There will be LOTS OF SPOILERS in this post.
All quotes and content are property of and created by Sarah J. Maas.
Please also check out my review/recap post of the Throne of Glass series up to Kingdom of Ash.
Rating:⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
This is going to be ridiculously long . . . I have so much to say . . .
I have no idea how I am going to write this review/recap. It’s been over a week since I finished Kingdom of Ash and I still can’t form complete sentences. I am an emotional mess. Sarah J. Maas has done it again. Kingdom of Ash blew me away. It destroyed me in the best way. Kingdom of Ash was the perfect conclusion to my favorite series. I experienced every emotion reading KOA. It was everything I wanted and more. I don’t know how Sarah J. Maas does it.
I could not wait for Kingdom of Ash to be released, but I was also terrified. Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn both ended with huge, gut-wrenching, jaw-dropping reveals and cliffhangers. I was an emotional wreck at the end of both books. I knew that Kingdom of Ash would be an emotional rollercoaster, and I wasn’t sure if all of our heroes would make it. Sarah J. Maas has the spectacular gifts of storytelling, world-building, and foreshadowing. I never know what to expect from her. She absolutely delivered with Kingdom of Ash, and I rode the emotional rollercoaster throughout all 980 pages. I cried a ridiculous amount of times (for both happy and sad moments). The Throne of Glass series is my favorite series (tied with Harry Potter of course). The characters and world mean so much to me. I truly felt like I was with Aelin, Rowan, Dorian, Chaol, Aedion, Lysandra, Nesryn, Sartaq, Yrene, Gavriel, Fenrys, Lorcan, Elide, and Manon on their journey throughout the entire series. It still hasn’t hit me that the series is over.
Kingdom of Ash opens with two short prequel chapters called “The Prince” and “The Princess.” Sarah J. Maas jumped right into the emotion on page one. We see our first glimpse of Aelin’s captivity and torture, and Rowan’s journey to save her. The actual novel begins and we find out where all our heroes are. . .
- Aelin is in Doranelle with Maeve. She is being tortured by Cairn while Fenrys is forced to watch.
- Aedion and Lysandra are in the Terrasen mountains readying the army.
- Rowan, Gavriel, Elide, and Lorcan are traveling throughout Wendlyn in search of Aelin.
- Manon and Dorian are searching for Crochan witches to convince them to join their side.
- Chaol, Yrene, Nesryn, and Sartaq are sailing to the North with the Khagan’s forces and deciding where to go first.
Aelin’s torture scenes are brutal and horrifying. I cried in almost every single one of Aelin’s captivity chapters. She is tortured by Cairn daily . . . both physically and psychologically. Aelin is tortured so intensely that she is unconscious after every single “session.” While unconscious she is plagued with visions and nightmares. When she awakens she is completely healed and there is no evidence of the torture. Aelin is unable to tell what has really happened to her and what is only in her head. This is horrifying. She is being so thoroughly tortured. She can’t escape any of it. One of the worst parts is Fenrys. Because he is still under Maeve’s blood oath, he is forced to watch all of Aelin’s torture while in his wolf form. This is just another element of Maeve’s torture. She knows how hard it is for Aelin to know that Fenrys is suffering too. This just shows how truly evil Maeve is. I don’t have the right words to express how terrible she is. Because Fenrys is in wolf form, he is unable to communicate with Aelin. The two come up with a code of blinks to talk to one another. Every time they communicated this way I lost it.
“Four blinks. I am here. I am with you.”
“Fenrys blinked, over and over and over. I am here. I am with you.”
It’s just so heartbreaking. Their friendship is beautiful and I love how they found a way to be there for one another. I can’t imagine being in either party’s position . . . having to watch a loved one be tortured or being tortured knowing your loved one is watching. It’s unimaginable. SJM did an incredible job of conveying the emotion, hopelessness, suffering, and pain. It was hard to read only due to the content.
Rowan is traveling with Lorcan, Elide, and Gavriel in search of Aelin and Fenrys. Cue my tears . . . Rowan dreams of Aelin pregnant and with their future children. So much of Rowan’s inner dialogue was heart wrenching. “But he had no intention of returning without her, parting request or no, regardless of the oaths he’d sworn upon marrying her to guard and rule Terrasen.” Rowan will stop at nothing to find Aelin. I love how he refused to accept anything less. I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it a million more . . . I just love Aelin and Rowan’s relationship. It is so beautiful. They truly accept and love every part of one another. Rowan and Aelin are lost without each other. Obviously, they are both strong independent people, but they are incomplete without each other.
“And tell him thank you–for walking that dark path with me back to the light.” It had been his honor. From the very beginning, it had been his honor, the greatest of his immortal life. An immortal like they would share together–somehow. He’d allow no other alternative. Rowan silently swore it to the stars. He could have sworn the Lord of the North flickered in response.
And despite it all, despite the rage and despair and ice he’d wrapped around his heart, he’d still found Aelin. Every horizon he’d gazed toward, unable and unwilling to rest during those centuries, every mountain and ocean he’d seen and wondered what lay beyond… It had been her. It had been Aelin, the silent call of the mating bond driving him, even when he could not feel it. They’d walked this dark path together back to the light. He would not let the road end here.
Aelin maintains hope that Rowan will find her, but she is conflicted because she wants him to go to Terrasen. Her love for him is what helps her survive. However, Maeve brings Aelin to her throne room and tells her that Rowan was spotted in Terrasen. Aelin is happy that Rowan honored her request, but she is devastated that he isn’t coming for her. She doesn’t realize that he is actually looking for her. At this same meeting, Maeve brings in Connall, who is Fenrys’ twin brother. She uses the blood oath to make Connall kill himself in front of Fenrys. At this moment Aelin has a surge of power. She stabs Cairn and throws a shard of glass at Maeve. It only scratches her face . . . revealing black blood. Aelin isn’t sure if what she saw was real, but this is the first time Aelin starts to realize that Maeve might not be what she claims. After this event was another extremely emotional scene. Maeve sends Fenrys (in human form) to help Aelin remove the shards of glass in her skin. The two cry together . . . Fenrys for his brother and Aelin for both all that she’s been through and because she believes Rowan isn’t coming for her. This scene was heartbreaking. Aelin and Fenrys have endured so much and there’s no hope in sight. The one thing that I love about the captivity scenes with Aelin and Fenrys is that we get to see the two become extraordinarily close. Because of their shared experience, the two now share an incredible bond. The way they are able to share emotion and cry together shows this bond. I was crying right along with them.
One of the saddest parts of Aelin’s entire captivity is when she has given up hope. She sobs and sobs and sobs. I was crying with her. I know she’s a fictional character, but Aelin has been through so much trauma and heartbreak. She was finally happy and then Maeve captured her. We rarely see such a thoroughly hopeless and broken Aelin. Sarah J. Maas is such a good author that I was able to feel all of the emotion Aelin was feeling. This scene does lead to one of my favorite parts of the whole book. While Aelin is crying in the iron tomb, she sees a vision of her mother. It is a beautiful and powerful scene. . .
- “You have been very brave,” her mother said. “You have been very brave, for so very long. But you must be brave a little while longer, my Fireheart.”
- Her mother placed a phantom hand over Aelin’s heart. “It is the strength of this that matters. No matter where you are, no matter how far, this will lead you home.”
- Evalin’s face did not falter. “You are my daughter. You were born of two mighty bloodlines. That strength flows through you. Lives in you.”
- “You do not yield.”
- But the words lingered. Blossomed within Aelin, bright as a kindled ember. You do not yield.
- Aelin slammed her hand into the lid. Cairn paused. Aelin pounded her fist into the iron again. Again. You do not yield. Again. You do not yield. Again. Again. Until she was alive with it, until her blood was raining onto her face, washing away the tears, until every pound of her fist into the iron was a battle cry. You do not yield.
- It rose in her, burning and roaring, and she gave herself wholly to it.
- Over and over, she pounded against the lid. Over and over, that song of fire and darkness flared through her, out of her, into the world. You do not yield
- And when she awoke chained on the altar, she beheld what she had done to the iron coffin. The top of the lid had been warped. A great hump now protruded, the metal stretched thin. As if it had come so very close to breaking entirely.
There is so much about this that I love. First, the words that Evalin speaks to Aelin are inspiring. She gives Aelin the strength she needs to press on. Second, Aelin slamming her fists into the iron lid is unbelievable powerful. I can see the scene play out in my mind. I knew she wasn’t going to escape yet, but I was cheering her on while she tried to break free! Last, Rowan feels Aelin’s surge of power from far away. This is the first time he has felt her since the beach in Eyllwe. “That raging, fiery song charged closer. Through him. Down the mating bond. Down into his very soul. A bellow of fury and defiance.” Rowan, Lorcan, Gavriel and Elide now know that Aelin is in Doranelle with Maeve. They come up with a plan to draw Maeve out and rescue Aelin. Throughout all of the searching for and planning to find Aelin, Elide is brilliant. She not only keeps up with the fae males, but she contributes and is able to obtain extremely valuable information which ultimately leads them to Aelin.
To draw Maeve out, they spread the rumor that a Valg prince has been captured and there are Wyrd collars available with him. It works, but before Maeve leaves she tells Aelin that she will be bringing a collar back for Aelin’s neck. Per Maeve’s orders, Cairn brings Aelin to an army camp where he will have his final “session” with Aelin. Cairn is an absolute sadist. I could feel Aelin’s terror as he prepared for her torture. It is in this final “session” that Aelin decides she’s going to either escape or die trying. She refuses to be enslaved with a Wyrd collar. She starts to fight Cairn, but she is failing. He is about to burn her with fire and completely break Aelin, but Fenrys is finally able to fight the blood oath. “He would not allow it. That final breaking.” “Let it kill him, wreck him. He would not serve. Not another heartbeat. He would not obey. He would not obey. And slowly, Fenrys got to his feet.” Fenrys breaks the blood oath knowing that it will kill him. He puts Aelin before himself. He fights off Cairn and buys Aelin time to run. It was so incredibly heartbreaking to watch Aelin have to leave Fenrys behind. She has no other choice, but it almost ruins her to leave him.
I keep using the word powerful, but I don’t know any other way to describe it . . . In an another incredibly powerful scene, Aelin runs like hell from Cairn. She has been brutalized, tortured, and broken, but she still runs. She is still brilliant and able to fight off attackers. She runs despite everything she’s been through. I think this, along with the vision of her mother, are two of the most inspiring scenes. Aelin fights no matter what hardships come her way. It’s a great model to live by.
Aelin makes it to Lorcan and Gavriel and into the cover of the forest. Rowan comes to her, but she cries out Fenrys’ name and the Cadre understand. They go back to the camp to get Fenrys. They rescue Fenrys and Rowan tortures and kills Cairn. Rowan returns in time to witness Aelin in one of the most gut-wrenching scenes. Now that she is away from Cairn and Maeve, Aelin has a full blown panic attack. She sits there screaming “take it off!” and clawing at her iron mask and restraints. I was a wreck reading this scene. As someone that suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, I could totally relate to Aelin. She is so broken at this moment. BUT, Rowan comes and is able to calm her. This once again shows how connected they are. She then shows Rowan the Wyrdmarks to remove the iron restraints and mask. Later, this leads Rowan to ask Aelin to teach him the Wyrdmarks. Once she’s free, Aelin realizes that all of her scars are gone. This was incredibly sad because the scars marked her history . . . both the bad (Arobynn, Endovier) and the good (Rowan’s bite, Nehemia’s healing). It is like Aelin has lost a part of herself. The erased scars are a physical sign that shows how much physical, mental, and emotional damage has been done by Maeve and Cairn.
So I’ve clearly been crying throughout this entire scene, but then SJM adds more emotion into the mix. Fenrys is dying because he broke the blood oath with Maeve. Aelin goes to him and the emotion is so raw. All Aelin has had for the past few months is Fenrys. I’ve mentioned it already, but the two are irrevocably bonded for life because of what they endured together. The experience brought them so close together. I can’t imagine facing the loss of someone as important to me as Fenrys is to Aelin. But, in one of my favorite twists, Aelin offers Fenrys the blood oath in order to save him. Fenrys takes it and lives! She later offers to find a way to get rid of the blood oath, but Fenrys refuses. “I want it,” Fenrys said, no trace of his usual swaggering humor. He glanced to Rowan, and bowed his head. “It is my honor to serve this court. And serve you,” he added to Aelin. Now I was crying from joy!
The group begins to travel to leave Wendlyn when the Little Folk appear to them. They lead them to a secret cavern and safety. Aelin still isn’t sure that her rescue is real. Maeve messed with her mind so much that she can’t tell what’s real or not. However, when she finally realizes Rowan is real was so special.
- Not an illusion. He had come for her. Rowan. Rowan Whitethorn. Now Rowan Whitethorn Galathynius, her husband and king-consort. Her mate. She mouthed his name. He had come for her. Rowan.
- A gentle wind kissed with ice and lightning brushed against her wall of flame, an echo of his silent inquiry. Her magic flared in answer, a ripple of power dancing through her. As if it had found a mirror of itself in the world, as if it had found the countermelody to its own song. Not once in those illusions or dreams has it done that. Had her own flame leaped in joy at his nearness, his power. He was here. It was him, and he’d come for her.
- With each stroke beneath the surface, out into the darkness, she could feel it again. Herself. Or whatever was left of it. Aelin. She was Aelin Ashryver Whitethorn Galathynius, and she was Queen of Terrasen. More magic rippled out, but she held her grip. Not all–not yet. She had been captured by Maeve, tortured by her. Tortured by Cairn, her sentinel. But she had escaped, and her mate had come for her. Had found her, just as they had found each other despite centuries of bloodshed and loss and war.
Aelin is clearly struggling, but Rowan is there at her side. Knowing that Rowan is really with her allows Aelin to truly feel safe. Aelin begins to open up to Rowan. She explains that Maeve would send her dreams and fantasies to make her believe she was safe in an attempt to get her to reveal the location of the keys. She also tells him that Maeve would have healers heal Aelin after each session to stop her from knowing what had been done and what was only in her mind. It’s so good to see that Aelin can still tell Rowan everything. This was one of the first things that brought them together in Heir of Fire . . . they always want to tell each other everything. Rowan will be there for Aelin and help her no matter what. “But he’d work with her, help in whatever way he could. And if she never returned to who she had been before this, he would not love her any less.” Rowan knows that Aelin’s healing will be a process. “Time. It would take time for her to heal. Even if he knew his Fireheart would pretend otherwise.” Rowan is simply amazing and his love for his mate is beautiful. SJM needs to write me my own real life mate.
Rowan’s love and support are vital and very helpful, but Aelin is in a really terrible place (which is completely understandable given what she just went through). She also has the Wyrdkeys and “nameless is my price” going through her mind. Aelin contemplates that Dorian has two keys and is looking for the third. She wants and needs to be the one to sacrifice herself for the lock, but she trusts Dorian. She considers that she could let him forge the lock, but she would never forgive herself if she did. She believes that to remain alive and have to live with herself and what’s been done to her will be her punishment. She wants it all to be over. She’s not ready to embrace her pain, but she wants to move on. She is still fighting. . .
You do not yield. She knew that had been true–that it had been her mother’s voice who had spoken and none other. So she would not yield to this. What had been done. What remained. For the companions around her, to lift their despair, their fear, she wouldn’t yield. She’d fight for it, claw her way back to it, who she’d been before. Remember to swagger and grin and wink. She’d fight against that lingering stain on her soul, fight to ignore it. Would make this journey into the dark to piece herself back together–just enough to make it convincing. Even if this fractured darkness now dwelled within her, even if speech was difficult, she would show them what they wished to see. An unbroken Fire-Bringer. Aelin of the Wildfire. She would show the world that lie as well. Make them believe it. Maybe she’d one day believe it, too.
A couple of quick side notes before I move on to the other characters and parts of the book. . .
Aelin picking rings for her and Rowan was the best! I just loved that they did this. Their love is unconditional and the rings are a reminder that they are always there for one another. Silently, Rowan grasped her own hand and eased on the emerald ring. “To whatever end,” he whispered. Silver lined her eyes. “To whatever end.” A reminder–and a vow, more sacred than the wedding oaths they’d sworn on that ship. To walk this path together, back from the darkness of the iron coffin. To face what waited in Terrasen, ancient promises to the gods be damned.
One of the coolest images was when the Little Folk came to Aelin in the cavern. It was such cool imagery and so meaningful for Aelin. Also, I will mention this at least 2 more times in this post, but SJM is the QUEEN of writing crowns. I want them all. “A crown of silver and pearl and diamond gleamed there, fashioned into upswept swan’s wings. The crown of Mab.”
Elide and Lorcan fight a lot. She can’t forgive Lorcan for summoning Maeve and for how he reacted when Maeve broke the blood oath. Lorcan claims he was crawling after Aelin not Maeve. So it’s no secret that I was not a fan of Lorcan at the end of Empire of Storms. I was super hard on him and thought he deserved everything Elide said to him. I still believe that, BUT in light of the new information I am able to start forgiving him. He did everything to protect Elide, even it was misguided and ended up having horrible consequences. Lorcan definitely grew on me in Kingdom of Ash.
One of my favorite quotes is about Elide. Lorcan thinks to himself. . . “He’d never told her that he’d always considered her cleverness to be a mighty magic on its own, regardless of Anneith’s whisperings.” I love how brilliant Elide is. She is so fierce and clever!
The boat ride from Wendlyn to Terrasen
- Aelin gives Lorcan a choice . . . he can take the blood oath to her and his only order will be to protect Terrasen or he has to leave forever.
- Lorcan choose to take the oath because he knows it’s the only way to see Elide.
- “We’ll use this time to train and plan.”
- She meant to fight. The queen–Lorcan’s queen–meant to fight against Morath. And Maeve, should the worst happen. And then she’d die for them all.
Aelin angled her weapons. “To Terrasen,” she said at last. And began.
So many good quotes from Aelin and Rowan
- She’d use each day to train, to work with sword and dagger and bow until her hands were blistered, until new calluses formed. Until the thinness returned to muscle. She’d rebuild–what she had been. Perhaps one last time, perhaps only for a little while, but she’d do it. If only for Terrasen.
- “The male I fell in love with was you. It was you, who knew pain as I did, and who walked with me through it, back to the light. Maeve didn’t understand that. That even if she could create that perfect world, it wouldn’t be you with me. And I’d never trade that, trade this. Not for anything.”
- “All this time, I wanted it to be you”
- “I know you are tired, Fireheart. I know that the burden on your shoulders is more than anyone should endure.” He took their joined hands and laid them on his heart. “But we’ll face this together. Erawan, the Lock, all of it. We’ll face it together. And when we are done, when you settle, we will have a thousand years together. Longer.” A small sound came out of her. “Elena said the Lock requires–” “We’ll face it together,” he swore again. “And if the cost of it truly is you, then we’ll pay it together. As one soul in two bodies.”
- “Even if I had my choice of any dream-realities, any perfection illusions, I would still choose you, too.”
- Mate. he was her mate, and she was finally allowed to call him such, to let him be such.
- “You’re my mate,” he said, the words near-guttural. He nudged at her entrance, and she shifted her hips to draw him in, but he remained where he was. Withholding what she ached for until he heard what he needed. Aelin tipped back her head, baring her neck to him. “You’re my mate.” Her words were a breathless rush. “And I am yours.”
- Rowan withdrew his teeth from her neck, and Aelin claimed his mouth in a savage kiss, her blood a coppery tang on his tongue. ROWAN GIVES HER HIS MATING MARK AGAIN!!
- “Together, Aelin,” he promised, and she heard the rest of the words in every place their body joined. Together they would face this, together they would find a way.
- Together we’ll find a way, their mingling breaths, the crashing sea, seemed to echo. Together.
Dorian, Manon, and the Thirteen are searching for Crochan witches. Dorian has the two Wyrdkeys and he wants to go find the third. To find out where the key is, Dorian summons Gavin. So Gavin is a huge dick at first. He doesn’t want the Lock to be forged because it means Elena’s spirit will be gone forever. I love how Dorian fights back against Gavin. “Elena helped Aelin,” Dorian pressed, his breath curling in the space between them. “She didn’t balk from it, even knowing what it meant for her fate. And neither did Aelin, who will have neither a long life with her own mate, nor eternity with him.” Finally, after Dorian presses him, Gavin reveals that the third key is in Morath! Dorian is ready to go immediately to Morath, but Gavin tells him he’s not ready yet. He will know when to go, but for now he should stay at the camp and wait for the path to find him.
Dorian is in a very dark place. He is still recovering from Sorscha’s death and from his imprisonment and possession. He plans on being the one to sacrifice himself to make the Lock. In his mind, he has nothing to live for. . .
“Most days, if he was being honest, he felt little. Had felt little for months, save for those stolen, wild moments with Manon.”
“She had been willing to yield everything to save Terrasen, to save all of them. He could do nothing less. Aelin certainly had more to lose. A mate and husband who loved her. A court who’d follow her into hell. A kingdom long awaiting her return. All he had was an unmarked grave for a healer no one would remember, a broken empire, and a shattered castle.”
Back at the camp, one of those god damned spiders shows up. I just can’t seem to escape these damn spiders.
The spider, Cyrene, is hunting Manon because she stole spider silk from her. Dorian captures her with his power. Cyrene reveals that she can shape shift. She got the power from a shapeshifter who she took two decades of his life from. AKA FALKAN!!! I love when SJM ties in all the different parts of her story. I get so excited every time it happens. Anyway, Cyrene tells Manon that she can lead them to a group of Crochans. Dorian hopes to use Cyrene to get to Morath.
Cyrene leads Dorian, Manon, and the Thirteen to a group of Crochan witches. Manon meets Glennis, who is an ancient Crochan leader. Glennis reveals herself to be Manon’s great-grandmother. While there, a Yellowlegs Ironteeth clan attacks the camp. The Thirteen and Dorian fight with the Crochans and defeat the Clan. The Crochans begin to respect Manon and the Thirteen. Dorian and Manon fight because he figures out that Manon purposefully led the Yellowlegs there. I totally get why Dorian is upset, and I would be too, but Manon’s plan totally worked. She has a long way to go though. She must earn the respect of the Crochans and be accepted as queen. Only then will she be able to ignite the flame of war to rally the witches to fight against Morath.
Dorian goes to Cyrene and learns about her shifting power. He takes the seed of power and kills Cyrene. Dorian begins to be use this seed of power to shift. Dorian tries to summon Gavin, but instead Kaltain appears. I loved how SJM included Kaltain in Kingdom of Ash. She is mentioned many times throughout and then appears to help Dorian. Kaltain was used and abused by Morath and she still sacrificed herself to save Manon and Elide. I love that we get to hear more of her because she deserves as much respect as our other heroes.
Dorian, Manon, and the Thirteen go to the Ferian Gap to speak with Petrah, a Blueblood Ironteeth witch. Manon is hoping to convince them to join their forces against Morath. Manon’s speech is powerful, incredible, and emotional. I won’t include the entire speech because it is long, but if you want to check it out it’s pages 367-368. One of my favorite parts is when Manon says, “There is a better world out there,” she said again. “And I will fight for it.” She turned Abraxos away, toward the plunge behind them. “Will you?” It’s so incredibly inspiring and relates to our society today. SJM is telling us to fight for a better world for ourselves. We need to stand up and fight like Manon.
Back with the Crochans, Manon is finally found by the three witch matrons (including her grandmother). The Yellowlegs Matron is wearing Rhiannon Crochan’s crown. During the fight, Manon kills her and wears the crown. SJM Kingdom of Ash crown shout out #2! Rhiannon’s crown is stunning . . . “He had never seen a crown like it. A living, glowing thing that glittered in her hand. As if nine stars had been plucked from the heavens and set to shine along the simple silver band.” Manon allows the Blueblood Matron, Cressida, to leave as a thanks to Petrah for allowing her to speak with her. Manon has her grandmother and could kill her, but she gives the kill to Asterin. I think this shows how much respect Manon has for Asterin. Their friendship and love for one another is so special. I love seeing powerful female friendships. Unfortunately, Manon’s grandmother flees before Asterin can kill her. After the Matron flees, Glennis crowns Manon with Rhiannon’s crown. It’s a beautiful scene because it shows that peace is possible. . .
“Queen of witches,” Crochan and Blackbeak declared as on voice. As one people.
The night after Manon is crowned queen of witches, she and Dorian spend a beautiful night together. She tries to convince him to stay and not go to Morath. She offers him an alliance and to become his queen. It is incredibly special, but Dorian still leaves in the morning with the two Wyrdkeys. After he leaves, the witches receive word that Terrasen has called for aid. Manon, as the Queen of Witches, lights to Flame of War and rallies the witches to go to Terrasen.
Dorian sneaks into Morath using his new shapeshifting powers. While there he sees that Maeve has also come to Morath to meet with Erawan. Maeve wants to be allies and offers Erawan six of her kharankui spiders to be hosts for the Valg princesses. Dorian listens in on their meeting in disguise, but after Erawan leaves, Maeve identifies Dorian. THANK GOD DORIAN HID THE TWO WYRDKEYS BEFORE HE WENT INTO MORATH!!! Maeve tries to convince Dorian to ally with her. She claims she’s planning on betraying Erawan. Dorian decides to use Maeve and pretends he wants to ally with her. Dorian sneaks into Erawan’s rooms while Maeve distracts him. In Erawan’s rooms, Dorian finds a young girl who looks exactly like Kaltain. Erawan has been using her the same way he used Kaltain, which is horrifying for this poor girl. Dorian finds the key in the girl’s arm.
Maeve comes in and kills the girl. She then tries to use her power to get into Dorian’s mind to make him give her the keys. BUT KING DORIAN ANTICIPATED IT!!!! He has been playing her the entire time. He let her see what she wanted to see . . . that Dorian is foolish, and jealous and resentful of Aelin. He lured Maeve in and studied her power the same way he studied Cyrene’s shape shifting. He then uses Maeve’s power against her and captures her mind! “Dorian said into the dark chasm of her mind, ‘I was a slave once. You didn’t really think I’d allow myself to be so once again, did you’” Dorian had been laying magic around Morath the entire time he was there. He is going to bring Morath down. Before he leaves Dorian tells Maeve, “‘Tell Erawan,’ Dorian said, halting on the windowsill, ‘That I did it for Adarlan.” For Sorscha and Kaltain and all those destroyed by it. As Adarlan itself had been destroyed.” Dorian then escapes with the key!!!! He has all three!!!!! It’s already been an insanely epic scene, but Dorian goes a step further. He reaches into Maeve’s mind one last time and severs both their link and her power to jump between places and open portals!! AND THEN He brings Morath down!!! “And when he looked behind him, at the mountain and valley that reeked of death, at the place where so many terrible things had begun, Dorian smiled and brought Morath’s towers crashing down.”
Aedion and Lysandra are with the army in the Terrasen mountains. Aedion is extremely hateful and resentful towards Lysandra because of her participation in and knowledge of Aelin’s plan. Every single one of Aedion and Lysandra’s chapters are brutal. They are literally fighting Morath’s armies throughout the entire book. They are constantly in battle or preparing for the next battle. I feel so bad for both Aedion and Lysandra. Aedion feels betrayed by Lysandra (whom he loves) and has to watch his men die in battle almost every day. Lysandra is feeling the immense pressure of pretending to be Aelin, but also having to deal with Aedion’s hate AND having to shift everyday to fight the Valg. They are both going through so much. I wanted them to just get over their differences and embrace each other! I was like, come on Aedion!! Forgive her already!
The fighting against Morath is non-stop. The Ironteeth witches arrive with their witch towers and decimate the battlefield. Our heroes are losing and are forced to retreat to Orynth. They manage to survive, but the prospects don’t look good. In the final stand against Morath it appears that all hope is lost. But, then Rolfe and the Mycenian soldiers show up!! There are no seadragons (which was a bummer), but they do have the firelance weapons that Aelin commissioned. They are able to surprise Morath and force them to retreat long enough for Aedion, Lysandra, and all their forces to escape into the city. The reprieve doesn’t last long and Terrasen calls for aid — just like ten years ago.
Aedion and Ren lay an awesome trap for the witch towers and they are able to destroy two of the three! But there is still more troops coming. It once again looks as if there is no hope. I teared up again when Ren said to Aedion . . . “It would have been an honor,” Ren said. “To serve in this court. With you.” Aedion shut his eyes, swallowing hard. “It would have been an honor indeed.” And then I teared up even more when Aedion tells Lysandra that he loves her!!! It made me so happy, but so sad because I was sure that one or both of them were not going to make it. They are all ready to make their last stand when Manon, the Thirteen, and the Crochan witches respond to their call for aid!
“We came,” Manon said, loud enough that all on the city walls could hear, “to honor a promise made to Aelin Galathynius. To fight for what she promised us.” Darrow said quietly, “And what was that?” Manon smiled then. “A better world.”
Thousands. Thousands of them descended upon Orynth. Thousands of them now swept over the city, his soldiers gaping upward at the stream of fluttering red, undaunted and untroubled by the enemy force darkening the horizon. One by one by one, they alit upon the empty castle battlements. An aerial legion to challenge the Ironteeth. The Crochans had returned at last.
The battle continues and the witches help, but even with the aid they are still going to lose. There is just no end to the Morath soldiers. It feels like every time they make some progress or start to turn the tide of the war, more Valg show up. In one of the most terrifying scenes of the entire series, Iskra Yellowlegs and her wyvern attack Manon and Abraxos. I was a wreck watching Abraxos suffer and Manon beg for his life. Abraxos is too good for this world and it killed me to watch him in pain. Luckily, Petrah and the Blueblood clan show up and fight for Manon! (Manon’s speech worked!!) They save her and join the fight on Terrasen’s side!. Abraxos is alive, but injured. The Thirteen come and stay with Manon while Abraxos is healed.
The Bluebloods are helping to turn the tide in Terrasen’s favor, but Morath’s remaining witch tower is fixed and primed to attack. Again, it seems that all hope is lost. In one of the most distressing and depressing parts of the whole series, Asterin and the Thirteen leave Manon with parting words. . .
“Her Second, her cousin, her friend, smiled, eyes bright as stars. ‘Live Manon.’ Manon blinked. Asterin smiled wider, kissed Manon’s brow, and whispered again, “Live.” Manon didn’t see the blow coming. The punch to her gut, so hard and precise that it knocked the wind from her. Sent her to her knees. She was struggling to get a breath down, to get up, when Asterin reached Narene and mounted the blue mare, gathering the reins. ‘Bring our people home, Manon.’ Manon knew then. What they were going to do.”
The Thirteen make it to the witch tower in time. Asterin stops the Ironteeth witch from yielding and using the tower. Asterin finds the Blackbeak Matron (Manon’s grandmother) in the tower. Asterin (and the rest of the Thirteen) perform the yielding which kills the Matron and destroy the Witch Tower.
And it was not darkness, but light–light, bright and pure as the sun on snow, that erupted from Asterin. Light, as Asterin made the Yielding. As the Thirteen, their broken bodies scattered around the tower in a near-circle, made the Yielding as well. Light. They all burned with it. Radiated it. Light that flowed from their souls, their fierce hearts as they gave themselves over to that power. Became incandescent with it. Asterin tackled the Blackbeak Matron to the ground, Manon’s grandmother little more than a shadow against the brightness. Then little more than a scrap of hate and memory as Asterin exploded. As she and the Thirteen Yielded completely, and blew themselves and the witch tower to smithereens.
All of the Thirteen die and the witch tower is decimated. I cried my eyes out. Manon had to watch the entire scene play out. She saw her friends, sisters, and family sacrifice themselves. I actually had to take a minute away from the book to process. Their deaths were so heartbreaking, especially because Manon had to watch it unfold and couldn’t be a part of it. Manon literally just lost everyone she loves. She lost her entire family. It’s devastating. The tears kept flowing and flowing. I had obviously cried many many times already in this book, but this was the first time I truly broke down. Manon and Abraxos go to the battlefield where the Thirteen died to honor them. Everyone follows and it is simultaneously beautiful and terribly heartbreaking. They all honor the Thirteen with flowers, stones, and other small tributes. “Until the blast site was covered, as if a garden had grown from a field of blood.” Far away, in the Wastelands, a flower blooms for the first time since the curse.
One quick side note – RIP Murtaugh! It was a bittersweet moment when he left Darrow to go fight and defend the Western wall. I want him to be my grandfather, too, Evangeline!
Chaol, Yrene, Sartaq, and Nesryn are sailing North with the Khagan’s fleet and armies. They are trying to decide where to go next. They encounter a group of Valg soldiers and find out that part of Morath’s forces is headed to Anielle (Chaol’s home). They all decide to take their force to Anielle and the Ferian Gap. Chaol and Yrene go ahead on a ruk to warn Chaol’s father. A quick side note . . . God, I just love Chaol and Yrene. I missed them. They are just so sweet and caring to each other. “Over a month later, and he was still marveling at the word: wife. At the woman by his side, who had healed his fractured and weary soul” Also, Yrene is totally pregnant.
Later, in Anielle, the fight begins against Morath. Anielle is starting to win and make progress, but it’s not enough. Nesryn, Sartaq, Chaol, Yrene, Hasar, etc. are all meeting in a war tent to discuss their strategy when AELIN, ROWAN, GAVRIEL, FENRYS, LORCAN, AND ELIDE SHOW UP!!!!! “A moment later, Chaol was glad he was sitting down. Nesryn breathed, ‘Holy gods.’ Chaol was inclined to agree as Aelin Galathynius, Rowan Whitethorn, and several others entered the tent.” I loved everything about this scene. The way Aelin and Chaol embrace each other put me in tears . . . especially Aelin’s pure joy that Chaol is walking. “Aelin was shaking as she pulled away. ‘I knew you would,’ she breathed, gasping down his body, to his feet, then up again. ‘I knew you’d do it.’” Chaol and Aelin have been through so much together. The are truly friends and love one another now. It makes me so happy. And to make it even better!? Aelin is reunited with Yrene!!! The history between Aelin and Yrene is one of my absolute favorite parts of the whole series. It’s another example of Sarah J. Maas’s incredible foreshadowing and attention to detail. Nothing is random in SJM’s writing. Everything ties in together so well, and Aelin and Yrene’s reunion is one of my favorites tie ins of the whole series. Aelin’s inner dialogue is super emotional, but also talks about the tie ins or as Aelin calls it . . . the thread in a tapestry. “Gods above, Chaol was walking again. And married to Yrene Towers, who had healed him. A thread in a tapestry. That’s what it had felt like the night she’d left the gold for Yrene in Innish. Like pulling a thread in a tapestry, and seeing just how far and wide in went. All the way to the southern continent, it seemed. And it had rippled back with an army and a healed, happy friend. Or as happy as any of them might be at the moment.”
After all the amazing, emotional reunions, Aelin states, “Shall we discuss where you all plan to march once we beat the living shit out of the army.” It’s such a perfect Aelin quote. While in the war tent, Falkan enters (looking young again because Dorian killed the spider, Cyrene). After he reveals who he is Aelin is in shock. It was so funny to see her be the one shocked. “Aelin slumped into the chair beside Chaol’s. Rowan laid a hand on her shoulder, and when she looked up, she found him near laughter. ‘What’s so funny, exactly?’ she hissed. Rowan smirked. ‘That for once, you are the one who gets knocked on your ass by a surprise.’” This made me laugh so hard. I love how amused Rowan was at Aelin’s shock! I was laughing right there with him.
Nesryn, Chaol, and Yrene reveal all they learned in Tower of Dawn: Maeve is Valg, Maeve fears healers and fire, Spiders are Valg and her minions, Yrene and the healers can cure human Valg hosts, and Maeve keeps the owl (an enslaved fae) at her side to protect her if Erawan ever finds her. Aelin, Rowan, Lorcan, Elide, Fenrys, and Gavriel are all obviously shocked and devastated. Aelin waits until she leaves the tent to break down. I can’t imagine dealing with the pressure that Aein is under. It seems like every time she gets a win, she learns that there are even more insanely difficult challenges ahead. It is so daunting. I don’t know how Aelin is still standing. However, she has Rowan and he is there to comfort her and let her grieve.
- Gently, Rowan gripped her wrists and lowered them. “You do not face this alone.”
- Aelin ran her hands through her hair. Streams of blood stained the gold. “I cannot win against them. Against a Valg king and queen.” her voice turned to a rasp. “They have already won.” “They have not.” And though Rowan hated each word, he growled, “And you survived two months against Maeve with no magic to protect you. Two months of a Valg queen trying to break into your head, Aelin. To break you.”
- Aelin whispered, “I wanted to die by the end, before she ever threatened me with the collar. And even now, I feel like someone has ripped me from myself. Like I’m at the bottom of the sea, and who I am, who I was, is far up at the surface, and I will never get back there again.”
- Aelin let out a sob that cracked something in him. “I can’t feel me–myself anymore. It’s like she snuffed it out. Ripped me from it. She, and Cairn, and everything they did to me.” She gulped down air, and Rowan wrapped her in his arms and pulled her onto his lap. “I am so tired,” she wept. “I am so, so tired, Rowan.”
- “You fight,” he said simply. “We fight. Until we can’t anymore. We fight.”
- She placed her hand atop his, warm despite the frigid night. As if that fire had not yet gone out entirely. But she only gazed up at the stars. To the Lord of the North, standing watch. “We fight,” she breathed.
- Rowan had steadied her, and still did, as he kept watch from the shadows beyond the fire.
At the keep in Anielle, Aelin meets Chaol’s father. I knew their meeting would be epic. Aelin doesn’t take shit from anyone and Chaol’s father is a capital D Dick. She refuses to take his shit. I’m exactly like Yrene, who stated that she wanted to “bring snacks” to watch their meeting! “Aelin sketched a mocking bow to the Lord of Anielle. ‘On that lovely parting note, we’re going to finish up our dinners. Enjoy your evening, we’ll see you on the battlements tomorrow, and please do rot in hell.” YES QUEEN! I couldn’t stop smiling when I read this scene!
The battle for Anielle resumes the next day. Aelin waits a little before joining the battle to inspire the soldiers. “He realized that Aelin did not need an ounce of flame to inspire men to follow. That she had been waiting, yanking at the bit, to show them what she, without magic, without any godly power, might do.” Aelin reminds the troops, and herself, that she is not helpless.
Aelin smiled grimly. She’d bring them all down. Then Erawan. And then she’d unleash herself upon Maeve.
Not helpless. Not contained. Never again.
In the battle, everyone is fighting against Morath’s forces. Chaol is riding his horse, Farasha . . . “No, that magnificent horse trampled them, fearless and wicked, just as Chaol has predicted. A horse whose name meant butterfly–stomping all over Valg foot soldiers.” They win the battle, but Lorcan is gravely injured and the Valg damaged the dam above the city. It’s going to break and flood everything in its path. This is another example of SJM giving us a win and then ripping it away with doom! They begin to attempt to escape and outrun the impending flood, but Elide realizes that Lorcan isn’t there. She takes Chaol’s horse, Farasha, and rides into the battlefield (which will soon be overrun with flood water). Elide finds him, but he is near death. She manages to get him on Farasha, but they are running out of time. One of my favorite fun facts/cool moments is when Fenrys and Chaol are discussing his horse . . . The god Hellas guards Lorcan and Annieth (Hellas’ consort) watches over Elide. Farasha’s nickname is “Hellas’ horse.” It all comes together again. Way to go SJM.
Anyway, Lorcan and Elide are not going to make it back before the dam breaks. Lorcan tells Elide he loves her in a beautiful moment.
“I love you,” he whispered in Elide’s ear. “I have loved you from the moment you picked up that axe to slay the ilken.” Her tears flowed past him in the wind. “And I will be with you . . .” His voice broke, but he made himself say the words, the truth in his heart. “I will be with you always.”
Together. They would either outrun this or die together.
When all seems lost, Aelin goes down to the plains. As the dam breaks and the flood waters rush towards her she unleashes the power she’s been storing for three months. The flame hits the water and turns it to steam, which Rowan blows away with his wind. Aelin saves everyone. But, she sacrificed her power that was meant for Maeve’s death blow. Aelin had been storing her power for three months. She kept going deeper and deeper into her power, never hitting the bottom. She planned to use this store to destroy Maeve. Instead, she used it to save everyone in Anielle.
She’s kept that power coiled in herself even after she’d been freed from the irons. Had struggled to keep it down these weeks, the strain enormous. Some days, it had been easier to barely speak. Some days, swaggering arrogance had been her key to ignoring it. Yet, when she had seen that wave, when she had seen Elide and Lorcan choosing death together, when she had seen the army that might save Terrasen, she’d known. She’d felt the fire sleeping under this city, and know they had come here for a reason. She had come here for this reason.
I think that this is another example of how much Aelin has grown throughout the entire series. She is no longer a selfish girl. She is a strong woman who is truly selfless and cares for others. She puts everyone before her own revenge. It’s astonishing that she was able to do that. She sacrificed her own revenge to save others.
Back in the keep, everyone has recovered. Lorcan and Elide makeup and it’s actually super sweet. I’m on board with Elide and Lorcan now. The Khagan’s forces have decided to go North with Aelin to aid Terrasen. They will be going through the Ferian Gap, but they need a guide. The wild men of the Fangs will guide them in exchange for some of Anielle’s lands. Chaol’s father refuses, but since Chaol outranks him he tells his father to suck it! I was like you go Chaol!! I’m so glad that Chaol is finally free from his father’s control and scorn.
On their way through the mountains Aelin is feeling hopeless regarding the Lock, but she is willing to keep trying to find a different solution. Part of her is holding on to hope because she knows how important hope is. (This is one of SJM’s main themes/messages).
And just because she could, just because they were headed to Terrasen at last, Aelin unleashed a flicker of her power. Some of the standard-bearers behind them murmured in surprise, but Rowan only smiled. Smiled with that fierce hope, that brutal determination that flare in her own heart, as she began to burn. She let the flame encompass her, a golden glow that she knew could be spied even from the farthest lines of the army, from the city and keep they left behind. A beacon glowing bright in the shadows of the mountains, in the shadows of the forces that awaited them, Aelin lit the way north.
In the Ferian Gap, the group finds it to be empty . . . all of the Ironteeth witches and their wyverns are gone. There is only one small host from Morath, including Vernon Lochan (Elide’s uncle). I love that Elide got to confront him! Vernon tells Aelin that Maeve has united with Erawan and that they are headed to Orynth with one hundred thousand troops. They decide to immediately head to Terrasen.
Side note – While on their way there, Rowan redoes Aelin’s tattoo on her back. He also adds a new tattoo on her shoulders which symbolizes their story. It’s a spread hawks wings.
While traveling to Terrasen, Dorian (in wyvern form) finds Aelin and co. He joins them and here come the tears again. Dorian and Chaol’s reunion was amazing and so beautiful (I have no better adjectives lol). It was just wonderful to see the two friends come together again.
The world went quiet. The approaching rider halted, another–a beautiful woman Dorian could only describe as golden–right behind. But Dorian stared at the rider before him. At the posture of the body, the commanding seat he possessed. And as Chaol Westfall dismounted and ran the last few feet toward Dorian, the King of Adarlan wept. Chaol didn’t hide his tears, the shaking that overtook him as he collided with Dorian and embraced his king. No one said a word, though Chaol knew they were all gathered. Knew Yrene stood behind him, crying with them. He just held his friend, his brother. “I knew you’d do it,” Dorian said, voice raw. “I knew you’d find a way. For all of it.”
The happiness is kind of ruined for me, though, because Dorian has all three Wyrdkeys. This means they can now forge the Lock which means either Aelin or Dorian will have to sacrifice their entire being. Aelin refuses to debate who will forge the Lock. The group decides that they will forge the Lock now and then go to Terrasen. They decide to do it at dawn. Rowan and Aelin are devastated.
This is the part of the book that absolutely destroyed me. Chapters 92-96 were almost unbearable. It broke me. I was sobbing and could hardly control myself. I probably cried the most during Aelin and Rowan’s last night together. When Rowan said, “I do not accept this.” I lost it. I started full out crying again. There are some many gut-wrenching quotes I’m just going to list them. . .
- “You have never accepted anything in your life,” Rowan snarled, shooting to his feet and bracing his hands on the table. “And now you are suddenly willing to do so?” She swallowed against the ache in her throat. Surveyed the books she’d combed through thrice now to no avail. “What am I supposed to do, Rowan?” “You damn it all to hell!” He slammed his fist on the table, rattling the dishes. “You say to hell with their plans, their prophecies and fates, and you make your own. You do anything but accept this!”
- Her heart thundered. “I want it to be over, one way or another.” Her fingers curled into fists. “I want this to be done.”
- Rowan fell to his knees before her, putting his head into her lap and his arms wrapped around her waist. “I can’t bear it, Aelin. I can’t” She threaded her fingers through his hair. “I wanted a thousand years with you,” she said softly. “I wanted to have children with you. I wanted to go into the Afterworld together.” Her tears landed in his hair. Rowan lifted his head. “Then fight for it. One more time. Fight for that future.”
Rowan gets Aelin to agree to wield the keys with Dorian. They are hoping the Lock will take half of each of them instead of all of Aelin. Aelin is holding out hope that she will survive. They decide this in the middle of the night and immediately go to forge the Lock. Aelin, Rowan, Dorian, and Chaol walk into the Endovier salt mines to forge the Lock. It is a slap in the face for Aelin to be back here. This is where her story started. The last time she was in Endovier, she was being freed by Dorian and Chaol. This time she is facing the end of her entire being.
- Here, in this horrible, dead place of so much suffering–here was where she would face her fate. As if she had never escaped it, not really.
- The irony wasn’t lost on her. She’d escaped shackles twice now–only to wind up back here. A temporary freedom. Borrowed time.
- Here in the place where she’d suffered and endured, here in the place where so many things had begun.
My tears just keep on flowing. Rowan’s parting words to Aelin KILLED ME.
- But Rowan halted her, the second symbol half-finished. Tipped back her chin. “Even when you’re . . . there,” he said, his pine-green eyes so bright under the moon. “I am with you.” He laid a hand on her heart. “Here. I am with you here.” She laid her own hand on his chest, and breathed his scent deep into her lungs, her heart. “As I am with you. Always.” Rowan kissed her. “I love you,” he whispered onto her mouth. “Come back to me.”
- Aelin met Rowan’s stare one last time. Saw the words there. Come back to me.
- My name is Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, and I will not be afraid. I will not be afraid. I will not be afraid.
Dorian and Aelin wield the keys and enter the Wyrdgate realm. Inside the Wyrdgate everything is being taken from Dorian and Aelin. They are both going to die. The Lock is going to take everything from both of them. I kind of knew that their plan to give only half of themselves wasn’t going to work, but I still hoped. I was so disappointed. This was Aelin’s last chance and it didn’t work.
While the two are giving everything to the Lock, a man appears in the Wyrdgate. It’s Dorian’s father, the King!!! He apologizes to Dorian and tells him that he wants to pay the debt for Dorian. He can pay the debt because he has traces of magic and because he is nameless. Erawan cast a spell on the King to erase his name from the world. Before Dorian realizes what’s happening, Aelin agrees and lets go of Dorian’s hand. He is released and goes back to his body in Endovier. Dorian is crushed and so upset. He tries to enter the Wyrdgate again but he can’t. He didn’t want Aelin to do it alone. Inside the Wyrdgate realm, Aelin and the King join hands to finish forging the Lock. Before the King gives his whole self over to the Lock and disappears he gives Aelin a message from her parents. “Your parents are . . . They are so very proud of you. They asked me to tell you that they love you so very much.” He was nearly invisible now, his words little more than a whisper of wind. “And that the debt has been paid enough, Fireheart.” I love that Aelin got to hear this. She is not alone and I think that helps her to finish the Lock.
The Lock is forged. All of Aelin’s power is gone. She is completely powerless except for the drop of water from her mother. Aelin wasn’t ready to let that go yet. Inside the Wyrdgate realm the twelve gods appear. They want her to finish the job. She is to use the last kernel of herself to send the gods home and seal the gate. As soon as she does this she will cease to exist. She will be nothing and gone forever. The gods are huge dicks, especially Deanna. Aelin has just given everything for them and they treat her like dirt. Aelin tries to bargain with the gods. She asks to trade Erawan for Elena’s soul. Aelin knows that it will be hard if Erawan remains in Erilea, but she knows her companions will be able to defeat him. She knows that Yrene has a chance. She doesn’t want Elena’s soul to disappear. But, Deanna (being the huge bitch she is) refuses and insteads kills Elena right there. She also refuses to take Erawan. The gods then all leave through the gate . . . except for Mala, aka Elena’s mother.
Aelin hears Kaltain’s voice telling her to “Make sure that they’re punished someday. Every last one of them.” This is a callback to very early in the series. Aelin (as Celaena) swore to Kaltain that she would make sure they were all punished. I know I’ve already said this in this post, but I love how SJM calls back to Kaltain! Aelin decides she is done with the gods. She is not going to give up yet. “She was no lamb to slaughter. No sacrifice on an altar of the greater good. And she was not done yet.” She is ready to fight for a better world.
Anyway, Mala stays behind and gives Aelin a kernel of power. “Take it. One last gift to my bloodline. For what you offered on her behalf. For fighting for her. For all of them.” Aelin is to use this power to lock the gate and then go home. Mala tells her, “When it is done, seal the gate and think of home. The marks will guide you.” Mala reveals that Rowan is the best and hid Wyrdmarks in Aelin’s new tattoo – the tattoo of their story. The Wyrdmarks are a map home to Rowan. He knew that Aelin would not let Dorian sacrifice himself so he added the Wyrdmarks to make sure she came home. “And when Aelin looked behind her, to the archway into her own world, she indeed could . . . feel them. As if the Wyrdmarks he’d secretly inked onto her were a rope. A tether home. A lifeline into eternity.” Aelin then opens a portal between the gods’ world and a hell realm. The hell realm is the one she encountered in Crown of Midnight when she summoned Nehemia. She then seals the gate to the gods world. . . trapping them with the beasts of the hell realm! THIS MADE ME SO HAPPY! I was like yes girl you make them pay!!! Aelin thinks to herself . . . “She had been a slave and pawn once before. She would never be so again. Not for them. Never for them.”
Aelin then uses Mala’s gift and her remaining power to lock, close, and seal the gate permanently. She offers every part of her power except for her last bit of self. The debt has already been paid enough.
- She would not give it up. Her innermost self. She would not surrender. They would not take this lingering kernel of her. She would not yield it.
- They would not destroy her. They would not be allowed to take this.
- They would not win. They couldn’t take it–couldn’t have her. She refused.
- She would live. She would live, and they could all go to hell. A better world. With no gods, no fates. A world of their own making.
- They would not beat her. They would not get to take this, this most essential kernel of self. Of soul.
- Her kingdom. Her home. She would see it again. It was not over.
- Aelin’s hand drifted to her heart and rested there. It is the strength of this that matters, her mother had said, long ago. Wherever you go, Aelin, no matter how far, this will lead you home.
- World-walker. Wayfarer. Others had done it before. She would find a way, too. A way home. No longer the Queen Who Was Promised. But the Queen Who Walked Between Worlds. She would not go quietly. She was not afraid.
Aelin jumps through the gate before it completely closes and falls through thousands of different worlds. She is falling too quickly though and she will miss her world. She uses the Wyrdmarks to guide her, but she’s still moving too fast. This leads to the GREATEST SURPRISE EVER . . . While Aelin is falling through the different worlds she enters a fae one with snowy mountains. SHE SEES FEYRE AND RHYSAND!!!!!!!! Rhysand helps her and slows her down!! I literally DIED when I read this. I was actually at the Sarah J. Maas tour event when I read this part. All of the people around me weren’t as far as me in the book so I had to keep it to myself. I was dying! This just made me so damn happy. It also means that Sarah has infinite possibilities of worlds she can create. They are all parallel to each other. Maybe a bigger crossover one day?
AELIN MAKES IT BACK TO ERILEA AND ROWAN!!!!!! Some part of me knew that SJM wouldn’t separate Aelin and Rowan, but I was still scared. I am beyond happy that Aelin made it back to Rowan. She is different though . . . Aelin is no longer half human. She is completely fae. She gave up all of her mortality to the Lock. She only has a fraction of her power left. She only has an ember and the droplet of water from her mother.
Aelin was only partly successful. She forged the Lock and closed the gate for good which prevents Erawan from being able to open the portal, BUT the gods wouldn’t take Erawan. Aelin still has to face Maeve, Erawan, and the Morath forces with only has a fraction of her magic. Dorian still has his magic and it is still mighty, but it is also less. Aelin is struggling and missing her power. It made me so happy when Elide said to Aelin, “Who you are isn’t your magic.” It’s exactly what Aelin needed to hear. She can still lead her people and defeat Erawan and Maeve. Even if she isn’t the “fire-bringer.” Also, Elide gives Aelin the ring that protects from Valg possession (Silba’s ring). This ends up being SUPER important!
Aelin, Rowan, and co all decide to march to Terrasen. They are unsure if they’ll make it in time or if there will be anything left when they get there. The journey will take too long because of a snowstorm. But then the coolest things happens. . . The Lord of the North stag and the Little Folk show up to guide Aelin to Orynth safely!! Aelin actually rides the Lord of the North into battle which is such an amazing image. I could see it all playing out in my mind and I loved it!
- Against the snow, he was nearly invisible with his white fur. Would have been invisible were it not for the golden flame flickering between his proud, towering antlers. And at his feet, all around him . . . The Little Folk.
- The others gaped in silence at the magnificent, proud stag who had come to greet them. To guide home the Queen of Terrasen.
However, before they leave, Aelin asks Rowan to help her with her latest scheme. We don’t know what it is. We only know that it involves the Wyrdmark books that Chaol and Yrene brought from Antica.
We rejoin the battle in Orynth and discover that all of the weapons have run out. Aedion, Lysandra, Ren, and co all know that it’s over. They have to decide if they will surrender or continue to fight. Evangeline gives the most beautiful speech to Lord Darrow.
Her throat tightened. “I would have liked for that to have been my home. For this . . . for all of Terrasen to have been my home.” Darrow said nothing, and Evangeline set a hand on the castle stones, gazing to the west now, as if she could see all the way to Allsbrook and the small territory in its shadow. To Caraverre. “That’s what Terrasen has always meant to me, you know,” Evangeline went on, speaking more to herself. “As soon as Aelin freed Lysandra, and offered to let us join her court, Terrasen has always meant home. A place where . . . where the sort of people who hurt us don’t get to live. Where anyone, regardless of who they are and where they came from and what their rank is can dwell in peace.” . . . “So I would choose to fight. Until the very end. For my home, new as it is. I choose to fight.”
Darrow decides to fight (he also apologizes to Aedion for being a huge dick!) and says, “Someone very wise recently told me that Terrasen is not merely a place, but an ideal. A home for all those who wander, for those who need somewhere to welcome them with open arms.” He inclined his head to Lysandra, “I formally recognize Caraverre and its lands, and you as its lady.” Darrow then names Evangeline (with her permission) as his heir and ward!! Evangeline melted Darrow’s heart. She’s amazing!
They decide to fight. They are determined to make one last stand. They refuse to go down without one last stand. Aedion and Lysandra’s “goodbye” exchange was so lovely. It made my heart so full. All seems lost for our heroes, but just in the nick of time Aelin shows up with the huge force from the Khagan!! Aelin is there to fight. . . “For Terrasen. All of it, for Terrasen.”
And before them all, swords raised to the sky as that horn blew one last time, the ruby in the blade’s pommel smoldering like a small sun . . . Before them all, riding on the Lord of the North, was Aelin.
As for the actual battle, it is super intense. There is so much detail that SJM includes which allowed me to see the scene perfectly in my mind. It was like a movie! My favorite part was Aelin and Lysandra being absolutely badass. When Aelin was like, “Shall we?” I was just so damn happy. I also love how the Cadre fights together as brothers. They are fighting for something and someone they believe in for the first time. I just love it all!
Once again, it appears as if we are finally winning, but they realize that the battlefield was a distraction. The remainder of Morath’s forces sneaks into the side of Orynth! It appears that they are going to make it through the gates and into the city. If that happens then our heroes will lose without a doubt. Aedion is defending the gate, but it’s not enough. Gavriel comes to join him! “Together. As father and son. As the two warriors they were. Gavriel — his father. He had come.” Aedion doesn’t show it, but he is so happy that his father came to fight with him. He looks forward to life after the war where his father will be at his side. “Not just this obstacle. Not just this battle. But whatever would come afterward, should they survive. Together.” But then SJM decided to rip out my heart once more. Even with Gavriel and Aedion working together, the gate will not hold. Gavriel sacrifices himself by stepping outside the gate. He uses his power to create a barrier which blocks the opening of the gate. He brings down all the Valg around him, but unfortunately he’s not quick enough. Aedion sees that Gavriel is dead. My heart broke into a million pieces for Aedion. He finally has accepted his father and is looking forward to a life with him in it, but Gavriel is ripped away. It is all just so sad. I knew SJM wasn’t going to let all of our heroes survive, but it still hurts. I know that there are thousands of nameless soldiers who also died during the war against Erawan and Maeve. They all matter too. I know this is fiction, but I wanted to acknowledge them.
To make it even more heartbreaking, Rowan finds Gavriel’s body and carries it into the city. Gavriel was his friend, brother, and teammate. It is so devastating for Rowan.
- Rowan looked at his fallen friend. His closest friend. Who had gone with him into so many wars and dangers. Who had deserved this new home as much as any of them. Rowan closed Gavriel’s unseeing eyes. “I will see you in the Afterworld.”
- Gone. His friend, his brother was gone.
During all the chaos of the battle, Maeve and Erawan arrive with the six Valg princess spiders. Aelin goes to meet them. She chooses to face them even though she only has a fraction of her power left. WHAT A POWERFUL IMAGE!!!
- And there she was. In the deepening blues of descending night, amid the snow beginning to fall, Aelin Galathynius had appeared before the sealed Southern gate. Had appeared before Erawan and Maeve.
- Still Aelin lifted her sword. Flames ran down the blade. One flame against the darkness gathered. One flame to light the night. Aelin raised her shield, and flames encircled it, too. Burning bright, burning undaunted. A vision of old, reborn once more.
- The queen had come home at last. The queen had come to hold the gate.
- Her name was Aelin Ashryver Galathynius. And she would not be afraid.
Aelin’s fight against Maeve and Erawan is intense. She has to conserve her power and trick them into thinking she still has her unbelievable “fire-bringer” power. Aelin knows she can’t last against both of them at once. She starts to turn Erawan against Maeve. She gets Erawan to doubt Maeve. While she’s doing this Yrene, Lysandra, and Elide come up with a plan. Yrene sends out a flare of her power as a beacon to challenge Erawan. It works and Erawan leaves the fight with Aelin.
Yrene, Elide, Dorian, and Lysandra trick and then trap Erawan. Yrene uses her power on Erawan to destroy him.
- His dark power rose, a wave to devour the world. Yrene did not let it touch her. Touch any of them. Hope. It was hope that Chaol had said she carried with her. Hope that now grew in her womb. For a better future. For a free world. It was hope that guided two women at opposite ends of this continent ten years ago. Hope that had guided Yrene’s mother to take up that knife and kill the soldier who would have burned Yrene alive. Hope that had guided Marion Lochan when she chose to buy a young heir time to run with her very life.
- For them, Yrene was not afraid. For the child she carried, she was not afraid. For the world she and Chaol would build for that child, she was not afraid at all.
- Two mothers, whose love for their daughters and hope for a better world was greater than any power Erawan might wield. Greater than any Wyrdkey.
- They watched in silence as the Valg king turned to ashes.
Aelin now only has to fight Maeve. The too verbally and physically spar with each other. ALL OF A SUDDEN AELIN IS IN THE IRON COFFIN AGAIN WITH MAEVE AND CAIRN. For a split second I panicked that Aelin had never escaped. It was just a split second because I knew SJM would never do that to her characters. She loves and cares about her characters too much. I knew it was Maeve using her mind power to make Aelin believe she’d never escaped.
Maeve tries to claim that she has broken a part of Aelin. This is when Aelin thinks of Nehemia and “Elentiya” . . . the spirit that could not be broken. Aelin realizes that Nehemia willingly gave everything for Eyllwe, but still felt burdened and wished she didn’t have to give everything. But Nehemia wasn’t weak because of this. It actually made her stronger. I think that this one of the most powerful and important parts of the series. Your perceived “weaknesses” do not take take away from your strengths. We are all allowed to have doubts and moments of weakness. It does not take away from you. I have to remind myself of this a lot and it is not always easy. It means so much that Sarah J. Maas included this message.
Spirit that could not be broken. You do not yield. She would endure it again, if asked. She would do it. Every brutal hour and bit of agony. And it would hurt, and she would scream, but she’d face it. Survive against it. Arobynn had not broken her. Neither had Endovier. She would not allow this waste of existence to do so now. Her shaking eased, her body going still. Waiting. Maeve blinked at her. Just once. Aelin sucked in a breath–sharp and cool. She did not want it to be over. Any of it. Cairn faded into the wind. Then the chains vanished with him. Aelin sat up in the coffin. Maeve backed away all of a step. Aelin surveyed the illusion, so artfully wrought. The stone chamber with its braziers and hook from the ceiling. The stone altar. The open door and roar of the river beyond. She made herself look. To face down that place of pain and despair. It would always leave a mark, a stain on her, but she would not let it define her. Hers was not a story of darkness. This would not be her story. She would fold it into herself, this place, this fear, but it would not be the whole story. It would not be her story.
- Ok, I also loved this part so incredibly much. I love that Sarah J. Maas and Aelin acknowledge that she is NOT okay. She won’t be for a long time. The trauma and brutality she endured will ALWAYS be a part of her and that is ok. Aelin will have to deal with the results of this trauma for the rest of her life. It is a part of her, but it does not define her. I thought this was so beautiful. Aelin probably will never be the same after the torture she endured. She will be healing for the rest of her life. It’s inspiring that Sarah included and embraced this message.
Aelin breaks free from the illusion! She’s about to deal the killing blow to Maeve, but Maeve tricks her with once last illusion. She uses this opportunity to trap Aelin. Rowan, Fenrys, and Aedion come to Aelin’s side. Maeve attempts to use the Cadre against Aelin . . . she breaks into their minds and tortures them with illusions. She means to break Aelin with their pain. BUT Rowan and Lorcan are able to fight the illusion. It’s the best when Aelin . . . Aelin let out a low laugh. “I have no magic,” she said, “but my mate does.”
Her heart sang, roaring, at the power that flowed from Rowan and into her. At her side, her mate held fast. Unbreakable. Rowan smiled–fierce and feral and wicked. A crown of flame, twin to her own, appeared atop his head. As one, they looked to Maeve. Maeve hissed, her dark power massing again. “Rowan Whitethorn does not have the brute power that you once did.” “Perhaps he doesn’t,” Lorcan said from a step behind them, his eyes clear and free, “but together, we do.” He glanced to Aelin, a hand rising to the angry red burn marring his chest. “And beyond us,” Aelin said, sketching a mark through the snow with the blood she’d spilled–her blood, and Rowan’s–”I think they have plenty too.” Light flared at their feet, and Maeve’s power surged–but too late. The portal open.
I love this part when the three work together and then bring the huge reveal!!! Aelin opens a portal into what appears to be forest north of Terrasen. This forest is full of Fae and the Wolf Tribe! The Fae and Wolf Tribe come through the portal and fight the Morath troops. I do have some questions about this . . . How did Aelin and Rowan find them? I know they were experimenting with the Wyrdmark books and portals. I want to know if the Fae were in another world or just another area in this world.
Maeve tries to bait Aelin and Rowan – saying that they probably want to finish her off because she has wronged them most. But THEN Fenrys (who is still trapped inside Maeve’s illusion) starts to come back. Aelin blinks at him four times. Aelin pulls Fenrys out of the illusion. Maeve is still fighting against Aelin, Rowan, and Lorcan’s power. Aelin says to Maeve, “I’d say, that you haven’t wronged us most at all. But him — oh, he has a score to settle with you.” Fenrys uses his power for the first time since Connall died. He teleports behind Maeve AND THRUSTS GOLDRYN INTO HER BACK!!!! She’s still alive and begging for her life, but Aelin approaches and PUTS SILBA’S RING ONTO MAEVE’S FINGER!!!!! The ring offers immunity from Valg, but is poison to the Valg. Maeve dies and, with all of their power joined, they burned her into ash. This happens at the same time that Yrene destroys Erawan. THE ENTIRE VALG ARMY FALLS! THE WAR IS OVER. THEY HAVE WON!
Aelin knew for certain then. Where Erawan had gone who had brought him down at last. So Aelin wrenched her sword free of the pile of ashes that had been Maeve. She lifted it high to the night sky, to the stars, and let her cry of victory fill the world. Let the name she shouted ring out, the soldiers on the field, in the city, taking up the call until all of Orynth was singing with it. Until it reached the shining stars of the Lord of the North gleaming above them, no longer needed to guide her way home. Yrene. Yrene. Yrene.
Side notes about the battle:
- I love when Chaol says to Yrene, “Go save the world, Yrene.” He believes in her so much.
- I LOVED Lorcan’s development throughout this series. During the battle, he thinks to himself, “Then Lorcan ran for the gate–to the dark queen who threatened all he’d come to want, to hope for. He’d come to hope. Had found that there was something better out there. Someone better. And he’d go down swinging to defend all of it” Who would have thought that LORCAN would be feeling this!!
- Before Erawan is destroyed, Dorian gets him to remove the spell that made his father nameless. Dorian learns that his father only remembered his own name once. . . when he named his son. Dorian’s father’s name was Dorian.
- When Aelin lets go of Rowan’s hand and loses his magic. She feels the lack of his magic. “But she had plenty of her own. Not magic, never again as it had been, but a strength greater, deeper than that. Fireheart, her mother had called her. Not for her power. The name had never once been about her power.” Once again, SJM is showing that Aelin is still powerful even though she only has a fraction of the power she once had.
It actually seems unreal that Aelin and our heroes have FINALLY defeated Maeve and Erawan. This journey has been long, hard, and draining. Is it cheesy to say that I am so proud of them? So many beautiful things happen in the aftermath of the battle. I especially love when Aelin, with the crown of flame still burning on her head, takes her first steps towards Orynth. She is finally going home. Not surprisingly, I teared up at this scene. Aelin has been trying to get home forever. She thought she’d never see her home again, but here after she fought for everything and won, she is going home.
Chaol & Yrene:
But Chaol just gaped at her as it hit him what, exactly had happened. Why that surge of power had happened. What this remarkable woman before him had done.
But life, Chaol realized–life was just beginning.
Nesryn & Sartaq:
Sartaq laughed, and pressed a kissed to her temple. “It means,” he said against her skin, “that we are going home. That you are coming home–with me.” And even with the battle freshly ended, with the dead and wounded around them, Nesryn smiled. Home. Yes, she would go home with him to the southern continent. And to all that waited there.
Aedion & Lysandra:
Aedion must now confront his grief for his father, Gavriel. I know that he is feeling so many conflicting emotions. . . sadness, regret, despair. However, Lysandra is there with him.
- Together, they knelt there, and he knew her grief was as real as his. Knew her grief was for Gavriel, but also for his own loss. The years he and his father would not have. The years he’d realized he wanted to have, the stories he wished to hear, the male he wished to know. And never would.
Falkan comes and introduces himself to Lysandra!
Dorian & Manon:
Manon and Dorian reunite, but she tells him about the Thirteen. I loved his quote about them . . . it honored the Thirteen so much.
- As the loss of those twelve fierce, brilliant lives carved another hole within him. One he would not forget, one he would honor.
Manon shows so much emotion and it is just so raw and devastating. Especially when she says, “I miss them.”
Poor Abraxos. Narene (aka Asterin’s wyvern) was his mate and she is gone too. Dorian only held her tighter, and let Manon lean on him for as long as she needed, Abraxos staring toward the blasted bit of earth on the plain, toward the mate who would never return, while the city below celebrated.
Aelin enters Orynth and meets Lord Darrow. He FINALLY recognizes her as Queen and is thankful.
- But Evangeline tugged on Darrow’s sleeve–as if in reminder. It seemed to spur the old man into speech. “My young ward and I were told that when you went to face Erawan and Maeve, your magic was heavily depleted.” “It was. And shall remain so forever.” Darrow shook his head. “Why?” Not about her magic being whittled to nothing. But why she had gone to face them, with little more than embers in her veins. “Terrasen is my home,” Aelin said. It was the only answer in her heart. Darrow smiled–just a bit. “So it is.” He bowed his head. Then his body. “Welcome,” he said, then added as he rose, “Your Majesty.” But Aelin looked to Evangeline, the girl still beaming. ‘Win me back my kingdom, Evangeline.’ Her order to the girl all those months ago. And she didn’t know how Evangeline had done it. How she had changed this old lord before them. Yet there was Darrow, gesturing to the gates, to the castle behind him. Evangeline winked at Aelin, as if in confirmation. Aelin just laughed, taking the girl by the hand, and led that promise of Terrasen’s bright future into the castle.
I JUST LOVE THIS PART SO MUCH!!! YES EVANGELINE!!! I love how she winks at Aelin! It seems like Aelin might be rubbing off onto Evangeline.
Aelin enters the Great Hall and finds Aedion. She thinks to herself, “Home at last; home together.”
Aelin visits Gavriel’s body with Aedion. She offers Gavriel the blood oath . . . “Let the world know,” Aelin said, voice breaking, “that you are a male of honor. That you stood by your son, and this kingdom, and helped to save it.” She kissed his cold brow. “You are blood-sworn to me. And you shall be buried here as such.” She pulled away, stroking his cheek once. “Thank you.” CUE THE TEARS AGAIN. DAMN IT.
In a lighthearted turn, I laughed when Aelin tells Aedion that Darrow called her “Your Majesty!”
Elide reunites with Manon and learns that the Thirteen are gone. This scene shows how much Manon has grown. She actually comforts Elide (who also remarks to herself about it).
- “Live, Elide,” was all the witch said to her before striding out of the hall once more. “Live.”
Elide joins Lorcan and their exchange is adorable.
Lorcan asks Elide to ask him to stay, to go to Perranth with her, and to marry. It was so dang cute when she asks Lorcan to marry her and he replies, “I’ll think about it.”
And perhaps the best thing to come from Lorcan is that his married name will be Lord Lorcan Lochan!!!! It’s just so great. I feel like SJM must have planned that from the beginning. I love how happy the two are together. They are both healing — together. And Lorcan is going to bind his life to Elide’s!
- Elide laughed again. “Lord Lorcan Lochan?” It sounded just as ridiculous coming out. Lorcan blinked at her, then howled. She’d never heard such a joyous sound.
Yrene finds Hafiza and the two have an incredible conversation full of so much goodness!
Yrene thinks that she wasted Hafiza’s time because she won’t be returning to be her Heir at the Torre Cesme. Hafiza basically tells her to shut the hell up because Yrene saved everyone!!!
Yrene plans to open a Torre Cesme in the North!!!! “In Adarlan. In Rifthold. A new Torre to replenish what Erawan destroyed. To teach the children who might not realize they have the gift, and those who will be born with it.” Because many of the Fae streaming in from the battlefield were descendants of the healers who had gifted the Torre women with their powers — long ago. Perhaps they would wish to help again.
This part made me especially happy because it shows the “better world” that they have all been fighting for.
Manon, Glennis, the Crochans, and the rebel Ironteeth witches are going to go to the Wastes.
Bronwen (Manon’s Crochan cousin) gives her a flower that was from the Wastes. The curse has been broken!!!
- A bridge between their two peoples, as Manon had become. A light–as the Thirteen had exploded with light, no darkness, in their final moments. “When iron melts,” Petrah murmured, her blue eyes swimming with tears. The Thirteen had melted that tower. Melted the Ironteeth within it. And themselves. “When flowers spring from fields of blood,” Bronwen went on. Manon’s knees buckled as she stared out at that battlefield. Where countless flowers had been laid atop the blood and ruins where the Thirteen had met their end. Glennis finished, “Let the land be witness.” the battlefield where rulers and citizens of so many kingdoms, so many nations, had come to pay tribute. To witness the sacrifice of the Thirteen and honor them. Silence fell, and Manon whispered, her voice shaking as she held that small, impossible precious flower in her palm, “And return home.”
They are all going to return to the Wastes as one people. This is so incredibly beautiful because it shows that progress is possible. Who would have thought that the Manon we met way back in Heir of Fire would be here!?
I love that Fleetfoot is included in this section of the book.
Aelin and Rowan meet Lorcan, Elide, Aedion, Lysandra, Fenrys, and Ren in one of the tower balconies.
“At least this court won’t be boring.”
Aelin extends Ren the invitation to join her court. “We could always use one more to partake in the nonsense,” Aelin said, an invisible hand outstretched. Ren scanned her again. “You gave up everything and still came back here. Still fought.” “All of it for Terrasen,” she said quietly.
Now they must rebuild and create a better world! Can SJM just design our actual society?! Between Antica and Aelin’s truly democratic governing style she has everything we need!
We promised everyone a better world. So we’ll start with that.”
Fenrys reminds everyone (including me because I had totally forgotten) that Vaughan is still out there somewhere and now free from Maeve’s blood oath! I look forward to hopefully getting to meet him!
Aelin flashed him a grin. “We’re going to have fun, you and I.” She surveyed her allies, worn and battle-weary, but still standing. All of them still standing. “I think we’re going to have a great deal of fun.”
(I would love to know how Aelin handles the daily monotony of life without war or prophecies.)
Aelin finds Manon and tells her and Abraxos that there will be a monument created to honor the Thirteen. This scene was extremely powerful, especially because of the last line. Both women have so much to face in their future. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.
- In silence, the two queens stared toward the decimated field. Toward the future beyond it.
The coronation!!!!!!! I’m so glad this was included in the ending. It made me ridiculously happy to see Aelin achieve her goal. She is finally home. Terrasen is safe and she is HAPPY! Everything has worked out. It was not easy or “neat” to get there. All of our heroes will continue to face the repercussions and after effects of all they endured . . . Especially Aelin. BUT, they have each other and that’s really all that matters. God damn I am a cheesy mess in this.
At the Coronation all of our heroes are there. These are a few of my favorite mentions . . .
- Elide: Lady of Perranth–and one of Aelin’s handmaidens. For today.
- Lysandra: The shape-shifter who had defended their kingdom. Had helped take down Erawan.
- Evangeline: Then came Evangeline, green ribbons in her red-gold hair, beaming, those scars stretched wide in utter joy.
- Rowan: Rowan stood to the right of the throne, teeth bared ina fierce grin that even his training could not contain.
- Aedion: And there was Aedion at the throne’s left. Head high and tears running down his face, the Sword of Orynth hanging at his side..
And when the music hit its peak, when the world exploded with sound, regal and unbending, she appeared. Rowan’s knees buckled as everyone rose to their feet. Clad in flowing, gauzy green and silver, her golden hair unbound, Aelin paused on the threshold of the throne room. He had never seen anyone so beautiful. Aelin gazed down the long aisle. As if weighing every step she would take to the dais. To her throne. The entire world seemed to pause with her, lingering on that threshold. Shining brighter than the snow outside, Aelin lifted her chin and began her final walk home.
Every step, every path she had taken, had led here.
The faces of her friends, her allies, blurred as she passed by.
To the throne that waited. To the crown Darrow would place upon her head.
Aelin ascended the three steps and knelt upon the top one.
The only time in her reign that she would ever bow.
The only thing she would ever kneel before.
Her crown. Her throne. Her kingdom.
SJM crown mention #3!!! Aelin’s crown is STUNNING. It may be my favorite (or at least a very close second to Feyre’s in the ACOTAR series).
- Twinning bands of it, like woven antlers, rose to uphold the gem in its center. Not a true gem, but one infinitely more precious. Darrow had given it to her himself. The cut bit of crystal that contained the sole bloom of kingsflame from Orlon’s reign. Even amid the shining metals of the crown, the red-and-orange blossom glowed like a ruby, dazzling in the light of the morning sun as Darrow lifted the crown from the pillow.
“Rise,” Darrow said, “Aelin Ashryver Whitethorn Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen.”
THE TEARS WON’T STOP NOW. I’M SO DAMN HAPPY FOR AELIN!
To make it even better Aelin then offers Aedion the blood oath!!!!! He of course takes it. AND THEN the Little Folk show up with Mab’s crown (see SJM crown mention #1). Aelin, as “The Faerie Queen of the West” promises to serve them too.
So she placed Mab’s crown atop the one of gold and crystal and silver, the ancient crown settling perfectly behind it.
And then finally, Aelin sat upon her throne.
It weighed on her, nestled against her bones, that new burden. No longer an assassin. No longer a rogue princess.
And when Aelin lifted her head to survey the cheering crowd, when she smiled, Queen of Terrasen and the Faerie Queen of the West, she burned bright as a star.
And just in case I had any tears left, I lost it one last time as Aelin gathered her court plus Dorian, Chaol, Yrene, Nesryn, Sartaq, Manon, Elide, Lorcan, Evangeline, Borte, Hasar, and Ansel to walk the coronation walk with her. “Walk with me,” Aelin said to them, the men and males falling into step behind. “My friends.”
At the coronation party, Aelin dances and is so blissfully happy. I am so happy for her. We learn what everyone plans to do . . .
- Nesryn and Sartaq will return to the Southern Continent where she will eventually be Empress.
- Chaol receives a letter from his mother! She and his brother will be coming to live with him and Yrene in Rifthold! I teared up as Chaol did when he read his mother’s words.
- Manon is going to go to the Wastes with the witches. Dorian will obviously be the King of Adarlan in Rifthold. However, he wants Manon to train the wyvern hatchlings to be the new aerial legion! Manon comments that Rifthold is only a few days flight away . . . she will be visiting Dorian. EEEEEEKKKK! And the absolute best part is when Dorian thinks to himself . . . Dorian smiled. And found himself, for the first time in a while, looking forward to tomorrow. HE IS HEALING!!
So I lied when I said I lost it “one last time.” Because omg did I lose it more. The goodbyes. Everyone but Rolfe decides to leave . . . The Ironteeth and Crochans, the Khaganate royals and rhukin, Nesryn and Sartaq, the healers, the Draghan, Ansel of Briarcliff, Ilias and the Silent Assassins, Prince Galan, and finally, Dorian, Chaol, and Yrene. I am literally crying right now as I type this.
Yrene and Aelin’s exchange is simply beautiful. The two women who had held the fate of their world between them. Who had saved it.
And then Aelin stood before Dorian and Chaol, and Rowan stepped back, falling into line beside Aedion, Fenrys, Lorcan, Elide, Ren, and Lysandra. Their fledgling court — the court that would change this world. Rebuild it. Giving their queen space for this last, hardest goodbye.
Oh my god, did I lose it when Aelin, Dorian, and Chaol said goodbye to one another. It is ABSOLUTELY CRAZY to think that this all started with the three of them in Endovier. I can’t believe how far we’ve come. This goodbye hit me straight in the feels. I just . . . I love these characters like they are my own friends and family.
Ugh, and kill me with Rowan and Aelin’s love.
- “What are you thinking about?” she asked, peering up at his face. Rowan brushed a kiss to her mouth. “That I get to be here. With you.”
- “I am thinking about how very grateful I am. That we made it. That I found you. And how, even with all that work to be done, I will not mind a moment of it because you are with me.”
- “And tomorrow?” she asked breathlessly, and they both paused to look at each other. To smile. “Will you work to rebuild this kingdom, this world, with me tomorrow?”
- “Tomorrow, and every day after that.” For every day of the thousand blessed years they were granted together. And beyond.
- Aelin kissed him again and took his hand, guiding him into the castle. Into their home. “To whatever end?” she breathed.
- Rowan followed her, as he had his entire life, long before they had ever met, before their souls sparked into existence. “To whatever end, Fireheart.”
What a perfect way to encompass their love and story. These are tears of joy right now!
A Better World . . . the epilogue was only three pages, but full of happiness. I could probably write out the entire chapter as favorite quotes . . . but I’ll limit myself.
She would never stop being grateful for that. For the light, the life in Rowan’s eyes. The same light she knew shone in her own.
AND NOW THE ABSOLUTE PERFECT ENDING. . .
Rowan twined his fingers in hers and whispered, awe in every word, “For you, Fireheart. All of it is for you.”
Aelin wept then. Wept in joy that lit her heart, Brighter than any magic could ever be.
For across every mountain, spread beneath the green canopy of Oakwald, carpeted the entire Plain of Theralis, the kingsflame was blooming.
I have no words. It’s just the perfect ending.
I can’t believe this series is over. I loved every single part and I could not have imagined a better ending. I love these characters and it feels weird to say goodbye. . . for now, at least! Sarah J. Maas is an exceptional writer with unbelievable gifts of creativity, foreshadowing, and world-building. She is just incredible. I don’t have the words to describe how great she is and how absolutely brilliant this series was. I can only say that she is my favorite author (tied with J.K. Rowling).
I had the HONOR of attending Sarah’s Kingdom of Ash World Tour in Chicago. I was one of the lucky ones that got VIP tickets and got to meet her!!! I fangirled so hard!!
Here are a few of my favorite things she said during her panel. . .
- Sarah’s final edit of Kingdom of Ash was actually over 1,000 pages. She could not cut any more, but her publisher said the book was too big for the glue to hold the binding!! Luckily, they were able to edit the spacing and turn the 1,000+ pages into 980 without cutting anything! I still can’t believe that it was so big the glue wouldn’t hold! So crazy!
- Sarah uses music to write her books. Almost every single scene is correlated to a song she heard.
- Aelin’s theme song is “Remember Us” from the movie 300.
- Sarah had been writing the Throne of Glass series since she was 16 years old. At first Aelin and Rowan weren’t going to be mates. But, they ended up together because Sarah used to write fan fiction smut (her words) about Aelin and Rowan after writing her “official” pages. She realized that they had to be together.
- Her favorite relationships to write are:
- Manon and Abraxos
- Aelin and Rowan – She loved laying the foundation for their romantic relationship in Heir of Fire. She loves for her readers to go back to read Heir of Fire again and notice all the reasons why Aelin and Rowan fall in love.
- Nesryn and Sartaq
- Aedion and Rowan – One of Sarah’s favorite scenes to write was when Aedion met Rowan for the first time because of how Aedion fangirls over Rowan. Rowan is literally Aedion’s idol! I loved this so much, too!!
- Lysandra was the character that surprised her most. She was initially not going to be back after her appearance in the prequels. She was also surprised the Aelin let her get to where Sarah wanted Aelin to be.
- Sarah always knew how she wanted to end the series. She knew where she wanted Aelin to end up, even though sometimes Aelin didn’t agree 🙂
- The last line of the book came to her while she was on vacation with family! She started sobbing and couldn’t stop. Sarah is very emotional and cries a lot which makes me super happy because I am the same way.
- The Yrene-Aelin “thread” was planned from the very beginning.
- If all of the characters were on “The Great British Bake Off” Nesryn and Dorian would be the top two, but Nesryn would win.
- Sarah plans to write more in the Throne of Glass world. She doesn’t know when or what specifically, but our time in Erilea is not over.
- The World of Throne of Glass book will hopefully be out some time next year. It is sort of an encyclopedia, but is presented as a history of the war against Erawan.
- Sarah’s main themes and messages that she presents in the Throne of Glass series (and all her books). . .
- Fight for your dreams.
- Never give up.
- Things always get better. . . no matter how dark it may seem.
- Sarah described A Court of Frost and Starlight as a Christmas Special! The next book in the ACOTAR series will be full length and about Cassian and Nesta. She has no expected release date for this book.
- Crescent City will be classified as “adult fantasy” and is on the same content level as ACOTAR.