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

YA Fantasy, YA romance

My Review: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3): by Sarah J. Maas

Publish Date: September 2nd, 2014
Number of Pages: 565 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Genre(s): YA Fantasy, YA Romance

***Warning!!! This Book Review contains spoilers from the previous titles in the series, read 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 Fancast/Dreamcast of the whole series – Click HERE!

Total Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

So, if you though you had a handle on this series and what it entailed based off the first two books….oh honey, you couldn’t be way more off!

Sarah J. Maas comes back with the next chapter of her first fantasy series, Throne of Glass, and gives readers an entirely new feel for what it’s all about! Seriously, it feels like her writing has aged many moons since we last read whatever the latest tale was in Caleana’s story and her writing has dramatically matured into a full fledged Best-Selling author that we know she is! She continues the series in epic fashion as she tells us a story filled with newfound magic, heartbreaking loss, sacrifice, self doubt, character development, friendship, rebellion, danger, and redemption!

I am seriously starving as I write this review, so one way to describe this book is sort of like eating spicy Thai food…It’s delicious and full of savory and sweet flavor, but then the after-burn hits, and you begin to feel the sweat form on your brow and your cheeks redden. You keep eating, and the fire continues to build and build until you’ve got what feels like a legit forest fire dancing on your tongue!

I’m not going to lie, I really want some Thai food now…

Years ago, after reading the ending of Crown of Midnight and being shooketh harder than a polaroid by that big reveal, I knew I was absolutely going to love this series! Looking back on it and remembering my young, naive heart that was still so full of hope and not so much of vain, self-deprecating sarcasm and I’d just laugh at how I absolutely did not see that big reveal play out like it did! I admit, nowadays it’s nothing too new, but it was the way it was told and revealed to us that made it truly epic and changed the entire way I viewed the series.

With how it all left off, I honestly had no idea how this series was going to continue! Crown of Midnight really sped things along and gave us a ton of easter eggs of what was to come (ie: the myth of the Valg, Baba Yellowlegs and the Ironteeth Witches, the wyrdkeys and wyrdmarks, the heart-wrenching death of Nehemia, and yes, Caleana stealthily revealing to Chaol who she REALLY is, plus plenty more), I really wondered what was going to happen next! I thought Aelin was going to just rise up with new army from Wendlyn and return Daenerys Targaryen-style across the sea and take back her kingdom and stop the King that way, and that’s not really the best route for a long term plan. Why not add, like, 10K levels of complexity to that plan and add more interesting characters, develop familiar ones even further, and increase the stakes with an even bigger enemy that has yet to actually reveal itself until now! THAT, my readers, is what it takes to tell an amazing story!

Heir of Fire adds so much more depth to the overall series, and like the novella’s in The Assassin’s Blade, it continues to allow the series to gain an even bigger base in order for it to continue to branch out and grow into something even more amazing than what we mere peasants could imagine! Sarah J. Maas changes the game up on us and gives us a much deeper and more thought out plot than we maybe could’ve originally guessed, and deals with even more important issues that are actually not plot based, but character based. Important aspects towards the characters is how they’ve suffered and how that’s shaped them to be who they are in current time. Things like betrayal, grief, acceptance, self-love, and loyalty play a huge part in how this book develops and allows us as readers and fans of the series to feel an even closer connection towards them within the pages and make them feel so much more real, personable, relatable, and most importantly: memorable.

What It’s About:

Caleana Sardothien, aka Aelin Ashryver Galathynius and who we now know is actually the long lost heir to the throne of Terrasen, has made it over to the magical realm of Wendlyn in order to finally confront her dark past and maybe gain help from her estranged aunt, Maeve, who is queen of the Fae in Doranelle. While in Varese, she is confronted by a fae prince named Rowan Whitethorn, before she can gain any real answers. The scene is officially set when she learns that if she wants to learn the secrets of the wyrdkeys and what power they may hold in the final battle to come, she’ll need to train alongside Rowan and master her fire abilities in an incredibly short amount of time. It’s a hard task, but what does Aelin have to lose at this point? She and Rowan travel to Mistward in order to carry out her part of the deal, but tensions rise and personalities clash as Rowan and her try not to absolutely tear each other’s heads off before they even get there.

A map of the magical realm of Wendlyn, which is East of Erilea where the story had primarily taken place until now!

Meanwhile, another new character is introduced in the name of Manon Blackbeak and her coven of 13 Ironteeth witches. She’s the heir below her grandmother patron, and they travel to the Ferien Gap under the deal they have struck with the King of Adarlan. It is revealed that he is building forces in the mountains and powerful winged creatures named Wyverns are being raised, with the Ironteeth Clans coming together to become their riders for his army. Wyverns are very similar to Dragons, so see the image below for clarification:

Yes, total side note, but the “Dragons” from Game of Thrones and even Harry Potter are actually Wyverns! I wish I could keep track of how many minds I just blew with that knowledge!

Manon is cold, vicious but determined and fights all other witches in order to be named Wingleader, but is she really a villain? Or is she more an anti-hero who surprises herself with actually having a soul and slowly learns that maybe she doesn’t have to settle for what her grandmother’s rule makes her believe is true? Good questions, and an even better new character!

A cry went up from the witches, save for the Thirteen—who stayed cool and quiet. They did not need to cheer, for they—were immortal and infinite and gloriously, wonderfully deadly.

– Sarah J. Maas, “Heir of Fire”

Back in Rifthold, Chaol and Dorian come face to face with Aedion Ashryver, who is actually Caleana/Aelin’s cousin and childhood BFF. He’s all bad boy smirks, sharp zingers that roll off his tongue, and barely contained wild behavior as he seemingly seems to have completely turned his back on his heritage and is now working with the king with his army of the North, the Bane. Both Chaol and Dorian don’t trust him and his suspicious aloofness to certain questions, and try to follow him and see what he’s possibly up to. To make matters worse, Chaol can’t help but notice a particular black ring around Aedion’s finger and assume the worst…

While all that is going on, the bigger enemy has been gaining power until their forces are at their worst and they are finally able to make a major power play move! It turns out, The king of Adarlan isn’t the big threat!

…oh no….

The bigger enemies are a demon race known as the Valg and they were the ones that actually formed the wyrdkeys long ago. They were trapped and entombed before, but somehow they’ve gotten out and intend to continue their malicious plot and infest the world with their eternal darkness….

What I Liked:

  1. The Series Has Evolved Into Epic High Fantasy! So before in the previous two books it had felt more like a Grimdark subgenre of fantasy with only a small inkling of magic but with the hint of more to come later on, but now as Aelin is revealed to be half-fae and the long lost heir to the Terrasen Throne, and changes the game on us. When she goes over to Wendlyn, the author introduces us to a whole new magical world that is full of incredible beings and creatures. While something like this has been hinted at since the beginning of the series, seeing it finally appear in front of your eyes is still pretty eye-opening and adds so much more depth and excitement to the series overall!
  2. It Introduces Great New Characters! Oh. My. Gods!! There’s a plethora of new and interesting characters that are brought into the story! Some of them are more interesting than others of course, but the ToG series is changing rapidly and becoming even bigger with the many new faces Heir of Fire presents us with: First one worth noting is Rowan Whitethorn, of course. Under the orders of the Queen of the Fae, Maeve (another new character), he takes Aelin to Maeve, who will only tell her all about the wyrdkeys if Aelin can master her abilities. The next character is Manon Blackbeak, an Ironteeth Witch whose goal is to track down any remaining Crochan Witches (enemies of the Ironteeth clans for centuries), and eradicate them forever. She, along with her Blackbeak clan of 13, head to the Ferien Gap to personally select their own Wyverns, and it is there that she ends up with her steed, Abraxos. Next we have Aedion Ashryver, who is basically a male version of Aelin and has many secrets beneath his arrogant smirk. Last but not least, we have Ren Allsbrook and his grandfather Murtagh, who are former courtiers of Terrasen before it was invaded by Adarlan, thus making them join the rebellion cause. Many new faces, but important players in the game!
  3. So. Much. More. Growth! What was truly a huge moment in this book was how we finally get to see what happened the night Aelin’s young life was changed forever when Adarlan invaded her homeland of Terrasen. It’s a highly emotional moment that brings tears to your eyes as you learn more and more about those whose lives were lost trying to save her from assassination, and how her inner demons with that knowledge try to drag her down and make her want to give up all this time later. She blames herself for all the pain she feels she’s caused and hates herself for it all and believes she wasn’t’ worth it!S he becomes so raw, broken down, and vulnerable in your eyes as she confronts the dark memories and faces a deadly enemy on the rise, her growth in this story is iconic! She enters Wendlyn a lost little girl, but may be able to leave as the queen she was born to be!
  4. The Theme of the Power of Friendship! It’s another thing that Maas does so well in all her books, and that is how she plays up the importance of friendship and those platonic relationships amongst her characters. There are romantic relationships too, sure, but it’s surprising how little we see of just good ole’ relationships of friends and allies in all the titles of YA Fantasy that come out! This is especially evident in Rowan and Aelin’s relationship as the story develops. They start off as reluctant allies, and animosity builds between them with their clashing personalities. Rowan has an incredibly strong presence that is also chillingly quiet, and he’s also a total Alpha-Male who doesn’t put up with Aelin’s bullshit. She tries to give him harsh words with her sharp tongue? He throws it right back at her 10x over! He’s intense, intimidating, and infuriatingly patient as he continues to train her, but they form a seriously special bond when they begin to understand each other better and learn what the other has been through before their eventual meeting. It’s not romantic really, but more of a friendship kind of bond to the point that they would kill for each other and do anything to help one another by the end. It was incredibly refreshing to read, and not many relationships out there are quite like it in Fantasy genre literature. I’d like to see more like that!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. It’s Slower Paced…The author switches things up with the content, and gives us a more traditional high-fantasy genre novel with several POV’s occurring side-by-side from far distances, and while the story takes on a whole new level of world-building and becomes much bigger and richer, it does slow down in terms of pace for much of the middle. This mainly occurs with Aelin and Rowan’s chapters filled with their traveling and training sessions as they travel to Mistward, but can also be seen with Dorian back in Rifthold with yet another side romance story arc that doesn’t really do anything to develop his character. I think the reasoning is because so many of the revolving storylines have an air of mystery to them, and while the author gives us exciting little tidbits throughout to recapture critical readers dwindling attention spans, it’d revert back to the slow pace. Sarah just really takes her time exposing the big reveals, when maybe she could have had them happen a lot sooner, but it’s also worth mentioning that it’s slower because Aelin’s storyline becomes more character driven instead of plot driven, in my opinion. It’s more about her confronting her demons, exposing herself and taking a mental, emotional and physical beatdown, and rising above it as she comes to terms with everything, stops blaming herself, and learns to stop having it weigh her down and instead use it as her driving force.
  2. Dorian and Chaol Starting to Disintegrate…It’s unfortunate to see the two of them continue to drift apart in this next installment because their friendship felt like a backbone of it all and is another great example of friendship that we need to see more of! Their storylines go off into separate directions, Chaol’s being more prominent, and pretty much seems to be leaving Dorian behind. So, he gets a new romantic love interest with a servant girl, Sorscha, as she helps him be able to move on from the emotional pain both Chaol and Caleana/Aelin had caused him in their abandonment, especially when they needed him most! Chaol, bless his heart, continues to become weary and judgmental of Aelin and Dorian’s powers and his unwillingness to accept it is so disappointing. It feels so ignorant and old-fashioned of him, and I don’t want to call out his behavior to being similar to homophobia, but it does feel similar to when someone completely turns their back on a person in their life when they come out of the closet as queer. Chaol’s character wants things to go back to the way they once were, with both Dorian and Aelin, and struggles to accept how things have now become.

You cannot pick and choose which parts of her to love!

– Sarah J. Maas, “Heir of Fire”

Conclusion:

Wow you guys, I’ve got to apologize because like the actual book itself, this review is loooonng! I can’t help it though! I love this series, and get extremely passionate about talking about it, even when I can find material to critique and maybe even find problematic later on. I can accept those aspects and still love the series all the same!

I recommend this book, or the whole series in general, to anyone who loves those sweeping & epic fantasy-genre tales that have so much history behind them and so much action, adventure, romance, and coming of age characters (so yes…I’m about to connect this series to the high caliber tales like Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and even Lord of the Rings! Get at me if you disagree!

SJM somehow exceeds expectation with this vast addition and shows that she is a master of her character’s development and the interpersonal relationships that form and develop between them too! With the ending of this book—while it does tie up quite a lot of loose ends that have been lingering since the very beginning—it does leave us absolutely shaken to our core and on quite a cliffhanger with the wellbeing of a lot of characters being called into question! It does, however, give the author the thing they want most, and that is by having their readers say the following:

“I can’t wait to see what happens next!”

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fancasts/Dreamcasts

My Fancast/Dreamcast: Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas

Image courtesy of of Instagram account: @darkfaerietales_

This series is about a young assassin named Calaena Sardothien, who’s been trapped at a concentration camp for over a year before she’s hand selected by the crown prince, Dorian Havilliard, to be his champion in a tournament in order to be the king’s royal assassin and eventually gain her freedom. Without giving too much away for those that haven’t read it yet, SO much more happens in this series, and we’re introduced to a lot of memorable characters:

My review of book #1 –Throne of Glass – Click here!

My review of book #2 – Crown of Midnight – Click here!

My review of The prequel – The Assassin’s Blade -Click here!

My review of book #3 – Heir of Fire – Click here!

My review of book #4 – Queen of Shadows – Click here!

My review of Book #5 – Empire of Storms – Click here!

My review of book #6 – Tower of Dawn – Click here!

My review of book #7 – Kingdom of Ash – Click here!

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Here’s my official Fancast/Dreamcast:

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Calaena Sardothien: Amber Heard, or Samara Weaving

Amber Heard, credit to owner
Samara Weaving, image courtesy of celebmafia.com

Both these blonde bombshells have that little fire in their eyes that perfectly encompass our main protagonist, Calaena! Amber Heard has been in Pineapple Express and Aquaman, and Samara was in the Netflix Halloween flick, The Babysitter. Amber was my original choice when I read the series over the years since while they were published, but I discovered Samara recently and thought she’d also make an excellent Aelin!

Dorian Havilliard: Chace Crawford, or Karl Kugelmann

Chace Crawford, image courtesy of stars-arena.com

So ever since I watched him be pretty boy Nate Archibald in the CW’s Gossip Girl back in the day, Chace has been a favorite of mine! he’s got the charm, he’s got the smile, and to help further my justification, it was the image of him below that had me sold on him being my Dorian!

Karl (below) is a model/Tik-Tok creator/influencer (I also can’t believe that’s a thing), and he is so stunning that I actually tear up a little if I look at him for too long! He’s like if Ian Somerhalder and Matthew Bomer had a baby together, and a lot of people are also fancasting him as Rhysand from SJM’s other series, A Court of Thorns and Roses. I see that, but personally, I think he encompasses our dashing Dorian Havilliard just a tad more.

Image courtesy of the model’s Instagram profile

Chaol Westfall: Steve Boyd

Credit to owner

The guys no actor; he’s a model I found on Instagram, but he’s my version of the proud and stoic Chaol Westfall. You don’t see it in the first image I selected, but Steve has that smoldering gaze that made it easy for me to select him as another one of my favorite male SJM characters. To further prove my point, here are some more images below to enjoy for your own eyes, and maybe see where I’m coming from…you can thank me later 😉

For all images: Credit to owners

Nehemia Ytger: Antoinette Robertson

Image courtesy of actress’s Instagram account

I love her portrayal of Coco Connors in Netflix’s TV show Dear White People, so I know she’s not afraid to play a strong woman of color. She’s absolutely gorgeous, and has such a glamorous presence on screen; she’d be perfect to to play Princess Nehemia!

Kaltain Rompier: Camilla Luddington

Image courtesy of gotceleb.com

She’s tough and spunky Jo Wilson on the later seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, but I feel like she’d also be able to play the catty and brash Kaltain. Her character starts off as the basic, interchangeable mean girl trope, but becomes much more compelling as you read Queen of Shadows, and that is where I think Camilla will excel at this role.

The King of Adarlan: Alan Van Sprang

Image courtesy of the actor’s IMDB profile

He’s played a brutal king on the CW’s Reign, plus other titles too, so I know he’d be great at playing the sadistic King of Adarlan! Not the most original casting, I know, but the guy plays corrupt men on the thrown so well, I felt like some of us would be disappointed if he didn’t get the role!

Nox Owen: Bernardo Velasco

Image courtesy of the model’s Facebook page

I’d hoped Nox would play a bigger role in the whole series because I really liked the time we had with him, short and brief as it was, but I could totally see this handsome model play the part of Nox.

Sam Cortland: Sam Claflin, or Cameron Cuffe

Sam Claflin, credit to owner
Cameron Cuffe, image courtesy of gettyimages.com

Both actors just fit the description I had pegged for the one character who everyone loves but only a few actually meet (At least those who read The Assassin’s Blade), and both actors have the ability to teach me love, teach me patience, and teach me pain with Sam’s terrible fate.

Archer Finn: Armie Hammer

Image courtesy of thefashionisto.com

Archer is a total pretty boy, plain and simple. He’s a male escort in Rifthold, and Armie is just so delicious to look at, and he’s surprisingly not as old as he actually looks! I’ve seen him in The Social Network, The Lone Ranger, and Call Me By Your Name.

Queen Elena: Amanda Seyfried

Image courtesy of thesharenator.com

A lot of people have fancasted her as Calaena and/or Aelin, but I always thought she seemed too old for that part. With her being put into the list of possible names, I just came up with the idea of the actress from Mean Girls, In Time, Mamma Mia, Jennifer’s Body, and Red Riding Hood would be better suited to play the first queen of Adarlan!

Duke Perrington: Stellan Skarsgård

Image courtesy of hollywoodpicture.net

Stellan is a terrific actor, even if he’s never been an actor who I seek out whenever finding a movie to watch. I imagine Duke Perrington to be this more portly nobleman who just has foot soldiers do all his dirty work, but actually has SO MUCH GOING ON BENEATH THE SURFACE, I”M NOT SPOILING IT BUT OH MY GOD, please appreciate the meaning of that sentence!

Sorscha: Kelsey Asbille

Image courtesy of ign.com

I loved her as Gigi in One Tree Hill, and immediately thought of her as the healer we meet in Heir of Fire who also becomes a love interest to our favorite Prince, Dorian.

Rowan Whitethorn: Chris Hemsworth

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Watching him play the god of thunder, Thor, in the MCU movies was what really gave this idea to me. I mean, he had such gorgeous long locks of hair that were so similar to Rowan’s when we initially met him in Heir of Fire, and I’d hoped he’d have kept it a little longer than he did, but nonetheless, he’s beautiful no matter what length it is! But since everyone is so NOT for this choice, here’s a visual of Thor’s hair both long like Rowan’s in Heir of Fire, and shorter like it is in Queen of Shadows and further on:

Credit to owner

Aedion Ashryver: Josh Upshaw, or Christopher Mason

Josh Upshaw, credit to Owner
Christopher Mason, credit to owner

Both highly agreeable options to play Aedion, I feel no need to further justify!

Lysandra Ennar: Megan Fox, or Phoebe Tonkin

Megan Fox, image courtesy of cosmopolitan.com
Phoebe Tonkin, credit to owner

Despite people not seeming to be big of fans of Megan Fox, I’ve always liked her in whatever film I’ve seen her in. She’s type-casted as the bitchy hot girl, and Lysandra definitely starts off as that, but it’d be a great bridge for Megan, who has more ability than just being the same role! Phoebe is another great choice; catch her in the CW’s The Vampire Diaries and its spinoff, The Originals.

Manon Blackbeak: Catherine Joy Perry

Image courtesy of the WWE Superstar/model’s Instagram profile

So I follow SJMaas on Pinterest, and she’d pinned images of caucasian girls playing Manon, and not east asian actresses like others are casting her as. I won’t knock anyone who chooses their own fancasts, but I’m just personally going with the author based on her own visual cues.

Asterin Blackbeak: Teresa Palmer

Image courtesy of ranker.com

Another fancast option that’s been mentioned for Calaena and Aelin, so I had her included in my casting as the Second-in-Command for the Thirteen in the Blackbeak clan.

Lorcan Salvaterre: Henry Cavill

Credit to owner

I love this man…with his Netflix show, The Witcher, showing him in his white wig as the main character, Geralt, and EVERYONE was instantly like “IT’S ROWAN!!!!“… Not me, I’d already had him casted as my Lorcan!

Fenrys Moonbeam: Jason Momoa

Image courtesy of usmagazine.com

Fenrys was by far the hardest character to cast! First, not enough artists have commissioned fanart of him, and no one else has given me satisfying fancast options of him either! Jason Momoa came up because he’s a person of color, he’s can show the cockiness to match, and Aquaman here is also just plain gorgeous! I like him being my Fenrys; give me a better actor’s name, I dare you!

Gavriel: Charlie Hunnam

Image courtesy of moviestillsdb.com

He’s been in the show Sons of Anarchy and the Guy Ritchie directed flick, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. He’s got a more mature look, so I thought he was an actor of proper age to play our calmer member of the Cadre, Gavriel.

Blackbeak Patron: Jessica Lange

Image courtesy of gala.de

She’s an icon, plain and simple. Jessica usually plays homophobic old women in her roles, but I can look past that for the sake of having her play an ancient, but powerful Ironteeth Witch and patron of the Blackbeak Clan. I’m literally getting chills just thinking about it!

Elide Lochan: Nina Dobrev

Image courtesy of weheartit.com

Everyone knows her as Elena Gilbert and Katherine Pierce on The Vampire Diaries, but now you can also picture her as the resourceful and courageous Elide Lochan! Both characters know they aren’t the strongest players in the game, but that doesn’t stop them from sticking it to the big male alphaholes who continuously underestimate them.

Nesryn Faliq: Liza Soberano

Image courtesy of reddit.com

Liza has beautiful Filipino features, and she was someone who I thought of to play the master archer, Nesryn. It’s up for debate what ethnicity she technically falls under, but I’ve always pictured her having more eastern Asian features in her appearance, plus there’s plenty of fanart to back me up, so I’m sticking with my choice!

Ren Allsbrook: Alex Libby

Image courtesy of selectmodels.com

Ren isn’t described a whole lot in the books, so I feel like it can be pretty up in the air with whoever would portray him. I had a major crush on this model around the time we met this character in the books, so I just put a face to the name at that time. This choice could really be anyone!

Ansel of Briarcliff: Rose Leslie

Image courtesy of vk.com

If not Sophie Turner, I believe the role of Ansel should go to the other fiery redhead in Game of Thrones, Rose Leslie! I loved her portrayal of Ygritte in the hit HBO series, and even though Ansel is a little more refined and less rough around the edges, their spunk and confidence is what made this choice for me!

Queen Maeve: Kate Beckinsale

Credit to owner

When her most famous roles include movies like the Underworld films and the Van Helsing flick with Hugh Jackman, It’s no surprise that this gorgeous, British bombshell should play the High Queen, and one of Aelin’s biggest enemies!

Erawan: Alexander Skarsgård

Image courtesy of the actor’s official Facebook page

This is more for when we physically meet (one of) the King of the Valg, and big villain of the series, in Empire of Storms. I believe the host he took over was described as statuesque and blond and beautiful…um, so basically Alexander Skarsgård then! I find it funny that I have two Skarsgård brothers to play the big boss villain!

Captain Rolfe: Theo Theodoridis

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Theo is a model I found on Pinterest of all places, plus I do believe digital artist @morgana0anagrom kind of based her commission the character off him too, so he’s a choice for me to play the Pirate Lord who we first meet in both The Assassin’s Blade, and then later on in Empire of Storms!

King Gavin Havilliard: Wes Brown

Image courtesy of the actor’s IMDB profile

This was just kind of random choice to be completely honest, I believe I was watching Private Practice on Netflix around the time I met him in the books, as Wes was a guest star on it, and he had similar features to Dorian, so that’s how I made the choice!

King Brannon: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Image courtesy of randomhotguy.blog

Love, Love, Love him as Jaime Lannister! I think by the time we get a surprise appearance of this character in the series, I was just looking for any character I could have Nikolaj play. If not King Brannon, he could also play a good Gavriel too I think!

Galan Ashryver: Jay Byars

Image courtesy of smgmodels.com

Another character who really anyone could play I feel like…Jay was another model I discovered on Instagram around the time I met Galan in Heir of Fire, so that’s how I made this choice!

Ilias of the Silent Assassins: Kendrick Sampson

Credit to owner

I wish Ilias was around more in the whole series! I really liked the whole Silent Assassins thread when you meet them in The Assassin’s Blade!

Yrene Towers: Kat Graham, or Tina Kunakey

Kat Graham, image courtesy of instyle.com
Tina Tunakey, credit to owner

Yrene Towers is one of the harder characters to fancast, just below Fenrys to be honest! There are so many different names thrown out there as to who everyone believes should play the healer that escapes to the Southern Continent, and becomes such a huge role in how the whole series wraps up! Kat Graham is a choice for me so long as she has her hair longer and lighter like in the image above, but someone on Tumblr mentioned Tina as their choice, and with her long curly hair, I do see her as a choice too!

Prince Arghun: Godfrey Gao, or Alex Landi

Godfrey Gao, image courtesy of showpo.com
Alex Landi, image courtesy of mattsimpkinsphotography.com

Godfrey Gao, who was in the Mortal Instruments movie, was my first choice to play the pompous high prince of the Southern Continent, but I was so sad to hear about his unfortunate death…the story behind it is just so tragic too! He died way too early. I have to include him, but Alex Landi is a newer choice, and you can see him on the most recent seasons of Grey’s Anatomy.

Prince Sartaq: Sam Asghari

Image courtesy of the actor/model’s Instagram profile

Mr. Britney Spears is my choice for Sartaq, who is by far the best new character to come out of Tower of Dawn (You meet Yrene in The Assassin’s Blade first!) Obviously, put a wig on top of Sam’s head, but wouldn’t you swoon if you saw him flying by on the back of his noble steed, Kadara? Can Ruk’s (Giant Eagles) be referred to as noble steeds?…

Princess Hasar: Constance Wu

Image courtesy of Entertainment Weekly Magazine

I first saw Constance star in Crazy, Rich Asians, and crazy enough, I also pictured her playing the exact opposite of a character as the the vicious, sharp-tongued princess and eldest daughter to Khagan, Urus. Some other fans see Hasar as more Middle Eastern, Egyptian, or Indian, but Constance really resembles how I pictured this character.

Prince Kashin: Sean Sarrantos

Credit to owner

The handsome middle son of the Khagan, I’d found this Greek/Korean fitness model on Pinterest and it was love at first sight! Someone said he looked like an asian Ryan Reynolds, so do with what you wish with that information…I hope that’s not offensive to anyone!

Borte: Naomi Scott

Image courtesy of the actress’s Instagram account

Borte is one of the Ruk riders alongside Sartaq and his clan, and is described as having golden-brown skin and onyx hair, and I know Naomi is a credible actress, so I thought she’d make a great addition to my stacked cast!

Yeren: Ariel Ben Attar

Image courtesy of the model’s Instagram profile

In my opinion, Yeren could really be casted as anyone…for anyone who needs a reminder, he’s engaged to be married to Borte despite the fact that they can hardly stand each other, even though they’re both in the same clan of Ruk riders in Tower of Dawn.

Falkan: Aiden Gillen

Image courtesy of latimes.com

We meet him in Tower of Dawn, and he’s incredibly worth mentioning based off what you learn about him later on in that book–not that I’m spoiling it in this post for anyone who possibly hasn’t read that far–and I want Aiden to play a role where I don’t hate the character too!

Bronwen: Elizabeth Blackmore

Image courtesy of the actress’s IMDB profile

Katherine played Heretic Valerie Tulle in the seventh season of The Vampire Diaries, and I think she’d play this role very well. Not much was told about this character’s appearance, so I think it’s a little more up in the air, but since she played a notable role in Kingdom of Ash, I thought “why not?” and included her.

Arobynn Hamel: Tom Hiddleston

Image courtesy of popsugar.com

I had to end this fancast on a high note, and why not have the Master of the Assassins–and Aelin’s former mentor–to end it with? My first choice was originally Michael Fassbender, who’s also a lot of other fans’ choice, but I believe Tom as Loki in the MCU movies changed my mind, as Arobynn and Loki are very similar in personality and demeanor, at least in my opinion!

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Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell