Review: “Ironhand,” Rabia Gale

Pros: Fascinating army; interesting plot; good characters
Cons: Ends a little quickly
Rating: 4 out of 5

Ironhand (Taurin’s Chosen Book 2) is the sequel to Mourning Cloak, which I very much enjoyed due to its highly imaginative and vivid world and story. Ironhand picks up where Mourning Cloak left off. Kato is still outside of the city that he had to protect from his own wife’s attack, having come to the realization that the city is sealed to keep the bad guys in, not to keep the good guys out. He finds himself in charge of the remnants of Sera’s ragtag army of monsters–they were just footsoldiers, and many of them were transformed against their will, so despite their identities he resolves to see them to safety. Unfortunately they’re in the middle of a desert with little water and no easy way home, and Sera’s higher-ups haven’t finished with their plans despite the current setback.

Again the tale is vivid and the language is lovely. It is perhaps slightly less clear in some descriptive areas, but more in others (I found it easier to figure out who was working for whom and how the cities and populations related to each other). The characters are drawn well, and most of them fit a great amount of personality into a small space. In comparison one bad guy seems a bit shallow, but when I think about him separately I realize he was actually kind of interesting in his own way. The ending seems a little quick, but there’s enough build-up to it that the story still felt satisfying.

My favorite part of the story is Kato’s rag-tag, evil little army. Some of the creatures come to respect him and look up to him, while others look for opportunities to screw him over. The mourning cloaks are particularly interesting, and turn out to have more individual personality than it originally seemed. There’s also more steampunk in this installment, although there’s still a nice layer of dark fantasy.

Kato ends up having to face his destiny as Taurin’s Chosen despite his flagging faith, and it’s a fascinating struggle to watch. Gale’s style is a little brief–I feel like Ironhand could have been longer (in a good way), but it’s still intense and interesting, well worth keeping up with.

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