The Iron Crown (stars)


Everyone is different and likes and dislikes different things. Reading is no exception. One person’s all-time favorite might seem too bland or too high stakes for another. That being said, the opinions of our judges in this contest are just that, opinions. Just because we let a book go, doesn’t mean it isn’t good. It could be your next favorite, who knows?

Now that we are in the finals, we are going to be doing full reviews for each book. The books are being reviewed in no particular order, not in order of their star rating. We are just reviewing them as we finish reading them.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can learn more about the contest here.

Today we are reviewing The Iron Crown, which was FanFiAddict’s pick for this year’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. You can read their review here. And you can see the finalist spreadsheet here.

The Iron Crown (cover)Fenn’s first and only memory is finding himself in the middle of a forest, face to face with a dragon spirit mocking him, all knowledge gone apart from his own name.

Lost and confused, his only hope for answers is Calidra—a woman living on the edge of the world with her partner. Forced to return home when her father dies, Calidra has put off facing her estranged mother for seven years, and she begrudgingly helps Fenn, forging papers for him so he can avoid the Queen’s Inquisitors.

But her mother is the least of her worries when they discover an ancient enemy is rising again. It should be impossible with the Iron Crown in power—and Fenn is terrified he might unwittingly be playing a part in the war’s resurgence.

Surrounded by vengeful spirits and powerful magic, Fenn’s desperate attempt to find his way home might well alter the fate of Tassar, and every power in it.

Our Thoughts

Fenn is drowning in a bog. No one to help him. No memory of how he got there or who he is. Everything he meets from that point on seems to want to kill him, or is at least angry at him for reasons he isn’t sure about. The only thing is sure about is his name, that he knows nothing about his past, and that he can see shadows of monsters no one else can see.

Luckily, he is found by Calidra and her partner Jisyel who take him out of the bog, off the strange island, and into more trouble. The queen of the realm has sent her Master Inquisitor, Torsten, to the port town of low repute for reasons Torsten is sure she is not telling him.

Something dark is brewing. Strange happenings are becoming less unheard of and more frightening. Is Fenn just caught in the chaos? Or could he be causing it?

While a couple of our judges enjoyed this story most did not feel a big enough connection to the characters to be drawn into it. While the writing was good and the worldbuilding interesting, most found the characters hard to empathize with, especially Fenn, who honestly had a hard time in the story empathizing with himself at times. Giving your main character memory loss, can be hit or miss and this case many thought it was a miss.

The judges that did enjoy the story liked Fenn and found the blank slate of his person easy to slip into. The magic and worldbuilding, and the spirits of nature helped carry along the plot and made trying to piece together the mysteries of the book a challenge, in a good way!

Overall, even those who enjoyed the story found it didn’t hold up against our other favorites in the contest. Definitely worth a read, though, especially if you enjoy spirits and shadows and the havoc they can wreck on the world around them!


Sadly, The Iron Crown did not work very well for me.

I didn’t really care for any of the characters, as they didn’t feel real to me. I just couldn’t connect to anyone.


I really enjoyed Fen. Though, I get tired of stories where a person with amnesia is found and though they can never remember who they are, more often than not, they turn out to be OP swordwielder or have a magical skill that saves local village etc. In Iron Crown Fen is just a normal person who somehow ends up in a place he knows nothing of, which was a nice change of pace.

He meets a forest spirit (a dragon) who can either curse or protect one. These spirits are elemental in nature and their power can wane or enlarge depending on what elements they are connected to. We see this in the main protagonist the Inquisitor of the Iron Crown. We get to see a lot of the worldbuilding through Fen’s eyes as well as the truth of the supposed cause of this nations war.

The other introductory characters were underwhelming, and it really wasn’t until the latter half that I felt the plot and storyline pick up—especially with the introduction of some nasty and some more morally grey characters.

A solid read and I look forward to reading the next in the series.

– – –

Our judges are Amber Freeman, Jennie Ivins, Julia Kitvaria Sarene, Kartik Narayanan, Kerry Smith, and Lynn K. If you’d like to learn more about us, including our likes and dislikes, you can read about them here.

Any queries should be directed at me, Jennie Ivins, via DM on Facebook and Twitter.


By Jennie Ivins

Jennie is the Editor of Fantasy-Faction. She lives with her math loving husband and their three autistic boys (one set of twins & one singleton). In-between her online life and being a stay-at-home mom, she is writing her first fantasy series. She also enjoys photography, art, cooking, computers, science, history, and anything else shiny that happens across her field of vision. You can find her on Twitter @autumn2may.

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