Wow. Who knew that I would end up liking Hugh by the end of this book. I am still kind of appalled I like him and am rooting for him and Elara. I know some people would say that you can read this book as a standalone, but I really do think you have to read the Kate Daniels series first just so you can see Hugh in action, and get why many of the characters in the Kate Daniels series are not going to be opening their arms to welcome the guy.
The characters were fantastic, I loved the setting up of the marriage between Elara and Hugh. I am still intrigued about what magic Elara is tapping into and went crazy Googling the other day to figure out what power she could have and from what being. All in all I did not want this book to end. I don't know if I can wait until next year for the next installment of the Iron Covenant.
Readers should know Hugh by now. After the events in the Kate Daniels series, Roland (Kate's father) tosses him away and now that Hugh is without Roland in his head at all times, he feels alone and adrift. He has started drinking himself into a stupor and doesn't care what happens to him. When his loyal Iron Dogs come to find him, he realizes that if he doesn't step up that the Iron Dogs are going to be wiped out by Nez. Hugh starts looking for a place to settle with his people and then is offered an interesting proposition. He can marry a woman named Elara Harper (or the White Lady) and live among her and her people in a castle in Kentucky.
Hugh and Elara dislike each other on sight and though they don't want to marry each other, realize it is the best thing for their people in order to form an alliance against Nez who seems to be hell-bent on wiping out Elara and her people as well with his vampires.
Hugh is messed up, but you get why. I love how Andrews shows how Voron and Roland found him centuries ago and what Hugh's magic abilities allow him to do (heal himself and others). It was indoctrinated in Hugh that Roland was always right, but now he realizes that he is rightfully not trusted by people due to his breaking his word every single time due to Roland's orders. He wants to belong somewhere and living with Elara gives him a chance to do so.
Elara's mystery has not been totally revealed yet. We know she has access to some magic. She finds herself annoyed by Hugh and their bickering back and forth actually caused me to laugh a few times. What was interesting though is that without realizing when, they both start doing things in sync (almost) with each other. When the times comes to them to fight they both realize that no matter what they have to make sure that their people get out of things alive.
We get some insight into the Iron Dogs and also into Elara's people. I can see there being spin-offs in the future since I have so many questions about all of the new characters that we get to meet in this one.
Also there are repercussions to Hugh's actions which I found realistic. We get some characters from the Kate Daniels series that appear here and I was glad that Hugh isn't going to just be able to walk away from what he has done. Hugh actually reminds me a bit of Xena: Warrior Princess. Xena like Hugh did terrible things and spent most of her journey after passing the gauntlet making amends for what she did.
I have to say though my favorite moment was Hugh reading Jim (the new Beast Lord) for filth to some members of the Pack. Sorry, not sorry, I don't care for Jim and am still pissed he betrayed Kate and Curran like that. And I love that even Hugh gets that Curran is always going to be the beast lord no matter what he does (stepping down for Kate).
And I love Hugh's slow recognition of his and Kate's relationship. Dude was a dumbass and am glad that Elara helped him out with that whole thing.
The writing was very good and the flow was fantastic. If you have read Kate Daniels you are going to love this one. It takes place in the same world as Kate Daniels so you should be able to follow people/world building as long as you have read Kate Daniels first.
I will say the only quibble I had was having two plots going on in this one. We have the Nez issue and then a mysterious army that is attacking towns near where Elara and Hugh live. That was bit too much for the first book, but it ended up working.
The ending was fantastic and I cheered a lot. Elara steps up and she's now my favorite character. Sorry, Kate! I can't help it! It goes Elara, Kate, Curran, Hugh, and from there I would have to flip a coin. Sometimes I like Julie and other times she annoys the crap out of me.
One final note, Andrews let's readers know that "Magic Triumphs" is next (August), but that the next two books in the Iron Covenant series take place before that book. So it sounds like maybe Hugh and Elara are going to appear in "Magic Triumphs". Hope so!