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.
You may know Hugh from my much beloved Kate Daniels’ series. You may love him. Maybe you hate him. Honestly, I think you’re mostly meant to hate him. He’s an epic asshole.
I’m drawn to epic assholes – in literature anyway. What can I say. I love him. As soon as I met him, I wanted to know more, before I even knew his name. I’ve remained intrigued and enamored. Even when I’ve hated what he’s doing – and he’s done some despicable things – I love the foil that he is for Kate. So when Ilona Andrews posted on their blog that they’d be writing Hugh’s full-length book, I was overwhelmed with excitement. Here was going to be a chance to learn more about the Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, through a different lens, and with different circumstances, than we do in the main series. Then I realized it was April Fools’ Day.
Luckily, for me, there was such interest and excitement – which I think probably stoked Ilona and Gordon’s interest – that they ended up making good on that joke. And not only do we get one full-length novel, we’re going to get (at least) THREE!
I think you probably could start with Iron and Magic as your introduction to Hugh, and the world. The question is: with 9 full-length, and a handful of novella-length, stories, why would you want to? The Kate Daniels’ series gives you Hugh as he was. Having that will allow you to better understand Hugh here. Iron and Magic does a good job of showing and explaining why Hugh is the way he is, but … just go read Kate.
Hugh doesn’t stop being an asshole. He is who he is. I think and hope he always will be. He’s not redeemed in this book. It would be impossible to do so, but there is a start here. Hugh is free, for the first time – ever. He’s calling the shots, living with the consequences, and making the decisions, all on his own. It’s a new experience for him. Seeing all of this, seeing him be who he actually is – asshole and all – is a true treat.
Elara is Hugh’s match in every way. She’s powerful – the White Warlock you may have heard of (seriously, go read Kate if you haven’t already). She’s snarky. She doesn’t take shit from anyone. And she’s probably just as tortured as Hugh is.
It’s, honestly, a match made in heaven – or wherever. The snarkiness, banter, and fighting between them is one of the best parts of this book.
I was invested and intrigued throughout the story as to what was happening, what was going to happen next, and trying to figure out everything I could about everyone we meet. Ilona and Gordon are amazing at expanding the world, creating a full cast of interesting and diverse characters, and continuously making me want more.
Now, I just wait for the next one. At least I am sure it’s not an April Fools’ Day joke now. 🙂