Review: Tower of Dawn

Review: Tower of DawnTower of Dawn (Throne of Glass, #6) by Sarah J. Maas
on September 5th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 660
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads

In the next installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, follow Chaol on his sweeping journey to a distant empire.
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.

Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★★★

Tower of Dawn runs parallel to Empire of Storms, following Chaol and Nesryn’s journey to try and gain more allies for Aelin and the others.  On top of dealing with the politics and negotiations, trying to gain allies without revealing what they know about the Wyrdkeys because they don’t know who can be trusted, Chaol is also dealing with the aftermath of his injuries.  I like Nesryn and Chaol well enough, but I knew my two favourite characters (Manon & Lysandra) wouldn’t be in Tower of Dawn, so I went in not sure how attached to the characters I’d feel.  I’d also seen a few reviews saying it was too long, which seemed very believable looking at it. I shouldn’t have worried; I ended up loving a lot of the characters, especially Nesryn and Sartaq.  Nesryn and Chaol actually spend quite a lot of time apart throughout Tower of Dawn, so we alternate between their points of view, which was a thing I liked. I’m always a fan of multiple POVs, and I thought it worked really well here. While I preferred Nesryn’s storyline over Chaol’s, I could also see the importance of Chaol’s, and of course, I still enjoyed it.  Alternating between the two characters’ stories meant a slow-scene in one storyline could be followed up by something action-packed in the other, which kept me flicking through the pages saying ‘one more chapter’ far later than I should have been!

I actually was really pleasantly surprised by Tower of Dawn: I finished the book in 72 hours, even around work – in comparison, it took me almost two weeks to finish Empire of Storms, even despite having Manon to keep me addicted!  From my first-read of Throne of Glass to now, Maas has amazed me with the characters, the plot and the world-building.  In Tower of Dawn, that’s still the case, and we also got to see so many loose (or previously insignificant-seeming) threads link back together, and it becomes clear just how much planning Maas has put into the series.  This felt similar in many ways to the early Throne of Glass novels: it’s a little simpler and the cast is a little smaller, and while I’ve loved the way the series has developed as it went on, it was also nice to return to the same style that made me fall in love with the series initially. I missed Manon and her thirteen, but this was absolutely a worthy addition to the series.

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Review: A Court of Mist & Fury

Review: A Court of Mist & FuryA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns & Roses #2
Published by Bloomsbury Childrens Books on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 624
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads

Feyre is immortal.
After rescuing her lover Tamlin from a wicked Faerie Queen, she returns to the Spring Court possessing the powers of the High Fae. But Feyre cannot forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people - nor the bargain she made with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court.
As Feyre is drawn ever deeper into Rhysand's dark web of politics and passion, war is looming and an evil far greater than any queen threatens to destroy everything Feyre has fought for. She must confront her past, embrace her gifts and decide her fate.
She must surrender her heart to heal a world torn in two.

When I read it…

I read this between May 21st and June 2nd.

What I’d heard before I read it:

Lots and lots of positive things!

What worked for me:

  • Rhysand: Rhysand is… troubled. He’s outwardly hard, inwardly damaged and weighed down by everyone’s negative expectations of him. In other words, he’s everything I love in a character!  On top of that, he’s also strangely charming despite his sarcasm, and definitely seductive.
  • The supporting characters: A LOT of my love for this book was because of the supporting characters.  I loved Mor, Azriel, Cassien, Amren, Nessa & Elain, each in their own way. I loved the relationships between Rhys and his friends, as well as Nessa & Elain’s sisterly bond.
  • The emotional rollercoaster: A Court of Mist & Fury invoked a LOT of feelings.  There were amazing highs, laugh out loud funny moments, and a lot of moments when I wanted more than anything to join Rhys’ gang of friends.  There were soul-crushing moments that made me cry and moments I wanted to hug Feyre and shield her from the world.  I was absolutely drawn into Feyre’s world and strongly invested in the characters which made A Court of Mist & Fury an emotional rollercoaster,
  • The steamy romance: Try not to judge me friends, but I have to admit the romance and the steaminess were definitely something I enjoyed!

What didn’t quite work for me:

  • Tamlin/Lucien: I found Tamlin and Lucien frustrating throughout the whole of A Court of Mist & Fury – I didn’t like their attitudes or their actions, and I never quite felt like their changes were believable.  I felt like both Tamlin & Lucien betrayed their characters in this installment, and that did grate a little.
  • The beginning: It took me a while to get really into A Court of Mist & Fury, and for some of that beginning I really couldn’t decide how I was feeling about everything.  Feyre is hurt, and different, and it makes complete sense that the story doesn’t instantly pick up with the same kind of pace – Feyre simply wouldn’t be able to handle it.  But somehow I found myself swinging back and forth between finding it believable and realistic, and finding it frustrating and slow.

The romance was one of the things I wasn’t 100% sold on in A Court of Thorns & Roses, and I’m pleased to say that A Court of Mist & Fury definitely changed my feelings.  My newfound love for the romance, combined with some truly awesome characters and relationships – both romantic and non-romantic – that I felt strongly about meant I enjoyed A Court of Mist & Fury even more than the first book.  Having said that, I mentioned in my review of A Court of Thorns & Roses that I wasn’t quite sold on the villains or their motivation, and sadly that remained true for A Court of Mist & Fury, so for me, it just didn’t quite hit the 5 star mark.

Other reviews of A Court of Mist & Fury: Lunar Rainbows | Happy Indulgence | Dani Reviews Things

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Review: A Court of Thorns & Roses

Review: A Court of Thorns & RosesA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns & Roses #1
on May 5th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it... or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

When I read it…

I read this between May 12th and 20th 2016.

What I’d heard before I read it:

Quite a lot of good things, but despite that – and despite the fact I love Maas’ Throne of Glass series – the romance and the faeries just didn’t really appeal to me.  After hearing even better things about the second book, I figured it was time to finally give it a chance!

What worked for me:

  • Feyre: Feyre is not an all-knowing, all-powerful, filled-with-magical-abilities kind of girl.  She’s got some skills certainly, but aside from her painting skills which seem innate, her independence and capabilities come from perserverance and desperation.  That makes her easy to like and easy to relate to.
  • The supporting characters: I really loved some of the minor characters in A Court of Thorns and Roses – I especially liked Lucien and Alis, both of whom I clicked with very quickly.
  • The steaminess: A Court of Thorns and Roses was steamy, which I was not at all expecting but totally didn’t mind.  I love the fact that a YA book has sex, including casual sex, and that it wasn’t portrayed as this huge big deal.  That isn’t something I’ve come across in a lot of books, particularly YA, and it made for a refreshing change.

What didn’t quite work for me:

  • The romance: It might seem like this book – which seems so romance-focused from the blurb – wouldn’t work if you don’t totally adore the romance, but strangely I didn’t find that.  I liked the romance, I thought it was plausible, and I definitely thought there was chemistry… I just didn’t feel like it was the only possible outcome.  For me, someone who so often loves fanon couples over canon couples, this was absolutely not a problem, just means more fun shipping possibilities until later books hopefully help me decide on my ultimate favourite pairing!
  • The villain: Villains are super important to me, and I just wasn’t 100% sold on the villains in A Court of Thorns & Roses.  I didn’t hate them or find them totally unbelievable or anything, so it wasn’t a dealbreaker, just a minor frustration.

I ended up enjoying A Court of Thorns & Roses a lot more than I anticipated. I found it dramatic, gripping, full of steamy romance, unexpected twists and an exciting cast of characters.  The series hasn’t become an instant favourite, but it was certainly addictive enough that I’ll be picking up the second book as soon as possible!

Other reviews of A Court of Thorns & Roses: Lunar Rainbows | YA Midnight Reads | Confessions of a Book Addict

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Review: Queen of Shadows (Sarah J. Maas)

Review: Queen of Shadows (Sarah J. Maas)Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #4
Published by Bloomsbury Childrens on 01-09-2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 656
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

The queen has returned.

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 contrinues Celaena's epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

SPOILER ALERT: As Queen of Shadows is book 4 in the series, there will probably be spoilers for Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire.

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★★★

The storyAs in Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows has multiple plot threads and point of views.  We see Aelin, Rowan and Aedion in Rifthold, Dorian in the glass castle, Manon and her Thirteen in Morath, and obviously we also get to see more of Chaol too.  While I enjoyed all of the threads, Manon and the story at Morath was probably my favourite thread in Queen of Shadows (I didn’t see that coming either!).  Queen of Shadows isn’t a small book, but I was hooked by it, and I happily read it in just under a week.  As always, Maas sent me on a rollercoaster of emotions, and it felt like every five minutes I was telling Matt “This happened and it was awesome” or “Oh! Listen to this, it’s so sad” or giggling out loud and getting strange looks.

The characters
In Heir of Fire, I fell in love with Manon and her Thirteen, and Queen of Shadows just reinforced that love: I still love Manon and I adored learning more about Asterin and some of the other witches.  We met new characters in Queen of Shadows too, and the biggest additions are probably Lysandra, Nesryn and Eilide.  While Eilide and Nesryn are perfectly interesting and likeable enough, Lysandra is clearly the show-stealer: she’s an awesome character in her own right, and her interactions with the others are priceless.

While I loved most of the characters, I did have a few concerns, mostly that I felt like Aelin became a little less likeable and Chaol felt like a stranger at times.  I’m also a little confused by Rowan and Aelin’s mental communication: maybe I missed something, but I didn’t think it was true telepathy so much as reading a lot in glances, but if that’s the case, there were times they read too much in a look for me to find it truly plausible!

And of course, it’s difficult to talk about Queen of Shadows without mentioning the relationships.  Queen of Shadows seems to have absolutely polarized readers and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that a lot of those strong feelings probably come about from fans of different ships.  With so many different ships, there was absolutely no way Sarah could please everyone, so I wasn’t particularly surprised when I didn’t adore the way the romance went. I did feel like the romance was a little heavy-handed at times, and I wonder whether that was perhaps to satisfy the ship fans, or try and convert non-fans.   I found myself occasionally frustrated with endless male posturing and dominance, and I think that almost certainly contributed to my love of the Manon storyline.  Having said that however, I still loved the book, and although it wasn’t the ship I’d have chosen, it did grow on me so I definitely don’t think you should let negative reviews put you off reading!

final thoughts

I said in my review of Throne of Glass that it wasn’t a book that had you hooked only for the storyline, or only for the characters, and that remains true even now: Maas manages to combine epic storylines with great pacing and a cast of characters that you wish you could meet in real life (even if they might be a little intimidating!).  Where some books sometimes feel like wonderful characters, fantastic world-building or gripping plots are ‘making up’ for another area which may disappoint, the Throne of Glass series genuinely feels like it does all three areas well.  I debated back and forwards for a long time whether to give Queen of Shadows four or five stars – I definitely didn’t think it was perfect, I found the romance frustrating, and I found both Aelin and Chaol a little less likeable.  On the other hand, Manon and the Thirteen’s story was brilliantly addictive, I adored Lysandra and learning more about Asterin, and the story sent me on an emotional whirlwind.  It took me a long time to decide, so in the end I took a step back and just thought about what a four or five star rating truly means – four stars means I really liked it, and five stars means I loved it.  At the end of the day, despite my issues with Queen of Shadows, on the whole, I loved it (I’d have loved it enough for Manon’s thread alone), I’ll happily re-read it, and the series is a favourite, so for me, that makes it a five star read.

Buy it? This one is definitely worth buying from my perspective!
In a nutshell: Not perfect, but nonetheless an epic, emotional, gripping read that I didn’t want to end.

Other Reviews of Queen of Shadows: Not another dumb blonde | Alexa Loves Books | The Perpetual Page-Turner (This one has spoilers but if you’ve read the book it’s well worth reading this review for Jamie’s perspective on the ship!)

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Heir of Fire (Sarah J. Maas)

Heir of Fire (Sarah J. Maas)Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Published by Bloomsbury Childrens on 11-09-2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, General, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 576
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon
Goodreads

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?The bestselling series that has captured readers all over the world reaches new heights in this sequel to the New York Times best-selling Crown of Midnight. Packed with heart-pounding action, fierce new characters, and swoon-worthy romance, this third book will enthrall readers from start to finish.

SPOILER ALERT: As Heir of Fire is book 3 in the series, there will probably be some spoilers for Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight.

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Readability: ★★★★

 

The storyFollowing the cliffhanger ending of Crown of Midnight, in Heir of Fire Celaena is alone in Wendlyn, sent there by Chaol for own protection. Chaol is preparing to head home to Anielle with his father – something he never wanted but the price for ensuring Celaena’s safety.

Unlike previously, the characters are spread out in different areas, so in Heir of Fire, for the first time (I think, though it’s been a while since I read the first two), we have shifting points of view.  There are, I would say, three main threads to the story.  We meet Manon Blackbeak, a kick ass Irontooth witch, and we follow her from her isolated hunting down of Crochan witches to the gathering of three clans and all the backstabbing tension that entails.  We see Celaena, alone in the land of magic and myth, as she goes looking for the Fae, and we see Dorian and Chaol still in the Glass Palace.

At first I was unconvinced about the three storylines, particularly with the introduction of new characters, but it really works for the story.  I actually loved Manon’s story the most by the end!  The plot perhaps doesn’t move as far as in Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, so I think for me, without the multiple points of view, it could have run the risk of feeling like a bridge to book 4 only, without enough to keep me gripped.

 

The characters

In Heir of Fire, we see our old favourites – Celaena, Dorian and Chaol – but we also get introduced to a whole bunch of new characters too.  Celaena grows a lot throughout the story, both in terms of her abilities and her self-awareness.  She’s mentored by Rowan Whitethorn, a new character.  Rowan is a fae warrior who takes no crap – he has no issues telling Celaena when she’s being whiny or difficult, and he’s willing to fight her, to push her to her limits and to keep pushing her when she wants to give up but he knows she has more left.  A lot of people LOVED Rowan, but while I really liked him he just couldn’t compare to Manon…

Manon Blackbeak is a new character, and she’s one of our point of view characters.  Manon is bloodthirsty and ruthless and yet somehow still so immensely likeable.  At first I was kind of cautiously curious about her plotline but also skeptical because I already had characters I loved and how could Manon live up to those?! And yet, I ended up loving her as a character!  Her determination, her relationships with her thirteen, her training with the Wyverns… (And all I’m going to say about the wyverns is that they’re awesome and if someone could please get me one for Christmas that would be awesome)

We also meet Aedion Ashryver, who is abvove all, loyal to his cousin Aelin Galathynius.  Aedion didn’t have as much of an impact on me as either Rowan or Manon, and I don’t really want to say too much about where he fits into the storyline, but he’s an interesting, complex character I’m definitely curious to hear more about.

final thoughtsHeir of Fire is definitely a worthy follow up to Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight.  I thought the pacing was definitely a little slower than the first two books, but the new characters/character development easily made up for it for me.  There’s definitely less romance in Heir of Fire too, which is a little disappointing because Maas does romance so well but….well it does have wyverns so I think it can be forgiven! It’s also great to read a story which has such a focus on non-romantic relationships and development that isn’t driven by romance!  Despite being 500+ pages, I devoured this in a couple of days and although I do think it could have been shorter in order to up the pace a little without losing anything, I really enjoyed it.

Buy it? Yes, absolutely!
In a nutshell: A fantastic follow up, with some truly amazing characters.  Definitely remains a favourite series.

Other Reviews of Heir of Fire: Great Imaginations | Behind the Pages | Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

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