So this post is going to be different from my previous reviews. I have recently been in a major reading slump. I decided to reread the Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas because it is my favorite series (besides Harry Potter…obviously) and I knew it would get me out of my slump. I also wanted to reread this series because the finale, Kingdom of Ash, is coming out in October. So instead of posting a review for each book in the series as I read them, I am going to do one post on the entire Throne of Glass Series up to Kingdom of Ash. Warning…my reviews get progressively longer with each book. The last two books’ sections also have a lot more recap in them. I really need to rein in my thoughts, but I just love this series so much. And I included an absurd amount of favorite quotes for each book…but I blame Sarah J. Maas and her incredible writing for that :). Also, I really need to come up with a different word than love, but I can’t help it because I love it all so much!!
This review will also contain spoilers. Please do not read further if you want to avoid spoilers!!
First, and perhaps most important…I would like to say that Sarah J. Maas is a queen and she is a gift to all of us. SJM is an exceptional writer with a gift of creating fantastic and beautiful worlds. She is at the top of my list of favorite authors.
Now onto the books!!
The Assassin’s Blade (#0.1-#0.5)
The Assassin’s Blade is a compilation of five prequel novellas ~ The Assassin & the Pirate Lord, The Assassin & the Healer, The Assassin & the Desert, The Assassin & the Underworld, and The Assassin & the Empire. When I first read these prequels, I had read the series through Queen of Shadows. I loved how I was able to gain so much insight into Celaena/Aelin and what led her on her path. Now, reading the series again and starting with the prequels created a whole new experience for me. Sarah J. Maas is the queen of foreshadowing. There were so many details that I picked up on that I hadn’t noticed before. For example, several times in the book, Celaena mentions the smell of home…winter and pine…AKA Rowan! Or when Celaena looks into the King’s black eyes and is terrified. I just love all of these little details. It shows how much time, thought, and consideration Maas puts into her writing. Nothing is random in Maas’s world.
I loved all five novellas in The Assassin’s Blade. It is so fun to see Celaena/Aelin in action prior to the events of Throne of Glass. She is such badass, powerful woman! We also get to know Sam Cortland in these novellas. It’s great to see Sam, understand Celaena’s relationship with him, and see why he was so important to her. It gives a lot of perspective to why Celaena is the way she is and why she makes certain choices. It’s very hard to pick my favorite novella. Prior to reading Tower of Dawn, I probably would have picked The Assassin & the Desert, but now I have to pick The Assassin & the Healer. I just love Yrene and her story!
- If you can learn to endure pain, you can survive anything. Some people learn to embrace it—to love it. Some endure it through drowning it in sorrow, or by making themselves forget. Others turn it into anger.
- She was fire, she was darkness, she was dust and blood and shadow.
- The music broke her apart and put her back together, only to rend her asunder again and again.
- She would tuck Sam into her heart, a bright light for her to take out whenever things were darkest. And then she would remember how it had felt to be loved, when the world had held nothing but possibility. No matter what they did to her, they could never take that away. She would not break.
- Life isn’t easy, no matter where you are. You’ll make choices you think are right, and then suffer for them.
- The Stag, the Lord of the North. So the people of Terrasen will always know how to find their way home. So they can look up at the sky, no matter where they are and know Terrasen is forever with them.
- For the first time in a long while, she heard the song of a northern wind, calling her home. And she was not afraid.
- “My name is Celaena Sardothien,” she whispered, “and I will not be afraid.”
Throne of Glass (#1)
I remember reading Throne of Glass for the first time and being absolutely blown away. I am so glad to say that rereading Throne of Glass brings back the exact same feeling. It is a little different going back to read Throne of Glass again knowing where the story will lead because Sarah J Maas is the queen of twists, but the effect of the book is still the same. I love everything about this series and it continues to captivate me with its magic. It was actually kind of fun to know the character’s secrets and know what to expect. It felt like I was in on the secret. The world in Throne of Glass also seems so small compared to what it becomes throughout the series. It’s crazy to think about how far these characters will go on their journey. A lot of this book focuses on the King’s tournament. It’s definitely different from the rest of the series, but I love it all the same! I find the tournament highly entertaining and it’s the perfect way to introduce the series.
One of my favorite parts of Throne of Glass is seeing the relationships begin to develop between Celaena and the other characters – especially Chaol, Dorian, and Nehemia. These three all play an important role in Celaena/Aelin’s life and character development. Even seeing bits of the King, Kaltain, and the Duke were enjoyable because I know how important they are later in the series. Speaking of them, I can’t believe how many clues there are about the “dark eyes” and “rings.” So much foreshadowing!!
And OMG the chapter where Celaena “dreams” of Elena! It’s crazy how much of the plot is set up in that short chapter. I love reading the start of discovering more about Celaena and her destiny. I actually laughed out loud and swore when I read…“Then she could sleep soundly again–unless Elena has something else, something bigger in mind.” Girl, you have no idea what’s coming! Even though I know what’s going to happen, I still am so excited to continue the story!
- When she awoke every morning, she repeated the same words: I will not be afraid. For a year, those words had meant the difference between breaking and bending; they had kept her from shattering in the darkness of the mines.
- “Courage of the heart is very rare,” she said with sudden calm. “Let it guide you.”
- “We all bear scars, Dorian. Mine just happen to be more visible than most.”
- The princess traced a mark on her hand, her fingers pressing into Celaena’s skin. “You bear many names, and so I shall name you as well.” Her hand rose to Celaena’s forehead and she drew an invisible mark. “I name you Elentiya.” She kissed the assassin’s brow. “I give you this name to use with honor, to use when other names grow too heavy. I name you Elentiya, ‘Spirit That Could Not Be Broken.'”
- “You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into, little man.”
- She brought her mouth close to his ear. “My name is Celaena Sardothien,” she whispered. “But it makes no difference if my name’s Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I’ll still beat you, no matter what you call me.”
- She lifted her eyes to his face, and found his gaze lined with silver. “Get up,” was all he said.
- Elena took a step toward her. “You could rattle the stars,” she whispered. “You could do anything, if you only dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you most.”
Crown of Midnight (#2)
In Crown of Midnight, Celaena begins to discover and investigate the King and the evil in Erilea. We start to learn more about Elena and the history of the demon war. This really is the start of the main conflict of the entire series. We finally are introduced to Wyrdkeys, Wyrdgates, and the Valg. And, we finally learn Celaena’s true identity…she is Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, daughter of Rhoe Galathynius and Evalin Ashryver, and great-granddaughter of Mab (one of the three Fae sister queens). She is the lost Queen of Terrasen.
One of the major plot points of Crown of Midnight is Celaena and Chaol’s relationship. When I read Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight I absolutely loved Celaena and Chaol together. I know a lot of people still shipped their romantic relationship after Crown of Midnight (at least until the events of Tower of Dawn) and were very angry with the introduction of Rowan in Heir of Fire. I do still think that Celaena and Chaol had a beautiful relationship, but it was definitely over in Crown of Midnight. Their romantic relationship was doomed for two reasons. First, Nehemia’s death and Chaol’s role in it which causes Celaena to lose all trust in him. And, second, because Celaena (AKA Aelin) is not truly herself with Chaol. So yes, I shipped Chaol and Celaena. But Chaol and Aelin? I don’t ship them romantically. I know Celaena and Aelin are the same person, but Celaena didn’t accept and embrace her true identity. I’m getting a little ahead of Crown of Midnight, but as the series progresses and Chaol and Aelin slowly begin to respect each other again and form a friendship. I do think that their entire relationship, including the romance, is fundamental for Celaena/Aelin. Chaol helps her to be happy again which allows Celaena to grow and eventually accept her true identity. Chaol shows her that happiness is possible. For example, when Celaena and Chaol dance together she states, “In that moment, after ten long years, Celaena looked at Chaol and realized she was home.”
Celaena’s relationships with Dorian and Nehemia are also very important parts of Crown of Midnight. I love seeing Celaena’s relationship with Dorian shift to friendship. It’s so vital that Dorian decides to let his romantic feelings go and shift to friendship. Dorian is so critical to Celaena/Aelin throughout the rest of the series and I love seeing their friendship blossom. Dorian becomes a huge support system for her and is the first to show that she is not alone after Nehemia’s death. He shows Celaena that there is hope.
Even though Nehemia kept a lot from Celaena, I really liked their friendship. It’s so nice to see strong, badass women united. Nehemia pushed Celaena to take a stand and fight for what’s right. I am so sad about her death. My heart broke for Celaena and all that she had lost. Once again she lost someone close to her that she loved. It’s hard to read the devastation and grief she experiences. I know that we discover that Nehemia planned to die to be the catalyst for Celaena to take action, but I didn’t realize it was mentioned so specifically in Crown of Midnight. In chapter twenty-five, the princess and the queen are Nehemia and Elena. They are planning Nehemia’s death which will “break” Celaena and cause her to stop running and take action. Nehemia helps Celaena to accept her identity and destiny.
And can we talk about the mention of iron!? When Celaena discovers an underground section of the library and finds an iron door, we get our first introduction to iron and it’s effects on magic. “Iron was the one element immune to magic.” HOLY FORESHADOWING TO MAEVE’S IRON CAGE FOR AELIN!?! Once again, Sarah J. Maas reigns queen. I freaked out when I read this part and all I can say is that I am not emotionally ready for Kingdom of Ash.
And one last thought for Crown of Midnight… we meet witches for the first time!! I love the witches subplot!
- Damaris’s scabbard was decorated by a few Wyrdmarks. Everything seemed connected to those blasted symbols.
- “If I could leave you in peace, I would. But you have lived your life aware that you will never escape certain burdens. Whether you like it or not, you are bound to the fate of this world.”
- “It is your fate, and your responsibility.”
- Her heart stopped beating. Aelin Galathynius, the lost heir of Terrasen. “Aelin Galathynius is dead,” she breathed.
- All she’d known was that she had to get someplace safe. And somehow, she had wound up exactly where she knew she’d be safest.
- “You have power in you prince. More than you realize.” … “When the time comes, when it awakens, do not be afraid.” … “When it is time, I will help you.”
- “For you, I’d say that chocolate cake is most definitely a need.”
- “Because,” she whispered, her voice shaking, “you remind me of how the world ought to be. What the world can be.”
- The kiss obliterated her. It was like coming home or being born or suddenly finding an entire half of herself that had been missing.
- “She’s just one girl.” … “Then you’re really in for a surprise.”
- “You will not understand yet, but…I knew what my fate was to be, and I embraced it. I ran toward it. Because it was the only way for things to begin changing, for events to be set in motion. But no matter what I did, Elentiya, I want you to know that in the darkness of the past ten years, you were one of the bright lights for me. Do not let that light go out.”
- And then her ears–her ears shifted into delicate points.
- Celaena was the lost Queen of Terrasen. Chaol sank to his knees.
Heir of Fire (#3)
FYI – I will use Celaena and Aelin interchangeably in this section. Sorry that I keep switching back and forth!!
I love The Assassin’s Blade, Throne of Glass, and Crown of Midnight, but I could not wait to get to Heir of Fire. This is because Heir of Fire is when Aelin’s journey really begins AND because we meet Rowan, the cadre, Aedion, and Manon and the witches!!
The world of Throne of Glass expands in Heir of Fire. We learn more about the witches, fae, and the other lands in Erilea. There are also several additional point of views in this story…Manon Blackbeak, Sorscha, and Rowan. I love how vast and detailed the world of Erilea is. There are a lot of subplots introduced in Heir of Fire (i.e. the witches, Dorian and Sorscha, Aedion), but it is not at all overwhelming. All of the subplots are excellently written and are just as important as the main plot (Celaena/Aelin). In fact, as the series progresses, all of the subplots eventually come together in a truly epic fashion!
Heir of Fire is huge for Celaena/Aelin. When we first meet up with her, she is incredibly depressed about Nehemia’s death, the loss of her trust in Chaol, and what to do about the Wyrdkeys and the King. She’s at the point that she doesn’t care and has no desire to do anything. It’s very sad to read because we, as the readers, know how much she’s been through. She’s really at the lowest point she’s ever been. She then meets Rowan. The two travel to Maeve’s territory and then Rowan begins training Celaena/Aelin. At first Celaena/Aelin is extremely resistant and she butts heads with Rowan. She is extremely afraid of her power. Everything begins to change the night they battle the skinwalkers. Aelin and Rowan’s relationship starts to shift (pun intended) that night, and Aelin shifts for the first time without immediately losing control. This night is huge for Aelin’s development.
I love watching Aelin and Rowan’s relationship slowly form. They definitely have their conflicts and bumps along the road. For example, during one fight when Rowan says he doesn’t care and Aelin is nothing to him. This was so hard to read because Aelin is so broken. At this moment she has no hope. But then, Rowan uses Luca in Aelin’s training. After this, Rowan and Aelin fight, but Aelin finally opens up about Nehemia, her loss, and her actions afterward. This is so important for her…she finally is releasing some of the emotion she has kept trapped inside. And by telling Rowan, she is also beginning to trust again. While working with Rowan, she states, “There were still truths she hadn’t confessed to, stains on her soul she couldn’t yet explore or express. But maybe–maybe he wouldn’t walk away whenever she did find the courage to tell him.” This is the beginning of the incredible trust and bond between Aelin and Rowan. The two start to share with one another and discover that they are very similar. Aelin realizes that she’s not alone and that ignites the ember deep inside her. She can finally start breathing again. Chapter thirty-six is just so good and vital to their relationship and character development.
I love the part where Aelin describes how she is starting to feel territorial about Rowan. She insists that she’s not interested in him romantically and that the feelings must be from spending so much time together. Girl, it’s because he is your mate! Ugh, and then the night when Aelin almost burns out and Rowan sees her scars for the first time. He also feels territorial and possessive about her. Why must I wait so long for you two to realize you’re mates and that you love each other!?
Later on the night of her almost burn out, Aelin tells Rowan everything about herself and her history. This shows how much trust she has in him and how their bond has grown. They fall asleep holding hands and the following morning Aelin states, “Something molten rushed through her, pouring over every crack and fracture still left gaping and open. Not to hurt or mar–but weld. To forge.” She is truly beginning to accept herself and her past, and Rowan helped her get there. Aelin’s relationship with Rowan helps her to heal. He helps her put herself back together. “Working with him was so effortless. There was no judgment, no need to explain herself. She knew no one would ever replace Nehemia, and she never wanted anyone to, but Rowan made her feel. . . better. As if she could finally breathe after months of suffocating.” Their relationship is beautiful and so powerful. They are truly one hundred percent there for one another. It’s really special to watch as their relationship changed from hate/disdain to indifference to tolerance to pure friendship, love (even though it’s not romantic yet), and adoration. They are a team. Aelin is still an independent, badass woman. Rowan’s role in helping her heal does not change that, but now, in addition to being a badass, she has Rowan who makes her stronger and supports all of her.
Side note about Aelin and Rowan…I love their wordless conversations. It gives me Feyre and Rhysand vibes from the ACOTAR series.
And I have to also mention the battle against the Valg and the scene where Aelin is overtaken by them. The imagery and scene setting is superb. It is so hard to watch as Aelin relives all of the heartbreak, devastation, and regret. However, we do get to finally learn what happened the night of Aelin’s parents murder and what led her to run from the truth. It’s so tough to watch Aelin not fight back once the Valg have taken over her. BUT, it’s all worth it because we get to the “get up” scene. Once again these two words have incredible power for Aelin. I absolutely love the scene where Aelin sees her younger self and all those she has loved and lost telling her to get up. It is inspiring. And her speech at the end of this scene…perfection. Celanea finally realizes that she can be Aelin and be the light for her people and the world. She finally accepts her true power. She lets go of her fears and embraces them. It’s beautiful to read–many of the quotes I included below are from these scenes.
Ugh and then the carranam!! And their encounter with Maeve! And Rowan giving Aelin his blood oath!! I have no words. It’s just all so good. #Rowaelin
Now…as for the rest of our characters…
Heir of Fire also follows Dorian and Chaol in Rifthold. Dorian’s story focuses on discovering and controlling his magic, and falling in love with Sorscha, who is a healer in the castle. I was heart-broken for Dorian when Sorscha is killed. Besides Sorscha, one of my favorite parts of Dorian’s story is when he tears into Chaol for being resentful of change, and for picking which parts of him and Celaena he accepts. I was like “Hell yeah, Dorian! You tell him!!” Dorian’s ending in Heir of Fire is devastating.First, his father has Sorscha killed, and then he is enslaved by him own father. I remember reading it for the first time and being destroyed when the collar is placed on Dorian’s neck. I still am. I hate seeing the torture Dorian endures.
Chaol’s story begins with investigating Aedion Ashryver. Aedion is Aelin’s cousin. He is known as “The Wolf” and is the leader of the Bane legion. Chaol learns that Aedion is loyal to Aelin and the two team up to discover more about the King’s power and how to free magic. However, for a while, all Chaol is loyal to is Dorian…he refuses to pick a side or fight for what is truly right. But, I was so happy when he finally comes to his senses and talks to Dorian.
Manon Blackbeak is a new character in Heir of Fire. She is an absolute badass Ironteeth witch and heir to the Blackbeak Witch Clan. She is the leader of her coven of witches who are known as the Thirteen. Manon is ruthless and it is so fun to read her perspective! I actually love all the witch chapters. The dynamic between the different clans and the brutality are so captivating to read. I also love the witches chapters because we are introduced to the Wyverns, which are dragon-like beasts bred to be aerial mounts for the Ironteeth witches. Manon’s Wyvern is named Abraxos and he is the bomb. He reminds me of Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon. He’s so intense but also the cutest…like when he won’t stop smelling the wildflowers! He has such a funny attitude which compliments Manon’s brutality very well.
Let’s talk about Sarah J. Maas’s gift of writing vivid scenes and creating incredible imagery. The way she writes and describes the Valg is so good that I can see the creatures perfectly and I am utterly creeped out by them. She is so good at making her readers feel what the characters are feeling. For example, “She felt him first: the smudge of blackness, the silence that enveloped him like an extra cloak. Even the fog seemed to pull away from him.” I was so creeped out reading this even though this is the second time I’ve read this book. Maas is a genius.
Also…can we discuss how Maas refers to Maeve as DARK QUEEN several times. Genius. She literally told us who Maeve was and I had no idea. #foreshadowing
- You didn’t need a weapon at all when you were born one.
- “Surprise,” she hissed. The world erupted in blue wildfire.
- Each of the scars, chipped teeth and broken claws, the mutilated tail–they weren’t the markings of a victim. Oh, no. They were the trophies of a survivor. Abraxos was a warrior who’d had all the odds stacked against him and survived. Learned from it. Triumphed.
- “You are the keeper of your own fate,” Rowan said softly from the shore, as if he knew exactly what was flowing through her head.
- “But maybe,” he said, quietly enough that she looked at him again. He didn’t smile, but his eyes were inquisitive. “Maybe we could find the way back together.”
- He would not apologize for today, or yesterday, or for any of it. And she would not ask him to, not now that she understood that in the weeks she had been looking at him it had been like gazing at a reflection. No wonder she had loathed him
- “I think,” she said, barely more than a whisper, “I would like that very much.” He held out a hand. “Together, then.”
- She studied the scarred, callused palm, then the tattooed face, full of a grim sort of hope. Someone who might–who did understand what it is like to be crippled at your very core, someone who was still climbing inch by inch out of that abyss.
- Perhaps they would never get out of it, perhaps they would never be whole again, but . . . “Together,” she said, and took his outstretched hand. And somewhere far and deep inside her, an ember began to glow.
- She’d awaken that morning feeling. . . clear. The grief and pain were still there, writhing inside her, but for the first time in a long while, she felt as though she could see. As though she could breathe.
- Ice and fire. Frost and embers. Locked in a battle, pushing and pulling. Beneath it, she could almost taste Rowan’s steel will slamming against her magic–a will that refused to let the fire burn her into nothing.
- She noticed that his arms were bandaged, and more bandages across his broad chest peeked up from beneath his shirt. She’d burned him again. And yet he had held on to her — had run all the way here and not let go once.
- She didn’t open her eyes, but she breathed in the smell of him, the pine and snow, and her pain settled a bit.
- And while she knew Rowan was aware of her early morning practicing, he never lightened her training, though she could have sworn she occasionally felt their magic. . . playing together, her flame taunting his ice, his wind dancing amongst her embers.
- Gods, he was brilliant. Cunning and wicked and brilliant.
- All she knew was that whatever and whoever climbed out of that abyss of despair and grief would not be the same person who plummeted in. And maybe that was a good thing.
- Celaena and Rowan held tight to each other and did not dare close their eyes for the entirety of the night.
- “So I am staying. Because you are needed, and because I will follow you to whatever end.”
- And when she grasped the dagger, its weight lighter than she remembered, Rowan looked into her eyes, into the very core of her, and said, “Fireheart.”
- He didn’t back away again as she approached and said with every ember left in her shredded heart, “I claim you, Rowan Whitethorn. I don’t care what you say and how much you protest. I claim you as my friend.”
- She would not let that light go out. She would fill the world with it, with her light–her gift. She would light up the darkness, so brightly that all who were lost or wounded or broken would find their way to it, a beacon for those who still dwelled in that abyss. It would not take a monster to destroy a monster–but light, light to drive out darkness. She was not afraid. She would remake the world–remake it for them, those she had loved with this glorious, burning heart; a world so brilliant and prosperous that when she saw them again in the Afterworld, she would not be ashamed. She would build it for her people, who had survived this long, and whom she would not abandon. She would make for them a kingdom such as there had never been, even if it took until her last breath. She was their queen, and she could offer them nothing less.
- Aelin Galathynius smiled at her, hand still outreached. “Get up,” the princess said. Celaena reached across the earth between them and brushed her fingers against Aelin’s. And arose.
- She has suspected it for some time now. They were carranam.
- “To whatever end?”
- Their hands clasped between them, he whispered into her ear, “I claim you too, Aelin Galathynius.”
- Yet this was not the end–this was not her end. She had survived loss and pain and torture; she had survived slavery and hatred and despair; she would survive this, too. Because hers was not a story of darkness. So she was not afraid of that crushing black, not with the warrior holding her, not with the courage that having one true friend offered–a friend who made living not so awful after all, not if she were with him.
- It was a message to the world. Aelin was a warrior, able to fight with blade or magic. And she was done with hiding.
- She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.
- And then Celaena set the world on fire.
- “I claim you, Aelin. To whatever end.”
- “Together, Fireheart,” he said, pushing back the sleeve of her tunic. “We’ll find a way together.” He looked up from her exposed wrist, “A court that will change the world,” he promised.
- No longer would they be locked away in her heart. No longer would she be ashamed.
- “I am going, Rowan. I will gather the rest of my court–our court–and then we will raise the greatest army the world has ever witnessed. I will call in every favor, every debt owed to Celaena Sardothien, to my parents, to my bloodline. And then…” She looked toward the sea, toward home. “And then I am going to rattle the stars.”
- She lifted her face to the stars. She was Aelin Ashryver Galathynius heir of two mighty bloodlines, protector of a once-glorious people, and Queen of Terrasen. She was Aelin Ashryver Galathynius–and she would not be afraid.
Queen of Shadows (#4)
In Queen of Shadows, Aelin has finally accepted her true self and identity. She is here and ready to take down those who have destroyed her life and loved ones. She is ready to fight for her people.
Queen of Shadows begins with Aelin arriving back in Rifthold. She quickly discovers that her cousin, Aedion, is being held prisoner by the King. Aelin knows this a trap set by the King, but that does not stop her from saving her cousin. The scenes in which our characters rescue Aedion are absolutely epic. Their plan is so genius and it’s fun to watch the action play out. One of my favorite parts is when Aedion and Aelin first make eye contact. “But the dancer looked up at Aedion beneath lowered brows. Even disguised as an aristo man, there was wicked, vicious triumph in her turquoise and gold eyes. Behind them, across the hall, the dancers shattered their roses on the floor, and Aedion grinned at his queen as the entire world went to hell.“ This quote describes Aelin’s presence and aura so well. And to make it even better…they successfully rescue Aedion! I was so happy for Aelin when she and Aedion are finally together again.
In Rifthold, Chaol and Aelin come face to face for the first time since Chaol discovered her true identity. Aelin finds out that Chaol is working with the rebel group. The rebel group includes Nesryn, who is part of the city guard and Chaol’s friend/former lover. When Aelin and Chaol are finally alone they have a huge argument. They both blame the other for everything that has gone wrong, and they argue about what to do about Dorian. I got super annoyed with Chaol during this scene. He is so full of hate and resentful towards Aelin, her magic, and all the lies she told to protect her identity. He is also still only fighting for selfish reasons…only for and because of Dorian instead of for all those who are suffering under the King’s rule. I understand that he is grieving the “loss” of Celaena and that he’s spent his whole life serving the King, but I just want to slap him and tell him (like Aelin did) to get his head out of his ass. I also love when Nesryn talks some sense into Chaol. She is 100% right when she tells him to stop feeling sorry for himself. I like how she states, “Stay the course, but also plot another one. Adapt.” It’s a great message about being able to adapt to whatever life throws your way. Chaol is hinging everything on Dorian, but Nesryn is helping him to realize that he needs to be prepared for other options. But, Chaol is still the worst and continues to blame Aelin for everything that goes wrong. FINALLY in chapter sixty-one, Chaol realizes that he’s been an idiot. He realizes that Aelin is not a monster and he only used that to shield his grief. They speak again the night before the Solstice. This is when Aelin and Chaol finally start to accept, forgive, and trust one another and move towards friendship.
We also meet Lysandra again for the first time since the prequels. Last time we saw Lysandra, she and Celaena hated each other. However, in Queen of Shadows, the two discover that they are lot more similar than they ever realized. They both want to destroy Arobynn. I really like their friendship, and it’s so nice to see Aelin have a female friend for the first time since Nehemia. I love strong female characters who support one another. I love how Lysandra and Aelin work together to come up with the epic plan to ruin and then kill Arobynn. They work together so well and Arobynn’s ending is so satisfying.
Queen of Shadows begins with Aelin and Rowan separated, as she had just left Wendlyn. I love all the little quotes about how Aelin is missing Rowan. I absolutely LOVE when Aelin and Rowan are reunited. It’s one of my favorite scenes of the entire series. I just about die when Aelin sees/senses Rowan and runs to him. The way they just hold each other is amazing. It is pure joy and happiness when they are reunited. “She was shaking from head to toe, and couldn’t stop crying, not as the full weight of missing Rowan crashed into her, the weight of these weeks alone.” They are truly each other’s person. Chaol describes their relationship perfectly...”A team, solid and unbreaking.” They both accept every part of the other. “Everything–she wanted to tell him everything.” She is not only able to tell him everything, but she wants to. Their relationship is beautiful and so important for Aelin. One of my favorites quotes about their relationship is from Aelin…
“Not a monster–not for what she’d done, not for her power, not when Rowan was there. She’d thank the gods every damn day for the small mercy of giving her a friend who was her match, her equal, and who would never look at her with horror in his eyes. No matter what happened, she’d always be grateful for that.”
Aelin and Rowan’s relationship begins to change in Queen of Shadows. Prior to reuniting, their relationship was pure love, trust, and admiration…with no romance. As soon as they are reunited, the reader can immediately sense the change. Their romance is a slow burn, but well worth the wait. I love them together…even when it is just friendship. Also, I find it so funny how both have to keep reminding themselves about boundaries. Ugh, but the scene where Rowan denies Aelin on the roof. My heart hurt for her even though I know it’s only a matter of time. Rowan struggles with his feelings because he had lived so long without love, and he didn’t expect Aelin to feel the same.
“Her scent hit him as she unbound her hair and nestled into the pile of pillows. The scent had always struck him, had always been a call and a challenge. It had shaken him so thoroughly from centuries encased in ice that he’d hated her at first. And now. . . now that scent drove him out of his mind.”
And let’s just discuss chapter fifty-two. This is when Rowan and Aelin FINALLY admit their feelings. I swoon when Rowan tells Aelin how much he missed her when she left Wendlyn. I just love it so much. They kiss for the first time in chapter sixty-five and it makes my heart so happy.
Side note: I also love the “territorial fae nonsense” when Rowan and Aedion meet for the first time. I feel a little for Aedion because he always thought he would take the blood oath to Aelin, but he comes to realize that Rowan was always meant to have the oath.
Queen of Shadows starts to reveal some of the truth about Elena and Gavin. Aelin discovers that Elena had lied to her…she and Gavin didn’t kill Erawan, the Valg King, but instead imprisoned him. This puts even more pressure on Aelin and co. because they now have to fight a Valg King. They are starting to realize the true extent of the evil they are facing.
Manon and her Thirteen are at Morath. It’s there that we see Duke Perrington and Kaltain again. Kaltain is now wearing a Wyrd collar and is fully enslaved by the Duke and Valg. It’s horrible to see the state she’s in. But, we find out that she’s been fighting and she’s still in there. We also meet Elide at Morath, who is from Terrasen and is the daughter of Aelin’s former nurse, Marion. Manon and her Thirteen discover that Elide has some witch blood, so they adopt her as one of their own. Manon and Elide become very close friends. Manon immediately senses that there’s more to Elide than what meets the eye. She knows that Elide is clever and cunning. There is also some dark stuff going on at Morath. The Valg are “breeding” with some of the witch clans which creates monsters that the Valg plan on using as weapons. It is also revealed the King and witch matrons have developed plans for another weapon that will be all-powerful and catastrophic. Manon has to decide where her loyalty lies…with her grandmother, the Matron, or with her Thirteen and fellow witches. Late in the story, Manon finally realizes where her loyalties lie and she (along with her Thirteen) rescue Elide. Kaltain actually ends up helping Manon save Elide. It was so great to see such a powerful ending for Kaltain. She had endured nothing but torture throughout the series, but she finally frees herself and uses her power to destroy the evils in Morath. Her sacrifice allows Manon, her Thirteen, and Elide to escape. Kaltain also gives Elide a shard to give to Celaena Sardothien to repay her act of kindness.
Manon and Aelin finally meet late in Queen of Shadows. I knew their meeting would be crazy and it totally delivered. Both women are so strong, fierce, and intense. Their fight scene is epic. I love how both women have thoughts about how great the other is at fighting. Aelin ends up saving Manon’s life which means Manon now owes her a life debt. She repays this debt by revealing Dorian is still inside the Valg demon. This is huge for Aelin and Chaol because they can save Dorian. And speaking of him. . .Dorian’s chapters in Queen of Shadows are heartbreaking. It’s so hard to read the struggle between Dorian and the Valg demon inside him. Dorian, who has always been so positive and full of life, now is full of darkness. He can’t remember any of the people he loves. He can only see the darkness. But, it starts to change when Dorian meets Manon. For the first time since being enslaved, Dorian is able to fight the Valg inside him. We don’t know why, but Manon and Dorian are connected somehow.
The entire finale scene where Aelin, Rowan, Aedion, Chaol, Nesryn, and Lysandra free magic and Dorian is epic!! Every single aspect is so intense and well-written. I especially love when Lysandra shows up as a snow leopard. However, my favorite part is when Dorian is finally freed. It actually makes me tear up. And then to make it even better, Dorian and Aelin work together to bring down the King. It is then revealed that the King had been possessed by a Valg demon for a very long time. Now free, he reveals that the Valg King, Erawan, is already freed and is actually Duke Perrington. The King tells Dorian and Aelin that he fought the Valg inside him so that he could build the towers and banish magic in order to protect Dorian and those with strong magic from the Valg. The King fought the Valg inside him to keep the knowledge safe, but couldn’t free himself. He reveals that he’d been looking for Aelin ten years ago when he came to Terrasen. He wanted her to burn the demon out of him. This is all obviously a lot of information for both Dorian and Aelin to take in. The weight of the realization that Erawan is already free is incredibly intense. They may have freed magic, but there are so many more battles left to fight before the war can be won.
I love the ending of Queen of Shadows. Aelin and her court are finally in Terrasen. She is finally home. Chaol and Nesryn are headed to the Southern Continent. Dorian remains in Rifthold and is slowly healing. Manon and her Thirteen return to Morath and begin to plan their next move. Everything is changing. So much has been accomplished, but there is even more that needs to be done. Our heroes have a huge journey ahead of them, but the bond they all share will guide them through.
- “Actually, I believe the title our esteemed friends in the empire now like to use is ‘fire-breathing bitch-queen.'”
- The place that had never quite been filled again since that day she’d shattered the clock. Maybe–maybe she’d also stopped in that moment. Stopped living and started just. . . surviving. Raging. And maybe it had taken until this spring, when she had been sprawled on the ground while three Valg princes fed on her, when she had at last burned through that pain and darkness, for the clock to start again.
- She could forgive the girl who had needed a captain of the guard to offer stability after a year in hell; forgive the girl who had needed a captain to be her champion.
- But she was her own champion now. And she would not add another name of her beloved dead to her flesh.
- “Please,” Lysandra said, waving a manicured hand, “you and I are nothing but wild beasts wearing human skins. Don’t even try to deny it.”
- “When you shatter the chains of this world and forge the next, remember that art is as vital as food to a kingdom. Without it, a kingdom is nothing, and will be forgotten by time. I have amassed enough money in my miserable life to not need any more–so you will understand me clearly when I say that wherever you set your throne, no matter how long it takes, I will come to you, and I will bring music and dancing.”
- It was time. One breath–another. She was the heir of fire. She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save for the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.
- Plans–Aelin had plans for everything, it seemed.
- Aelin took a step forward. One step, as if in a daze. She loosed a shuddering breath, and a small, whimpering noise came from her–a sob. And then she was sprinting down the alley, flying as though the winds themselves pushed at her heels. She flung herself on the male, crashing into him hard enough that anyone else might have gone rocking back into the stone wall. But the male grabbed her to him, his massive arms wrapping around her tightly and lifting her up. Nesryn made to approach, but Aedion stopped her with a hand on her arm. Aelin was laughing as she cried, and the male was just holding her, his hooded head buried in her neck. As if he were breathing her in. “Who is that?” Nesryn asked. Aedion smiled. “Rowan.”
- It would all be fine, even if it went to hell, so long as he was here with her.
- “You will make mistakes. You will make decisions, and sometimes you will regret those choices. Sometimes there won’t be a right choice, just the best of several bad options. I don’t need to tell you that you can do this–you know you can. I wouldn’t have sworn the oath to you if I didn’t think you could.”
- Elegant, feminine, and utterly wild. Warm, and steadfast–unbreakable, his queen.
- Save for the weakness they both shared: that bond between them.
- It took her a moment to process what Rowan had said, and to realize that the almond smell hadn’t just been coming from her. He’d worn it, too.
- “You are sacred vessels,” the duke said. “It is an honor to be chosen.” …”I find that a very male thing to assume.”
- “I kept thinking about how you might never know that I missed you with only an ocean between us. But if it was death separating us. . . I would find you. I don’t care how many rules it would break. Even if I had to get all three keys myself and open a gate, I would find you again. Always.”
- Oh, by the Wyrd. She was in trouble. So much rutting trouble. And when he said her name like that. . .”This changes things,” she said, hardly able to get the words out. “Things have been changing for a while already. We’ll deal with it.”
- “It meant something to me. What you and I had. More than that your friendship meant something to me. I never told you the truth about who I was because I couldn’t face that truth. I’m sorry if what I said to you on the docks that day–that I’d pick you–made you think I’d come back, and it would all be fixed. Things changed. I changed.”
- “We do not look back, Chaol. It helps no one and nothing to look back. We can only go on.”
- “What if we go on,” he said, “only to more pain and despair? What if we go on, only to find a horrible end waiting for us?” Aelin looked northward, as if she could see all the way to Terrasen. “Then it is not the end.”
- “We’re not going to hell, Aelin,” he said. “But wherever we go, we’ll go together.”
- She said softly, “You make me want to live, Rowan. Not survive; not exist. Live.“
- “Ten years of shadows, but no longer. Light up the darkness, Majesty.”
- Then she smiled with every last shred of courage, of desperation, of hope for the glimmer of that glorious future. “Let’s go rattle the stars.”
- Dorian. His name was Dorian. Dorian Havilliard, and he was the Crown Prince of Adarlan. And Celaena Sardothien–Aelin Galathynius, his friend. . . she had come back for him.
- “To a better future,” she said. “You came back,” he said, as if that were an answer. They joined hands. So the world ended. And the next one began.
- “I spent centuries wandering the world, from empires to kingdoms to wastelands, never settling, never stopping–not for one moment. I was always looking toward the horizon, always wondering what waited across the next ocean, over the next mountain. But I think. . . I think that whole time, all those centuries, I was just looking for you.”
- “Things are changing,” Manon said. “Good,” Asterin said. “We’re immortals. Things should change, and often, or they’ll get boring.”
- Dorian said, “So here we are.” “The end of the road,” Aelin said with a half smile. “No,” Chaol said, his own smile faint, tentative. “The beginning of the next.”
- Terrasen. And the smell–of pine and snow. . . How had she never realized that Rowan’s scent was of Terrasen, of home?
- And at long last, Aelin Ashryver Galathynius was home.
Empire of Storms (#5)
Warning, this is where the posts get LOOOOOOONG!
I was actually scared to start reading Empire of Storms because I know how it ends. But, at least I won’t have to wait too much longer to find out what happens in Kingdom of Ash.
Empire of Storms starts with our characters in several different locations: Aelin, Rowan, and their court are in Terrasen, Elide and Lorcan are traveling through the Oakwald Forest, Manon and her Thirteen are at Morath, and Dorian is in Rifthold. Chaol and Nesryn are making their way to the Southern Continent and not present in this book. Our cast of characters eventually come together for an epic battle.
Empire of Storms is full of Aelin’s spectacular plans and schemes. It’s so fun to see Aelin’s plans come together, and to watch her friends react to her genius. Every single time one of Aelin’s ideas or schemes is revealed I’m like, damn girl you are so spectacularly brilliant.
Aelin and her court are traveling around the continent to gather support and raise an army to fight Erawan. Along the way, they discover more about Erawan, Elena Galathynius, and the first war against the Valg. Aelin is led to Brannon’s temple and it is there that she is visited by Brannon himself. He reveals that in addition to the three keys, they must also find the Lock. This just adds to the insane pressure and weight on Aelin’s shoulders. She is dealing with the Valg, Erawan, Maeve, finding the keys, and now finding the Lock. If I were her I would spontaneously combust from the stress.
At the temple, Aelin is also visited by Erawan. Erawan is terrifying, especially the way he uses his power on Aelin. He is pure evil and now Aelin sees firsthand how strong his powers and creations are. She sees what she’s up against. She knows that he can destroy every one she loves and that terrifies her. “A reminder that she might be the heir of fire. . . but Erawan was the King of the Darkness.” It is so scary to see how powerful Erawan truly is. The battles that Aelin is facing seem almost unbeatable. I know that Aelin has huge plans up her sleeve and has the support of her court, but it’s crazy to think about the enormity of the evil she must face. And yes, I realize it is fictional, but Maas writes the evil so well. She also creates the craziest and creepiest monsters. From the sea wyverns to the ilken to the Valg…all of the monsters are so creative and well written. I don’t know how Maas comes up with this stuff.
Throughout this journey, we see how much Aelin has grown. She is no longer the selfish girl she once was. She is still fierce, sassy, and cocky, but she has developed so much. She truly puts her court and her Kingdom first. There are many scenes where it is so hard to watch Aelin deal with the pressure, evil, and consequences of everything. For example, when she realizes that Erawan is targeting Eyllwe because of her… “That she’d brought this upon Eyllwe by mocking Erawan, because he knew who Celaena Sardothien had cared for, and he wanted to break her spirit, her heart, by showing her what his armies could do. What they would do, whenever he now felt like it. Not to Terrasen. . . but to the kingdom of the friend she’d loved so dearly. The kingdom she had sworn to protect, to save.” Aelin has been through so much in her life and it’s heartbreaking to watch both Maeve and Erawan use it against her.
We catch up with Dorian when there is an attack on Rifthold. Dorian is still recovering from being enslaved by the Valg demon. He is haunted by the evil he witnessed and was forced to participate in. It breaks my heart to watch Dorian go through all of this. Dorian meets Manon again when Rifthold is attacked by the witches. Manon saves his life and allows him to escape. Aelin sends Rowan to rescue Dorian from the witches and their wyverns. This is the first time Dorian and Rowan have spent any real time together. I absolutely adore when Rowan and Dorian are talking. . .
For a heartbeat, Dorian could only stare. As if reading his mind, Rowan said, “You will find your way, too, Dorian. You’ll find your way out.”
First, I think this is a beautiful message. . . everyone can find their way out of the darkness. This is one of the many quotes from the series that sticks with me. It’s so vital that Rowan tells Dorian this. It helps Dorian start to heal. Second, I love seeing Rowan and Dorian bond. Dorian is very important to Aelin and it’s so nice to see Rowan embrace him as well.
Rowan and Dorian (and eventually Aelin, Aedion, and Lysandra) go to Skull’s Bay. The last time we encountered Skull’s Bay and the Pirate Lord, Rolfe, was in The Assassin’s Blade when Celaena and Sam destroyed the slave trade. I love how Aelin plays Rolfe so well. From the first moment he sees her sitting in his office it’s just so good. It’s in Skull’s Bay that we also meet up with part of Rowan’s cadre, Fenrys and Gavriel. They are still blood sworn to Maeve, but they become allies (as much as the blood oath allows) to Aelin and co. One of Aelin’s many brilliant plans is revealed in Skull’s Bay. Aelin, along with Lysandra, developed a genius and incredibly dangerous plan to get Rolfe to agree to join Aelin’s army. Aelin released a strong force of magic which caused the Valg forces to come to Skull’s Bay. It’s exactly as Dorian says. . . “Aelin was insane, Dorian realized. Brilliant and wicked, but insane.” This is the perfect quote to describe Aelin and her schemes. The plan works and Rolfe agrees to an alliance with Aelin, but now they all have to fight off the Valg army that was summoned. Lysandra shifts to the form of a legendary sea dragon. Aelin chose this form because it is said that the lost Mycenian people would only return when the sea dragons did. The sea dragon along with retaking Brannon’s temple for them, Aelin is ensuring that the Mycenians come back and fight with her. She is hoping to rally the Mycenians to her side. The entire battle is meant to be a message to all of Aelin’s potential allies.
As for the actual battle, a ton of crazy shit goes down. Aelin and Rowan use their carranam to join powers to fight the Valg army. When they do this, Aelin’s power is unbelievable and she is possessed by the goddess of the hunt and moon, Deanna. Deanna used the Wyrdkey around Aelin’s neck as a gate. Using Aelin’s body, Deanna delivers a message to Rowan. She says. . . “Every key has a lock. Tell the Queen Who Was Promised to retrieve it soon, for all the allies in the world shall make no difference if she does not wield the Lock, if she does not put those keys back with it. Tell her flame and iron, together bound, merge into silver to learn what must be found. A mere step is all it shall take.” Rowan realizes that Aelin is now yielding moonfire instead of wildfire. Deanna tries to use Aelin to attack Skull’s Bay, but Aelin is able to remember who she is because of Rowan and fight back. Literally everything goes wrong during the battle, BUT they scrape out a victory. Sea dragon Lysandra is so badass. She fights so damn hard and kicks wyvern ass. The first time I read Empire of Storms, I wasn’t sure if she would survive because of how hard she had to fight. But, thankfully, she lives and allows our heroes to win the battle. It becomes very clear during this scene that Aedion deeply cares for Lysandra. I love his little quip that he will marry her one day. Besides sea dragon Lysandra, my other favorite part of this battle is when Gavriel and Fenrys help Aelin. Especially Fenrys, who saves Aelin from the water and refers to her as majesty. This is so important because it shows that Gavriel and Fenrys are becoming part of Aelin’s court and are so willing to protect her.
Manon and her Thirteen start out at Morath. After the witches sack Rifthold, Manon is put on trial for killing a Yellowlegs witch. Her punishment…Asterin, her second, will be killed. Manon and her Thirteen have been changing for a while, but this is the last straw. When she FINALLY decides to stop blindly obeying her grandmother, I was like YAS QUEEN! Manon attacks her grandmother and allows her Thirteen to escape. She has realized that blind obedience is worth nothing. She is loyal to those she has fought with and experienced life with. I love when Manon realizes that she does have a soul and a heart. . . and that’s ok. The biggest surprise, however, is that the matron reveals that Manon is the daughter of a Blackbeak witch and a Crochan prince. She is both a Blackbeak and a Crochan witch. This is absolutely shocking for Manon because she’s been raised to hate and kill the Crochan witches because they are the Ironteeth witches sworn enemy. Manon escapes with Abraxos, who eventually brings her to Aelin and her court’s ship.
Elide escaped Morath, but has been traveling alone for weeks through the forest. She meets Lorcan, who at first is planning to kill her. After encountering a super creepy Valg monster thing (I like to use technical terms lol) known as Ilken, the two end up working together. I like how Lorcan is so shocked by how smart Elide is. He should have never underestimated her. She is small but she is fierce! I especially like Elide because she is so brilliant. She has dealt with an incredibly amount of trauma and hardship in her life, but she is able to outsmart so many people. She is so clever! Elide is a fighter and a survivor. It is so nice for Elide to have someone (Lorcan) protecting her and taking care of her. She doesn’t NEED it, but she hasn’t had anyone like that since her parents died. As for Lorcan . . .I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I really like how he softens after meeting Elide and cares for her. BUT, his blind loyalty to Maeve is awful. He gets what he deserves, though.
One of my favorite parts of Empire of Storms is that all of our characters (well except Chaol and Nesryn) come together. Manon joins the crew when Abraxos brings her to the ship after escaping her grandmother. Manon and Dorian have a very interesting relationship. Ever since they first met, Manon and Dorian have had some crazy connection. Now they are finally in the same spot for a period of time. I love how they play off of each other. As for Aelin, she and Manon definitely clash, but they respect each other. They are both very strong-willed, fierce leaders. Elide and Lorcan join the crew in the Stone Marshes. One of my favorite parts of the whole book is when Elide meets Aelin and her court. There is so much pure emotion in the scene. Aelin finally gets to thank Elide for her mother’s sacrifice and tell her mother’s last words. This is a huge weight lifted off of Aelin’s shoulders. She has held on to Marion’s sacrifice for ten years and she finally can share that emotion with her daughter, Elide. It’s also so emotional because Aelin, Aedion, and Elide are all together for the first time since the fall of Terrasen. “Aedion’s turquoise eyes softened. ‘It survived. We survived.’ The three of them, the remnants of their court, their families.” Elide had held on to hope for so long and it makes me so happy that it finally paid off for her. Elide is also reunited with Manon which brought a huge smile to my face. I just love their friendship! Elide also gives Aelin the message and key from Kaltain. This is so important for Aelin because now she has two keys!!
Our group of heroes is attacked by Erawan’s Ilken. They manage to defeat the soldiers and survive, but Aelin now realizes that Erawan knows her exact location and that she holds one of the Wyrdkeys which terrifies her. After the battle, Manon reveals that she is a descendent of both the Ironteeth and the Crochan witches. Aelin realizes she’s glad to have Manon with them. While talking, Fenrys states, “Nameless is the price of Maeve’s allegiance.” This rattles Aelin to her core because Baba Yellowlegs had said the same thing to her in Crown of Midnight. The nameless wyrdmark also burned on Aelin’s brow in Throne of Glass. After hearing Fenrys say this, Aelin gets sick and asks for Lysandra. It is not revealed why this happens until the end of the book. Later, Manon reveals that the “Eye of Elena” amulet is also a Ironteeth symbol. Gavriel, Fenrys, and Rowan realize that Manon and Aelin have been brought together for a reason. They know that Maeve has been waiting for someone to lead her to the keys. . .
Gavriel’s tawny eyes gleamed animal-bright in the darkness. “Your beloved’s life and the witch’s are entwined. They have been led here, by forces we cannot understand.” “Think about it,” Fenrys pushed. “Two females whose paths crossed tonight in a way we’ve rarely witnessed. Two queens, who might control either half of this continent, two sides of one coin. Both half-breeds. Manon, an Ironteeth and a Crochan. Aelin. . .” “Human and Fae,” Rowan finished for him. “Between them they cover the three main races of this earth. Between the two of them, they are mortal and immortal; one worships fire, the other Darkness. Do I need to go on? It feels as if we’re playing right into the hands of whoever has been running this game–for eons.”
It’s at the end of this conversation that Fenrys asks Rowan to kill him if Maeve commands him to attack Aelin. Fenrys states that he’s glad he got to be a part of this court. I love this scene so much and my heart breaks for Fenrys and Gavriel. The two did not know anything except serving Maeve. Aelin and her court have shown them what life can be like. They both, but especially Fenrys, have become fiercely loyal to Aelin. I want them to be freed from Maeve!
We get to see one of Aelin’s plans to gather allies and an army play out near the end of the book. After retrieving the Lock (a witches mirror), the crew heads back to their ship where they are met by an army. This army belongs to Ansel of Briarcliff, whom Aelin met when she was Celaena at the Silent Assassin’s keep. As a refresher, the two girls became fast friends, but Ansel was revealed to be a traitor. Aelin spared her life and is therefore owed a life debt from Ansel. The reveal of Ansel showing up to aid Aelin is one of Aelin’s best schemes! Aelin has been planning this for a very long time…since she first came back to Rifthold and used Ansel’s name in the fighting pits. I love how shocked her companions are! Ansel reveals that she and her army captured Melisande’s capital and brought both her own army from the Wastes and Melisande’s army to aid Aelin. Aelin and her court now have an army! “Ansel gestured to the ships around them with a broad sweep of her arm. ‘Melisande’s fleet is now our fleet. And its capital is now ours, too.’ She jerked her chin at Aelin. ‘You’re welcome.'” It seems like our heroes have finally gotten the upper hand, but then they are surrounded by Maeve and her armada.
Dorian realizes that the Lock/mirror’s power is knowledge. He believes the mirror will show Aelin how to bind the three Wyrdkeys to the gate. He reminds Aelin and Manon of Deanna’s words from Skull’s Bay. . . “Think about Deanna’s words: ‘Flame and iron, together bound, merge into silver to learn what must be found. A mere step is all it shall take.'” They realize that the riddle means the two queens — Aelin is the flame and Manon is the iron. Aelin and Manon enter the mirror together. Inside the mirror, they see a scene from one thousand years ago. . .it’s Elena Galathynius using her amulet (the Eye of Elena) to lock Erawan away. This means that Aelin has had the Lock the entire time. She realizes that she had been led here to finally learn the truth. SOOO much is revealed in this scene:
- Elena Galathynius was never supposed to use the Lock to trap Erawan.
- The Lock was made to only be used once.
- The gods struck a bargain with Brannon and Mala, Elena’s parents. Her father, Brannon, was to wield the three keys and the Lock to send the gods and Erawan back through the gate.
- Elena is told by the gods that Erawan will rise again one day.
- It is decided that the gods will wait and honor their original bargain with Brannon and Mala, but Elena must pay a price.
- “Mala’s bloodline shall bleed again to forge the Lock anew.”
- Elena will be the one to lead this person and show him or her how to forge a new Lock with Mala’s gifts, and how to use the keys with the Lock.
- The bloodline of Brannon and Mala will pay for Elena’s mistake.
- The heir must yield all of their life force in order to seal the gate.
- The next scene shows Nehemia seeking the Lock and meeting Elena for the first time.
- Nehemia misinterpreted the riddles and thought she was the one to wield the Lock and keys.
- Elena reveals that it is Mala’s bloodline that will pay. . . “In the North, two branches flow from Mala. One to the Havilliard House, where its prince with my mate’s eyes possesses my raw magic — and her brute power. The other branch flows through the Galathynius House, where it bred true: flame and embers and ashes.” Mala (one of the three fae sister queens) and Brannon are Elena’s parents
- Aelin is descended from both Mab and Mala.
- Dorian is descended from Mala.
- This means that either Dorian or Aelin must be the one to sacrifice themselves and wield the keys and Lock.
- Elena reveals that the mirror is a pool of memory forged by herself, Brannon, and Rhiannon Crochan (the last Crochan queen). It is so the heir can understand and know the truth.
- Elena sends Nehemia to Rifthold to guide Aelin. . . “Not Aelin. Not with that name, that crown. Know her by her eyes–turquoise with a core of gold. Know her by the mark on her brow–the bastard’s mark, the mark of Brannon. Guide her. Help her. She will need you.”
- Nehemia and Elena continued to communicate while Nehemia was in Rifthold.
- In another scene, we see Brannon hide the three Wyrdkeys. He also does everything is his power to help his heir.
- He creates the Amulet of Orynth and writes “Nameless is my price” in Wyrdmarks on it. He built Elena’s tomb and carved messages there for his heir. He created Mort and put his sword, Damaris, in Elena’s tomb.
This is an unbelievable amount of information for Aelin to digest and understand. She grieves for Brannon and is so thankful to him for everything he tried to do to help her with Elena’s burden.
Elena then appears to Manon and Aelin. She apologizes, but Aelin is furious and devastated. Elena explains that Aelin was chosen instead of Dorian because she was ready and he wasn’t. She explains that Aelin is the combination of Brannon’s flame and Mala’s might. Aelin always thought she was “The Queen Who Was Promised” to the world, but she is actually promised to the keys and the gods. Aelin also realizes that Elena saved her ten years ago in the river. Elena shows her the memory. She wanted Aelin to have more time and have the chance at life. Elena also reveals that she sent Aelin to Wendlyn to heal and to meet Rowan, her mate. It both breaks my heart and makes me so happy when Elena tells Aelin she wanted her to know the love and joy of being with Rowan. Aelin actually thanks her, which is huge considering it is Elena’s fault she must sacrifice herself.
Nameless is my price. Aelin had realized what this meant for a while. That’s why she was so shaken when Fenrys brought it up.
- “Mala’s blood must be spent–your power must be spent. Every drop, of magic, of blood. You are the cost–to make a new Lock, and seal the keys into the gate. To make the Wyrdgate whole.” Aelin said softly, “I know.” She had known for some time now. Had been preparing for it as best she could. Preparing things for the others.
- Nameless is my price. To buy them a future, she’d pay it. She’d done as much as she could to ensure that once she was gone, help would still come. It was the only thing she could give them, her last gift to Terrasen. To those she loved with her heart of wildfire.
I have so many thoughts about this whole reveal. First, it makes me so dang sad. Aelin has gone through so much trauma, heartbreak, and tragedy. She is finally happy with Rowan and her court. She sees a future and wants to live in it…something she hasn’t had for the last ten years. But, then Elena reveals her destiny. I get so emotional thinking about it. Aelin accepts her fate and does so willingly in order to save those she loves. She had started to figure out her destiny for a while and she’s been preparing.
Back at the battle. . .
The night before the battle, Rowan went to all of the Whitethorn family ships in Maeve’s fleet and asked them to fight with Aelin and against Maeve. Every single Whitethorn ship ends up assisting them and fires upon Maeve’s ships. It was so cool to see Rowan get in on the scheming!
Fenrys and Gavriel are called back to Maeve by the blood oath. Before he goes, Gavriel points to the beach, indicating that’s where Maeve is. The battle seems to actually be going ok, but they are still outnumbered. I actually screamed when Abraxos appears with the rest of the Thirteen. The Thirteen and their wyverns help turn the tide of the battle. The manage to survive!! Our crew then realizes that Aelin, Manon, and Elide are on the beach with Maeve. Aelin tries to fight Maeve, but her power is too depleted. We learn a ton of information at the beach with Maeve. . .
- Lorcan summoned Maeve to their location when he thought Elide was in danger.
- Maeve planned to have Aelin’s power depleted by setting the fires in Eyllwe, sending the army of Ilken, and then the armada.
- Maeve severs the blood oath with Gavriel as punishment, but keeps it with Fenrys to torture him.
- Brannon stole the keys from Maeve and she’s been waiting for his heir to lead her back to them.
- Maeve saw Aelin’s future and saw that she and Rowan were mates. She used this information to break Rowan– she made him think he’d already found his mate (Lyria). Rowan was so broken, he took the blood oath without question. Maeve thought that once Aelin and Rowan realized they were mates, Aelin would do anything to save Rowan. . . including leading Maeve to the keys.
- Aelin has known Rowan was her mate for a long time — since the fight against the witches at Temis’s temple when Rowan was shot with an arrow.
- Aelin didn’t tell him because she didn’t want him to feel guilty about Lyria.
- Maeve reveals that Aelin inherited all of Mab’s powers, including immortality.
Maeve has beaten Aelin and she makes her choose. . . come willingly or Maeve will take Aelin and Elide. Aelin obviously chooses to go willingly. Before she goes, she gives a speech to Elide and Manon to tell the others. This part breaks me. I can’t even type it because it makes me so emotional. It’s on pages 660-661 for you to read. The hardest part to read? Her message to Rowan. I just can’t. It makes me so so so emotional. I want them to have more time!!
Maeve then uses her sadistic fae warrior, Cairn, to whip Aelin. This scene is brutal. It makes me sick watching her tortured. I don’t know how I am going to handle more of this is Kingdom of Ash. Maeve then imprisons Aelin in an iron mask and iron box. Aelin’s last thoughts in Empire of Storms are so powerful. . . “Time–she was grateful Elena had given her that stolen time. Grateful she had met them all, that she had seen some small part of the world, had heard such lovely music, had danced and laughed and known true friendship. Grateful that she had found Rowan. She was grateful. So Aelin Galathynius dried her tears.” I start tearing up even just typing the quote. I know these are fictional characters, but I have become so attached to Aelin and her court. I truly care what happens to them.
A lot happens in the aftermath, too. My heart shatters into a million pieces when Rowan finally arrives and repeatedly asks “Where is my wife.” Aelin and Rowan got married before the battle. She knew she was living on borrowed time, but she wanted to spend it with her mate AND ensure Terrasen had a king. Rowan realizes that he’d always known Aelin was his mate. Even though they are separated, I love that they both have finally acknowledged their mating bond. Rowan will stop at nothing to find Aelin. I love that he does not accept that he may not find her. Rowan is so strong and he is going to fight for his friend, wife, and mate. He knows she will never stop fighting and so will he.
Manon and Elide tell the rest of the crew about what happened in the mirror and with Maeve. It is revealed that Aelin had confided in Lysandra about her suspicions of the price to rid the world of Erawan. They came up with plan together. Lysandra will shift to appear as Aelin and play the role so the kingdom can survive. Meanwhile, Lorcan is absolutely devastated because Maeve broke the blood oath to punish him. Elide then “twists the knife” by yelling at Lorcan for betraying Aelin. He totally deserves it, but damn it is brutal. Manon reunites with her Thirteen and they decide to find the Crochans to raise up an army for Aelin. Manon is ready to make change and create a better world. She is starting to have hope.
One super good piece of news. . . Manon tells everyone that Aelin slipped her the two Wyrdkeys while Maeve was distracted. This is fantastic because Maeve doesn’t have the keys!! She gives the keys to Dorian, as he is the other heir of Mala’s bloodline. Dorian accepts the keys and states, “The quest does not end here.” I think that Dorian plans to sacrifice himself (whether Aelin survives or not) to use the keys to banish Erawan. I believe this because although he has started to heal, Dorian was broken by Sorscha’s death and from being enslaved by the Valg demon. I think he is willing to sacrifice himself because he knows he’ll never truly recover or be happy without Sorscha. I think he wants Aelin to have the happiness he knows she can.
Just when you think it’s over, there is one last trick up Aelin’s sleeve. In the last pages, Galan Ashryver, the Crown Prince of Wendlyn, his army, and the Silent Assassins from the Red Desert all show up. It turns out that Aelin sent letters to them to call in her life debts. I absolutely love seeing Aelin’s court realize that she made good on her promise. . . she called in her debts and promises and raised an army of “assassins and thieves and exiles and commoners.” She did it. She did what no one else could have done. And it’s an absolutely brilliant reveal.
“Aelin Galathynius had raised an army not just to challenge Morath. . . but to rattle the stars.”
Empire of Storms ends with the court headed in different directions. Aedion and Lysandra (as Aelin) go North. Dorian, Manon, and the Thirteen are going to find the Crochan witches and rally the forces. Galan Ashryver’s forces, the Silent Assassins, Ansel’s forces, and the rest of the armies are also heading North. Elide, Lorcan, and Gavriel are going to help search for Aelin. Finally, Rowan is going to find Aelin. They are all counting on Chaol and Nesryn to rally the Southern continent.
Even though I’ve read it before, I have so many emotions after reading Empire. I’m sitting in my apartment in tears.
To end on a happy note, I want to devote this last section to the perfection that is Aelin and Rowan. I just love them together so much. They love one another unconditionally, and respect, support, and trust each other. They are partners and equals. “That day. . . when Rowan had looked into her eyes as he drank her blood. . . she’d started to realize what it was. That the feeling that passed between them, so powerful there was no language to describe it. . . It was not mere friendship, but something born of and strengthened by it. And let’s just talk about chapter thirty-eight. DAMN MAAS, that is one hot (pun intended) chapter. The love between them is unexplainable and so pure. I absolutely love when they say to each other. . .
“You are mine.”
“I am yours.”
“And you love me.”
“To whatever end.”
It’s just so beautiful. One of my (many) favorite parts of their relationship is how much they support one another. Rowan is always there for Aelin, especially when it comes to managing her power. Aelin does the same for Rowan. It’s as Rowan says. . .”Queen, and lover, and friend–and more.”
Now as for their ending. . . I think (and am hoping) that there are a couple of quotes (from both Queen of Shadows and Empire of Storms) that definitely mean Aelin and Rowan will find each other.
- “I kept thinking about how you might never know that I missed you with only an ocean between us. But if it was death separating us. . . I would find you. I don’t care how many rules it would break. Even if I had to get all three keys myself and open a gate, I would find you again. Always.”
- “I’d walk into the burning heart of hell itself to find you.”
- She whispered onto his mouth, “I’ll always find a way back to you.”
I am hoping and praying that Aelin and Rowan find each other and get their happily ever after. My current theories are either: A) Aelin will go through the Wyrdgate and Rowan will end up using the keys to go after her. B) They both die. C) They both live. As you can see, I have no option of the two ending up separated. To me it is physically impossible for Aelin and Rowan to not be together and it therefore will NOT end that way. I just hope Sarah J. Maas agrees with me.
- All their names, entwined in a complex Terrasen knot right near his heart.
- She had crawled through darkness and blood and despair–she had survived.
- Aelin said, “I promise you that no matter how far I go, no matter the cost, when you call for my aid, I will come. I promise you on my blood, on my family’s name, that I will not turn my back on Terrasen as you have turned your back on me. I promise you, Darrow, that when the day comes and you crawl for my help, I will put my kingdom before my pride and not kill you for this. I think the true punishment will be seeing me on the throne for the rest of your miserable life.”
- She looked over her shoulder. “To call in old debts and promises. To raise an army of assassins and thieves and exiles and commoners. To finish what was started long, long ago.”
- Wondered if they, too, had spied the Lord of the North standing watch deep in the forest, the white stag’s immortal glow muted in the rain, come to bid Aelin Galathynius farewell.
- Then, “Aelin is my heart. I taught her what I know, and it worked because our magics understood each other deep down–just as our souls did.”
- Dorian nodded his thanks. “The first time you met Aelin, did you know. . . ?” A snort. “No. Gods, no. We wanted to kill each other.” The amusement flickered. “She was. . . in a very dark place. We both were. But we led each other out of it. Found a way–together.”
- For a heartbeat, Dorian could only stare. As if reading his mind, Rowan said, “You will find your way, too, Dorian. You’ll find your way out.”
- Rowan wasn’t surprised, but seeing the scope of the hell she had unleashed. . . Holy gods.
- “…So yes–my Fireheart is one flame in the sea of darkness. But she is willing to fight, Fenrys. She is willing to take on Erawan, take on Maeve and the gods themselves, if it means peace can be had.”
- “The world,” Aelin said, “will be saved and remade by the dreamers, Rolfe.”
- That day. . . when Rowan had looked into her eyes as he drank her blood. . . she’d started to realize what it was. That the feeling that passed between them, so powerful there was no language to describe it. . . It was not mere friendship, but something born of and strengthened by it.
- “Even if Maeve had kept me enslaved, I would have fought her. Every day, every hour, every breath.” He kissed her softly and said onto her lips, “I would have fought for the rest of my life to find a way to return to you again. I knew it the moment you emerged from the Valg’s darkness and smiled at me through your flames.”
- Today her message would thunder across the realms. She was not a rebel princess, shattering enemy castles and killing kings. She was a force of nature. She was a calamity and a commander of immortal warriors of legend.
- The two of them. . . Oh, those crafty, scheming devils. A queen of legends indeed.
- “But you and I will learn to manage your power together. You do not have to face this alone; you do not decide that you are unlovable because you have powers that can save and destroy.”
- But Rowan had caught her each time she had fallen.
- She whispered onto his mouth, “I’ll always find a way back to you.”
- “I’m glad, you know,” Fenrys said with unusual graveness, “that I got this time. That Maeve unintentionally gave me that. That I got to know what it was like–to be here, as a part of this.”
- A golden crown of flame flickered to life atop Rowan’s head–the twin to the one Lorcan has seen burning that day at Mistward.
- As Manon Blackbeak saw her and Aelin, knee-to-knee in the grass, and mouthed one word. Hope.
- Aelin and Aedion had stopped ahead, waiting for her. Smiling faintly–welcomingly. So Elide headed for them, her court, and did not look back.
- Aelin braced her forearms on the slick table. “Here’s to dramatic entrances.”
- “It’d be nice,” Aedion grumbled from down the table, where he and Rowan glared at them, “to be included in just one of these schemes, Aelin.” “But your faces are so wonderful when I get to reveal them,” Aelin crooned.
- “Aelin Galathynius willingly handed over her freedom so an Ironteeth witch could walk free,” Manon said. Elide straightened, pulling from Asterin’s arms. But Manon continued, “We owe her a life debt. And more than that. . . It is time that we became better than our foremothers. We are all children of this land.”
- She’d been dealt such a wicked, impossible hand–and yet Aelin had made it count. One last time, she’d made it count.
- Unleashing a cry that set the world trembling, Prince Rowan Whitethorn Galathynius, Consort of the Queen of Terrasen, began the hunt to find his wife.
Tower of Dawn (#6)
I was initially a little nervous about this book because I wanted to focus on Aelin. I wanted to know what happens next! But, oh man was I wrong! Tower of Dawn added so much to the story that I didn’t know it needed. Tower of Dawn gives so much important and relevant history. The book takes place at the same time as Empire of Storms. It was actually really cool to see what else is going on in the world while Aelin and company are doing their thing. Tower of Dawn focuses on Chaol and Nesryn as they arrive in Antica to ask the Khagan for aid, and for Chaol to be healed, hopefully, by the healers at the Torre. The POVs in this book are Chaol, Nesryn, and Yrene Towers.
Tower of Dawn takes place in the Southern Continent. The Southern Continent is an empire ruled by the Khagan. It’s very different from any of the kingdoms on the Northern Continent. The first khagan united the tribes of the Southern Continent and since then, the empire has expanded. The entire empire is connected by roads and bridges. The wealth is distributed across the entire land. The palace takes pride in every part of its empire. Nesryn describes the land as “A land claimed by a conquering nation, yet loved and nurtured.” Antica is the capital of the empire and where the palace of the Khagan is. The city also houses the Torre Cesme, which is the tower that houses the best mortal healers in the world. The healers there have been blessed by the goddess, Silba. I think that the Southern Continent, and specifically Antica, are Sarah J. Maas’s vision for what our world could be. I absolutely agree with her. . .
- It’s a blend of cultures and history that peacefully live together.
- Education and healthcare are free and fundamental rights.
- Religious freedom is encouraged and celebrated.
- Different cultures and traditions are accepted and celebrated.
- Traditional gender roles do not apply.
- It’s a “city of learning, of light and comfort and wealth.”
The current Khagan, Urus, has six children: Arghun (known as the prince of spies and the politican), Hasar (commands the navy), Sartaq (the commander of the northern aerial cavalry and their ruks), Kashin (leader of the land armies), Duva, and Tumelun. Tumelun died a few weeks before Nesryn and Chaol arrive. It appears that she died by suicide, but Kashin suspects some evil at work. He asks Chaol to investigate.
We last saw Yrene Towers in The Assassin and the Healer. She used the money Celaena gifted her to travel to Antica and attend the Torre and become a healer. As a nurse, I especially love Yrene’s character. It’s so cool to see her role as a healer and how important the healers are to the world and the story! Yrene is assigned to work with Chaol. Their relationship starts off rocky because Yrene’s mother was killed by Adarlan soldiers. She hates Chaol because she associates him with Adarlan because he served the King. However, she agrees to heal him. When she first starts, Yrene realizes that there’s an echo of the demon’s evil power inside of Chaol’s wound. He then explains parts of the Valg. This part is so intense and once again shows Maas’s amazing ability to create spectacular visuals. I felt like I was there with Yrene as she encountered the evil. The darkness and “wrongness” that Yrene experiences are just so damn creepy! Speaking of imagery, the whole city of Antica is stunning. Maas creates such beautiful worlds. I especially love the baths in the Torre with all the bells — it’s such a cool visual! Another of my favorites is the aeries built into the Tavan Mountains.
Tower of Dawn has some truly creepy scenes. For example, when Yrene is in the library researching Chaol’s injury. She finds a book that contains info about and images of the Valg. While reading, she senses someone or something watching her. Using her common sense and the skills Celaena taught her, she manages to escape the library and sound the alarms. The entire scene of Yrene slowly making her way out of the library is so eerie and creepy! I felt like I was being watched and stalked too. Because of the attack, Chaol and Yrene realize a Valg demon has come to Antica. Yrene believes it is hunting her because she was researching Valg and because she’s working with Chaol. Yrene is scared to keep working with him, but she doesn’t let that stop her. I love when she states “Let’s see if it enjoys being pushed around for a change” and then attacks Chaol’s scar with all her might. She has to fight the echo and heal Chaol — both physically and emotionally — at the same time. Yrene is another badass, fierce, and independent woman in this series. Another terrifying scene is when Yrene and Chaol are hiding from the Valg stalking Yrene. It is so scary the way the Valg whispers Yrene’s name!! Despite the creepiness, I do actually love this part for two reason. One — because of the quote “Your fear grants it power over you.” As someone who has lived and struggled with anxiety my entire life I truly took this quote to heart. And two–the way Chaol talks Yrene through the terror. . . “We will face this,” he said. “Together.” Together. Live or die here–together. Her breathing calmed, their faces so close his own breath brushed her mouth. Together. She hadn’t thought to use a word, to feel what it meant. . . She hadn’t felt it since — Together.
It’s after this event that Yrene states that she feels safer at the palace with Chaol. I love his reaction. The next morning Chaol seeks out the guards and asks to train with them. This is huge for him! He is motivated to learn how to fight from the chair. For the first time since the injury, Chaol is hopeful. He finally realizes that he is no less of a man because of his injuries. This is such a great message for all of those dealing with injuries, disabilities, illness, or any struggle. It is a process. Acceptance does not happen over night. Every person must work through their obstacles in their own time and way. And it is so important to have people who support you (like Shen and Yrene). Maas shows this message beautifully through Chaol’s journey.
We learn so much more about the Valg in Tower of Dawn. In a book she got from the library (The Song of Beginning), Yrene learns the names of the other two Valg kings. I got chills when she asked Chaol about them . . . “Because if they were merely banished to their realm, who is to say they aren’t still waiting to be let back into our world?” All I could think was Erawan is insane and so powerful on his own! I can’t even imagine what would happen with all three kings!!
Yrene’s healing of Chaol is super intense. . . for both of them. It is mentally and physically exhausting. Despite this intensity (or maybe because of it), I love watching their relationship develop. Yrene pushes Chaol and does not accept any nonsense. She encourages him to be as independent as possible. Yrene knows that she won’t be able to heal Chaol without him opening up and facing his personal demons. Chaol is in a very dark place. He hates himself and the echo is feeding off of that hate. It’s slow going, but Chaol starts to open up to Yrene. His walls start to break down. One of the key moments in their relationship, is when Chaol accompanies Yrene on a tour through the city. They spend the whole day together and just talk. That night is the party where they have their moment on the couch and Chaol realizes he’s falling for Yrene. “She glanced back at the archway. Even across the nearly hundred feet of polished marble and towering pillars, the space between them went taut. As if that white light he’d glimpsed inside himself two days ago was a living rope. As if she’d somehow planted herself in him that afternoon.” They both feel the pull, but do not accept it yet.
Their first date is adorable. . . even if they didn’t consider it a date. Chaol and Yrene eat out in the city. The both open up so much, especially Chaol who talks about Brullo and his friends from the guard. After Chaol says goodbye to Yrene, his thoughts show how much he is healing. . . “And as Chaol rode back to the illuminated palace across the city, he could have sworn that some weight in his chest, on his shoulders, had vanished. As if he’d lived with it his entire life, unaware, and now, even with all that gathered around him, around Adarlan and those he care for. . . How strange it felt. That lightness.”
Chaol forces a meeting with the Khagan and afterwords is in a terrible mood. He gets into a fight with Yrene and says something he instantly regrets. Yrene is crushed and Chaol begs for forgiveness. He realizes that he will do everything in his power to stop her from leaving. “He had let them all go. Had walked out himself, too, but with Aelin, with Dorian, with Nesryn, he had let them go, and he had not gone after them.” Chaol stands up for the first time and goes after Yrene. This scene makes me tear up. It starts off with this horrible fight, but as soon as Chaol stands Yrene knows he didn’t mean his words. She then uses this to get him to walk. It’s absolutely incredible to see Chaol walking for the first time. Yrene has helped him in so many ways and it’s beautiful. Chaol has shown Yrene what it’s like to be cared for again. She is able to share things with him that she had long hidden away. They are so good for each other. And the best part…they finally kiss! This scene is just full of all the feelings. I love it so much!
Quick sidebar . . . I love when Yrene and Chaol are in the desert and Chaol explains his relationship with Aelin. “Aelin was very important to me. She still is–though in a different way. And for a while. . . it was not easy, to change the dreams I’d planned for my future. Especially the dreams with her.” He and Aelin have made their peace with each other. I really appreciate how he takes responsibility for his part in the past events with Aelin. I know she does this as well. It’s also so nice to see Chaol be so supportive of Aelin — “There is no one else that I would trust to handle this war. No one else I would trust to take on all of Morath but Aelin. Even Dorian. If there’s a way to win, she’ll find it. The costs might be high, but she’ll do it.”
Two other important things happen in the desert. 1) The two realize that healers are actually descended from fae who settled in the Southern Continent. The healers were actually planted there to be a weapon against the Valg. 2) Chaol gives Yrene her birthday gift. He gives her a necklace engraved with mountains and seas so that she never forgets her journey. This is so meaningful and I love how it’s Chaol’s way of showing Yrene that she is strong and that she’s the one who got herself here. It is also so thoughtful because the necklace is a locket so that Yrene can store her note (from Aelin, but Chaol doesn’t know that yet) in the necklace. It shows how much Chaol truly cares about Yrene.
Back in Antica, Yrene has an epiphany about Chaol’s injury and the echo inside of it. She goes to him to end it. While Yrene is healing him, Chaol experiences flashbacks of his family, Celaena, Nehemia, Aelin, Dorian, and his men. Every bad memory comes rushing forward. One of the most important parts of this experience is when he confronts his history with Celaena/Aelin. He finally understands and releases her. He finally lets go of the anger, grief, and disappointment. Another major part is dealing with his regret over leaving Dorian. He realizes that Dorian is still there for him even though he’s been broken and in despair. Chaol finally realizes that he has not been able to totally heal because some part of him thought he deserved it. . . for breathing his oaths, leaving Dorian, and being a failure. I love when he realizes that he still can fulfill one oath and promise. . . to save his friend and kingdom. During this experience, Yrene tells Chaol it’s up to him to come out of the darkness. He has to love himself in order to keep the darkness away. This scene is beautiful. It’s so very inspiring and a perfect message for self-love and self-acceptance. Chaol decides to push back the darkness and Yrene then guides him to the light. He wakes up and is healed.
While Chaol works with Yrene, Nesryn works with and begins to bond with Sartaq. Nesryn and Sartaq also start off slow. The first time I read Tower of Dawn I got the feeling that Sartaq was interested in Nesryn, but I wasn’t sure. Nesryn seemed to like him, but I wasn’t sure if it was romantically or not. Nesryn accompanies Sartaq to his visit his people and seek out information about the Valg and their history on the Southern Continent. Before she leaves, her and Chaol amicably and happily end their romance. It had changed long before they met Yrene and Sartaq. It’s very freeing for Nesryn as she heads out on her adventure with Sartaq. At the aerie, Nesryn and Sartaq learn that there is a force of shadow and darkness at work in the mountains. It is the kharankui, or stygian spiders. We have seen them a couple of times in previous books with their spider silk. Now let me just say. . . I do not do bugs. I am terrified of spiders. Like full on panic attack when I see one. The spiders are the ONLY part of this series that I hate. And as I’ve said before, Maas does such a good job writing creepy things that the spiders are extra terrifying. I can unfortunately picture exactly what she’s writing. Why is it that all my favorite series (this, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings) must have spiders!?
Sartaq’s hearth mother, Houlun, is a Story Keeper. She tells Nesryn and Sartaq what she knows about the Valg. She reveals that long ago a rip opened up in their mountains. Valg beasts, including the spiders, came through the rip. This is so scary to realize that there have been Valg demons and monsters hiding in plain sight this whole time. They also meet Falkan, a shifter who is looking for revenge against the spiders.
Nesryn and Sartaq go to hunt the spiders. Unfortunately they are caught in a trap laid by the spiders. It is so scary. The one light in the terrifying tunnel of Nesryn and Sartaq being chased and hunted by the spiders is when Sartaq reveals he’s in love with Nesryn. He tells her. . . “I head the spies’ stories of you. The fearless Balruhni woman in Adarlan’s empire. Neith’s Arrow. And I knew . . . I loved you before I ever set eyes on you.” “I wish we’d had time.” This makes my heart simultaneously break into a million pieces and fill with joy.
AND HOLY SHIT! When the spiders capture Nesryn and Sartaq, they reveal they are waiting at a gate. They are NOT waiting for Erawan. They are waiting for THE QUEEN OF THE VALG AKA MAEVE. I lost my mind the first time I read this. Sarah J. Maas at it again with the twists!! I still can’t believe it. And the next chapter (chapter forty-nine) reveals so much history. . .
- The three Valg kings ruled a world of dark, cold and wind for a thousand years until a queen appeared with new, dark power. The queen was Maeve.
- Orcus (the eldest king) wed Maeve, but she wasn’t happy.
- Maeve found a way to “pierce the veil between worlds.”
- She used her power to open up a rip (a gate) and stepped into the next world with her handmaidens (the spiders).
- Maeve decided to stay in the new world and ordered the spiders to stay and guard the gate where they still remain.
- Orcus learned of what Maeve did so he created the three keys to control the gate between worlds. Orcus and his two brothers traveled to many worlds looking for Maeve.
- Maeve hid in plain sight in this world as a fae queen. She used her power to make the two fae queens, Mab and Mora, believe they had a third, eldest sister. She used her power to put that idea into everyone’s minds so all believe her to be a true fae queen.
- When the kings arrived in this world, Maeve realized they had made the keys and could control the gates between worlds.
- During the first Valg war, Maeve took the keys and sent two of the brothers back to their realm.
- However, before she could send Erawan back, Brannon stole the keys.
- Brannon never knew (and still doesn’t know) Maeve’s true identity.
- Maeve and all Valg beings fear fire.
- Maeve prepared defenses (raising fae armies) in case Erawan rose again.
The two manage to escape and are rescued by the riders. This whole scene is so intense. I was so relieved when Nesryn and Sartaq survive. Falkan sacrifices himself to buy Nesryn and Sartaq time. Before he leaves, he reveals that he has a niece in Adarlan that is probably a shifter. He tried to find her, but her mother revealed she’d kicked her out. The niece is Lysandra!! I just love all the connections throughout this series. Falkan survives and I can’t wait to see if he gets to meet Lysandra!
At the aerie, the clans vote to decide if they will fly North to fight or not. Nesryn tells them the whole history of the Valg, Erawan, and Maeve. Before they are told of the decision, Nesryn receives a letter from Chaol stating that he needs her to return to Antica. Sartaq and Nesryn fly back immediately.
Yrene reveals that she believes the Valg are parasites and infections. She now knows how to fight them and treat the people that are infected by the Valg. While discussing this with her, Chaol remembers Athril’s ring which was supposedly created for him by Mala.
- This is the ring that Aelin found with Goldryn in Heir of Fire.
- She used it to trade Maeve for Rowan’s freedom.
- The ring grants immunity from the Valg.
- Chaol remembers that Mala loved Brannon, not Athril. . . so why would she have made the ring?
- Chaol remembers that Athril’s fae form is an owl. . . the same symbol for Silba, the goddess of healing.
- They realize Silba, not Mala, created the ring for Athril.
Hasar comes to tell Yrene and Chaol about the battle between Aelin and Maeve at the marshes (the events of Empire of Storms). Hasar reveals that Aelin wrote to her weeks ago promising a better world. Typical Aelin. . . throwing in another surprise reveal even though she’s not present in this book.
Chaol and Yrene go the Torre to retrieve books about the Valg, but discover the High Healer is missing. They eventually go to the hidden tunnels beneath the library. Chaol realizes it is likely a trap to bait Yrene. The two of them walking through the tunnels is another super spooky scene. Even though I know what happens, I still was getting nervous as they walked through the tunnels into the unknown. At the end of the tunnel, it is revealed that Duva, the Khagan’s second youngest child (now youngest because Tumelun is dead) is there and possessed by a Valg. ANOTHER GREAT TWIST!!! There is a huge, crazy fight scene against Duva in which the Valg reveals that Erawan sent it to find the healer who could stop them. It also reveals that their theory is correct. . . healers are descended from the fae. Fae escaped Maeve and came to the Southern Continent. They bred their magic with humans and “encouraged the right powers to rise up, to ensure this land would always be strong, defended.” The fae made sure the Torre was created and healers learned. The Valg explains that Erawan purged the healers from the Northern Continent (Adarlan) to prevent them from disovering how to fight the Valg. Yrene somehow slipped through the cracks! There is so much information and history revealed in Tower of Dawn, but I think that this is one of the most important…or at least the one that provides the most hope. The healers can fight and defeat the Valg. Erawan did everything in his power to prevent the healers from surviving, but he failed. Yrene survived and now she is going to kick some Valg ass!!!
Chaol is gravely injured during the fight against Valg Duva. Yrene is able to speak to Silba and use all the healers’ powers to heal him. But, there is a cost for this choice. The cost is that Chaol and Yrene’s lives are now bound together. Some of Chaol’s injury remains and his ability to walk or use a cane or chair is correlated to Yrene’s power. This means that when she is drained, Chaol will not be able to stand or walk. He will be in the chair, but he is totally fine with that. He now knows that chair isn’t a fault. He’s happy to spend the rest of his life in the chair as long as he is with Yrene. It also means that when death comes for one of them, it will claim them both. I know this is meant to be a cost, but I actually think it’s beautiful. Maybe that’s just my hopeless romantic side, but I love that they will never be separated by death. Yrene and Chaol will be together always.
Nesryn, Sartaq, Yrene, and Chaol all go to the Khagan to tell him about Duva’s possession and the truth about Erawan and Morath. Yrene heals Duva and defeats the demon inside of her. While doing this, the demon reveals it is not a prince but a PRINCESS. And it looks like the females are even more powerful than the males!
Ok, so the good happy ending. . . Sartaq and Nesryn brought one thousand ruk riders with them and Hasar is bringing her navy. The Khagan also brings his own ships and soldiers. AND three hundred healers are coming too! These forces will join with all of Aelin’s other forces. They have a chance! Hope is the overarching message of this entire series, and I love seeing so much hope at the end of Tower of Dawn. The one bittersweet part is that they don’t realize that Aelin is actually imprisoned by Maeve and it’s Lysandra pretending to be Aelin going North. Ugh, but let me get back to happy things before I get all depressed. Sartaq and Nesryn. . . swooooooon. Sartaq reveals he loves Nesryn and told his father. The Khagan named Sartaq heir! He tells Nesryn. . . “We will go to war, Nesryn Faliq. And when we shatter Erawan and his armies, when the darkness is at last banished from the world. . . Then you and I will fly back here. Together. And so we shall remain for the rest of our days.” It just makes me so happy. I love them together too. Why is Maas so great a writing couples?! And also, Nesryn claimed a ruk to be her mount! She has truly found where she belongs. She is home.
And that last bit of pure joy. . . Chaol and Yrene got married before leaving Antica. It makes my heart so full of joy. The two are now on one of the ships headed North to the war. Chaol reveals that they brought their gold couch with them and both their horses. In one of the best parts of the whole series, Chaol states, “He’d almost told the princess that she could keep Hellas’s Horse, but there was something to be said about the prospect of charging down Morath foot soldiers atop a horse named Butterfly.” This is the best. It makes me laugh every time I read it. On the ship, Yrene finally shows Chaol the note from the woman (aka Aelin back when she was Celaena) in Innish. Chaol recognizes the writing immediately and can’t believe what he’s seeing. This part actually makes me tear up. It’s so perfect for Chaol to see Aelin’s kindness. It’s as he says…she could not have known how this small gift and moment of kindness would pay off. The greatest part is when he realizes that “every step, all of it, had led here.”
“An assassin who had found his wife, or they had found each other, two gods-blessed women wandering the shadowed ruins of the world. And who now held the fate of it between them. Every step. Every curve into darkness. Every moment of despair and rage and pain. It had led him to precisely where he needed to be. Where he wanted to be. A moment of kindness. From a young woman who ended lives to a young woman who saved them.”
And now for the true ending of Tower of Dawn. . . the last two pages. The first time I read Tower of Dawn and I saw the chapter was titled “Fireheart” I just about died. And then I read it. . . and died again. And rereading it this time? Guess what. . . it killed me again. I just can’t. The wait for Kingdom of Ash has been torture. Sarah J. Maas knows how to end with a bang. I’m excited for and scared of Kingdom of Ash all at the same time.
- “There are choices in my past,” he said tightly, “that I have come to regret. But I can only move on–and attempt to fix them. Fight to make sure they do not occur again.”
- She added, more quietly but no less fiercely, “I once lived in fear of other people. I let other people walk all over me just because I was too afraid of the consequences for refusing. I didn’t know how to refuse.” Her hand pushed down on his spine in a silent order to rest his head again. “The day I reached these shores, I cast aside that girl. And I will be damned if I let her re-emerge. Or let someone tell me what to do with my life, my choices again.”
- “You would be surprised by how closely the healing of physical wounds is tied to the healing of emotional ones.”
- “She and Dorian both possess considerable magic. But I would say it is their intelligence that is the stronger weapon. Brute power is useless without it.”
- Go where you fear to tread.
- Yrene laughed, and the sound. . . Beautiful as the sound was, it was nothing like the smile on her face. The delight.
- It had been her joy–the undiluted joy of that memory–that had won him that bit of movement. What she’d opened up, given up, to push back the stain of that wound.
- The prince gave her a roguish smile, finishing off his long braid and picking up his spear once more. “I certainly would take all day.”
- She would have an adventure. For herself. This one time. She would see her homeland, and smell it and breathe it in. See it from high above, see it racing as fast as the wind. She owed herself that much. And owed it to Chaol as well.
- Sartaq whispered in Nesryn’s ear, “I was praying to the Eternal Sky and all thirty-six gods that you’d say yes.” She smiled, even if he couldn’t see it. “So was I,” Nesryn breathed, and they leaped into the skies.
- Chaol held her stare, a small smile curling his mouth. “Thank you.” He swallowed. “For all of it.”
- Shen added, “But know that I did not get here alone.” The unspoken offer shone in the guard’s brown eyes. Unbroken, this man before him. No less of a man for his injury, for finding a new way to move through the world.”
- Chaol pushed away the image. Replaced it with the healer still asleep in his bed. How she had looked when she’d declared to the prince, the world, that she felt safer there. With him.
- Having seen what Aelin was capable of in Rifthold, the plans she’d laid out and enacted without any of them knowing. . . Nesryn’s money was on Aelin. The queen would show up when and where she wished–at precisely the moment she intended.
- There was only Yrene, and her hand on the doorknob, and the tears in her furious, lovely eyes. The most beautiful he’d ever seen. They widened as he took that step toward her. As he lurched and swayed. But he managed another.
- He didn’t understand–how she could be so delicate, so small, when she had overturned his life entirely. Worked miracles with those hands and that soul, this woman who had crossed mountains and seas. She was trembling. Not with fear, not as she looked up at him. And it was only when Yrene settled her hand on his chest, not to push him away but to feel the raging, thunderous heartbeat beneath, that Chaol lowered his head and kissed her.
- It was like waking up or being born or falling out of the sky. It was an answer and a song, and she could not think or feel fast enough.
- She’d known the moment he stood, when her heart had stopped dead, that he hadn’t meant it. That he would have crawled. This man, this noble and selfless and remarkable man. . .
- “We don’t look back,” he said, met her stare. “It helps no one and nothing to look back.” The way he said it. . . It seemed as if it meant something more. To him, at least. But Chaol’s smile grew, his eyes lighting as he added, “We can only go on.”
- Chaol snorted, and the prince straightened. “Good luck to anyone who tries to go after Rowan Whitethorn.” “Because Aelin will burn them to ash?” Hasar asked with poisoned sweetness. But it was Kashin who answered softly, “Because Rowan Whitethorn will always be the person who walks away from that encounter. Not the assailant.”
- “Aelin frightens everyone.” He snorted. “But not him. I think that’s why she fell in love with him, against her best intentions. Rowan beheld all Aelin was and is, and he was not afraid.”
- His. She was his, and he had never had anything he could call such. Wanted to call such. Chaol couldn’t bring himself to rip his mouth away from Yrene’s long enough to ask if she considered him hers. To explain that he already knew his own answer. Had perhaps known from the moment she’d walked into that sitting room and did not look at him with an ounce of pity of sadness.
- But Yrene kissed him again, in answer and silent demand. And as Chaol began to move in her, he realized that here, amongst the dunes and stars. . . Here, in the heart of a foreign land. . . Here, with her, he was home.
- Yrene said quietly, “The darkness belongs to you. To shape as you will. To give it power or render it harmless.”
- Life. He had life to savor, to fight for.
- Aelin. . . Chaol’s blood sparked, and he looked to Yrene. Her eyes were wide, bright. Bright with hope–burning, precious hope.
- It was hope that stood beside him, hidden and protected these years in this city, and in the years before it, spirited across the earth by the gods themselves, concealed from the forces poised to destroy her. A kernel of hope. The most dangerous of all weapons against Erawan, against the Valg’s ancient darkness. What he had been brought here to retrieve for his homeland, his people. What he had been brought here to protect. More precious than soldiers, than any weapon. Their only shot at salvation. Hope.
Celaena/Aelin is a badass, kickass woman but she is still human. Maas does an excellent job of showing that Celaena/Aelin does have flaws, and, despite being so fierce, she is emotional and does experience things like fear and love. Some readers complain that she is cocky and bitchy, but I love seeing a strong female protagonist who is confident!
- The entire series is actually full of so many strong, independent, fierce, and badass women . . . Manon, Lysandra, Elide, Nesryn, Yrene, Nehemia, and more! It’s so nice to see so many female characters like this!!
Aelin’s plans and schemes are always so epic and genius! I love every time her plans are hinted at and when everything is revealed. So so good!! Maas does such a good job of planning out her books and making everything come together so well. It’s one of my favorite parts of her writing. Nothing is random in Maas’s writing.
Absolutely spectacular world building. The sheer scope of the world and all its detail is insane.
There is a very well-developed and extensive history including an elaborate magic system.
A cast of diverse characters who are interesting and complex, but also very realistic.
The series spans multiple locations and cultures.
All of this could easily feel overwhelming, but I never felt overwhelmed at any point in the series. Maas creates this world with grace and clarity. Everything is thought through and has a purpose. I wish I was able to better articulate more of how amazing I think Maas’s writing and the world of Throne of Glass is.
Maas is the queen of twists and cliffhangers!
Maas is so damn good at writing incredible male characters…can she write one for my life? I’d like a Rowan or Rhysand of my own, please!
The major themes throughout the series are hope, self-acceptance, and self-love. All three of these themes are such important messages and Maas does a beautiful job of weaving them into the story.
One of the reasons I love Sarah J. Maas’s stories is because it is so similar to the way J.K. Rowling created Harry Potter (Yes, I realize that this is like the hundredth time I’ve mentioned Harry Potter in this post #noregrets). The worlds of J.K. Rowling and Sarah J. Maas are my favorites. Both authors are able to create extensive, detailed, and captivating worlds that are so vast and well thought out. Both authors are also experts in foreshadowing. It always amazes me how many details, both big and small, are present that clue the reader into where the stories will lead.
My mind (and heart) is going in two different directions right now. I’m like BRING ON KINGDOM OF ASH but also I AM NOT EMOTIONALLY READY.
I saw this tumbr post shared on a bookstagram (I’m sorry I don’t know the original creator) and it hit me so hard. Whoever made this post, I appreciate it so much. It gives me hope for Kingdom of Ash.
One slight correction. . . Dorian has the keys not Manon.
I would also like to add. . . “That Manon and her Thirteen are seeking out the Crochan witches and rallying them to fight on behalf of Aelin.” and “That three hundred healers are coming with Yrene to fight the Valg.”