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

YA Fantasy, YA romance

My Review: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4): by Sarah J. Maas

Publish Date: September 1st, 2015
Number of Pages: 648 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genre(s): YA Fantasy

***Be warned!! This review contains spoilers from previous books in the series, so 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 Fancast/Dreamcast for the whole series – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

By now, we’re so far into the series and even further into the evolution that was Celaena Sardothien into Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, the long lost heir of Terrassen. We’ve gotten to know her as a character, see her bloody past and her mistakes, and to see her grow before our eyes as readers. We’ve also met plenty of memorable characters along the way too; some that will be major players for the battle ahead!

Queen Of Shadows is a particularly interesting part of the series because of a few reasons. It was obvious—even back during Heir of Fire—that the series had taken a massive shift. A major change to the tone and the overall feel of these books was evident, and whether or not that’s a good thing really depends on who you ask within the Throne of Glass fandom. I for one absolutely loved it—as you can tell by my star rating above—for many reasons. In my opinion, it’d felt like we’d gotten to see a lot that we’d been waiting a long time for: the reveal of the big villain behind everything, the meeting of many new characters, certain character interactions happening, and of course, the possibility of justice to the realm of Adarlan.

For a few though, they say things like how it feels more like fanfiction from it’s own author, how certain characters have been pushed aside, and the series has gone in a direction that may not have been the best choice…They say plenty of other things, but I politely & respectfully disagree as I personally say Queen of Shadows is actually one of the author’s better written books. I felt like the entire time I’d read it that it was filled with so much high-octane events and amazing characters; how could anyone not appreciate that!

You can definitely tell Sarah J. Maas’s skills as a writer has continued to grow in her ability to make the plot of the whole series more complex and twice as dangerous as more and more keeps getting revealed, like the wyrdkeys and their significance, the Valg and how they want to take over, seeing both sides of the battlefield and getting inside the minds of important characters, enticing side-stories, sexual tension between love interests, and continuing to deepen the development of the world she’d created.

For me, she has an amazing talent to be able to make you fall in love with characters, even when you’d barely thought twice about them at first. She makes them feel so personable, memorable, and strong in their own ways; you wish they were real and that you were a part of your squad IRL.

Going off of that, another high point is how newer characters keep getting introduced with each book on top of the already established cast with some that have been there since the beginning, but it never feels overwhelming or unnecessary! You met Rowan, Aedion, Queen Maeve, and Manon in Heir of Fire, but more keep getting introduced in this book along with a few others that you haven’t seen in sometime since the first two books.

What It’s About:

Aelin has returned to Erilea from across the sea, ready to fight it out as she’s now been trained on her Fae abilities–her fire–but she’s going to need some extra help. She seeks out the help of anyone in Rifthold–the capital of Adarlan–even one man whom she considers a great enemy: her former trainer & mentor, Arobynn Hamel. Still reputable as the “King of the Assassins,” he informs her about her cousin, Aedion, being imprisoned and set for execution.

She also meets up with Chaol and a new ally, Nesryn Faliq, and they all get caught up on whats happened since they’d last seen each other, mainly the fact that Aedion and Dorian got captured, the latter now succumbing to the control of the Valg, and they realize just how bad everything has gotten even without them always getting at each other’s throats about it. They both carry valuable information, but neither are willing to share it with one another because of the mutual distrust they now share with their tense history.

More players enter the game as (spoiler alert but not really)…Rowan makes his way over from across the sea too and reunites with Aelin as they try to get ahead of their enemies and learn so much more about the Valg and what exactly has been happening.

Meanwhile, Manon Blackbeak and the other Ironteeth Witch clans are still in Morath training with their Wyverns for when the King of Adarlan finally calls them forth to battle. Her and Duke Perrington butt heads as she tries to figure out what exactly is going on, and he’s having her choose a clan for an experiment with the witches and the implantation of Valg stones to see if they can successfully breed together. She also wonders what role another female prisoner must play, but becomes concerned when her deadly power shows that more is definitely going on than she’s actually aware of. Maybe this isn’t what she signed up for?…She also meets a servant/kitchen maid, Elide Lochan, who may or may not be another key player added to the mix and is more than meets the eye.

So, so, so, so, so many things happen in this book: there are many twists and turns, epic battles, bitter betrayals, new characters introduced, familiar characters that continue to grow, and even more plots become revealed in this next installment in one of my all-time favorite series!

What I Liked:

  1. You Meet Lysandra (Sort Of)! Lysandra is a former courtesan (prostitute), and the mistress of Arobynn Hamel. If you’d read The Assassin’s Blade—which you totally should if you haven’t already—it was there where you actually first met her and instantly thought of her as the token hot & sexy mean girl who knows she’s hot and is an instant enemy to Aelin because she’s threatened…Obviously, as you get to know Lysandra more in this book, you’ll come to know that is the complete opposite of who she actually is. Her as a character and her dynamic with Aelin throughout Queen of Shadows was excellently done, and as more is revealed about her, you’ll quickly add her to your list of favorite characters.
  2. You Meet Arobynn Hamel (Sort Of)! The man has quite the reputation, that much is certain…You’ve heard his name thrown out plenty of times, but if you skipped The Assassin’s Blade novellas—seriously, read them if you haven’t—you come face to face with the “King of the Assassins” himself for the first time in person. Aelin returns and reluctantly seeks him out for assistance in rescuing Aedion from the castle, but it may as well be making a deal with the devil, as she learns he continues his deadly mind games and has plans of his own in their uneasy alliance.
  3. You Also Meet Lorcan Salvaterre and Elide Lochan! Even more new-ish characters! You’d kind of met Lorcan in the previous book, but he wasn’t there for too long, so it would’ve been easy to write him off and assume you’d maybe never see him again….WRONG! The legendary warrior is back with a vengeance under the orders of the Fae Queen Maeve after how things ended between her and Aelin’s confrontation across the sea. He hunts for the ring to return to his master, and is willing to do whatever it takes to get it back, including going head-to-head with Rowan. Next, we’ve got Elide Lochan, who meets and reluctantly befriends Manon. I liked her instantly because despite her limp and her misleadingly weak demeanor, it was revealed how crafty she is and how she’s a survivor. There’s definitely more than meets the eye with her, so watch out!
  4. So Many Strong Female Characters! You already know Aelin and Manon, who are both total badass babes, but literally EVERY female character in this book is too! There’s Elide, who has mastered the art of deception in order to survive, Nesryn Faliq is a master archer who becomes a big help in the many rescue missions, Lysandra shows so many hidden depths to her character, you learn more about Asterin Blackbeak as her character is explored more, and even (spoiler alert!!)…………..Kaltain Rompier makes a surprise reappearance and is able to change the game in her own way!
  5. The Big Bad Guy Revealed! I’m going to say this is a major spoiler for the book, so readers beware!…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Okay, so we’ve known about the Valg, right? The shadowy demons from another dimension that have come into this world through ancient wyrdgates and plan to take over and turn it into a dark, icy, windy wasteland much like their homeland. There have been a few higher ups–the Valg Princes–but now it’s revealed there’s an even BIGGER villain that’s in charge of it all: it turns out there are actually three Valg Kings, and one of them has come over and goes by the name Erawan. He was locked in a tomb deep beneath the mountains many years ago, but was also revealed to have been let out, and has been let loose into their world this whole time! I know, this plot twist sounds eerily similar to the White Walkers, wights, and Night King story arc from Game of Thrones, but you have to admit that it certainly raises the stakes, and makes you rethink everything about a certain character that has always been there, but had remained in the background until now…creepy stuff!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. A Sudden Shift With The Romance…Now hear me out, I am a big supporter of romantic subplots and am a firm believer in OTPs. It’s even better when the romance is a subplot and it doesn’t interfere with the main storyline, which is a case in this series when it comes to budding romance between Aelin and Rowan. I think this is a big part of why some people don’t like this book because they were major shippers of Celaena and Chaol from the first two books in the series–I was too, but at the same time I also figured with how they’d developed that they weren’t actually right for each other. Once it was revealed that she was Fae, he just couldn’t see past that and couldn’t look at her the same. It made sense because that’s the kind of character Chaol is: very traditional, raised a certain way, and has a certain set of beliefs. I get it, but was disappointed with him nonetheless. Aelin wasn’t all that innocent either; both of them made mistakes, and they call each other out on it in this book. Anyways…Now it seems her and Rowan have a thing going on, and while I do see it, I felt like it was a bit of a jump that could’ve been smoother. In Heir of Fire, the two of them had a complex relationship that’d felt more platonic and friendship based, and then we get here and there’s suddenly romantic feelings beneath the surface that neither fully admit to, sexual tension that burns them from the inside out…and like I said, it just could’ve been a smoother transition. It feels like this subplot was added just so there could be at least ONE major romance going on in this title. All I can say is, I agree when it’s said that Chaol was good for Celaena but Rowan is good for Aelin, and there is a difference there.
  2. Chaol Reduced to the Bitter Ex…While part of me knows this isn’t necessarily true in some regards, I consider my biggest disappointment with the series how it’d felt like Chaol and Dorian got done dirty and were pushed aside to make way for Rowan and Aedion. Nothing against those two, but I have a thing against social climbers who ditch their old friends for people newer and “better,” and it felt like that with Sarah’s treatment of continuing to break up the original trio who we’ve all come to know and love. In this book, Chaol and Aelin reunite, but it’s clear they’re both still harboring some ill will towards each other. Chaol seemed to have been reduced to the bitter ex role, and just becomes the antagonist who questions Aelin at every opportunity that arises. Not that it isn’t completely unjustified; Aelin has screwed up too, and it’s nice to see that Chaol still isn’t afraid to call her out on her faults, but it still felt at some points it was like he purposefully got in her way or poked at her sides in some petty act of revenge of a bruised ego. Maybe that’s not how others saw him in this title, but as a serious fan of him and his quieter, more stoic demeanor; I was continued to be disappointed to see where his character has gone by this point.
  3. “Why Are You So Obsessed With Me?“…It’s gotten quite repetitive with how many times you hear how amazing Aelin/Celaena is by now. Everyone still seems to fuss over her, obsess about her, is in love with her, in awe of her, etc….like okay, fine, she turns out to be the long lost heir to the throne, her power is pretty cool if not the most original special ability to have even if the amount of her power has never been seen before…Believe me, we get it by now Sarah…She’s fire, she’s ash, she’s light, and she’s embers. She will bow to no one and take what is rightfully hers by blood-right. Why are we hearing the same pep talk over and over again?

Conclusion:

A thiccccc addition to this action-packed, high fantasy series! The book’s substantial size may seem intimidating, but let me assure you that it doesn’t slow down or bore you to tears. Lots of things happen–some you’ve been hoping to see since the beginning–and lots of new characters to get to know! Some you may have met if you’d read The Assassin’s Blade—One last time: READ IT—but still plenty more where they come from, and the plot thickens with the reveal of a major villain!

The series has shifted since the first two books, and honestly kind of has an even bigger Game of Thrones feel to it overall, but that doesn’t necessarily detract from it in any way! There’s still plenty to get excited about with all the intrigue, the danger, the monsters, the romance, the brutality, and the strong bonds formed between the characters. Also, total side note, but who else totally jammed out to Halsey’s “Castle” (The Huntsman version or the original) while reading this?

Thanks For Reading!

— Nick Goodsell