New Adult Romance, YA Fantasy

My Review: Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6): By Sarah J. Maas

Publish Date: September 5th, 2017

Number of Pages: 680 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s

Genre(s): YA Fantasy, New Adult Romance

***Warning!! This Review contains spoilers from this book and previous books in the whole series, continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!!***

To see my review of book #0.5 – The Assassin’s Blade – Click HERE

To see my review of book #1 – Throne of Glass – Click HERE

To see my review of book #2 – Crown of Midnight – Click HERE

To see my review of book #3 – Heir of Fire – Click HERE

To see my review of book #4 – Queen of Shadows – Click HERE

To see my review of book #5 – Empire of Storms – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast of the series – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 4.25 Stars

Here we are with yet another installment in what is one of my favorite series of all time: The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.

This is an interesting addition though and has caused some confusion amongst the fandom; so hopefully I can help anyone who has questions by clearing things up: this is not a side quest or side story that people can decide to skip over. It’s just the next installment into the whole series, but it happens parallel to all that happens in Empire of Storms. We never saw Nesryn and Chaol in the previous book because of all that happens in this book thats happening all at the same time. With them not being in that story means that all the others (Aelin, Rowan, Dorian, Manon, Aedion, Lysandra, Elide, Lorcan, and the others) are not going to be in this book. It seems like there was some miscommunication because Tower of Dawn was originally supposed to be a side-novella, but once Sarah sat down and started writing, a story that was much larger than a novella just poured out of her, and she playfully shrugged as she turned this into the publisher. Suddenly, it goes from being a side-story in a novella format to a full-length novel and just the next installment of the series. I’m not complaining; I could easily read a 2,000 page book written by SJM, but I do see the confusion some people in the fandom had.

This book holds a special place in my heart because thanks to this book, I got to actually see Sarah J. Maas in person, hear her talk about her writing experience, and won a raffle to even get a picture with her and a personalized signed copy of the book! She talked about the Southern Continent being inspired by the Mongolian Empire, how she Genghis Khan, and how the story of her most important new character, Yrene Towers, is actually pretty similar to a story about her grandmother. She too fled a country that was dangerous and sought to kill her and others like her (for religious beliefs I think), and all the complex emotions behind it along with having to start over in an entirely new world all alone. It was incredibly inspiring! Below is the picture I got with Sarah; some of you may have seen it pop up on some of my other reviews under my name or in my bio page:

Back to the story, Chaol has always been a favorite character of mine! Him, Dorian, and Aelin/Calaena were the original trio, and I always appreciated Chaol’s more stoic personality and the pride he has for himself and all that he does. I didn’t like when things got complicated between him and Aelin/Calaena because he couldn’t accept the magical parts of her, but I could understand where he came from since that’s what he’s been taught for as long as he remembers. It’s hard to break the chain of that if it’s been instilled into your brain since you were young, but I could still see the good in him even as it felt like he’d been reduced to the “bitter ex” in Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows. I always held out hope that we’d see him get back more into the story in a better light, and Tower of Dawn definitely allows that to happen with his character, but I get more into that later on!

He supposed he’d learned that strength could be hidden beneath the most unlikely faces.”

– Sarah J. Maas, “Tower of Dawn”

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

Chaol Westfall and Nesryn Faliq have arrived in the shining city of Antica to forge an alliance with the Khagan of the Southern Continent, whose vast armies are Erilea’s last hope. But they have also come to Antica for another purpose: to seek healing at the famed Torre Cesme for the wounds Chaol received in Rifthold.

After enduring unspeakable horrors as a child, Yrene Towers has no desire to help the young lord from Adarlan, let alone heal him. Yet she has sworn an oath to assist those in need—and will honor it. But Lord Westfall carries shadows from his own past, and Yrene soon comes to realize they could engulf them both.

In this sweeping parallel novel to the New York Times bestselling Empire of Storms, Chaol, Nesryn, and Yrene will have to draw on every scrap of their resilience if they wish to save their friends. But while they become entangled in the political webs of the khaganate, deep in the shadows of mighty mountains where warriors soar on legendary ruks, long-awaited answers slumber. Answers that might offer their world a chance at survival—or doom them all . . .

What I Liked:

  1. ANOTHER Batch Of New Characters! Holy Character Overload Batman, we have a lot of new characters! With Chaol and Nesryn travelling to the Southern Continent to gain allies for the epic war ahead, of course that means we meet a large amount of new characters to fill the pages. There’s the Khagan, who’s the ruler of this new realm you travel to and whom Chaol has to convince to help join Aelin and the others. There are also his royal children: Hasar, a princess with a wickedly sharp tongue who you can’t wait to see interact with both Aelin AND Aedion. There’s Arghun, the arrogant and strategic of the Khagan siblings. There’s Duva and Kashin along with Sartaq, who’s also the commander of the Northern armies in the Southern Continent, along with being the oldest of the siblings. He’s an important character, definitely keep your eyes on him! The most important character to also include is Yrene Towers. I wouldn’t exactly call her new since we actually met her in one of the short stories in The Assassin’s Blade, but I know not everyone has actually read it themselves, so Tower of Dawn is the start for them. Another incredibly important character to keep your eyes on! The list goes on with all the new characters you meet in this book, but this is a good start to go off of until you read the book yourself if you haven’t already! It’s funny, but one thing SJM is NOT known for is her representation of marginalized characters with her past books, but it’s like this book was saving all of them for now because I think every new character introduced in this book is POC.
  2. Chaol is Redeemed! Perhaps my biggest disappointment in the series is how Chaol seems to be reduced as a character in the last few books. You begin to see it in Heir of Fire, it really rears its ugly head in Queen of Shadows, and then he’s gone entirely from Empire of Storms! The frustration with Chaol’s treatment was growing and growing as the series developed, but luckily his disappearance from the previous book means he got all the more attention in this book, and I truly think this book also helps him redeem himself in a lot of fans eyes. He finally sees the error of his ways, learns to accept what he couldn’t before, and is able to heal in more ways than one and move on in life. Fans of Mr. Westfall will rejoice at how he’s given center stage this time around and how much he grows in this installment, and even finds love while doing so!
  3. Valg Plot Twist Revealed! Not to give it all away for those who haven’t read this book yet themselves, but a HUGE secret involving the backstory of Erawan and the Valg is revealed, and of course, it changes everything! Sure, it may not have been revealed in the most logical of ways: the character who reveals it has been keeping it a secret for so many years, why tell it now? BUT that doesn’t make this twist any less exciting and somehow allow SJM to raise the stakes somehow even higher as it all leads up to the final battle that will take place in the next book!
  4. The Mystery! So when Nesryn and Chaol arrive in Antica, they soon learn the royal family and the whole city are in mourning over the unexpected death of one of the royal children. Soon, it’s revealed that foul play was involved, and that the dark cloud of Erawan and his influence may or may not have already beaten them there. There’s someone or something there that is up to something that may involve the other healers like Yrene, and they’re trying to stop Chaol and everyone from learning more. There’s some mystery attacker who targets them, but who is it? Who’s been taken over by the Valg? It could be anyone…
  5. More Amazing Worldbuilding! Somehow SJM manages to have created a whole new world within this series that was already so rich with history and lore; there’s enough world-building in this book that could easily fill another whole new series all together!
  6. Let The Ruk’s Fly! Going off the world-building and vast list of newer characters, there are some new creatures that I absolutely loved being added to this series, and they are called Ruks. They’re not an entirely new concept, they’re pretty much gigantic eagles that people can ride on, but Prince Sartaq is in charge of an army that specifically rides these magnificent kings of the sky into battle, and it fills me with glee as I fantasize about epic battles high in the sky with the Ruks taking on the Wyverns and Ironteeth Witches!

A gift.

A gift from a queen who had seen another woman in hell and thought to reach back a hand. With no thought of it ever being returned. A moment of kindness, a tug on a thread.”

– Sarah J. Maas, “Tower of Dawn”

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. No Aelin and Others…This book occurs side-by-side with Empire of Storms while Aelin, Rowan, Aedion, Dorian, and the others are battling it out at Skull’s Bay and elsewhere. We should all know they aren’t physically in this story at all, but with how Empire of Storms ended on such a dramatic cliffhanger, the thing fans wanted most was to see what happens to Aelin next after what she endured, so it’s a bit understandable that fans are frustrated how this book comes out a year later, and there are still no answers. No new answers to that specific question, and with what’s revealed about the Valg in this book makes us squirm even more so and practically want to beg SJM to give us some sort of scrap of details. We had to wait another whole year to find out!
  2. It’s Slower Paced…This book does feel like it moves a lot slower in terms of pacing, especially with all that happens in Empire of Storms. A lot of it involves Chaol’s road to recovery along with his growing relationship with Yrene. I wouldn’t say it all makes it a bad book, far from it, but I think it’s just not what we want when it’s so far into the series, and we all just want more answers about EVERYTHING by now!

We don’t look back. It helps no one and nothing to look back.”

– Sarah J. Maas, “Tower of Dawn”

Conclusion:

Overall, yet another impressive installment into one of my favorite book series ever, and while it doesn’t exactly give us answers to everything that happened in the previous book, but what it does do is allow us to maybe take a step back and breath and relearn to love a character who’s been with us since the beginning and who’s not gone down the brightest of paths. His treatment hasn’t been the greatest, but Chaol seriously redeems himself in this book, and we do learn even more important information + key characters who will play a HUGE role in things to come!

The world-building, the large cast of new characters, and newly revealed information about both Maeve and the Valg will make this side story worth it. To some readers, it will remind them of Sarah’s earlier work like when the first two books had come out. Her descriptions and writing in this book feel very similar to how those earlier works were written, but of course need to remember that things have changed so much since those simpler times. While we can appreciate those simpler times, we can’t look back too far because let’s remember: the next book, Kingdom of Ash, is the final book in this series!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fantasy, Romance

My Review: House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1): by Sarah J. Maas

Publish Date: March 3rd, 2020
Number of Pages: 803 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance

Total Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

Through love, all is possible.”

– Sarah J. Maas, “House of Earth and Blood”

I know, I know…it sounds like a really cheesy quote; like something straight out of a Sailor Moon movie where something flower or heart shaped pops out of Serena’s chest along with some song with those exact lyrics while she saves the world with the help of Tuxedo Mask and the other sailor scouts and everything becomes back to normal…Read this book though, and this quote will have much more meaning to you, along with the characters who say it.

So, it’s been a couple of days since I’d finished this behemoth of a book, and with the time away from it, I was able to fully absorb everything that happens and be able to organize my thoughts. I’ve also been able to get a Fancast for the series going on here as well

You should check out my in-progress Fancast/Dreamcast by clicking the link HERE!

Like any other title SJM has written, I’d gotten completely transported into the story with all its characters, and nothing else mattered to me but finding out what happened next. I know some people aren’t really fans of her work—a few who’ve read this couldn’t get past the repetitiveness of her words—but I can’t help but admit that I just really connect with her books! The plots, the characters, the twists, and the romance; I just can never get enough of it…Plus, isn’t it normal for an author to have similar themes and/or characters in their multiple work projects? If it works for them once, can’t it work again? Also, don’t readers also have a set of similar expectations whenever they check out the author’s other books anyways?

I had many different emotions while reading this book: the first one being confusion because right off the bat there was a TON of world-building info that honestly didn’t make a whole lot of sense. The next was the usual overall happiness because theres also a group dynamic amongst the main character, her long-time best friend, and their squad of wolves—not werewolves because they can choose when to change. The next was absolute heartbreak…then that turned back into excitement, and I’m not going to lie, I actually cried six times the last 25% of the book too, and now I need to know what happens next when the sequel doesn’t even have a release date yet!

Great…

I did have some initial hesitation going in that I thought was worth mentioning. Once I’d read the blurb, I was worried how similar this plot sounded compared to A LOT of other paranormal romance titles/series out there. One in particular that I’ve become obsessed with in 2020: The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. They both sounded too eerily similar: both include a young, gorgeous party girl who’s easy, party-drug induced world is flipped upside down when someone they care about more than anything else ends up mysteriously murdered. They’re thrust into deadly hunt to find some answers with the reluctant help of Mr. Tall, Dark, Gorgeous…and completely broody, cheeky alphahole. Together, they discover the dark workings of an underworld full of demons and other evil creatures, along with many sketchy beings, and make questionable alliances in order to learn the truth and save the world from impending doom. I was thankfully relieved when after I’d gotten a few chapters in at how different the two stories were able to remain amongst each other, especially as it would’ve looked worse for SJM since the Fever series has been coming out since 2006. She’d dodged the bullet there, and still managed to make another series that’s just as binge-worthy.

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

Bound by blood.
Tempted by desire.
Unleashed by destiny.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

What I Liked:

  1. The Romance Development! So it can’t even be considered a spoiler because of the blurb, but there’s a romantic subplot that occurs between Bryce and Hunt. I would gladly categorize it under the “Enemies-to-Lovers” romance trope, and it’s honestly done to perfection. The two of them become reluctant partners to try and solve the big mystery of the murders, and as the stakes get higher, they grow closer along with the sexual tension rising at a really well drawn out slow burn. Hunt and Bryce really compliment each other well, and as they grow closer and become more vulnerable with each other, they reveal tidbits about themselves and realize how similar they both are. I seriously just loved their relationship, and how they’d come to mean so much to each other in the amount of time they spend together. I really, really hope they’re endgame because based off how SJM book romances go, the first love NEVER works out…Hopefully this relationship breaks the pattern.
  2. SJM Called Herself Out! SJM has gotten a reputation for having the same content in her books, but also excluding certain components too: mainly, people get sick of how she doesn’t seem to try and include diverse characters in terms of both ethnicity and sexual orientation; she only likes to write characters who are straight + white. They also say her male love interests are complete alphaholes— who gets way too possessive, jealous, and the word mixes the word alpha with asshole for those that couldn’t figure it out. He’s usually broody, moody, and scowls a lot while being considered an admirable/fearsome leader, and usually has a tragic background and doesn’t think he’ll ever find love…spoiler alert: he eventually does with the main character. There’s more to it, but I think you get the point…Bryce calls Hunt out right as their partnership is officially formed, and I actually laughed as I’d pictured SJM herself flicking off all the haters to show everyone that she sees them..and she beat them to the punch. It felt like SJM listened to the criticism she often receives from some readers, and showed them how she’s aware of it all, and honestly made an effort to change it for this book.
  3. Ruhn Danaan! I think he’s considered a minor character, but he also feels like a main character because you read his perspective throughout the story, but all I know is, he is by far one of the best characters in this book. He calls himself out on his “chosen one” status everyone has given him as the heir to the Fae throne in Crescent City, but based off his demeanor and how he’s gone all tattoos-and-piercings; he rebels against the expectations everyone has given him. His relationship as Bryce’s cousin…anyways, it’s also quite a treat to enjoy to see how it evolves and uncover hidden depths of its dynamic as you read on, so please enjoy!
  4. The Cover Design! House of Earth and Blood probably has to be her best cover yet! I’ve loved some of the Throne of Glass covers while not really the Court of Thorns and Roses covers, but this one instantly bops to the top!
  5. The Theme of Friendship! The deepest relationship besides Bryce and Hunt’s relationship explored is the friendship between Bryce and her sister from another mister, Danika. Throughout the story, their friendship really goes through the wringer, and is tested as more secrets are unveiled in order to solve the mystery. This was especially shocking because you know about Danika’s terrible fate even in the blurb. It’s a real emotional roller coaster, especially as you learn how hard it is for both women to actually say the words I love you to anyone else and how they’d literally die for each other and sacrifice everything in order for the other to be happy. Nothing exchanged between these two is insignificant, that’s for sure!
  6. The Swearing and the Sex Talk! Honestly, I am here for the amount of swearing there is in this book; it makes up for every “fuck” Aelin wanted to yell but wasn’t able to. I swear a lot when I talk amongst my friends or whenever I’m in a casual setting, so this truly resonated with me, and made the dialogue feel so much more natural! SJM has quite of bit of her characters lewdly talk about topics like sex, drugs, drinking, and partying because it’s stuff that people actually talk about in today’s world. At least, they are amongst my friends and age group of the New Adults aged 18-25. It makes it even cooler that in this book, the people doing it are Fae, Witches, Mermaids, Witches, Wolves, Vampires, and other creatures straight out of fairy tales.
  7. The Evolution of Danika! Like I’d mentioned above, Danika was a huge surprise for this book. Once the inevitable happens, I’d kind of written her off, but her character continued to stay relevant as the plot thickened. It turns out Danika had a lot of secrets to hide, and even has her moral code questioned at one point, only to develop even further, and I was amazed at how SJM was able to do that with a character that was never standing by the rest of the cast in present time. My favorite part of SJM’s writing is her character work, by far. She can even make a dead girl one of the most popular characters of the entire book, not to knock any of the characters still alive—just read the book to see what I mean.
  8. Aidas! A character we see only three times, and of course he’s the most interesting character to me despite that fact. He’s a level-5 demon prince from Hel (not a typo, thats how it’s spelled in this book), and since there’s only two other princes above his status, he’s kind of a big deal. He’s partially at fault with how I want the next book, like, NOW! The very last words are uttered by him, and with that, the torturous waiting has begun…

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Massive Info Dump at the Beginning…One of the biggest critiques this book has been receiving is the massive info dump that occurs within the very first few chapters, and I gotta say I’m in total agreement here. 80% of Chapter 1 is an info dump, and it’s just way too much too soon, and it hardly made any sense as quite a bit of the information doesn’t really come into play until much later in the book. I say, SJM should’ve spaced it out more to make even the opening chapter less overwhelming for everyone reading it for the first time. I can say, however, once you get past this initial set up, the book gets a whole lot better, and even the last third of the book is balls to the walls amazing! Seriously, if the book is dragging for you, PLEASE wait until the last 200 pages to really give it a chance, because it makes it all so worth it!
  2. The WorldBuilding is All Over the Place! With the info dumps at the beginning, it’s also confusing how so many cities and other civilizations are referenced so much in this story, but we don’t know where they are, or have any map for reference to help my fellow visual learners make reading it any easier. The only map we get is of Crescent City itself, so that was irksome…Hopefully another map of the whole world will be created soon, maybe even before the next book releases. Hopefully!
  3. Compared To Her Other Work…Not that I didn’t enjoy the book, but once people started pointing out certain things, I couldn’t ignore it. They’re saying she’s almost plagiarizing herself with how similar this book is compared to her Throne of Glass series. A lot of the character arcs all seem the same, and I don’t feel like going into detail about it all, but I can say that I definitely see the comparison made there.
  4. It’s Length…No, not the velvet wrapped steel SJM sometimes mentions in her sex scenes….you filthy perverts can go get your minds out of the gutters! I’m talking about how this is one thicccc book, and for those that are already on the fence about SJM and her books, this one will be a major test to see how you fare with her work because of the length, and how no major twists or revelations happen until after the 500 page mark. Even I can agree that the pages before you hit 500 could’ve been condensed a bit more in order to make it an easier read for some people. I remember I had a similar issue like this with The Priory of the Orange Tree, but I have other issues besides the length of that title, and I will say something controversial by stating I enjoyed this title more than the standalone literal brick by Samantha Shannon—check out my review in the embedded link to see my reasoning for that.

Conclusion:

At this point, I really take a lot of the criticism SJM books receive with a grain of salt. I’m always extremely emotionally invested in her stories whenever I open the pages of my copy of whatever book it is of hers, whether it’s for the first time ever or I’m able to squeeze in a reread of the previous book before the next one releases. I just connect with her style of writing so much, and enjoy her work more than so many other authors. I can recognize her faults as a writer too, and still be able to look past them to still be able to enjoy her stories. I just hope some people will learn to go out and find other authors that they can enjoy and praise more instead of wasting so much time and energy bashing her work just because she won’t include certain components into her titles. No writer should be forced to do something like that, to change how they tell a story just because certain members of the target audience require X,Y, and Z in order to be able to enjoy a work of fiction. Like I said, if you don’t like an author, simply go search for someone else’s work to praise instead. SJM has a huge following, her books are always popular, so some negative reviews on Goodreads aren’t going to change that anytime soon! Okay…rant over on that, now back to House of Earth and Blood:

Was this book perfect? No.

Is this book my new favorite? I’m not sure, but it’s defs up there!

Did I still enjoy this book? Hell yeah!

Did I cry while reading this book? Oh, you bet’cha…

Do I need the next book? Immediately!

I recommend this book to anyone who already enjoys Sarah J. Maas’s other books, maybe more her later work that gets more mature themes. Personally, I would be fine if she decides to stay this route and not continue with YA anymore just because I can tell she enjoys the more mature themes, like the swearing and sex scenes themselves that can only get a whole lot better as she keeps writing! I also recommend this book to people that enjoyed titles like the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning; Bryce Quinlan has a lot of similarities to Mackayla Lane that I think fans of both series will immensely enjoy, and might also enjoy comparing Hunt Athalar to Jericho Barrons! Total side note: but wow, their names sound so much more crazy when they’re next to each other like that… It’s a good thing I’m still crazy about those two alphaholes!

Thanks For Reading!

— Nick Goodsell