Kingdom of Ash

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genres: Fantasy
Pub date: Oct. 23, 2018 (read Oct. 2018)
Series: Throne of Glass Book #7

This is going to be a beast of a review for a 1,000 page beast of book. Kingdom of Ash has totally taken over my life this past week and I have so many thoughts on the conclusion to this epic series.

As usual, I’m a little torn on how to rate this. Did I enjoy reading it? Absolutely. Was it intense? Undoubtedly. Am I satisfied with the ending? Mostly. Did it still have problematic elements? Sadly, yes.

This series has had a lot of ups and downs over the years. Upon re-reading the series, I’ve come to the conclusion that Crown of Midnight and Empire of Storms were my favourite books in the series, and Tower of Dawn was my least favourite. KoA kept me on the edge of my seat for the full 1,000 pages, but it could definitely have been shorter and I don’t think it will top my list for favourite book in the series.

Disclaimer, I won’t be able to keep this review spoiler free, so if you haven’t read the book yet, I would hold off on reading this review.

First off, the beginning of this book is really dark. I mean, I was expecting it to be dark based on how Empire of Storms ended, but I was not anticipating just how far into the depths this would go. We know at the end of EoS that Aelin is trapped by Maeve and likely to be tortured, but it was so much darker and worse than I expected. In fact, my spirits were so low in the first 300 pages of this book that I almost had to put it aside for a while and I was unsure whether Maas would be able to redeem the story after bringing it to such a low point. However, though I could have done without some of the descriptions and inference of how Aelin was tortured (I really hate any depictions of torture), I appreciate that Maas didn’t shy away from the impact it had on Aelin. Aelin is a mess after escaping from Maeve and she doesn’t bounce back. Every day is a struggle and she tries to put on a brave face for the people around her, but we know she has been broken. She is so tired of the war and the sacrifices demanded of her and she repeatedly says she just wants it to be over. Her feelings rang so true for me and I was really glad Maas wrote Aelin this way and didn’t shy away from the impact it would have on her. As a side note, I also loved the inclusion of Rowan asking Aelin for consent before touching or kissing her again after she escapes Maeve. So overall, I thought Rowan and Aelin were really well done in this book. There were still a lot of sex scenes (overall, not just Aelin and Rowan), but they were definitely more low key and background to the plot.

My second favourite part of the story was by far Dorian. I thought Dorian kicked some ass in this book. He was really more of a tag along character in EoS. He was recovering from his ordeal with the valg prince and didn’t contribute a lot to the story. But Dorian is a king in his own right and I wanted to see him play a larger role in the story. Maas definitely delivered in KoA. He takes control of his own power, makes his own decisions based on the needs of his kingdom over his personal (or anyone else’s) wishes. He is not afraid and takes on the enormous burden of finding the third wyrdkey. My favourite moment in his story arc was when he tricks Maeve. I figured he had some other plan up his sleeve, but I ultimately expected him to be overcome by Maeve and I loved when he destroyed Morath all on his own. The only thing I wasn’t into was Dorian and Manon’s relationship. There’s not really any chemistry between them and I found it hard to believe someone as badass as Manon would be into someone like Dorian. I didn’t like when he basically made her ask him to stay, but I did like that they both understood that she would ultimately never be happy with Dorian, and that while she liked him, her Queendom meant way more to her. She wanted to win back and live in the Wastes and Dorian wanted to rebuild his kingdom.

Finally, I was pretty into Elide in this book. In my review of Empire of Storms, I talked about how important of a character Elide is because she’s essentially the only one without any physical strengths, but she gets by just fine on her wits. I was thrilled to see her play spy in Doranelle at the beginning of the book and to see her repeatedly save her friends throughout the story. She plays a huge role in winning the war and I was shocked at how important her and Yrene were to the conclusion of the story. I just expected Maas to give the glory to one of the other characters, and I actually thought it was great that she wrote Yrene and Elide as two of the heroes of the story. The only thing I didn’t like was how mean Elide was to Lorcan at the beginning. I thought it was justified at the end of EoS, and I could see her just ignoring him through this book, but she was actively mean to him, which I didn’t like.

That said, I did really like Lorcan in this book and I LOVED Fenrys. Fenrys was kind of irrelevant in EoS, but his story in this book is devastating, yet beautiful. He and Aelin suffered so much and I really liked the relationship Maas developed between them. How two people who had suffered so much, could understand each other so well and be a comfort to one another while they both tried to heal themselves. Plus I thought their storyline was clever and I loved their secret code. As for Lorcan, he’s a character who has developed so much since the start of EoS, when he was basically just a mindless killing machine, to finally finding some humanity and reason for living. He ended up being a very sensitive character and proves that even after 500 years, people are still capable of change.

While we’re talking about the cadre, I will say that I’ve never really cared for Gavriel. He was arguably the nicest of the cadre at the beginning, but he kind of just felt irrelevant. I didn’t care at all about him being Aedion’s dad and thought it was totally unnecessary filler. Plus I thought his reunion with Aedion was actually the worst thing ever. I was not impressed that Maas brought them together for like a minute, only to tear them apart again. I feel like she was trying to make this into a great sacrifice, but like, I never really cared about Gavriel and I think she only wrote this scene to get out of having to harm any of her other more important characters. It just felt kind of cheap.

Which is really one of the biggest complaints I have about this book. If you’re still reading this review and haven’t read the book, I’m about the get into major spoilers now. My complaint is that it felt unrealistic that nobody from Aelin’s court died at the end. I was gearing myself up for Dorian potentially sacrificing himself, which would have broke my heart, but been meaningful. I never really believed that Maas would see through the “queen who was promised” scenario because I just didn’t think she would separate her star crossed lovers, Aelin and Rowan. But really, no one died (I’ll get to the Thirteen). Aedion and Lysandra were fighting that tedious battle in Terrasen for the entirety of the novel, I found it very improbable that one of them wouldn’t die.

Aedion and Lysandra’s story was easily my least favourite sub-plot in this book. It was boring and so repetitive. Plus, the timeline made no sense. They fought essentially the same battle for the entire time that it took Aelin to escape, travel to Erilea over the span of weeks, take back Anielle, and then travel to Terrasen (again, over multiple weeks). I felt like it was supposed to create this huge sense of urgency, which it did, but it just wasn’t believable. Plus it was really boring! Also, side note, are we seriously supposed to believe this entire SERIES took place in just over a year? Girl please. There is no way Aelin escaped Endovier; dated Dorian and Chaol; saw her friend murdered; spent MONTHS in Wendlyn; met, fought, fell in love with, and MARRIED Rowan; came to terms with her heritage as queen; killed the king and brought down the glass castle; amassed Arobynn’s fortune and multiple armies; was captured for MONTHS and escaped; all in the span of ONE YEAR. Just no, not possible. She cannot possibly still be only 19 years old.

One of the main things I didn’t like about A Court of Wings and Ruin was that it was all about war and strategy and tactics. Maas lost a lot of the character development that made ACoMaF so great by making ACoTaR a more plot driven novel versus character driven (like ACoMaF was). I think she did a better job here, it was definitely still a character driven novel, but after a while battles just get boring and don’t necessarily drive your plot forward. Aedion and Lysandra’s plotline really needed more substance to it, it was just not enough to carry throughout the entire book. Plus, I really hate Aedion. Like a lot – especially at the beginning of this book. He is actually so mean to Lysandra. I said I didn’t like how Elide was mean to Lorcan, but I felt she was at least a little justified, whereas all Lysandra ever does is try to do what her Queen has asked of her and Aedion treats her like shit for it. I’ve never liked Aedion because he is so arrogant and borderline abusive, but he went to full abusive in this book and after he threw Lysandra out in the snow, I finally parted ways with him forever. In my eyes, he lost any chance of redemption and I really hoped Maas wouldn’t pair him and Lysandra together at the end. He was too mean to her and actually abusive. Super pissed about their storyline. In my opinion, Aedion would have been the perfect character to kill off. Someone needed to die, he’s still beloved, but like, we don’t need him.

Have I got through all the characters yet? There’s so freaking many! I don’t have much more to say about Chaol and Yrene or Nesryn. Honestly, did Tower of Dawn really even matter that much? When I read it I was like, oh this is actually really important to the storyline, but Aelin figured out Maeve was valg on her own anyways, so the only thing Tower of Dawn really added to this book was a huge army and a healer. We really didn’t need a 700 page book for that and I just thought all the characters from Tower of Dawn felt really two dimensional in this book. Everyone from EoS had this real depth to their characters, but Nesryn, Sartaq, Borte, and Falkan all felt like fillers. Yrene ended up being important, but for someone who was one of the core characters of the original series, I felt Chaol didn’t add that much to this story. I was glad to see him using his chair, cane, and horse, without complaining about it, and that he let Yrene live her life and wasn’t overprotective of her. I also loved seeing him and Dorian reunited, but overall Chaol just felt a little secondary.

And finally, Manon. I cried real tears for Asterin and the Thirteen! I loved how they died in that I thought it was a really powerful scene, but again, I kind of think Maas set them up to be the sacrifice over other characters. I loved watching them interact with the Crochans and how the Thirteen have always inspired Manon to be a better person. I was disappointed that Manon’s storyline seemed to focus more on Dorian than the Thirteen though. I don’t resent Maas for their sacrifice, because I did think it was really beautiful and well done, but I wish it had maybe been a little later in the plot? I don’t see how Manon could have ever come back from that. It really would have destroyed her. But I did love the scenes with the Bluebloods and that it was Petrah who took down Iskra.

I read an observation recently about how Manon should have been gay in this series and now I can’t stop thinking about it now. Maas has gotten push back about her books for not being diverse and being super straight. She tried to address this in ACoWaR by having Mor come out as gay, and the more I think it about it, it would have been so easy for Manon to have been gay. The witches totally don’t care about men at all, there are no male witches (well some in the Crochans I guess), and Manon is all about the sisterhood. Like, Manon and Asterin would have made the best couple ever. They definitely had more chemistry than Manon and Dorian.

Anyways, it brings me to another complaint about Maas’ books in general. I don’t get what the weird obsession is with mates and how the mating bond is like the strongest thing in existence. There’s definitely some abusive mates out there who probably trap each other in crappy relationships. In ACoMaF, Rhys even talks about how his parents were mates but weren’t actually that great together and that mates don’t always love each other, so it just seems like a really crappy system for finding your life partner. And I don’t get why is Maas so obsessed with pairing off every single one of her characters. Are there any single characters in this series? Because I can’t think of any? Fenrys and Gavriel are the only ones that come to mind, but not even Gavriel really because he’s supposedly still in love with Aedion’s mother who died. It just gets a little tedious and repetitive when every single main character turns out to be mates with another main character. Even Aedion and Lysandra? Like I knew they were going to end up together, but I didn’t think Maas was going to push the mate thing on them too. (and even the wvyerns have mates, lol, although kind of cute because Abraxos is adorable)

So I obviously have complaints about this book/series. I thought the whole Aelin escaping death thing was too convenient. It kind of cheapened the whole “queen who was promised” storyline and the fact that the Gods didn’t even take Erawan with them? What the hell?! Why did we just waste 3 books searching for wrydkeys, who even cares if it doesn’t get rid of Erawan?

Maas had the perfect setup to save both Aelin and Dorian, I don’t know why she didn’t use it? It made sense that Aelin would want to take the burden upon herself, and her asking Dorian to share the burden would be a great lesson in relying on your friends. You don’t have to do everything yourself, take everything on yourself – arguably one of Aelin’s biggest flaws. The idea that the two of them could each give half of their power was such a brilliant plot element in my opinion and would have been a really nice and sentimental moment about friendship. But no, Aelin had to take it all on herself and then have Maas make up some stupid way for her to escape it all. Did anyone else pick up on that Rhysand cameo by the way? I thought that was the freaking weirdest thing ever. I also missed the part in the plot where the keys were about sending the gods away… I thought it was just about sealing the gate Erawan was using and sending him back. I didn’t realize we were going to banish the gods as well. Ballsy move Maas, but it just didn’t really seem to fit the rest of the story.

However, I did like that Aelin actually lost her powers (though this still could have been accomplished with each her and Dorian each giving half their power). But I didn’t like that she had to lose her humanity. Also just felt very cheap. But I liked that she ultimately learns to rely on her friends by letting Elide, Yrene, and Dorian take care of Erawan, and that she took on Maeve without her powers. It said more about the character of the cast that they weren’t afraid to take on these two demons, even with reduced powers. So I actually did really like the conclusion of the book, with the exception of the random wolf tribe faes coming in at the end. They are literally never mentioned anywhere in the book, so it felt really anti-climatic and cheap. Plus, I need someone to explain to me how Aelin opened up all the portals, because that felt like a huge plot hole to me.

Mostly the battle scenes just felt really repetitive. I was nervous that this would happen after how ACoWaR ended. There were a lot of battles going on in this book, and they were constantly saved by a new ally showing up in the nick of time, only to have Erawan again send more forces that again warranted the arrival of yet another ally to save them. But the wolf tribe was by far the weirdest, because it didn’t even seem like it was really necessary. The Khagan’s forces seemed to mostly have everything under control, and if you’re just going to have all the armies collapse when Erawan dies, than you didn’t really need an extra army anyways.

I think that’s most of what I wanted to say. I do have one last comment about how Maas seems to have lifted a few plot points and phrases out of the Lord of the Rings movies/books. I picked up a few of them myself and was kind of like, “I think that’s from LoTR”, but didn’t think that much of it, but then I read this review about it and realized just how many times some things seems to be lifted from LoTR, so I think it’s worth mentioning.

I have ended up voicing a lot of complaints here, so despite how it might seem, I did actually really enjoy this book. I don’t think I’ll be in a hurry to re-read it and there were definitely problematic elements, but there was also a lot that I really liked about it. Like I said, I actually really liked the conclusion and I will be sad to part ways with this series. It’s definitely been a journey and it’s great to see epic fantasy series like this coming from female authors. Writers are definitely held to a higher standard these days, but it’s not an excuse to not have diversity in your books. Sarah started writing this series like 15 years ago, so it may be interesting to see what she comes up with after finally parting ways with something she’s been working on for half her life. This series was incredibly impressive in scope and I think I’ll always have fond feelings for it. But now I am feeling thoroughly wiped out and I need to go read anything that is not fantasy while I decompress.

Much love!

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Tower of Dawn

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genres: Fantasy
Pub date: Sep. 2017 (read Sep. 2017)

It’s only been a year since I read Tower of Dawn, and it’s my least favourite book of the series, so I decided not to re-read it prior to Kingdom of Ash. Instead I read this recap of the book to remind myself of any major plot points I might have forgotten. But since I did write a review for Tower of Dawn last year that I never published on my blog (only goodreads), I decided to do a few edits and post here prior to Kingdom of Ash! Disclaimer, it is a bit of scathing review… this really wasn’t my favourite book.


Well this book was pretty much exactly what I expected. I was skeptical about the whole novella-turned-novel idea; this story absolutely didn’t fit in Empire of Storms, but it also didn’t need a whole 700 page novel devoted too it.

This book was just straight up too long. I feel like Maas has lost her ability to write 400 page books. She’s had so much success (and deservedly so, I love both her series), but she doesn’t seem to be able to cap things off anymore and understand that sometimes less is actually more. Just because you can write 700 pages, doesn’t mean you should. The book picked up a lot in the second half, but the first half was pretty slow moving and honestly, pretty boring. I think we all knew it was going to take a long time for Chaol to heal physically and emotionally, but god it just dragged on and on.

I absolutely loved Chaol in Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, but I haven’t been that much of a fan in the later books and his character doesn’t improve in Tower of Dawn. I just really don’t like the way Maas wrote him. Chaol had a sorry lot handed to him in Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows, so I sympathized with him, but I didn’t buy into his supposed “growth” in this book. I was happy to see him forgive himself for everything that happened in the series (Nehemia’s death, the death of his men, Dorian) – he blamed himself for a lot of things that really weren’t his fault and I thought Aelin blamed him unfairly too. But despite all his growth, he was really awful to both Nesryn and Yrene.

I wasn’t too sorry or surprised to see things go sideways with Nesryn so quickly because I never really bought their relationship and always thought she was a bit of a rebound for Chaol and a way for Maas to console her readers after immediately hooking Aelin up with Rowan. But Chaol was pretty shitty to both Nesryn and Yrene in Tower of Dawn. I know he was so caught up in feeling sorry for himself, but that was no excuse for the way he treated the only 2 people in his life that cared about him. Am I just supposed to pretend like it doesn’t matter that he broke all of his promises to Nesryn just because she fell in love with someone else too? Hell no! Nesryn knew Chaol was using her to fill a void in his life and yet she still helped him and didn’t pursue anything with Sartaq until after she returned to Antica. She deserved better Chaol! Plus I found his whole relationship with Yrene possessive. I do not dig the whole “She is mine and I am hers” thing Maas has going on with the characters in half her books (Aelin/Rowan, Feyre/Rhys). Honestly, I don’t know how the same author who wrote the feminist, dreamboat of a character that is Rhysand could write Chaol so poorly.

Props for Nesryn and Yrene though. I really liked Nesryn in this book. I found her kind of forgettable in the past and I liked how she really came into herself in this book.

That said, Tower of Dawn had some fun elements to it. The whole creeping around the library was reminiscent of the first book and I liked the mystery aspect. It’s hard to keep up though, every time I think I have all these ancient kings and queens figured out and think I might know where the book is going, Maas throws me for a total loop. I don’t know if things might be a little too convoluted? We’ll have to wait and see how she clues things up in the final book.

Anyways, there were definitely aspects of the book that I liked, but overall, TOO LONG. I won’t be sorry to return to Aelin in Kingdom of Ash.

Empire of Storms

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genres: Fantasy
Pub date: Sep. 2016 (re-read Oct. 2018)
Series: Throne of Glass #5

It’s pub day for Kingdom of Ash! I finished my re-read of Empire of Storms in perfect timing (last night) and I already picked up a copy of Kingdom of Ash this morning! Here’s my review for Empire of Storms and I’ll be posting my review of Tower of Dawn in the next day or two while I read my way through the finale!


This book destroyed me. Even though I’ve already read it and I’ve had that cliffhanger hanging over me for the last two years, it still killed me. I am now dead, thanks Maeve.

In all seriousness though, with the exception of the ending, I barely remembered anything from this book aside from a rough outline of events. I forgot so many of the details that it was almost like reading a brand new book! I feel like this series keeps getting more and more convoluted, but I kind of love it. I don’t know if the way everything has come together was intentional from the beginning, or if Sarah has just somehow been able to make it all work out as she writes each new book, but I really hope it’s the former. I love smart plots. It’s what makes Harry Potter such a beloved classic. Sure, it’s fun and creative and heartbreaking, but it’s also insanely detailed and super clever. Empire of Storms has a crazy large cast of characters, and while I’m not super crazy about each of them, together it makes for smart and well developed story.

I really can’t guess at how Maas is going to resolve all this drama in the final book. I wonder if we’ll get some new character perspectives. In some ways I hope not because it’s hard enough keeping track of the 800 million characters we already have, but I also don’t think I could resist getting Ansel’s internal monologue.

What I loved about this book was that this is the first time we actually get all of the characters together at once (except for Chaol, not really missed TBH). In previous books the characters have all been doing their own thing, which makes for a dynamic story, but not always a fast paced one. Empire of Storms has a slightly slow start (although barely), but once you reach like… 15 or 20% it is literally impossible to put this book down! I think it has to do with our characters finally meeting up with one another. There are less storylines to follow, more badass-ery, and it just makes the whole plot flow a whole lot quicker. Like the entire final 30% of this book is just one huge nail-biter.

I definitely think this is one of the best books in the series. I’m still on the fence for which is better, Empire of Storms or Crown of Midnight, but it’s hard to compare them since they are very different in structure. CoM is more of a traditional fantasy with just 3 viewpoints, whereas EoS is undoubtedly epic fantasy. I love them both. The stakes are so high in this book and we finally get to see the full might of Aelin’s power. I know there are people out there that don’t like Aelin because it’s like she can do no wrong, but I think that in the first 3-4 books (at least), she makes a million mistakes and Queen of Shadows and EoS are the first books where she starts finally pulling her life together. Should she have held her secrets so close to her chest in this book, maybe not, but her whole life has revolved around secrecy up to this point and she does start bringing some of the members of her court into her plans. Not all of them, but hey, it makes for more dramatic reveals!

I have to talk about Lysandra first. I expressed my love for Lysandra in my QoS review and my love for her continues to grow in this book. I would argue that Aelin trusts Lysandra more than anyone, maybe even Rowan. She entrusts Lysandra with so many things in this book and with the greatest task of all at the end of the book. It’s so refreshing to see their female friendship amongst all these possessive male relationships. And I like her (mostly) non-interest in romantic relationships. Lysandra has been taken advantage of by men her entire life and I think it’s very accurate that she would have little interest in pursuing anything with men and I’m really glad Maas didn’t just impulsively hook her up with Aedion, even though that’s obviously where things are headed. Either way, Lysandra is BADASS. I can’t decide what I love more, sea dragon or ghost leopard.

Second, I have to talk about Elide. I did not love Elide in QoS. I didn’t dislike her, she was just kind of boring, but I am totally into her in EoS and think she’s actually one of Maas’ most important characters. Every other character Maas has written has been extremely physically powerful. They all have either magic or insane battlefield skills. I love that Elide has none of those things, yet she is not powerless. Fighting is not the only kind of strength. Lorcan gets Elide out of a lot of her mishaps, but she saves herself several times too and I loved that she was clever and always planning her next move to get herself out of trouble. One of my favourite scenes is early in when she successfully bluffs her way out of the Ilken attack. I was waiting for Lorcan to swoop in and save her and I loved that she got away on her wits alone. She is a bit of a pawn in the story sometimes, especially at the end, but she offers something very different from the rest of the characters. And yes, I totally ship her and Lorcan and LOVED Lorcan’s growth in this book.

Dorian’s storyline is interesting in EoS and I can’t decide if I like it or not. He is very passive for most of this book and to be honest, a lot of the time I kind of forgot he was there. He’s broken and recovering from what happened to him in QoS, so that’s to be expected, and I’m excited for where the story might take him in KoA. I like that Dorian ends up with the keys at the end of EoS because he has always deferred to Aelin in the past and I think it’s finally time for him to be one of the heroes of the story. I couldn’t decide whether I liked his darker side in this book or not though. He is definitely changed as a result of the Valg Prince and has a much darker side, portrayed most often with Manon, which I thought was realistic that he might have been a little corrupted by the valg prince, but I do miss the sweet Dorian from the first few books.

Try as I might though, I just don’t like Aedion. I find it hard to pinpoint what it is I don’t like about him. He’s too arrogant for me and I don’t like the emotional responses he has to things that upset him. He is a total asshole to Gavriel – I mean I can understand why he’d be pissed – but as far as I can tell Gavriel never really knew who he was and is blood-sworn to a psycho, so it’s not like there’s much he ever could have done about it. Plus Aedion does a 180 from QoS in his feelings about Aelin. In QoS, it’s like she could do no wrong, but in EoS he’s totally pissed at her all the time and I don’t like how he always reacts with anger. And then when he freaks out at Lysandra at the end for no one telling him about hers and Aelin’s plans – like you are not entitled to know everything or to everyone’s trust. When Lysandra was like, “I serve Aelin, not you”, I was like, “Yaaas girl, tell him”! He supposedly loves Lysandra and claims that he just wants her to be happy, whether it’s with him, someone else, or no one at all, but I still feel like he feels he’s entitled to her and it just irks me.

Anyways, I wasn’t planning to go through a detailed character portrait of everyone, but it’s hard not to because they are all such interesting people and it’s fun seeing how they’ve grown over the past few books. I won’t get into them all. I don’t think I have a whole lot to say on Rowan. The sex scenes are a little cringe-y, but overall I thought Rowan was toned down a lot in this book from the last and I liked him a lot more. PLEASE FIND AELIN FOR US ROWAN.

I also don’t have a whole lot to say about Manon. She was obviously BALLER in this book and I’m so glad to see her re-united with the thirteen. They are like the ultimate in girl power and I can’t wait to see what havoc they’re going to wreak in KoA.

In conclusion, my wish list for KoA is as follows:
– Rowan please find Aelin ASAP and save us all from the extended torture that has been the last two years. My heart has been trapped in an iron box all this time.
– More Ansel, maybe even an Ansel perspective? Love that fiery redhead!
– Dorian kicking some ass, becoming a hero in his own way and hopefully re-uniting his kingdom under a better banner than his father represented
– Manon and Asterin, I don’t care what they’re doing, I just think this is such a fun pair
– Happy Lysandra. Yes, Aelin made a huge sacrifice for her friends and her kingdom, but so did Lysandra. She is giving up everything and more than anything I just want to see her happy.
– Elide saving the day through some feat of wits, not strength. Also, even though I think Lorcan is a total coward for crawling after Maeve at the end of EoS, I hope these two can work it out because I love them together.
– Some alternative to “the queen that was promised” that doesn’t make us all blubbering messes at the end of this book

That’s all, it’s really a pretty simple wish list Sarah, my bad for not sending it to you earlier, please accommodate in tomorrow’s book release. JK, we all know we’re gonna be dead tomorrow because Sarah J Maas is going to kill us all with this finale.

Queen of Shadows

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genres: Fantasy
Pub date: Sep. 2015 (re-read Oct. 2018)

I’m five books in and still going strong! I’ve decided not to re-read Tower of Dawn since it’s just too soon since I last read it and I’m not ready to sit through it again. That said, Tower of Dawn is the only book I have already written a review for (prior to my re-read), so I will post that review on my blog before Kingdom of Ash comes out in case anyone is interested. So I’ve got 10 days to read Empire of Storms, which should be a breeze because I remember Empire of Storms being SUPER INTENSE.

Back to Queen of Shadows. Everyone rags on this book and I’ve never really understood why. Heir of Fire was definitely the dud of the series for me on my first read through and I thought Queen of Shadows picked up the pace again by bringing all our beloved characters back together. However, on the re-read I absolutely loved Heir of Fire and while I still liked Queen of Shadows, it wasn’t quite as good as I remembered it. I disagree with anyone who says this book is slow – I thought it had so much action, but I did notice a few slower parts between action scenes the second time around. Maas gets more indulgent with each book and because of her popularity, her editors seem to let her. I thought this book had a small case of overindulgence where some parts could have been shortened up.

My favourite part of this book is the resolution of Sam’s murder and Aelin finally being reunited with Arobynn. We’re introduced to this juicy origin story in The Assassin’s Blade and it is then suspended for 3 entire books. I loved watching Aelin return from Wendlyn stronger and ready to confront her demons. Lysandra is pure brilliance and I’m so glad Maas brought her back into the story and created a new female friendship for Aelin. She’s constantly surrounded by petty, possessive men and she definitely needs a female friend. Plus, Lysandra is hilarious and my hero and I LOVE HER.

Arobynn makes me cringe. In my opinion he is a textbook abuser. Everything is about power and dominance for him. He tries to control Aelin with gifts and affection, seeking influence over her as a sort of creepy father figure, but it is all about power for him. He is a great antagonist though and I thought Maas wrote Aelin and Arobynn’s reunion and resolution so well. It was clever and I loved how it tied in to the greater plot of the series.

I can’t help but dig Rowan. In my first read of the series I still harboured feelings for Celaena and Chaol and hoped they’d make things work. But my second re-through of the series has just totally changed the way I feel about Chaol, even in the first two books. I’m just going to say it – Chaol sucks in this book. I appreciated that through Chaol’s inner monologue, Maas raises moral questions on who will keep magic wielders in check if magic returns. It really is an important question. Aelin threatens to burn a city to the ground in Heir of Fire and she’s proven again and again that she’s not the most emotionally stable individual, so the idea of there being no checks on her power should be a concerning one. But Chaol is just so whiny and ‘woe is me’ that I really just didn’t have a lot of sympathy for him. He lets his guilt and shame rule his life when he really needs to come to terms with it and forgive himself and forgive Aelin.

As for the other characters, Dorian breaks my heart in this book. He’s controlled by a valg prince, so he’s more or less absent from the story and I did really miss him. He has become one of my favourite characters in my re-read and it was actually heartbreaking to see him broken in this book. He is just so pure and precious and it’s upsetting to know he’ll never really be that way again after what has happened to him. Manon’s mostly just doing her thing in this book, being angst-y and unforgiving, but she finally grew a backbone towards the end upon learning the truth about Asterin and I am so ready for her to kick some ass in Empire of Storms. Elide is an interesting character, but I find her kind of boring. Elide is to Queen of Shadows what Manon was to Heir of Fire. She’s the newest character being introduced to us, but she doesn’t serve a whole lot of purpose to the plot at this point and is mostly just there for character development. Lysandra is new to the series in this book too, but she carries plot and development – she’s easy to love quickly, whereas with Elide and Manon, it takes longer to really care about them when they are first introduced (or at least that’s how it was for me).

What didn’t I like about this book? Aedion, Rowan, and Aelin’s weird little love/power triangle. I hate how Maas talks about fae dominance and power struggle. I don’t like how Rowan and Aedion were always competing with one another over Aelin and who treated her better, should be her protector, take the blood oath, yadda yadda yadda. She can take care of herself and make her own freaking decisions! She’s been looking out for herself for like 8 years before either of these sods came along, so give it a break already. I also hated how they would constantly refer to her as ‘the queen’ and treat her like a god. She is a human being and Rowan and Aedion are the backbone of her court. If anyone should treat her like a normal person, they should. She doesn’t need groveling and deference from them, she needs a friend and someone who will respect her decisions, but call her out on her bullshit.

I have to admit though… Aelin and Rowan’s flirting in this book was kind of sexy. I know all the weird ‘mate’ and ‘claiming’ business is coming up in the next book, but I was kind of into Aelin and Rowan in this book. I just think they’re kind of bad at actually treating each other like equals. Rowan (and Aedion) give Aelin too much license, while at the same time being too controlling about what she does on her own. I’m not really sure what the right balance is, but it’s off in this book, between both Aelin and Aedian and Aelin and Rowan.

But overall, still a great read. I’m pumped to read Empire of Storms and to be honest, slightly terrified of how Maas is going to end it all in Kingdom of Ash. A Court of Wings and Ruin was a bit of a disappointment for me as a series conclusion and I’m nervous about how this series is going to play out as well. But only one way to find out – so it’s on to the next book and then finally the epic conclusion!

Girls of Paper and Fire

Rating: 
Author: Natasha Ngan
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, LGBTQIA+
Pub. date: Nov. 6, 2018 (read Sept. 2018)

Okay! I finally have a minute to review this book! I’ve been on vacation for the last two weeks, so I haven’t had a computer to blog from, but I did read 3 books on my vacation and of the 3, this was definitely my favourite!

Special thanks to Hatchette Book Group Canada for providing me with a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Girls of Paper and Fire is set in a world that has 3 different castes: paper caste, steel caste, and moon caste. Paper caste are essentially humans and moon caste are essentially demons with strong animal characteristics. Steel falls somewhere in the middle. As you can guess, this world is ruled by the moon caste, who are much stronger than paper caste, who are considered fragile. I will admit that I found the concept a little juvenille at the beginning, mostly because pictured the moon caste as like, these comical Zootopia type characters, and that’s just not very scary, but I ended up getting really into it!

Lei is Paper caste and the book starts with her being stolen away from her home to be one of the Demon King’s Paper Girls. Every year the king selects 8 paper girls to live in the palace as his concubines. Some of the girls are there by choice, others offered up by their families in exchange for good favour from the palace, and then there are some girls like Lei, who are stolen from their homes. Most of the other Paper Girls are excited to take up a life of luxury in the palace, but Lei is terrified of the King and wants nothing more than to return home to her father.

At first I didn’t think the world building had that much depth, but the story was really easy to read and I got into it almost immediately. I didn’t know much about the book going in except that it had some mature themes, was heavily influenced by Asian (specifically Malaysian) culture, and that there were scenes of rape and sexual abuse. I was looking for a real voices, feminist fantasy novel and that is definitely what I got. I did not realize that this book had a queer relationship in it and it was such a thrill to read about! I can’t think of any young adult fantasy books that I’ve read featuring a lesbian romance and it was a wonderful surprise to find one in this book!

The author definitely tackles some heavy topics in this book. I struggle to classify this book as a young adult fantasy book because of the mature themes. The girls are forced to be concubines to the king, who is a violent tyrant and often takes out his anger on them. The story is a great example of how rape is not about sex – but power, the affect it has on women, and taking back some of that power for yourself. I did think the plot was a little superficial, I wish it had a bit more depth, but it was still very different from all the other fantasy I’ve read and I really hope it gets a sequel because I feel like this world has a lot of potential and that Ngan has only scratched the surface.

I love that I’ve been seeing a lot more Asian and African inspired fantasies in the last year or so and that we are getting more diverse voices in literature. I love the escapism of fantasy, but still tackling real life issues that are just as relevant to me in my day to day life. I feel like there are so many awesome female authors out there writing about the struggles that women face in real life every day, and the contrast of writing them in a fantasy world draws more attention to the injustice of it all. Representation is so important.

Overall I was impressed with this book and would definitely recommend, but maybe to more mature readers. My biggest struggle was that the world building seemed on the younger side, while the themes were definitely more mature.