Iron Crowned (Dark Swan Series #3)

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Overview

New York Times bestselling author Richelle Mead takes readers back to the Otherworld, an embattled realm mystically entwined with our world--and ruled by one woman's dangerous choice. . .

Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham is the best at banishing entities trespassing in the mortal realm. But as the Thorn Land's queen, she's fast running out of ways to end the brutal war devastating her kingdom. Her only hope: the Iron Crown, a legendary object ...

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Iron Crowned (Dark Swan Series #3)

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Overview

New York Times bestselling author Richelle Mead takes readers back to the Otherworld, an embattled realm mystically entwined with our world--and ruled by one woman's dangerous choice. . .

Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham is the best at banishing entities trespassing in the mortal realm. But as the Thorn Land's queen, she's fast running out of ways to end the brutal war devastating her kingdom. Her only hope: the Iron Crown, a legendary object even the most powerful gentry fear. . .

Who Eugenie can trust is the hardest part. Fairy king Dorian has his own agenda for aiding her search. And Kiyo, her shape-shifter ex-boyfriend, has every reason to betray her along the way. To control the Crown's ever-consuming powers, Eugenie will have to confront an unimaginable temptation--one that will put her soul and the fate of two worlds in mortal peril. . .

Praise for Richelle Mead's Storm Born. . .

"My kind of book--great characters, dark worlds, and just the right touch of humor. A great read." --Patricia Briggs, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

Chapter One

Don't confuse fairy queens with fairy princesses.

Where I come from, girls who want to be fairy princesses usually dream about gossamer wings and frilly dresses. Pink dresses, at that. I'm pretty sure rhinestones are part of being a fairy princess too, as are cute wands with stars on top that grant wishes. Fairy princesses expect lovely lives of luxury and lounging, ones that involve small woodland creatures waiting on their every need.

As a fairy queen, I can admit that there is a bit more involvement with woodland creatures than one might expect. But the rest? A total joke. Fairies--the kind I deal with, at least--rarely have wings. My wand is made of rough gemstones bound together, and I use it to blast Otherworldly creatures out of existence. I've also whacked a few people in the head with it. My life is dirty, harsh, and deadly, the kind of life no frilly dress could withstand. I wear jeans. Most important, I look horrible in pink.

I'm also pretty sure that fairy princesses don't have to deal with this kind of shit first thing in the morning.

"I have killed . . . Eugenie Markham."

The words rang out loud and clear through a dining room filled with about thirty people eating at round wooden tables. The ceilings were vaulted, and the rough stone walls made it look like part of a medieval castle because . . . well, it kind of was. Most of the morning diners were soldiers and guards, but a few were officials and high-ranking servants who lived and worked within the castle.

Dorian, King of the Oak Land and my bondage- loving Otherworldly boyfriend, sat at the head table and looked up from his breakfast to see who had made such a bold statement. "I'm sorry, did you say something?"

The speaker, standing on the other side of the table, turned as red as the uniform he wore. He looked about twenty-something in human years, meaning he was probably a hundred or so in fairy--or gentry, the name I preferred--years. The guy bit his lip and straightened his posture, making another attempt at dignity as he glared at Dorian.

"I said I killed Eugenie Markham." The man-- a soldier, it appeared--looked around at the faces, no doubt hoping his message would inspire horrified reactions. Mostly his words brought about good-natured confusion, largely because half of the people gathered in the room could see me standing in the hall outside. "I have killed your queen, and now your armies will crumble.

Surrender immediately, and Her Royal Majesty, Queen Katrice of the Rowan Land, will be merciful."

Dorian didn't answer right away and didn't look very concerned. He delicately patted his mouth with a brocade napkin and then returned it to his lap. "Dead? Are you sure?" He glanced over at a dark-haired woman sitting beside him. "Shaya, didn't we just see her yesterday?"

"Yes, sire," replied Shaya, pouring cream into her tea.

Dorian brushed autumn-red hair out of his face and returned to cutting up the sugary, almond- coated pastry that was serving as his most important meal of the day. "Well, there you have it. She can't be dead."

The Rowan soldier stared in disbelief, growing more and more incredulous as people continued to either regard him curiously or simply ignore him altogether. The only person who seemed mildly concerned was an elderly gentry woman sitting on the other side of Dorian. Her name was Ranelle, and she was an ambassador from the Linden Land. She'd only arrived yesterday and clearly wasn't used to the wacky mishaps around here.

The soldier turned his attention back to Dorian. "Are you as insane as they say you are? I killed the Thorn Queen! Look." He threw down a silver and moonstone necklace. It clattered against the hard, tiled floor, and the pale, iridescent stones just barely picked up some of the morning light. "I cut this off of her corpse. Now do you believe me?"

That brought some silence to the room, and even Dorian paused. It was indeed my necklace, and seeing it made me absentmindedly touch the bare spot on my throat. Dorian wore his perpetually bored expression, but I knew him well enough to guess at the maelstrom of thoughts swirling behind his green eyes.

"If that's true," Dorian replied at last, "then why didn't you actually bring us her corpse?"

"It's with my queen," said the soldier smugly, thinking he'd finally gained ground. "She kept it as a trophy. If you cooperate, she might release it to you."

"I don't believe it." Dorian peered down the table. "Rurik, will you pass the salt? Ah, thank you."

"King Dorian," said Ranelle uneasily, "perhaps you should pay more attention to what this man has to say. If the queen is dead--"

"She's not," said Dorian bluntly. "And this sauce is delicious."

"Why don't you believe me?" exclaimed the soldier, sounding oddly childlike. "Did you think she was invincible? Did you think no one could kill her?"

"No," admitted Dorian. "I just don't think you could kill her."

Ranelle tried again. "My lord, how do you know that the queen isn't--"

"Because she's standing right there. Will you all shut up now so I can eat in peace?"

The interruption--and end to this farce-- came from Jasmine, my teenage sister. Like me, she was half human. Unlike me, she was totally unstable and was consequently eating her breakfast while wearing loose but magic-stunting handcuffs. She also had headphones on, and the breakfast debate must have been overpowering her current playlist.

Thirty faces turned toward where I stood near the doorway, and there was a mad scramble as almost everyone shoved back their chairs and tried to rise for a hasty bow. I sighed. I'd been comfortable leaning against the wall, resting from a hard night's journey as I watched this absurdity unfolding in my Otherworldly home. The gig was up now. I threw back my shoulders and strode into the dining room, putting on all the queenly airs I could.

"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated," I announced. I had a feeling I'd messed up the Mark Twain quote, but in this crowd, nobody knew the reference anyway. Most thought I was simply stating the facts. Which, really, I was.

The Rowan soldier's flushed face suddenly turned white, his eyes bugging out. He took a few steps backward and glanced uneasily around. There was really nowhere else he could go.

I gestured for those who were standing and bowing to sit down as I walked up to my necklace. Picking it up from the floor, I eyed it critically. "You broke the clasp." I studied it for a few more moments and then turned my glare on him. "You broke it when you ripped it off my neck while we were fighting--not when you killed me. Obviously." I just barely recalled grappling with this guy last night. He'd been one among many. I'd lost him in the midst of the chaos, but apparently, Katrice had decided to send him here with a story after he'd captured this "evidence."

"You look amazing for being dead, my dear," called Dorian. "You should really come join us and try this sauce that Ranelle brought."

I ignored Dorian, both because he expected me to and because I knew I didn't look so amazing. My clothes were ripped and dirty, and I'd accrued a few cuts in last night's battle. Judging from the haze of red I kept seeing out of the corners of my eyes, I had a feeling my hair was frizzy and sticking up in about a hundred different directions. It was already turning into a hot day, and my stuffy castle was making me sweat profusely.

"No," gasped the Rowan soldier. "You can't be alive. Balor swore he saw you fall--he told the queen--"

"Will you guys stop this already?" I demanded, leaning in close to his face. This made a few of my own guards step nearer, but I wasn't worried. This loser wouldn't try anything, and besides, I could defend myself. "When is your fucking queen going to stop turning every rumor about Dorian or me dying into some huge proclamation? Haven't you ever heard of habeas corpus? Never mind. Of course you haven't."

"Actually," piped in Dorian. "I know Latin."

"It won't work anyway," I growled to the Rowan guy. "Even if I were dead, it's not going to stop our kingdoms from trampling yours."

That pulled him out of his stupefied state. Fury lit his features--fury spiked with a little bit of insane zeal. "You half-breed bitch! You're the one who's going to be blighted from existence! You, the Oak King, and everyone else who lives in your cursed lands. Our queen is mighty and great! Already she's in negotiations with the Aspen and Willow Lands to unite against you! She will grind you with her foot and take this land, take it and--"

"Can I kill him? Please?" This was Jasmine. Her gray eyes looked at me pleadingly, and she'd taken the headphones off. What should have been teenage sarcasm was actually deadly seriousness. It was days like these I regretted keeping her in the Otherworld, rather than sending her back to live with humans. Surely it wasn't too late for reform school. "I haven't killed any of your people, Eugenie. You know I haven't. Let me do something to him. Please."

"He's under a truce flag," replied Shaya automatically. Protocol was her specialty.

Dorian turned toward her. "Blast it, woman! I've told you to stop letting them in with immunity. Wartime rules be damned." Shaya only smiled, unconcerned by his mock outrage.

"But he is protected," I said, suddenly feeling exhausted. Last's night battle--more of a skirmish, really--had ended in a draw between my armies and Katrice's. It was incredibly frustrating, making the loss of life on both sides seem totally pointless. I beckoned some of my guards forward. "Get him out of here. Put him on a horse, and don't send him with any water. Let's hope the roads are kind to him today."

The guards bowed obediently, and I turned back to Katrice's man.

"And you can let Katrice know that she's wasting her time, no matter how often she wants to claim she's killed me--or even if she manages it. We're still going to see this war through, and she's the one who's going to lose. She's outnumbered and out-resourced. She started this over a personal fight, and no one else is going to help her with it. Tell her that if she surrenders immediately, then maybe we'll be merciful."

The Rowan soldier glared at me, his malice palpable, but offered no response. The best he could manage was to spit on the ground before the guards dragged him off. With another sigh, I turned away and looked at the breakfast table. They'd already brought up a chair for me.

"Is there any toast?" I asked, sitting down wearily.

Toast was not a common item on the gentry menu, but the servants here had gotten used to my human preferences. They still couldn't make decent tequila, and Pop-Tarts were totally out of the question. But toast? Toast was within their skill set. Someone handed a basket of it to me, and everyone continued eating peacefully. Well, almost everyone. Ranelle was staring at all of us like we were crazy, which I could understand.

"How can you be so calm?" she exclaimed. "After that man just--just--and you . . ." She looked me over in amazement. "Forgive me, Your Majesty, but your attire . . . You've clearly been in battle. Yet, here you are, sitting as though this is all perfectly ordinary."

I gave her a cheerful look, not wanting to offend our guest or project a weak image. I'd just arrogantly told the Rowan soldier that his queen would never gain any allies, but his comment about her negotiating with the Aspen and Willow Lands hadn't been lost on me. Katrice and I were both scrambling for allies in this war. Dorian was mine, giving me the edge in numbers right now, and I didn't want to risk any chance of that changing.

Dorian caught my eye and gave me one of his small, laconic smiles. It warmed me up, easing a little of the frustration I felt. Some days, it seemed like he was all that was going to get me through this war I'd inadvertently stumbled into. I'd never wanted it. I'd never wanted to be queen of a fey kingdom either, forcing me to split my time between here and my human life in Tucson. I certainly hadn't wanted to be at the center of a prophecy that claimed I'd give birth to humanity's conqueror, a prophecy that had driven Katrice's son to rape me. Dorian had killed him for it, something I still didn't regret, even though I hated every day of the war that had followed in the killing's wake.

I couldn't tell Ranelle any of that, of course. I wanted to send her back to her land with an image of confidence and power, so that her king would think allying with us was a smart move. A brilliant move, even. I couldn't tell Ranelle my fears. I couldn't tell her how much it hurt me to see refugees showing up at my castle, poor petitioners whose homes had been destroyed by the war. I couldn't tell her that Dorian and I took turns visiting the armies and fighting with them-- and how on those nights, the one who wasn't fighting never got any sleep. Despite his flippancy, I knew Dorian had felt a spark of fear at the Rowan soldier's initial claim. Katrice was always trying to demoralize us. Both Dorian and I feared that someday, one of her heralds would show up telling the truth. It made me want to run away with him right now, run away from all of this and just wrap myself up in his arms.

But again, I reminded myself that I had to brush those thoughts away. Leaning over, I gave Dorian a soft kiss on his cheek. The smile I offered Ranelle was as winning and upbet as one he might produce. "Actually," I told her. "This is a pretty ordinary day for us."

The sad part? It was true.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781420111798
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Series: Dark Swan Series , #3
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 203,707
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Richelle Mead
Richelle Mead
Richelle Mead lives in Seattle and is the author of the international bestselling Vampire Academy series. When not writing, she can be found watching bad movies, inventing recipes, and buying far too many dresses.
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Read an Excerpt

IRON CROWNED

A Dark Swan Novel
By Richelle Mead

ZEBRA BOOKS

Copyright © 2011 Richelle Mead
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4201-1179-8


Chapter One

Don't confuse fairy queens with fairy princesses.

Where I come from, girls who want to be fairy princesses usually dream about gossamer wings and frilly dresses. Pink dresses, at that. I'm pretty sure rhinestones are part of being a fairy princess too, as are cute wands with stars on top that grant wishes. Fairy princesses expect lovely lives of luxury and lounging, ones that involve small woodland creatures waiting on their every need.

As a fairy queen, I can admit that there is a bit more involvement with woodland creatures than one might expect. But the rest? A total joke. Fairies—the kind I deal with, at least—rarely have wings. My wand is made of rough gemstones bound together, and I use it to blast Otherworldly creatures out of existence. I've also whacked a few people in the head with it. My life is dirty, harsh, and deadly, the kind of life no frilly dress could withstand. I wear jeans. Most important, I look horrible in pink.

I'm also pretty sure that fairy princesses don't have to deal with this kind of shit first thing in the morning.

"I have killed ... Eugenie Markham."

The words rang out loud and clear through a dining room filled with about thirty people eating at round wooden tables. The ceilings were vaulted, and the rough stone walls made it look like part of a medieval castle because ... well, it kind of was. Most of the morning diners were soldiers and guards, but a few were officials and high-ranking servants who lived and worked within the castle.

Dorian, King of the Oak Land and my bondage-loving Otherworldly boyfriend, sat at the head table and looked up from his breakfast to see who had made such a bold statement. "I'm sorry, did you say something?"

The speaker, standing on the other side of the table, turned as red as the uniform he wore. He looked about twenty-something in human years, meaning he was probably a hundred or so in fairy—or gentry, the name I preferred—years. The guy bit his lip and straightened his posture, making another attempt at dignity as he glared at Dorian.

"I said I killed Eugenie Markham." The man—a soldier, it appeared—looked around at the faces, no doubt hoping his message would inspire horrified reactions. Mostly his words brought about good-natured confusion, largely because half of the people gathered in the room could see me standing in the hall outside. "I have killed your queen, and now your armies will crumble. Surrender immediately, and Her Royal Majesty, Queen Katrice of the Rowan Land, will be merciful."

Dorian didn't answer right away and didn't look very concerned. He delicately patted his mouth with a brocade napkin and then returned it to his lap. "Dead? Are you sure?" He glanced over at a dark-haired woman sitting beside him. "Shaya, didn't we just see her yesterday?"

"Yes, sire," replied Shaya, pouring cream into her tea.

Dorian brushed autumn-red hair out of his face and returned to cutting up the sugary, almond-coated pastry that was serving as his most important meal of the day. "Well, there you have it. She can't be dead."

The Rowan soldier stared in disbelief, growing more and more incredulous as people continued to either regard him curiously or simply ignore him altogether. The only person who seemed mildly concerned was an elderly gentry woman sitting on the other side of Dorian. Her name was Ranelle, and she was an ambassador from the Linden Land. She'd only arrived yesterday and clearly wasn't used to the wacky mishaps around here.

The soldier turned his attention back to Dorian. "Are you as insane as they say you are? I killed the Thorn Queen! Look." He threw down a silver and moonstone necklace. It clattered against the hard, tiled floor, and the pale, iridescent stones just barely picked up some of the morning light. "I cut this off of her corpse. Now do you believe me?"

That brought some silence to the room, and even Dorian paused. It was indeed my necklace, and seeing it made me absentmindedly touch the bare spot on my throat. Dorian wore his perpetually bored expression, but I knew him well enough to guess at the maelstrom of thoughts swirling behind his green eyes.

"If that's true," Dorian replied at last, "then why didn't you actually bring us her corpse?"

"It's with my queen," said the soldier smugly, thinking he'd finally gained ground. "She kept it as a trophy. If you cooperate, she might release it to you."

"I don't believe it." Dorian peered down the table. "Rurik, will you pass the salt? Ah, thank you."

"King Dorian," said Ranelle uneasily, "perhaps you should pay more attention to what this man has to say. If the queen is dead—"

"She's not," said Dorian bluntly. "And this sauce is delicious."

"Why don't you believe me?" exclaimed the soldier, sounding oddly childlike. "Did you think she was invincible? Did you think no one could kill her?"

"No," admitted Dorian. "I just don't think you could kill her."

Ranelle tried again. "My lord, how do you know that the queen isn't—"

"Because she's standing right there. Will you all shut up now so I can eat in peace?"

The interruption—and end to this farce—came from Jasmine, my teenage sister. Like me, she was half human. Unlike me, she was totally unstable and was consequently eating her breakfast while wearing loose but magic-stunting handcuffs. She also had headphones on, and the breakfast debate must have been overpowering her current playlist.

Thirty faces turned toward where I stood near the doorway, and there was a mad scramble as almost everyone shoved back their chairs and tried to rise for a hasty bow. I sighed. I'd been comfortable leaning against the wall, resting from a hard night's journey as I watched this absurdity unfolding in my Otherworldly home. The gig was up now. I threw back my shoulders and strode into the dining room, putting on all the queenly airs I could.

"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated," I announced. I had a feeling I'd messed up the Mark Twain quote, but in this crowd, nobody knew the reference anyway. Most thought I was simply stating the facts. Which, really, I was.

The Rowan soldier's flushed face suddenly turned white, his eyes bugging out. He took a few steps backward and glanced uneasily around. There was really nowhere else he could go.

I gestured for those who were standing and bowing to sit down as I walked up to my necklace. Picking it up from the floor, I eyed it critically. "You broke the clasp." I studied it for a few more moments and then turned my glare on him. "You broke it when you ripped it off my neck while we were fighting—not when you killed me. Obviously." I just barely recalled grappling with this guy last night. He'd been one among many. I'd lost him in the midst of the chaos, but apparently, Katrice had decided to send him here with a story after he'd captured this "evidence."

"You look amazing for being dead, my dear," called Dorian. "You should really come join us and try this sauce that Ranelle brought."

I ignored Dorian, both because he expected me to and because I knew I didn't look so amazing. My clothes were ripped and dirty, and I'd accrued a few cuts in last night's battle. Judging from the haze of red I kept seeing out of the corners of my eyes, I had a feeling my hair was frizzy and sticking up in about a hundred different directions. It was already turning into a hot day, and my stuffy castle was making me sweat profusely.

"No," gasped the Rowan soldier. "You can't be alive. Balor swore he saw you fall—he told the queen—"

"Will you guys stop this already?" I demanded, leaning in close to his face. This made a few of my own guards step nearer, but I wasn't worried. This loser wouldn't try anything, and besides, I could defend myself. "When is your fucking queen going to stop turning every rumor about Dorian or me dying into some huge proclamation? Haven't you ever heard of habeas corpus? Never mind. Of course you haven't."

"Actually," piped in Dorian. "I know Latin."

"It won't work anyway," I growled to the Rowan guy. "Even if I were dead, it's not going to stop our kingdoms from trampling yours."

That pulled him out of his stupefied state. Fury lit his features—fury spiked with a little bit of insane zeal. "You half-breed bitch! You're the one who's going to be blighted from existence! You, the Oak King, and everyone else who lives in your cursed lands. Our queen is mighty and great! Already she's in negotiations with the Aspen and Willow Lands to unite against you! She will grind you with her foot and take this land, take it and—"

"Can I kill him? Please?" This was Jasmine. Her gray eyes looked at me pleadingly, and she'd taken the headphones off. What should have been teenage sarcasm was actually deadly seriousness. It was days like these I regretted keeping her in the Otherworld, rather than sending her back to live with humans. Surely it wasn't too late for reform school. "I haven't killed any of your people, Eugenie. You know I haven't. Let me do something to him. Please."

"He's under a truce flag," replied Shaya automatically. Protocol was her specialty.

Dorian turned toward her. "Blast it, woman! I've told you to stop letting them in with immunity. Wartime rules be damned." Shaya only smiled, unconcerned by his mock outrage.

"But he is protected," I said, suddenly feeling exhausted. Last's night battle—more of a skirmish, really—had ended in a draw between my armies and Katrice's. It was incredibly frustrating, making the loss of life on both sides seem totally pointless. I beckoned some of my guards forward. "Get him out of here. Put him on a horse, and don't send him with any water. Let's hope the roads are kind to him today."

The guards bowed obediently, and I turned back to Katrice's man.

"And you can let Katrice know that she's wasting her time, no matter how often she wants to claim she's killed me—or even if she manages it. We're still going to see this war through, and she's the one who's going to lose. She's outnumbered and out-resourced. She started this over a personal fight, and no one else is going to help her with it. Tell her that if she surrenders immediately, then maybe we'll be merciful."

The Rowan soldier glared at me, his malice palpable, but offered no response. The best he could manage was to spit on the ground before the guards dragged him off. With another sigh, I turned away and looked at the breakfast table. They'd already brought up a chair for me.

"Is there any toast?" I asked, sitting down wearily.

Toast was not a common item on the gentry menu, but the servants here had gotten used to my human preferences. They still couldn't make decent tequila, and Pop-Tarts were totally out of the question. But toast? Toast was within their skill set. Someone handed a basket of it to me, and everyone continued eating peacefully. Well, almost everyone. Ranelle was staring at all of us like we were crazy, which I could understand.

"How can you be so calm?" she exclaimed. "After that man just—just—and you ..." She looked me over in amazement. "Forgive me, Your Majesty, but your attire ... You've clearly been in battle. Yet, here you are, sitting as though this is all perfectly ordinary."

I gave her a cheerful look, not wanting to offend our guest or project a weak image. I'd just arrogantly told the Rowan soldier that his queen would never gain any allies, but his comment about her negotiating with the Aspen and Willow Lands hadn't been lost on me. Katrice and I were both scrambling for allies in this war. Dorian was mine, giving me the edge in numbers right now, and I didn't want to risk any chance of that changing.

Dorian caught my eye and gave me one of his small, laconic smiles. It warmed me up, easing a little of the frustration I felt. Some days, it seemed like he was all that was going to get me through this war I'd inadvertently stumbled into. I'd never wanted it. I'd never wanted to be queen of a fey kingdom either, forcing me to split my time between here and my human life in Tucson. I certainly hadn't wanted to be at the center of a prophecy that claimed I'd give birth to humanity's conqueror, a prophecy that had driven Katrice's son to rape me. Dorian had killed him for it, something I still didn't regret, even though I hated every day of the war that had followed in the killing's wake.

I couldn't tell Ranelle any of that, of course. I wanted to send her back to her land with an image of confidence and power, so that her king would think allying with us was a smart move. A brilliant move, even. I couldn't tell Ranelle my fears. I couldn't tell her how much it hurt me to see refugees showing up at my castle, poor petitioners whose homes had been destroyed by the war. I couldn't tell her that Dorian and I took turns visiting the armies and fighting with them—and how on those nights, the one who wasn't fighting never got any sleep. Despite his flippancy, I knew Dorian had felt a spark of fear at the Rowan soldier's initial claim. Katrice was always trying to demoralize us. Both Dorian and I feared that someday, one of her heralds would show up telling the truth. It made me want to run away with him right now, run away from all of this and just wrap myself up in his arms.

But again, I reminded myself that I had to brush those thoughts away. Leaning over, I gave Dorian a soft kiss on his cheek. The smile I offered Ranelle was as winning and upbeat as one he might produce. "Actually," I told her. "This is a pretty ordinary day for us."

The sad part? It was true.

Chapter Two

I retreated to my bedroom as soon as etiquette allowed, collapsing onto the bed the moment I entered. Dorian had followed me in, and I tossed an arm over my eyes, groaning.

"Do you think that display helped win us over with Ranelle or scared her off?"

I felt Dorian sit on the bed beside me. "Hard to say. At the very least, I don't think it'll turn her king against us. We're too terrifying and unstable."

I smiled and uncovered my face, looking into those green and gold eyes. "If only that reputation would spread to everyone else. I heard a rumor the Honeysuckle Land might join with Katrice. Honestly, how anyone could call their kingdom that and keep a straight face is beyond me."

Dorian leaned over me, lightly brushing hair from my face and trailing his fingers along my cheekbone. "It's quite lovely, actually. Almost tropical. I mean, it's no barren wasteland of a desert kingdom, but it's not half bad."

I was so used to his jibes about my kingdom that there was almost something comforting about them. His fingers ran down to my neck and were soon replaced by his lips. "Honestly, I'm not worried about this Honeysuckle place. It's other potential allies worrying me. Hey, stop." His lips had moved down to my collarbone, and his hand was starting to lift my shirt. I wriggled away. "I don't have time."

He lifted his head, arching an eyebrow in surprise. "You have some place to be?"

"Yeah, actually." I sighed. "I have a job back in Tucson. Besides, I'm filthy."

Dorian was undeterred and returned to trying to get my shirt off. "I'll help bathe you."

I swatted his hand away but then pulled him over so that I could put my arms around him and hold him against me. I knew he wanted more than cuddling, but I didn't have the energy. Considering his fastidious nature, I was surprised he consented to resting his head on my chest, seeing as how dirty and ragged the shirt was.

"No offense, but I'll take human showers any day over some servant lugging water up to a tub."

"You can't leave without talking to Ranelle," he pointed out. "And you can't see her like this."

I grimaced and ran my hand over his brilliant hair. "Damn it." He was right. I was still bad at this queen thing, but I knew enough about gentry customs to know that if I really did want the Linden King's help, I would need to look and sound good. So much to do. Never enough time. All so wearying.

Dorian lifted his head and looked back down at me. "Was it bad?"

He was referring to last night's battle. "It's always bad. I'm still not okay with people fighting and dying for me. Especially over one insult." The living suffered from this war too. I often had refugees coming to me for food and shelter.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from IRON CROWNED by Richelle Mead Copyright © 2011 by Richelle Mead. Excerpted by permission of ZEBRA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 320 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A great fantasy

    Being the Queen of Thorn Land should ease making a living but it does not as in reality it adds debts, which Eugenie Markham has learned since sitting on the throne (see Storm Born and Thorn Queen). Instead the Storm King's offspring loves her powers including that of her sire, but loathes the responsibility and accountability that comes with the non-paying gig. In fact she pays the bills by doing mercury work as a shaman to the highest bidder.

    The biggest issue, besides the fact that her child is foretold to conquer mankind, is the ruthless lethal war with Queen Katrice that Eugenie wants ended. She also has male issues as her former lover Kiyo the shapeshifter wants back in her life and Fairy King Dorian wants to sire that prophesized offspring with her. Eugenie considers obtaining the mystical Iron Crown to end the combat but fears what she knows of the artifact. The two men offer to help her, but she distrusts both of them.

    The key to the entertaining Dark Swan fantasy series (see Thorn Queen) is Eugenie may be an adept shaman for hire to the highest bidder, but the ruler is also a terrible leader. Her incompetence makes her ironically seem human. Loaded with action, the road to hell is filled with misadventures as Queenie Eugenie seeks the legendary Iron Crown with two males sniffing at her legendary uterus.

    Harriet Klausner

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    In a Fae War ...

    Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham is the best at banishing entities trespassing in the mortal realm. But as the Thorn Land’s queen, she’s fast running out of ways to end the brutal war devastating her kingdom. Her only hope: the Iron Crown, a legendary object even the most powerful gentry fear…

    Who Eugenie can trust is the hardest part. Fairy king Dorian has his own agenda for aiding her search. And Kiyo, her shape-shifter ex-boyfriend, has every reason to betray her along the way. To control the Crown’s ever-consuming powers, Eugenie will have to confront an unimaginable temptation--one that will put her soul and the fate of two worlds in mortal peril…

    Eugenie is in a Fae war and doesn't want to be. She doesn't like the loses, destruction, and death that war brings and wishes there was another way out - something her current male squeeze Dorian doesn't believe in. Yet, when the story of the Iron Crown is brought to Eugenie's attention, she jumps at the chance of claiming something that could lead to a peaceful end. Knowing its the struggle of claiming the crown itself that creates the fear within surrounding kingdoms, Eugenie invites her previously male squeeze, Kiyo, along on the dangerous journey. Thus, not all is as it seems when the crown is finally obtained and nature decides to play a nasty/surprising trick on Eugenie - something that will change her life and future from here on out.

    I'm a big fan of Richelle Mead and adore her writing style. Her stories are easy to read, enjoyable to get lost in, and always keep me up way past my bed time. Thus, I finished this book in less that two days, but I think really liking the Dark Swan series overall added to that reading speed. Eugenie can really get under my skin though, since there are times when I highly enjoy her and others when all I wish to do is smack her. She has such a quick and abrupt attitude of changing her mind that it can give the reader whip-lash if not use to it. Also, she's so stubborn that I'm not sure if I should admire that about her or feel sorry since she usually ends up regretting her actions in the end, but her hard-headed character adds greatly to the story's intensity.

    The romantic juggle between her two male counterparts is great, every book adds to that battle and I will always hold out for Dorian in the end (since I'm such a sucker for the bad boy!) But Kiyo sure did add a nice twist to the story near the end of Iron Crowned that it's really intriguing to see just how Eugenie and his relationship will lead Book # 4 on. Dorian himself is just a cocky and adorable in this tale, but the reader is also really beginning to see more emotion from him as well - which is nice for once and I hope to see more of in the series's future. All in all, highly liked the book and cannot wait for more, but I need a break from Eugenie and her stubbornness first.

    Likes: I enjoy that Eugine can admit her sex life with Dorian is kinky, because some of their scenes had me blushing! ;)

    Dislikes: The "ghost" part of the plot feel flat for me and didn't really add much to the story. I felt like it was only created to add a connection between certain characters, but honestly - it was boring!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 10, 2011

    Kiyo...... hate him always have from the time i heard about him always will till he dies then ill be estatic

    Gods be damned i hate that kitsune with a passion he just makes me so mad. And the fact that she actully play the toss up game with him and dorian just makes me so truly agrivated that i have a hard time reading the books. E amd thenway she is suposed yo be so stong? Snce when is a two timeing want to be BA women strong as a hero? Never thats when! I love the series but the book .... leaves me wanting some thing better for dorian and E she just... idk

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    CAUTION: Highly Addictive. Read this book. You'll want more.

    War. Mystical quests to leave the gentry shaking in their shining ones boots. Love. Betrayal. Infidelity... and antibiotics? Oh what deliciously intriguing story lines are weaved, yet all in a days work for the Dark Swan. Eugenie Markham is kicking butt and forgetting names in the third thrilling edition of the Dark Swan series Iron Crowned. Nothing much has changed for the Thorn Queen. Katrice aka the Rowan Queen is making life difficult waging war against her and the thorn people. Eug is allied with the Oak King both in bed and on the battle field. But an end to the blood shed could be near with the acquisition of the Iron Crown. And Eug is the probably the only one capable of the task, but she's going to have to enlist help from some unusual places, namely Kiyo and a ghost with a request of her own.

    Surprisingly the Iron Crown is only half of the story. Relationships are heating up as well. Eug's family life is fractured, but her sisterly bond with Jasmine is on the mend. Eugenie will find herself between her two very opposite leading men Kiyo and Dorian. While both Kiyo and Dorian haven't changed their personalities seem to have become amplified. Markham can't help but be pulled in two directions, this world and the other. Eugenie's quest will strain her relationship with Dorian adding tension to their increasingly difficult alliance. Katrice is making moves that could cost her her kingdom. And Kiyo is nudging Eug to spend more time in the human world. Events will arise to cause him to make the ultimate sacrifice. Eug will have some difficult choices to make. Loyalties and motives will be questioned. Betrayals abundant. And it seems like the only people Eug can truly trust are family. Oh did I mention the cliffhanger at the end? Eugenie will have us all diving over that edge with us screaming for details on the next installment.

    Richelle Mead shows there's more to the literary world than the tried and true standards of vampires and weres. Fairytales can be sexy too. I'm not really into shamans or fairies, but Mead puts her own unique spin on traditional folklore. This series is a real treat. She's truly built a complex world and characters, while not being shy about the storyline. There is quite a bit happening in Iron Crowned and Mead handles it like the seasoned writer she's become.

    Read this book. You'll want more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Iron Crowned is worth its weight in Gold

    Iron Crowned
    By Richelle Mead
    Copyright March 2011
    Publisher Zebra
    Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham is the best at banishing entities trespassing in the mortal realm. But as the Thorn Land's queen, she's fast running out of ways to end the brutal war devastating her kingdom. Her only hope: the Iron Crown, a legendary object even the most powerful gentry fear. . .
    Who Eugenie can trust is the hardest part. Fairy king Dorian has his own agenda for aiding her search. And Kiyo, her shape-shifter ex-boyfriend, has every reason to betray her along the way. To control the Crown's ever-consuming powers, Eugenie will have to confront an unimaginable temptation--one that will put her soul and the fate of two worlds in mortal peril. . .

    Iron Crowned is the third book in the Dark Swan Series, and the most challenging one to date. Eugenie is being faced by challenges from every point in her rather busy life. Be it Arizona, where her office manager keeps pushing her to take more cases, her roommate is driving her crazy, to Thorn Land, her land in Faerie. She is having a hard time trusting the people she thinks she should trust as she realizes that they are lying by omission and by half truths. Her ally King Dorian is pushing her into a quest that could either kill her, or make her into the monster all the other Kingdoms already think she is becoming.
    I love Urban Fantasy and I love Fantasy. This series takes you back and forth deeply into both genres so seamlessly that you feel like you are there not only on Eugenie's quest but also embedded into her psych looking at the worlds through her eyes.
    Richelle Mead is not only the author of The Dark Swan Series but also the award winning Georgina Kincaid Series.
    FTC Full Disclosure: I borrow this book from my local library for my own enjoyment and for review.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2011

    love/hate relationship with this book...

    I absolutely LOVE this series...but this book made me frusterated. I just really hope there are some redeeming story lines in the next book!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2013

    Great series

    Great story.. recommend to sci/fi and paranormal lovers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

    Awesome Read

    Another great addition to the series. The only thing I can complain about is how fickle Eugenie seems to be when it comes to Kiyo and Dorian, but I guess if you love two people..... I love this series, and hate that the next book is the last in it. This one left me craving for more.

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  • Posted January 4, 2013

    This series of books will help you get lost in another world and

    This series of books will help you get lost in another world and make you fall in love with it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2012

    Wow

    Omg...nuff said

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  • Posted April 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Good book

    Good book

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  • Posted April 13, 2012

    Loved this series!

    I couldn't stop reading this series, thank goodness for Nook because I was in bed recovering from surgery and this interesting and exciting story just hooked me like a trout. Multi-dimensional characters and intrigues of the faery kingdoms were fascinating and thought provoking. What will she do next? Who knows?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2012

    A MUST READ!!!

    All PAN Romance fans will highly enjoy this series. R. Mead's work is such a treat to read, it's like candy for your mind:)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2012

    Eugenie is confused

    Great story we get to travel through dimensions, witness her sexual adventures. great book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2012

    This Amazing but inconsistent

    I love this series and seriously think there needs to be more books. One thing that was really annoying me is that Maiwenns daughter is named Luisa in the other books and in this one her name has magically changed to Marta. Aaaargh!!!

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  • Posted January 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommended

    Words can't really describe this series for me. I loved everything about it so much. I get that the love triangle is there but I didn't mind it. I thought it made the book more interesting. Overall, I would recommend this book. A truly great read.

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  • Posted December 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I'm a Little Confused

    Is this gal wishy washy?? Up until now, I didn't think so, but she seems to get befuddled about her men and let's them push and pull her in different directions. I expected more strength in her. I guess I'll have to see in the next book. Hopef;ully she'll get more backbone.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2011

    Great book

    Love the series

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2011

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2011

    Third in the Series..

    If you loved the first two books in this series (Storm Born and Thorn Queen)then you'll love this one too. It moves the story right along - Eugenie has troubles with Dorian, Kiyo and Jasmine as well as assorted ghosts and gentry. Some problems resolved with enough steamy sex and plot twists to keep you turning the pages. And, of course, Eugenie lands in some new trouble which will have to wait for resolution until the fourth book in the series comes out - which I will most definitely read. This series is fun - full of supernatural creatures, sex, violence and humor.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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