Review: The Iron Jackal (Tales of the Ketty Jay #3) by Chris Wooding


Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Date Read: October 20 to November 04, 2014
Read Count: 1
Recommended by:
Recommended for:

Ah, the sands of Samarla. Silo’s homecoming. Not what I expected at all, but an intense journey nonetheless. I’d been waiting for his story ever since the first book, and it was worth the wait.

This book picks up where the previous one left off, with Frey and crew reaching a tentative truce with Trinica Dracken and her crew. The beginning opens with another shootout. This time between Frey’s crew and Ashua, a wanted criminal, and her hired thugs. The job is to apprehend Ashua and bring her in to get a reward, but things don’t go as planned. Instead of handing her in, Frey offers her a temporary place on the Ketty Jay in exchange for her guide through the Samarlan underground world.

Trinica Dracken returns, this time with an offer too tempting to pass up. The job is to steal retrieve an ancient artifact in transit from a group of Samarlan mercenary. The Ketty Jay’s crew pulls it off, and all they have to do is not touch the thing inside, which Frey could not help. It’s cursed, which Trinica failed to mention, and now Frey’s cursed. And his days are numbered unless he breaks the enchantment by returning the artifact to its original resting place, way out in the middle of the Samarlan desert.

The excursion takes the crew deeper into Samarla which forces Silo to come face to face with his past and all the things and people he left behind when he escaped and ran into Frey all those years ago. After a lot of hassle and close-calls, they reclaim the artifact and head for the desert. A lot more happens, but it’s all too spoilery to mention. Though I will hint that the crew uncover a disturbing secret about the AllSoul and what those self-righteous Awakeners have been hiding all this time. There’s enough evidence to present to the Duke and Duchess of Vardia to condemn all Awakeners, and thus kicking off a civil war. Good times.

Thanks to Frey’s curse Crake is able to test all manner of theoretical Daemonism while running from one disaster to another. It turns out a sterile chamber isn’t necessary for controlling daemons, as Crake finds out after multiple attempts to rid Frey of the curse. Frey is an unwilling lab rat but submits to ministrations as his life hangs in balance. As Crake learns more about the nature of daemons, he understands why the Awakeners are so keen on persecuting daemonists and erasing all trace of daemonism. These discoveries and inventions lighten the mood of the story immensely.

I wish more time was spent on expanding Silo’s story. Silo deserves more time in the spotlight. This is my only gripe with this book, otherwise it’s another rollicking adventure on the Ketty Jay, and I love every moment of it. I wouldn’t mind if these books were longer. I also wouldn’t mind if this series keeps on going. Fun SF/F series are so hard to find these days, and I’m not ready to leave the Ketty Jay.

A few of my favorite moments

“Plan B? Isn’t that just code for ‘wade in there and shoot anything that moves’?” [said Crake]
“Exactly. And that means bullets flying everywhere. And because I don’t like getting shot much, I try to avoid Plan B when I can.” [said Frey]
“Remarkable how often we end up using it, though,” Crake commented.


“He’s late,” said Crake, holding up his pocket watch.
Malvery peered over his round, green-lensed glasses at the daemonist.
“Well, he is!” Crake protested.
“He’s a wholesaler. We’re buying food. This is the least dodgy thing we’ve done for months. Calm down, eh?”


“A little open-mindedness wouldn’t hurt you, Darien.”
“I dunno,” he said, “Every time I open my mind, things fall out.”


The glue that held them together was equal parts necessity, friendship, habit, and desperation. But it held them fast, and Frey was deeply grateful for it. The men and women of the Ketty Jay were the only family Frey had ever had. And just like a family, they were exasperating, hilarious, fractious, affectionate, demanding, self-sacrificing, and he couldn’t get rid of them if he tried.


* *

* * *

* * * *  some spoilers * * * *

Frey and crew end up destroying one city per book, with good intention though. They try to avoid it, but the circumstances always leave them no choice but to decimate. Understandable. Wouldn’t be action/adventure without leveling a few cities in their wake. First it was Retribution Falls, a secret pirate enclave; then it was Sarka, a snowy city in the north pole where the Mane roamed; and now it’s Azryx, an ancient city full of strange technology belonging to an ancient mystic civilization. Too bad, really. I’d love it if the crew had more time to explore Azryx without also having to run for their lives. There’s so much unexplored magic, history, and mysticism in this world that it’s a shame to…not write more books to include them. Just saying. No pressure though, Mr Wooding.

I should have written this review right after finishing the book. Now that I’m done with the last book, looking back is bittersweet. The Ketty Jay’s journey has come to an end and currently there are no plans for another book. I’m reluctantly leaving this world behind, but I will be back! Because audiobooks! But for now



2 thoughts on “Review: The Iron Jackal (Tales of the Ketty Jay #3) by Chris Wooding

  1. thebookgator March 13, 2015 / 2:46 pm

    I really enjoyed this one… haven’t made it to the last one yet. I think the sadness of ending might be why I wait.


    • 1stavenue March 13, 2015 / 4:55 pm

      I should have waited too, but I was too far along in the Ace of Skulls to stop reading when I realized it’s the last book.


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