I finished reading Ironhand's Daughter and I have to say that the diversion to the alien world was barely worth it. The problem was why bother with sending the heroine after an object that was through a magical gateway in a totally different world. It seemed like a long detour to take so in my opinion it needed to be brought back into the story's end in a very important way.
Sigarni travels to the other world and finds that her blood has powerful magic there. Her bleeding hand holds her bow and the bow begins to grow back into a tree when she steps through the gate. Her friend and sidekick, Ballistar, is what we would call a little person today. He has some of her blood on him from her hand and he grows into a whole and complete man. She also has a bit of bone from her long dead ancestor, King Ironhand. When she takes that out he reforms form it and thanks her for bringing him back to life.
They have adventures and regain Ironhand's old crown. This is supposed to be the reason they went through, the crown is needed to forge an alliance. But that alliance could have been achieved by any old plot device. It didn't need to have this alien world all of a sudden pop into the story. Sigarni does realize after seeing how this new world's endless war has destroyed the land that she no longer hates her enemies enough to do that to her world. So you have two Important Things happen but my point still remains that the side trip wasn't necessary.
The biggest thing that bothered me with this is that the Crown is hardly mentioned after she gets it. Also, she goes ahead and engages in a battle that saves her people for the time being but that she knows will only bring more Bad Guys along. So both objectives for sending her there turn out to be irrelevant.
The only good thing that comes of it is Ballistar's choice to return to the other world even though all its food and water are poisonous to him. He chooses to die as a whole man rather than continue living as a dwarf. Poignant, but I'm sure the politically correct crowd would criticize Gemmel for that.
Ironhand's Daughter gets two and a half stars.