Gwen & Kate's Library

Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.

Gwen’s Thoughts on Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

This book took me far too long to read, but it was worth it in the end. Although I would not give it the high praise I awarded the previous two books in the series, it was a good read that I probably would have enjoyed more had I the time to read it all in one go. Having said that, this wasn’t the sort of book that made me yearn to read it even when I didn’t have the time for it — it was quite slow, and didn’t have the same hooking quality seen in Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight. 

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Series: Throne of Glass, Book 3 (of 6)

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Format: ARC

Rating: 3.5 stars

Description:

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

Review: *contains spoilers for Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight.

This book took me far too long to read, but it was worth it in the end. Although I would not give it the high praise I awarded the previous two books in the series, it was a good read that I probably would have enjoyed more had I the time to read it all in one go. Having said that, this wasn’t the sort of book that made me yearn to read it even when I didn’t have the time for it — it was quite slow, and didn’t have the same hooking quality seen in Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight. 

I choose not to re-read the first two books before picking up this third one, but instead scanned the fantastic summaries of major plot points given at the Recaptains blog: Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight.

Sarah J. Maas’s writing skills have greatly improved since the beginning of Throne of Glass (see my review for more details on my thoughts on that). There aren’t as many clichés, and Celaena isn’t as “unbeatable” and arrogant as she was back then. However, this does bring me to the observation that all the main characters whose perspective we read from in Heir of Fire (Celaena, Dorian, Chaol, and Manon, a new character), are all leaders and heirs. Afterwards, I felt a need to read a book about a servant or someone not in the top-rung of society and rank.

Going back to Celaena’s “unbeatable” skills — this is something that changes quite a bit in Heir of Fire, both for the worse and for the better. Clearly, it is nice to see Celaena struggling a bit when fighting with fae or monsters, but it seems like such a stark contrast to Throne of Glass that it’s as if her skills have completely disappeared. Very little focus is put on her assassin fighting abilities, but instead on her new found magic.

In addition, Sarah’s ability to make us root for the characters is unbelievable. Manon, a Blackbeak witch, is introduced as clearly evil and bloodthirsty, with no mercy or pity for anyone. However, in no time at all I was hoping she would succeed, even when her ambitions were clearly not “good.” In addition, the new character of Rowan also began as a sullen, harsh, and dark man, but not only developed himself to soften up a bit, but allowed the reader to grow to like him just as Celaena did.

Although Sarah J. Maas’s writing style is better, her plots seem to have gone downhill. As I mentioned, this book did not keep me glued to the page. I thought there were too many shifting perspectives, which causes me to develop favorites and not want to read at all when my least favorite character perspectives arise. In addition, the book was far too long. I have never ever taken a month to read a pleasure book, and I wouldn’t have needed to if this book had actually been shortened to the “tentative page count” of 432 they give in the inside cover of the ARC (of course, it is the ARC that I read and am reviewing, but upon inspection of the actual hardcover it seems that the page count remained around 560).

Another thing I found not entirely to my liking was the fact that two clearly important physical characteristics of characters were entirely forgotten (at least by me). When the mark on Celaena’s forehead was mentioned towards the end, it took me a considerably long time to figure out what that could be, mostly because it hadn’t been mentioned since the first book! I feel like a mark (also, what kind of mark? I’m not sure what to picture!) right on your forehead is something that might come up more than once. I also found this with Manon’s red cape, which is only mentioned in her first introduction, then discussed again later as her “distinguishing feature” — but I had entirely forgotten about its existence!

One of my main issues with this series is that as is develops, it feels as if Sarah J. Maas is trying to fit too many genres, plots, and characters into one series. I am very glad that she is writing A Court of Thorns and Roses a separate series, because I think adding Beauty and the Beast and Tamlin fairy tales into the Throne of Glass series might make it explode from overload. What I mean by this can be illustrated in Celaena’s many, many personalities (spoilers for the other books!!). She is one of the deadliest assassins who became the king’s champion, she is the heir/queen of Terrasen, and she is also fae, with super-powerful magic. How many more superlatives and fantasy themes can you add up? There are also various forms of monsters in the story, and even a mention of zombies was made! I’d be satisfied with only one of those job titles and genres, and would feel a little less overwhelmed.

Luckily, the ending of Heir of Fire (no spoilers) is fantastically written. It goes over all the many characters on an ending note, leaves nothing hanging, but sets up plenty of problems to be solved in the next book. Speaking of, I am looking forward to reading the next three books in Celaena’s adventure, but hope there might be a little more romance (Chaol? or even Dorian!) in the next one!

Have you read this one yet, or is it on your to-read list? What did you think — many of the other reviews I read were quite a bit more glowing than mine — do you agree with them? Are you looking forward to A Court of Thorns and Roses, releasing on May 5th, 2015?

(This review is a part of the So Behind! Review-A-Thon Challenge.)

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This entry was posted on October 12, 2014 by in Author: Gwen, Review, Young Adult and tagged , , .
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