Wow! How’d she do that? These seem the only words befitting this book…It’s that good. A true ride for the emotions…
SUMMARY FROM BACK: Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire-for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…
She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.
She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.
Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
WHAT I THOUGHT: The first three books in the series have been excellent, but in this fourth installment of six, Sarah J. Maas steps up her character-development game for the characters grow and develop throughout the 600+ pages of this adventure in a masterful, believable way. The world-building that existed in the first three books continued and I was blown away as the characters became even more real, grappling with real problems in ways that are so human.
Aelin’s storyline revisits her painful past as she must once more face her master, Abromyn, the king of thieves, who has inflicted so much pain in her life. While I despised him for his cunning and scheming, he stoops to new lows. I have to say though that the very fact that I have such negative emotion for this man, speaks volumes to the artistry with which this character developed. Aelin confronts him once more and comes away stronger for it.
We again see Manon, the Blackbeak witch, whose character is forced to question militant authority and come to terms with the conflict between that and what she believes. While situations differ, her story is so relatable for most readers.
We also see Lysandra and Kaltain reappear, each woman coming to terms with and finally acting out of the inner strength we suspected they held. And a new female is introduced, Elide, who I suspect will be pivotal in the final book.
Love is also a central theme in this book.
Romantic passions ebb and flow between Aelan and Rowan, her fae prince, in such a way that I found myself routing for love to triumph and overwhelm as they resist and struggle at points. Oh, what a great romance continues.
Aelin’s relationships with both Chaol and Dorian change and grow as well, but way beyond passion. I loved how it deepened into strong and enduring friendships – friendships that are ‘to the death.’
One point I thought particularly well written: Love causes Aelin to save the life of a mortal enemy – What? Yes. It was a pivotal plot point and while I would not have thought it possible, it happened in a believable way. Because so many of Aelin’s loved ones have been killed (her family, Sam, Nemeniah) and because she has felt the irreparable pain of those losses, she has come to believe she must spare the life of someone, even an enemy, who is deeply loved by another. We see this when Aelin hears the gut-wrenching cry and sees the pain in the friend of her enemy, and without a second thought, Aelin throws herself in harms way so the friend of her enemy never has to know the pain of losing the one they so deeply love. So moving…
Setup to the next book – I loved the long denouement of this book for I wasn’t ready to be done and Maas didn’t make me. Longer than many, I appreciated the length for it allowed me to recover from so many emotionally charged experiences.The resolution for all the various characters was well done and set up the next book without giving anything away.
Overall, I found myself experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions. I shrieked at a few of the the plot twists, oohed at the play between Aelin and Rowen, and find myself a bit exhausted in the end. Well done!
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