by Sarah J. Maas
To be published on September 2, 2014
Source: ARC from the publisher for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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?My take: I'm not the most enthusiastic fantasy reader, though thanks to my friend Steph of TheFakeSteph.com, I actually listened to all 33 hours of Game of Thrones: Song of Fire and Ice on audio. And while I could appreciate George R.R. Martin's immense talent as a writer and worldbuilder, I stopped after that one book. A high-fantasy that's really, really dark isn't the kind of story I wholeheartedly enjoy.
So when Throne of Glass, book one in this series, was pitched as a sort of YA Game of Thrones, I was a bit intimidated. I didn't need to be. Throne of Glass had more to do with palace intrigue, romance and friendship than with bloody action scenes. Throne of Glass also traced Celaena's journey from murderous assassin to trusted warrior and loyal friend. Then came Crown of Midnight. That book seemed a bit darker and more grounded in fantasy, but was still within my comfort zone as a reader.
I knew from the ending of Crown of Midnight that the action of Heir of Fire would be moving away from the kingdom of Ardalan and to a new setting. What I guess I didn't think about was that all these books are part of a six book story arc. And what I didn't expect was that Heir of Fire would also be moving more firmly into high fantasy territory. Three new POV characters were added -- a witch, a healer, and a Fae -- for a total of six, if I'm counting correctly. New plotlines were started. The romantic situation got waaay more complicated. And this book is long -- over 500 pages.
I should also add that this book was very impressive. The writing and the plotting and the character development in this installment have become really top-notch. If I were giving stars, I'd give it five.
But still .... as a not-so-enthusiastic-fantasy reader, I struggled. Struggled with the fact that a lot of this story was made up of training sequences -- not my favorite. Struggled with the new characters, the new relationships, the new creatures, the new settings, and the Fae elements, which I had known were coming but have never been my favorite aspect of fantasy. (On the plus side, the love triangle that was developing in the first two books seems to have been blown into a love shape that is something I can't even describe.)
I was fortunate that my friend Sabrina of IHeartYAFiction was reading this book at the same time, and she cheered me on. By the middle of the book, I felt like I had reached the top of a mountain, that I could see where I was going, and that I was ready to race down and finish the story. The last half of the book was definitely a wild ride -- gripping and emotional.
So, here's the weird part of this review: as a reviewer, I can wholeheartedly say that this book is excellent -- the best in the series so far -- and highly recommend both this book and the series to YA fantasy fans. As an individual reader, I'm wondering if this series is still for me. Can I handle another 1500 plus pages, or is it time to say goodbye? I'm still not sure. I may try the next book on audio, as that worked well for me with Game of Thrones. I have to say, I'm really torn.
Has this ever happened to any of you? Did you ever read a book that was objectively fantastic, but just not your kind of book?
Sorry that you struggled some with it. When the multiple POVs came in I got a little frustrated by ended up liking, esp RowanReplyDelete
Loved him and the friendship that developed, which reminded me a little of Aria and Roar in the UTNS series.Delete
I so want to see that love shape!! Hahaha :) Sorry to hear you have such conflicted feelings for this series but so glad you made it through this one! I can't wait to climb up that mountain and then race down!!ReplyDelete
lol I don't even know what to call it. Things got VERY complicated in an interesting way :)Delete
It was a labor of love reading the first half. If I didn't ADORE the first two books I might not have made it to that 'mountain peak' you mentioned. I think that if audio would propel you through it a bit easier you should definitely go that route. However, I am tempted to wait until the rest of the series is out and read them all in a row. It's just one of those series where the previous books details are pretty important and I can't keep re-reading these giant books. :)ReplyDelete
Great review, Jen! Let's buddy read again soon!
That makes me feel better ;)Delete
And I agree that the payoff was worth the effort. I'm just not sure I'm ready for another 1500+ pages .....
Would love to buddy read again, though!
I'm picking up this book next! Epics squeal!!!!ReplyDelete
Hope you love it!Delete
Oh boy i've been going around the blgosphere saying this all day, I only skimmed your review because i'm so wary about reading too much about this book! I have such high expectations for it and i just love this series so much! Glad ot hear this book just absolutely rocked for you! Great review!ReplyDelete
Objectively, it was an excellent book -- I don't think you'll be disappointed.Delete
Like you, I'm not the most enthusiastic reader of fantasy. I can't even bring myself to read this series, to be honest. I guess my preference is more of real life than a whole another world beyond my comprehension.ReplyDelete
I guess you're at a crossroads with this series, huh?
Good luck, Jen.
I'm happy I tried it, and yes, I'm at a crossroads...Delete
It's a real life cliffhanger ;)
Great review, Jen! I totally see what you're saying, especially knowing the few convos we've had before about you not being huge fantasy fan or reader. At least there have been some good YA fantasy lately, like the Grisha series, that you have enjoyed. :) I'm pretty sure I will love this one when I get my hands on a copy and will definitely be reading the rest of the series, but I have always read fantasy and will continue to, so it's a series for me.ReplyDelete
Have I ever read a well-written, really good book and it not been for me. Yes. There are several that were really good that just had too much content or that just rubbed me wrong or I didn't connect with the characters. I love that you are honest in your review in saying how this might be moving into something that isn't for you. It's hard too when the book is long.
Still can't wait to read this one!
Tressa @ Wishful Endings
I think you'll be really impressed!Delete
I am a big fan of this series yet not that big of a fan of high fantasy. This series just has something magical and I am in love with that world and the characters. I hope you decide to continue with the series.. Great review, I cant wait to read Heir of fire, Crown of midnight s ending made me anxious.ReplyDelete
Sorry you are anxious -- this book doesn't give many answers, just raises more questions!!Delete
I wasn't a fantasy reader until I read Throne of Glass, and except these three books, I've probably read just... four fantasy books more. I hope you give a chance the next book, who knows? maybe it's more awesome!ReplyDelete
Lis @ The reader lines
It could be!!Delete
Awww, it is rough when a series is longer than expected or goes in a direction that isn't really your thing. I've had that happen. I can't think of an example right now, but I know that I have. For me, I'm a huge high fantasy fan. I think that's really my fave genre so HoF was right up my alley. I loved it to pieces and look forward to more, more more. haha. I grew up reading fantasy and have been reading GRRM since forever so I'm used to the POVs and such. I'm sorry this series took a turn you're less into but glad that you were able to find some enjoyment. Great review Jen!ReplyDelete
It was a really impressive book and I know that fantasy fans will love it!Delete
Man, i really miss trilogies. I dont like that this is 6 books, especially because they are so long. I also am not a fan of too many povs. Like you, im not a big fantasy fan. I struggle with it. But I do enjoy it more on audio. Which is why im,waiting until this out to listen to it. Im nervous!ReplyDelete
I think I may try book 4 on audio :)Delete
I can't say that that's ever happened to me before. Usually if a book isn't for me, whether it's fantastic or just sort of bleh, I just can't bring myself to finish it. Sorry that this series doesn't work for you because I agree that the writing and the story were amazing in this one. It really took the series to a whole new level. I don't care for much fantasy, especially high fantasy. I usually find myself getting bored about halfway through most fantasy stories, but I feel this series isn't too bad for me personally. At first I was a little weirded out with the witch chapters, but by the end I was kind of into it. I'm actually really excited to see where Maas is taking the this series in the next book!ReplyDelete
On the plus side, I think she laid some necessary groundwork to make the story work as a 6 book ARC. I mean, I don't think any of us wanted to read 6 books of love triangle, right???Delete
Eeeep. I'm happy with this review. ^_^ I'm a HUGE fan of the series. Like flailing-irrationally-sort-of-fan. I CAN'T EVEN. <-- me most of the time. Which is funny, because I'm not always an epic-fantasy reader because I tend to get confused or lost or just bored. These ones have held my attention to the fullest though. So I'm definitely reading all of them. ASAP. I was worried about HoF though, because the first 3 books have been so unbelievably good I was worried the 3rd would flop. I'M HAPPY IT IS STILL A 5-STARS WORTH IN YOUR OPINION. *relaxes slightly*ReplyDelete
Weeeelll... I'll be curious to see how you come out. Because that's how I am reading high fantasy: confused/lost/bored. I wouldn't say I was any of those things while reading this, but I struggled. I really did :)Delete
Wow, it was so interesting to read a review from someone on this book that isn't an avid fantasy reader! I am totally besotted with this series and dying to get my grubby lil hands on the copy when it comes out xD And I'm huuuuge on fantasy! So after reading your review I'm even MORE excited (how is that possible, I mean, is this real life?) for the book to come out now! :D I really hope this series maintains being good for the next 3 because if it didn't... I think the world would fall out from beneath me (I've been told I'm a tad dramatic hehehe). Thank you for sharing!!!! :DReplyDelete
If you are an avid fantasy reader, I think you will be extremely happy at the turn this book takes. She's become such a stronger fantasy writer in this installment!Delete
It happens to me a lot. I know a book is written well and would highly recommend to other people but I didn't like it myself. Especially with the contemporary genre where I'm fairly critical of certain behaviors but I know others don't care & it doesn't mean it's a bad book.ReplyDelete
I'm glad I've stayed clear of this series. I was tempted until I heard how long it was going to be. I just don't have the stomach for the roller coaster reading experience anymore. I'm a wimpy reader these days. lol
Karen @ For What It's Worth
I cannot wait to finish this series! I have loved every moment I have spent with this series! I am so glad you enjoyed it ;)ReplyDelete
Oh man, I am dying for this book (I binge-read all 3 of the previous books about a month and ago and 5-starred two of those babies--and you know how stingy I am about 5 stars! ALA was all out of them by the time I asked for one, though, and I didnt't want to ask Bloomsbury since both Kim and Kate already got one from BEA). DYING. But I get what you mean, I'm also very nervous that there are 3 more books coming. I'm guessing the love triangle will continue to drag on, which is probably my least favorite thing about it.ReplyDelete
Still, I loved COM and TAB so, so much, though, and I'm a sometime-fantasy reader, too. I will be watching to see if you end up picking up the next one! I'm sure I will be.
Wendy @ The Midnight Garden
Oh yes, this book absolutely changed direction from the past 2 books in that it felt a lot more like a pure fantasy. TBH I struggled with the new names and kingdoms and everything as well, but a lot of that was made up with the awesome new characters that were introduced, I loved them. I think this book would present the highest learning curve - no doubt the last 2 books will be amazing. Great review lovely!ReplyDelete
Well, that is a great way to look at it. Perhaps this book is setting up new groundwork and then I can just sail through the next three :)Delete