#0.1) The Assassin and the Pirate Lord ★★★
#0.2) The Assassin and the Healer ★★
#0.3) The Assassin and the Desert ★★★★
#0.4) The Assassin and the Underworld ★★★★★
#0.5) The Assassin and the Empire ★★★
#1.) Throne of Glass ★★★
#2.) Crown of Midnight ★★★★
#3.) Heir of Fire ★★
#4.) Queen of Shadows ★★
#5.) Empire of Storms ★★★
“Every step, all of it, had led here. From that keep in the snow-blasted mountains where a man with a face as hard as the rock around them had thrown him into the cold; to that salt mine in Endovier, where an assassin with eyes like wildfire had smirked at him, unbroken despite a year in hell.”
Tower of Dawn is my second favorite book that Sarah J. Maas has ever written! And it is, hands down, the best installment in the Throne of Glass series, in my honest opinion. I completely and wholeheartedly loved it. This is easily one of the best books I’ve read in 2017.
The first part of this review is spoiler free for Tower of Dawn, but it does have minor spoilers for the rest of the Throne of Glass series!
Also, before I even start this review, I just want to say that I actually think Sarah has been listening to her readers and this book truly proves it. First off, we have a very predominant queer side character, who clearly states this from the beginning and is written very believably and seamlessly. Next, we have a full diverse cast of characters, besides Chaol, in this novel. And lastly, and the thing I was most concerned about going into this book, Sarah respectfully writes about Chaol’s disability, without ever making it seem like he must be “fixed” in order to have self-worth. (But please be aware that this review is coming to you from a white, able-bodied woman, so I am not the voice you should be listening to for the last two representations.)
I also think Sarah unfortunately listened to the backlash about her “young adult” books having so much sex in them, because there is totally less sex in this book than in EoS, ACOMAF, and ACOWAR. There is still amazing angst and build up to sex, and there is one actual sex scene, but nothing near as graphic or even as descriptive as her previous works. Me, being the perverted person that I am, was a little disappointed by this, especially with how much I love Chaol.
I should also preface this review by telling those of you who do not know that Chaol is my favorite character in ToG, well, besides my queen, Manon Blackbeak! I’ve never been the biggest fan of Celaena/Aelin, and I think this story (and the rating I gave it) probably really benefited from that.
The last thing I will say before I actually start this long-winded review is that I cannot stress enough how important it is to read The Assassin and the Healer novella from the novella bind up, The Assassin’s Blade, before you read this book!
Tower of Dawn is a story that is running parallel with the events that took place in Empire of Storms. While Aelin, Dorian, and the rest of the gang are trying to unite empires and bring them together to fight the greater threat at hand, Chaol and Nesryn left for Antica, located in the southern continent, to convince another strong empire to join them in the battle that is inevitably coming, while also seeing if the healers at the Torre can heal Chaol’s paralysis.
Also, the southern continent is way more advanced than Erilea could ever hope to be. Magic is not only thriving here, but it’s celebrated. And healing is one of the most prized powers of all. And one of the three points of view in this book, besides Chaol and Nesryn, is a very talented and powerful healer named Yrene Towers.
I would say the point of views are definitely equal seeming between the three, but there are two big story lines going on. The first being Chaol’s healing, and how he is hurting a lot more than just physically. Chaol is struggling with his self-worth, but I believe he’s also struggling with PTSD. He feels very guilty and that he is to blame for Aelin, Dorian, his family, his guardsmen, and also his disability. This book really showcases and highlights how mental pain and disabilities are just as hard to overcome as physically pain and disabilities, and Chaol for sure learns this lesson in true Chaol fashion: the hard way.
And the second storyline is a big mixture of different ways Chaol and Nesryn are trying to sway the current khagan, Urus, to their cause. Urus has six children and when he passes on one of them will rule, because in this kingdom it is not automatically given to the first-born heir. No one knows who the ruler will be, so this can make siblings rather blood thirty for one another, and once one is chosen to rule, the others must submit or things can get really bloody. This also makes the task of winning them all over a little difficult for Chaol and Nesryn.
“Your city is the greatest I have ever laid eyes upon, your empire the standard by which all others should be measured. When Morath comes to lay waste to it, who will stand with you if we are all carrion?”
Urus’ six children:
➽Arghun – oldest child and enjoys power in knowledge.
➽Sartaq – second oldest and commands the Rukhin riders.
➽Hasar – third oldest and amazingly queer.
➽Kashin – fourth oldest and most loyal.
➽Duva – fifth oldest, who is married and carrying the first grandbaby right now.
➽Tumelun – the baby, and the cause of an underlying mystery.
All of these side characters are very impactful to not only this book, but the greater arching story at hand, too. These characters also put a big emphasis on family for this story, and the amazing lengths we are willing to go for the people we love.
Tower of Dawn not only introduces a vast array of new characters, and it also helps showcase that this book feels like a love letter to being young and finding yourself. Yet also, finding what you truly want in your life. I mean, these characters are all in their early 20s, it’s not plausible that they are all going to know what path they want to take, or that they all choose to take the path that was set for them by others. I love that this book realistically depicts that your first love won’t always be your last love, and how normal and okay that truly is. Finding yourself, and what you want from this life, is a truly beautiful story in and of itself.
There is a vast amount of world building and character development within these 700 pages, and I truly believe this is such a wonderful addition to this series. Before I get into the spoiler section, I will say that there are trigger warnings for talk of suicide, grey area cheating, war themes, and violence. I will also say that the epilogue of this book will probably shatter your soul. Like, is it Fall of 2018 yet? But I loved this and it was such a wonderful and important installment in the Throne of Glass series.
The rest of my review is going to contain MAJOR SPOILERS for both ALL the books leading up to this book, and for Tower of Dawn itself! Please, do not proceed to read any further unless you have read this book and its predecessors or you wish to be spoiled!
“The heart he’d offered and had been left to drop on the wooden planks of the river docks. An assassin who had sailed away and a queen who had returned.”
Okay, so I think I’m just going to do little (and probably incoherent) paragraph gushes about things and how I felt about certain things in this book, because I just have too many emotions right now!
“No matter the oceans, or mountains, or forests in the way.”
I guess we should probably start off talking about how Sarah J. Maas does what she always does, but somehow always ends up surprising me. I honestly thought this book was going to have a romance about Chaol and Nesryn, so when she pulled the rug out from under my feet and made it really apparent that Chaol and Nesryn were going to not only not be together, but also have new budding romances with other people, I was completely shocked.
I, personally, never liked Chaol and Nesryn together. I always thought that it was terrible writing on Sarah’s part to even force them together. I thought it was so unbelievable and just another way to show how Aelin and Rowan were soulmates, and it just felt bad to me. So, I was beyond elated to see their outcome work out differently than I expected.
“Yrene pushed down on the handle. And Chaol took a step toward her.”
This quote defeated me. When Chaol finally stood up and then walked to Yrene… I was weeping. Like, tears, sniffling, heavy breathing, hell, I was ugly crying, let’s be real. This was my favorite moment in this entire book and I was a complete and utter mess.
“You looked at me without an ounce of pity. You saw me. Not the chair or the injury. You saw me. It was the first time I’d felt … seen. Felt awake, in a long time.”
I loved how Sarah handled Chaol’s disability, and how even though he is able to walk a lot of the time, he also isn’t completely healed. I was really concerned going into this book, that this was going to be a bad feeling “fix”, so an able-bodied Chaol could come back into the main storyline, but instead it truly was a story about Chaol coming to terms with his disability and accepting himself and his life, wheelchair, cane, or standing on his own two feet.
“I might not have battled kings and shattered castles […] but I am the heir apparent to the Healer on High. Through my own work and suffering and sacrifice. And you’re standing right now because of that. People are alive because of that. So I may not be a warrior waving a sword about, may not be worthy of your glorious tales, but at least I save lives—not end them.”
And Yrene is such a amazing character. Seeing her refusing to ever be a victim again, while also teaching lots of young girls how to defend themselves, was one of my favorite plot lines Sarah J Maas has ever written. I loved the tie in with The Assassin and the Healer, and I am very much anticipating the reunion between her and Aelin. Also, Chaol crying over his fate and that piece of paper? Lord, help me.
“I loved you before I ever set eyes on you”
I actually really enjoyed the romance between Nesryn and Sartaq, too, I just was really disappointed that we didn’t also get to have a sex scene between them, as horrible as that sounds! Sartaq has some of the most romantic one liners I have ever read in my entire life. Like, he has me swooning from the very beginning, and I can’t wait to read more about him and the rest of the Ruk riders. Also, the whole storyline with the Ruks very much reminded me of Valyn’s storyline in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, which is one of my favorite series of all time, and I completely loved it. Give me all the warrior birds and their warrior riders, please.
And Borte, Yeran, Houlun, and Falkan were all amazing side characters, too! And the plot twist with Falkan searching for Lysandra made my entire year. That, too, will be such an amazing reunion that I can’t wait to read about.
And Nesryn’s storyline was really important to me too. I was very happy she wasn’t overshadowed by Chaol and Yrene. I also loved that she acknowledged that she refused to be used and be a rebound to Chaol. As much as I felt bad for Chaol, because of Aelin, Nesyrn is the only true victim in this. I’m also happy that she seeked out her own happiness, even without knowing that Chaol and Yrene had feelings for each other. I hope young SJM fans read this, and realize they are all worth someone who unconditionally loves them, and an impulsive ride on a Ruk.
“We fly to war. Much is uncertain ahead. Save for this.” He brushed his mouth against hers. “Save for what I feel for you. No demon army, no dark queen or king, will change that.”
I mean, just when I thought we had all the Maeve surprises we were going to get from Empire of Storms, this book comes along and says, “hold my beer!” A Valg Queen? Talk about an amazing plot twist that I didn’t see coming from a mile away! Also, the Stygian Spiders are terrifying, and I know their gate guarding is going to come back into play in a super crucial way and they are going to give me the major heebie-jeebies all over again!
Fireheart, the epilogue ending with Aelin… be still, my heart. I honestly cannot wait for this final concluding novel. The ending of Empire of Storms was hard to read, and those two pages just brought back so many emotions.
Overall, if you couldn’t guess from this gush of a review, I completely and wholeheartedly loved this. Again, this is my second favorite thing Sarah J. Maas has created, and I have nothing but the highest of hopes for everything she creates and for what she plans to do for the conclusions on this series. Also, she has set up the option for so many spinoffs with all of these amazing side characters she introduced in Tower of Dawn, but first they all have to survive this incoming war.
“Maybe you and I will have to learn how to live—if we survive this war.”