The best news: even though the timeline of all the books in this trilogy takes place before the final Kate Daniels, Magic Triumphs, out this month, the author has a note in the book that the actual recommended reading order for the books is:
Iron and Magic
Iron Covenant #2
Iron Covenant #3
This is a huge relief, because no way could I put off reading the last Kate Daniels for however many years it takes for the final 2 books in this series are published.
Now, onto this book. It was good. Gripping, hard to put down. But not as good as the Kate Daniels series overall. I like Elara and I can see the redemptive possibilities in Hugh - I especially liked the authors' insight into the psychological make up of his relationship with Roland - but the two of them together... eh. I don't get the dynamic between them and their sex scene made absolutely no sense to me. I think I know what the authors were aiming for, but the whole thing felt schizophrenic. Like the scene was a double exposure; two different scenes over-lapped. The secondary characters don't feel distinctly individual either, although in all fairness it is only the first book. I have no doubt that will change for the better.
But as I said, it's still a great story; I love, love, love Elara's power potential. I like the twists in Hugh's power. I love Hugh's horse. The book is battle heavy, and sometimes a little graphic, but compelling readable. It's not a Kate and Curran book, but it's a great read nonetheless.
I can't wait for Magic Triumphs.