September 18, 2014

Review by Alex: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: September 2nd, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Page Count: 565
Source: Purchased
First Reaction: You'll have to ask Alex, my guest reviewer for the day!
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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?

[Summary Source: Goodreads]
Like every other Throne of Glass fan, waiting for September 2nd to stroll around at its leisurely pace was excruciating. I don’t know about anyone else, but I had this elaborate plan to sheet-fort myself in my room and not come out until I finished every last page of Heir of Fire. But then the mail man delivered it... and it was in my hands... and I couldn’t do it.

You see, I devoured Crown of Midnight in a grand total of 12 hours. And that was a mistake for me, because that book pretty much threw my body into shock and I was kind of like this for a week or two after:

For every non-digimon-nerd, that’s Kari being pulled into oblivion. So apropos. 
Racing through it so quickly was neither good for my poor poor heart and soul nor my memory. While I remember the feel and emotions of Crown of Midnight and I remember what happened, I can’t for the life of me remember the details. So I decided to take Heir of Fire slow. AND I AM SO GLAD THAT I DID. Hell, the sheer size of it told me that it was PACKED with extremely important details that would be crucial in the next three books (I was right), so I needed to be able to remember the details this time around.

Folks, this book took my breath away. If Crown of Midnight hadn't already done it, Heir of Fire has firmly put Sarah J. Maas into the ranks of the best fantasy writers this world has seen. There was no fear in her writing, she told Celaena's story without holding back one bit of truth. Sarah was not about to lessen Celaena and Co.'s glory, the majesty of their world, to soften the blow for us readers. The writing, in short, was stunning. It's bringing tears to my eyes right now as I recollect what I read. For all aspiring fantasy writers out there like me, THIS is the book to study and learn from. 

Honestly, the advanced reviews pouring out for this book had me scared shitless. I was dead certain that it would leave me traumatized and whimpering in a puddle of my own tears. Aaaaaand I guess I worked myself into such a frenzy that I don't think I'm nearly as traumatized as other readers seem to be. I actually feel genuine relief. 

I mean, by all accounts, Sarah has set the stakes so high that I am fully aware that everything set up in Heir of Fire could end in a bath of blood and darkness... and yet I feel this radiating hope. That's what Celaena gives me. That's why she is hands down my favorite heroine that I've met.

I think a lot of my anxiety stemmed from seeing a lot of negative opinions of Chaol in his third of the storyline... and I simply can't understand it. I fell in love with Chaol for the same reasons Celaena did - his unyielding, innate goodness, loyalty, solidity. He stumbled terribly in COM and his footing is still unsure in HOF, but he is still the same Chaol. He had his own journey to take in this book, very different - and yet still similar - to that of Celaena's journey. They both had to figure themselves out, decide what is worth fighting for and how far they are willing to go. But Chaol also had to decide on which side of the line he stood. And I think in our heart of hearts we always knew which side he would take, because he's Chaol. I don't think that was ever really a mystery to us. But watching him make the journey to that decision... that's what matters. Sarah doesn't let us assume anything. She makes every choice matter. 

Plus, let’s be honest, I WILL GO DOWN WITH MY SHIP. Chaolaena to the grave!

Okay then.

Now. Dorian. I don't know what to say about Dorian, except that I'm ashamed to have written him off after I read Throne of Glass. I knew he was important then, but I still wrote him off as a character who wouldn't struggle as much as the others. Nope. Once again Sarah raised the stakes even higher and I am in total awe of who Dorian is, and I completely understand why Chaol is so fiercely loyal to him. Dorian's fate at the end of HOF... I can't even begin to imagine what Sarah has in store for him. All I know is that Dorian's worth has been handed to me and I'm not so sure I can handle it.

The part that's most exciting about this book is the host of new characters introduced. Rowan, Aedion, Manon, Sorcsha, Ren. The Ironteeth witches, the Thirteen, the Fae and demi-Fae, the wyverns, and some new insidious creatures threatening every inch of the world. I can't even... I just can't. I never thought I could love new characters as much as the old, but apparently I CAN. The bond forged between Celaena and Rowan is breathtaking. It's like she is more Celaena because of him. Aedion, with all his strength and force of will, was like a pillar in this book, because Chaol and Dorian's storyline could have easily crumbled without his challenging presence. And Manon was downright fascinating to read. She’s pretty much April Ludgate, fantasy edition.

AND THE WORLD BUILDING. OH MY GOD. Can the ALL CAPS speak for itself, please? Once again I am stunned speechless by the ever escalating grandeur of Erilea. And can I please live there? Even during all this hell, I still want to be there, because it is glorious.

I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to read this series. If I'm being completely honest, I think Sarah Maas may be surpassing the authors on my favorite authors list - Daphne du Maurier, Melina Marchetta, and, dare I say it, J.K. Rowling. I'm a little stunned because I didn't think my love for these three could be surpassed. But then... if I really think about it, I'm not all that surprised. Mostly because I know Sarah, from limited personal experience, to be an incredible human being, capable of this kind of greatness. Saying "I look forward to the rest of her career" is a ghastly understatement. Speaking of which, the first book in her new fantasy series, A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, is now available to pre order on Amazon and the Book Depository, and I am of the belief that you should partake in that opportunity!

Alexandra Ray is an aspiring Young Adult Fantasy writer. She is currently working on a high fantasy, very loose retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. She is a former poster on and the livejournal community The_Write_Away. She loves all things Disney, first gen Digimon, Pokemon, and crime shows that don’t take themselves too seriously and often finds herself daydreaming of pirates, mermaids, and faeries. You can follow Alex on her Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

And with that, THRONE OF GLASS week comes to an end and Alex says ciao for now! I'll miss her, you'll miss her, and, maybe if we beg, she'll come back and tell us more about the books she loves!