not THE central point. 

I will read anything MA Grant writes. If you haven't read this entire series, I definitely suggest you do!
Was this review helpful?
Voici le troisième et dernier tome de la saga The Darkest Court, centré cette fois sur le troisième Prince.

J'étais hyper pressée de découvrir ce roman, j'avais vraiment beaucoup aimé les deux précédents tomes. C'est vraiment une super saga !
Le truc ici, c'est que ma lecture fut compliquée... J'ai eu beaucoup de mal à me concentrer et même si j'avais envie de me plonger dans cette histoire, je n'avais pas la tête à ça en fait. J'ai mis de côté ma lecture à un moment, puis j'ai recommencé depuis le début. 

J'ai l'impression que les enjeux ici étaient encore plus complexes que dans les précédents tomes. Et à cause de mon manque de concentration et de mon manque de vocabulaire (je n'ai décidément pas le niveau pour lire de la fantasy en anglais...), j'ai eu du mal à intégrer certaines choses et je pense que je suis passée à côté d'un certain nombres d'éléments.

Ceci dit, j'ai pu quand même apprécier ma lecture. Lugh et Keiran sont deux personnages très intéressants et complexes. Du moins, leur relation l'est. J'ai aimé la façon dont l'auteur a traité leur couple, elle prend vraiment le temps à tout bien développer, même si ce n'est pas l'élément central de l'histoire. L'intrigue, elle, est vraiment très bien menée aussi, c'est hyper riche (peut-être trop pour moi ?).

Et puis, j'ai aimé aussi la façon dont elle a traité la relation entre les frères, qui est plus importante dans ce dernier tome.

Je pense que je relirai ce livre pour pleinement l'apprécier, ainsi que toute la saga :)
Was this review helpful?
Absolutely brilliant book, loved this story it was a fantastic end to the trilogy and I highly recommend all three be read back to back as this is a wonderful series
Was this review helpful?
This is the third in a tightly woven series where the events overlap to create a beautiful tapestry founded in Celtic myth yet with elements all its own. Each novel is a gay romance where troubles in the fae world impinge on the relationships. This connection makes everything more complicated in some ways, but in others, moves fate and circumstance to bring the lovers together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P.S. I received this Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
In my opinion, The Iron Crown is the best of the series, an excellent wrap up to everything that’s come before.

I’d call this a slow burn friends-to-lovers romance. When the story opens, Kieran and Lugh have been best friends and fighting companions in the Wild Hunt for more than seven centuries. Lugh has been attracted to Kieran since they were young, but Kieran doesn’t see Lugh as anything more than a friend. About a third of the way through the book, Kieran starts to realize that maybe what he feels for Lugh isn’t friendship after all, but something deeper. Seven hundred years and change for Kieran to fall in love—that is some seriously slow burn. 😊

Even after that point, both the plot and the romance are relatively slow going for a bit. The first part of the book is all about setting up the story. It establishes Lugh and Kieran’s role as the Sluagh’s Wild Hunt, the part they will play in the wider conflict engulfing the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, and the nature of their relationship. At about the halfway mark, though, everything starts to take off. Kieran and Lugh are almost ready to admit their feelings for each other, and the stage is set for a shocking attack that changes everything. From then on, the book becomes thoroughly absorbing, and I had a hard time putting it down.

I would say that the novel overall leans more heavily on the side of fantasy than romance. The author spends a lot of time on her worldbuilding, more so than in the first two books, I think. Lugh’s ability to see the shades of the dead, the talisman that gives Kieran his own magical ability, the armed clashes culminating in the epic winner-take-all final battle—it’s all thoroughly detailed. Kieran and Lugh have some thoroughly romantic moments, but they have to fit them in between everything else that’s going on.

Even with the slow start, this book is my favorite of the series, because when everything finally comes together, it’s terrific. Readers who enjoyed the first two books in the series are absolutely going to need to read this one, too.

A copy of this book was provided through NetGalley for review; all opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
The Iron Crown has the action typical of this series, but strays the farthest from reality out of the three. Like the earlier books by this author, the plot slows down around the 75% mark and then picks back up again towards the end. We see some of the most character and relationship building out of every book in this series as these are people who have known each other for centuries, so the interactions between characters feel more realistic. Overall, this was not my favorite read but it still managed to create an interesting story and expanded more on Lugh, a character who is barely talked about in the other two books.
Was this review helpful?
I've been curious about the relationship between Lugh and Keiran since the glimpses we saw of them in earlier books. The friends-to-lovers trope is one of my favorites and this story didn't disappoint. Although they've been friends for centuries, they've each hidden truths that have kept them apart. Against the backdrop of the war raging between the Courts, the author was able to weave the intricacies that both explained why they've stayed apart and why they're coming together now.

Separate from the love story between Lugh and Keiran, this final book in the Darkest Court series demonstrates how adept a storyteller the author is. The three stories occur almost concurrently and it isn't until this book that we see how all the pieces fit together. It was great to see the couples from the first two books and watch as Lugh is reunited with his brothers. Every piece of this, from the world-building to the individual characters, is so well done that it's a world I'll miss visiting.
Was this review helpful?
the war between the fairy courts comes to a head in the iron crown. lugh, the youngest of queen mab's sons has spent his life avoiding the shadows of the dead and living among the wild hunt. his best friend, the love of his life, kieran, his ever-present companion.

the hardest thing about this story is that if you've read books 1 and 2, you have information that the characters do not have, so part of the time i read, i was just desperate for them to catch up to where we left off in book 2. however, you kind of need to have read books 1 and 2 to really enjoy and understand what is happening. this is a complex and detailed world, and not having some of the context from the earlier stories, you will be a bit lost.

lugh and kieran's love story is a satisfying slow burn, and the story is resolved in a very satisfying way. i couldn't put the book down as soon as i picked it up, it's just that engrossing.

**the iron crown will publish on april 6, 2020. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/carina press in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
M.A. Grant’s The Iron Crown is The Sixth Sense meets Vikings plus magic. Grant takes an outlandish mash-up and handles it with intelligent writing, but doesn’t treat the central love story as central, which means the book – though marketed as one - ultimately doesn’t feel like a romance.

Lugh is the third of three sons of the faerie Queen Mab of the Winter Court. Lugh, who has the ability to perceive the spirits of the unhappily dead, has spent the last few centuries as a seidhr “the eyes and mouth of the gods” (a kind of shaman/priest without medical responsibilities), to the Sluagh people, a culture of mortals. Keiran, a human whom Lugh saved as a child from a slaughtered village, is his partner through it all. Lugh, Keiran, and The Hunt (their own mini ‘band of brothers’) roam the land while Keiran concocts Homeric tales about their deeds. But conflict is brewing – Lugh’s older brother takes off for the Summer Court, his other brother is abducted, and the Sluagh lands are experiencing a mass “vanishing” of their military-aged youth. Soon, Lugh’s gift becomes an integral part of solving the mysteries and he and Keiran become pivotal players in the upheaval of the social order of their world.

The Iron Crown is a very well-told story. The pace is fast and the writing, while it isn’t in any way poetic like The Odyssey, Aeneid, or Beowulf – to which it which it alludes - is commendably smooth. Grant doesn’t so much world-build as world-assemble with pieces of actual reality and fiction; it’s Viking Scandinavia with a touch of Shakespeare (Freyja and Valhalla are mentioned, and King Oberon rules the Summer Court). Lugh and Keiran are equal protagonists who each narrate the story through their first-person points of view, but interestingly (and surprisingly to me), while Lugh appears to be The Hero at the start of the story, events conspire so that part way through, he basically cedes the role to Keiran (a quibble is that their voices are nearly interchangeable – perhaps they’ve simply spent too much time together. I know after only living with housemates, I started to pick up and use their phrases, which explains why I occasionally say ‘Huzzah!’).

The handling of Lugh and Keiran’s romance is the most unsatisfying part of the book. In some ways, they share an astonishing depth of intimacy; when they fight together, they use each other’s bodies as launching platforms to tackle their attackers, and grab spare weapons off the other mid-fight. They share a bed consistently (not sexually) and easily. Lugh has long desired Keiran, but Keiran lives preoccupied with feelings of “worthlessness” that Queen Mab has instilled in him. When Keiran and Lugh do pursue a romance, it seems to surprise Keiran, as if he spent almost years sleeping skin to skin with Lugh, who at one point literally offers Keiran his naked body, and never considered him as a romantic partner. And the incredible intimacy they have in daylight translates not at all to their bed – Keiran has a hesitancy that Lugh respects, but never addresses.

It’s never clear why, precisely, Keiran and Lugh’s romance has such a hard time transitioning to the physical, though one can winnow down the possibilities. Male-male partnerships are accepted in this world, so it’s unlikely Keiran has internalized any homophobia. There’s the power dynamic, which is acknowledged but unresolved – how can Keiran consent with a person who provides him with all the facets of his existence in terms of physical safety, social position, etc.? And there’s Keiran’s abused sense of self-worth. As this is a romance, I’d expect a large portion of the story would be related to Lugh and Keiran developing their relationship, grappling with its consequences, and getting to relish the enhancement the addition of sex could add, but it isn’t. It’s disappointing, and it makes the romance and happily ever after somewhat unbelievable.

If The Iron Crown had been a fantasy story only, I would have given it a higher grade, but because it courted a romance audience and then didn’t employ the tenets of romance which say the love story should be the main focus, I can’t do more than commend it for its better parts, of which the writing and the fantastical stand out.

Buy it at: Amazon 
Visit our Amazon Storefront
Was this review helpful?
There aren't many books that make it to my "Epic" shelf but this book more than exceeds the criteria to make it to the shelf. It was THAT good.

The events of this book run concurrently to the events of the previous two books and slowly weaved a tale of adventure, self discovery and undeniable bonds(both familial and forged) that culminated with the battle that had been brewing since the beginning of this series. The writing was impeccable as usual and pulled me right into the Wylds with Lugh, Keiran and The Hunt and I was right there with them as they travelled across the Wylds to help people in need while accomplishing their destined mandates. Though not given individual page time, I really connected to the men of The Hunt and wish we'd get some snippets of them in some sort of "after series shorts" or something. I believe they were too interesting to let go just like that.

Moving on, as much as this book was EPIC in storytelling and world-weaving, I honestly do not think it was much of a romance(or at least in how I view my romance). Yes, I felt the deep, deep connection that existed between Keiran and Lugh. Since they had virtually spent their entire lives together, this was undeniable but I didn't feel that translating into a "romantic" bond. Now, I'm not saying this because there was virtually no sex in this book. I've read other books with absolutely no sex in them which had much better romantic bonds between the protagonists than what existed between Lugh and Keiran. I just wish the romance had been fleshed out more and given more special focus than it had.

Nonetheless, this little niggle of mine didn't take anything away from how great the story was and how the lead up to the finale was nothing short of awesome. I kept trying to piece everything together before the characters did but it was a challenge because this author had her plot on lock and wasn't giving anything away until she was good and ready to! I loved it! I believe it had the perfect ending as well, with all loose ends neatly tied up. 

Needless to say, I absolutely enjoyed this book and indeed the entire series and I, for one cannot wait to see what else M.A Grant has in store for us. I'm READY.
Was this review helpful?