Tower of Dawn

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J. Maas

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

The first quarter of the book took me awhile to get through. I had some other books to read for my bookclubs and then I was busy and didn’t want to get caught up in the obsessive page-turning that often happens when I read a Maas book. I needed all the sleep I could get to deal with my busy schedule.

I was finally able to devote time to Tower of Dawn when I left for Colorado for Christmas. I got out of the doldrums of the first quarter and by the middle of the book, the novel had hit its stride and I was hooked. I ended up staying up late and finishing it on Christmas Day.

Here’s my verdict: while not as action-packed as other entries in the Throne of Glass series, Tower of Dawn was interesting and I’m glad we have it. We did get some new details that will be crucial to the resolution of the plot. And I thoroughly enjoyed the world-building of the Southern Continent and am glad we got to travel there. I am hoping there may be spin-off series set on the Southern Continent in the future.

Of course, I’m now very eagerly awaiting Throne of Glass #7 which won’t be out until next fall. I am hoping this really is the final book because I don’t think my heart can take anymore. I just need everyone to be happy and Erilea to be saved. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Queen of Shadows

Queen of Shadows By Sarah J. Maas

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

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It felt like it took me forever to read this one. Not that it was a bad book. Far from it. Life just got in the way and I kept making excuses not to get sucked in and stay up late reading. Also, I was probably dragging my feet on purpose because I’ve decided I’m waiting until Empire of Storms is out in paperback this fall to read it.

If you’re thinking of reading this series, plow through the first two because you will fall in love with books three and four – where the real story begins! I just love all these new characters so much (Rowan! Manon!) and now Nesryn, Elide, and Lysandra. I’ve very happy with my decision to read The Assassin’s Blade when I did. If you don’t read it in order of publication, reading it before you read Queen of Shadows is another good choice.

Overall, Queen of Shadows feels like a good place to leave the series for awhile. Certain things wrapped up and while there are many more things looming on the horizon, this novel ends in a relative moment of peace and what feels like a penultimate climax to the series.

Now, I have a debate: Empire of Storms is being released in paperback in September. Book 6, Tower of Dawn, is also being released in hardcover in September. But the final novel, Book 7, is not coming until 2018.  Should I read and wait in agony or wait in agony and binge the rest of the series? Decisions, decisions…

The Assassin’s Blade

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

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In my review of Heir of Fire, I was debating at what point I should read these novellas. In terms of publication dates, this collection was published after Crown of Midnight and before Heir of Fire. After reading this collection, I think that’s a good point to read these novellas. It doesn’t ruin anything for Heir of Fire, but provides more depth for the events of Crown of Midnight. Though the point I read it at wasn’t bad either.

The publication of novellas seems to be trend among publishers. Feeding readers novellas while they wait for the next one in the series. Sarah J. Maas is not the only one to have gone down this path. Victoria Aveyard published Cruel Crown which contained two Red Queen novellas,  Tahereh Mafi published Destroy Me and Fracture Me, two separate Shatter Me novellas, and Veronica Roth published Four, a collection of Divergent novellas. Lest you think this is limited to YA, George R.R. Martin has written several Game of Thrones novellas contained in the collection A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. So if you didn’t think world-building and character backstory was important before, now you know that if you publish a best-selling series, most likely you’ll be called upon to turn some of your private notes into a series of novellas for public consumption!

Not that I’m dragging on The Assassin’s Blade. I thought it was great! Five novellas that encompass the pivotal events that led to Celaena’s capture and sentencing to Endovier. A very interesting look at those events and the character’s thought process and how that contributes to her development and our understanding of her. Also, I kind of want more of these. Celaena’s like a cross between James Bond and Assassin’s Creed – I want to see more of her adventures as Adarlan’s Assassin before the events that start with Throne of Glass!

Heir of Fire

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak―but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life―and her future―forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?

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Heir of Fire stepped things up in a big way, introducing a bunch of new characters, settings, creatures, and a lot more about Celaena’s history. It was a lengthier book than the others and a bit slower at the beginning, but was filled with all the familiar twists and turns and unending questions!

I don’t read all that much fantasy and I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that deals with Fae characters. So I can’t really comment on how Maas’ fae characters stack up against other fae stories. On the fantasy aspect, I do think she’s weaving together a bunch of disparate elements into a story that feels fresh. In my opinion, Heir of Fire is the first book in this series that really shows its fantasy heritage and I enjoyed that.

A review I read online talked about how Heir of Fire feels like the true “start” to the story with Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight functioning like an overlong prologue. I don’t completely agree with that, but I get what they mean. The Harry Potter series is like that. The first two books are very fun and not all that dark. Book three is where the darkness arrives in full force and by the time we get to book four, the story has taken a noticeable turn into serious territory. Much the same for Heir of Fire.

I wasn’t sure about all these new characters being introduced, but I came to really like them, particularly Manon, Abraxos, and Rowan. Especially Rowan. After Crown of Midnight, I wasn’t sure if I liked the direction the romance was going at all, but Heir of Fire calmed my poor heart a little bit.

I debated whether I should read The Assassin’s Blade or Queen of Shadows next. I had thought to maybe read them in publication order, but in order to do that, I would have had had to read The Assassin’s Blade before Heir of Fire. So much for that. Ultimately, I decided to start The Assassin’s Blade. I’m looking forward to learning more about Celaena’s history before going back to Adarlan for Queen of Shadows!

Crown of Midnight

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

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I stayed up late two nights in a row reading this book and literally as soon as I finished this one, I ordered Heir of FireQueen of Shadows, and The Assassin’s Blade. I hope I can hold out until fall when Empire of Storms gets released in paperback. I really want that matching set.

I don’t think anything much got answered from the first book in this one. I got a confirmation on my suspicions and A LOT more questions. Hence the midnight book buying spree. God bless Amazon.

 

 

Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her … but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead … quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

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I’m going to open up this up by stating this book is actually inspired by Cinderella. Really. Looking back, there’s a scene that definitely screams Cinderella, but I didn’t pick it up while reading. My edition of this book has an interview with the author and it was mentioned in there. This was a surprise and I wonder what role that inspiration will play in the development of the series.

Overall, the world-building, premise, and set-up are very, very solid. While I wasn’t in love with all the characters in this book, I have to hope they make up for in subsequent books because there are so many more in this series. In any case, it wasn’t so distracting that I had trouble reading this book. I read it pretty quickly so it definitely wasn’t a huge hangup.

This series came well recommended from a friend so I will definitely be continuing on. Have any of you read this series? What did you think of this first book vs. the later books?