Published by Bloomsbury on September 5th 2017
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository
In the next installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, follow Chaol on his sweeping journey to a distant empire.
Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.
His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent's mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.
But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.
Spoilers are marked, but read at your own risk!
When it was announced in an earlier installment of Throne of Glass that Chaol and Nesryn were heading to the Southern Continent, I was disappointed. I always loved Chaol, and am still bummed that Aelin ended up with Rowan, and was annoyed that Chaol would not be involved in the exploits of the next book, Empire of Storms, just because he was injured and angry. So, I wasn’t sure what to expect and had a bit of trouble getting into this book initially. Would Tower of Dawn be more of a standalone departure or just kind of like an aside? Tower of Dawn ended up being a completely necessary read for Throne of Glass fans, containing information that blew my mind about the events in Empire of Storms and beyond, and I was super glad that I read it. I enjoyed Tower of Dawn, with its new and interesting setting in the Southern Continent, new characters and romances, portrayal of disability, and the twist at the end that made me want the next book ASAP. But even with the twist, author Sarah J. Maas’s formula was starting to feel a bit stale in her romance between Chaol and Yrene, but more on that later.
Taking place during the events of Empire of Storms, Tower of Dawn follows Chaol and Nesryn to Antica, part of the Southern Continent, where they will attempt to not only find healing for Chaol’s magically caused spinal injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down, but also an alliance with the powerful Khaganate that could save the entire fate of the world. But the path to an alliance is wrought with intrigue, with the Khagan’s five, formerly six, children poised and expected to fight each other to the death in order to become the new Khagan. With each prince and princess spying and plotting against one another, and the Khagan and his wife in turmoil at the death of their youngest daughter, Chaol and Nesryn certainly have their way cut out for them. I found it pretty confusing that all of this royalty was unanimously heartbroker at the death of their sister, Tumelun, as the siblings were already actively planning to kill each other, but that’s the stage Maas set.
Luckily, Chaol’s new healer, Yrene Towers, is coincidentally a close friend of Hasra, the princess and commander of the Khagan’s navy, and a former love interest of prince Kashin, commander of the Khagan’s horse and land army, and helps him get closer to the royalty and the alliance he needs with him. View Spoiler »Not going to lie, I couldn’t help but to groan as Chaol’s healer, a character in Assassin’s Blade—who also happened to be gorgeous, intelligent, and a prodigal healer, was introduced—knowing immediately that she would end up with Chaol, his relationship with Nesryn be damned. And while I typically enjoy being right, I truly wished it hadn’t been so predictable. To me, it felt like a “token” romance, one that was more of fan service than actually necessary. Perhaps if the feelings and romance were merely hinted at during this book and acted upon in a future book, I would have liked it more. But for Chaol to essentially cheat on Nesryn with her, after reaming Aelin a new one for finding her mate and choosing him over Chaol, I found it really hypocritical and unsavory. [spoiler]
[spoiler]Plus, it was all just too perfect. Healer, who just happens to be the best of her kind in ages, once saved by Aelin—Chaol’s former lover—meets injured soldier, essentially aids him in fighting the Valg in his magical wound, and saves his life, overcomes her prejudice against Adarlan, and can fulfill her lifetime dream of going back to the Northern Continent with his help, as his wife. All while possibly being the key to fighting back and defeating the Valg! What a coincidence! « Hide Spoiler
Despite the cliché setup between these two, View Spoiler »their stereotypical healer/patient romance wasn’t all bad. It was nice that Yrene was able to look past Chaol’s afflictions and see him beyond his spinal injury and wheelchair, and as a person—not just a patient—who needed his ass kicked to make progress. I liked Yrene’s ability to push through Chaol’s healing, when it meant tormenting them both with painful memories sent by the Valg. I also enjoyed their united scheming to get them to the Oasis, where an ancient Necropolis lay with information about the Valg. « Hide Spoiler
But even more, I liked Maas’s depiction of disability and the complicated emotions that go with it—devastation, self-loathing, and anger. It was spot-on and felt like it was a victory for people like myself, with physical limitations, and hope that it will inspire new understanding in her readers. What meant the most to me, a person suffering from multiple autoimmune disorders/chronic illnesses, is that Maas didn’t magically heal Chaol and take away all of his suffering, so that he could be a “hero” again. If I had a dollar for every time this happened in a novel, I’m looking at you Eon and Eona, I’d be a lot richer and less resentful. Instead, Maas had Chaol learn to accept himself as a person, with help from Yrene, regardless of whether he had to use wheelchair. And what was even better was that Chaol did this through difficult physical therapy and training, not just through healing magic—something that is definitely not readily available in our world.View Spoiler »So when Yrene saved his life through paying a “cost” to the goddess of healing, Silba, and it effectively cursed him back to having his injury by binding him to Yrene—when she was low on magic reserves, he couldn’t walk—it wasn’t the absolute end of the world. He’d already worked through his affliction and realized he was still a valuable person with it—a powerful message for anyone that is less than in perfect health. I look forward to seeing how this price, which also includes Yrene and Chaol both dying when the other dies, will play a part in future installments in the series, as the two both plan in engaging in the war, death be damned. Personally, I would be a lot more concerned for my partner’s safety, but perhaps this is why I am not a heroine in a book. « Hide Spoiler
I must say I had to roll my eyes not only when Chaol and View Spoiler »had sex for the first at a Necropolis, with her former love interest the prince in a tent nearby–terrible decision making–and then later on got married “off-screen,” for a lack of a better term. « Hide Spoiler How many times does Maas have to do this? She never gets sick of it! But what really repulsed me, View Spoiler »was that Chaol referred to Yrene as “Lady Westfall,” even though he abhors being called “Lord Westfield,” himself, as she points out to him. I think Maas was trying to evoke some sort of Elizabeth Bennet to “Mrs. Darcy” moment, but it just felt so contrived, ill-fitting, and saccharine that I felt a bit nauseated. « Hide Spoiler
Though I came to bearView Spoiler »Yrene and Chaol’s too perfect relationship « Hide Spoiler, I much preferred Nesryn’s View Spoiler »budding romance with Sartaq « Hide Spoiler. It felt less cliché and more authentic. Similarly, I loved everything having to do with the Ruks and the Aeries. Though I had never been fond of Nesryn, I grew to like her a lot in this book. And as she felt at home for the first time among Sartaq, his hearthmother and hearthsister, I felt that way too. I adored that she found her place in the world, her experience of flying for the first time, and bonding with her own Ruk. Similarly, I enjoyed Falkan’s appearance, their reconnaissance of the Fae watchtowers, and their battle against the cringeworthy Stygian Spiders.
Nesryn’s intelligence and capability was fully on display when she coerced the Spiders into revealing that they were under View Spoiler » Maeve’s—who is actually a freaking Valg Queen in disguise—orders to guard a nearby Wyrdgate! « Hide Spoiler I about laid an egg upon reading this, but then realized in retrospect that I should have seen it coming all along. I was really impressed how Maas so expertly laid groundwork and set it up for this grand ! I hope she can do more of this careful planning and build-up with her romances in the future instead of defaulting to her cookie-cutter relationships.
Maas excelled at building the world and culture that is entirely different from that of the Northern Continent’s, where most of the Throne of Glass series has taken place. I enjoyed learning about the gods and goddesses, and how the Khaganate worked. But when the book dealt with the Valg, the Wyrdgates and keys, I was truly hooked on the story. Though I could have lived without Yrene and Chaol’s romance, I was reminded why I originally liked Throne of Glass, better than A Court of Thorns and Roses. I found this new installment in the series a lot less disappointing than that of the latter series and it is a must-read for any Throne of Glass fan. Plus, Maas included a last chapter “Fireheart” that made me fill with anticipation and dread for the next book already. 2018 and the next Throne of Glass entry cannot come soon enough!