#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 ★★★
#6.) Tower of Dawn ★★★★★
“Once upon a time, in a land long since burned to ash, there lived a young princess who loved her kingdom…”
I had a good time reading Kingdom of Ash. And there are no words I have to describe the feeling that I get while reading a book with what feels like the entire book community. All of us updating, crying, and swooning at the same times all over social media. It reminds me of reading Harry Potter with my friends back when I was little, and there really are no words to even begin to describe that feeling, because it truly transcends words and language.
Here is the thing – if you have loved this series from the start, you are probably going to love this conclusion and be very happy upon turning that last page. I’ve had a rocky journey with Throne of Glass even before it became “cool” to dislike this series and even before the stans thought it would be “cooler” to ignore all the gross, problematic elements. I’ve just never loved this series. And I always feel like the characters I do end up liking from this world, get the bad end of the stick. And Kingdom of Ash was no different. And, in true Sarah J Maas fashion, the book was ungodly longer than it truly needed to be.
This review isn’t going to be a drag or a gush, it’s just going to be my thoughts and feelings on what I did love and what I did hate. I’m not looking to hurt anyone’s feelings; if you have been hurt by SJM – you are valid, and if the book means more than words to you – you are valid. These are just my thoughts about a series I never really loved, and a conclusion that I thought was a little too convenient (and a lot too straight and white).
And if you are new to the book world, or just never bothered to actually look up the synopsis, Throne of Glass is a series about a young assassin that is enslaved. A prince from a royal kingdom, and his best friend who is also the captain of the king’s guard, rescue her from slavery so that she can compete to become the king’s assassin. But after a few books, you realize that this world is also full of magic, and Fae, and demon-like creatures called Valg who want to conquer everything. And this assassin, this prince, and this captain of the guard, get way more than they ever dreamed to bargain for.
“The threads of fate weave together in strange ways…”
But if you’re reading this review of the concluding and seventh book of a series, you probably already know this. And you probably want to know my thoughts on this conclusion. Overall, I feel like my favorite character got done really dirty, where everyone else got a happy ending. So, I’m bitter, and petty, and will talk about it more in the spoiler section of this review. Also, a lot of people said really horrible things to their friends/lovers and then didn’t care that they said it until they were about to die. Like, I’m not here for any kind of abuse, and some of the actions of some of these characters to the people they are supposed to “love” was really gross and unacceptable. Plus, I feel like this series ending was way too clean, and that SJM really didn’t listen to the complaints about A Court of Wings and Ruin! The deus ex machina was very abundant at the end, in my opinion and seemed to happen back to back to back in the last 150 pages instead of giving us more substance in the 800 pages before it. I also feel like SJM was really setting up for her new series, Twilight of the Gods, too, maybe? But again, if you love this series, you will probably love this ending. I’ve always felt like this series was just alright, so I felt like the ending was just alright, too!
Also, this book got very dark in the first 25%, so please use caution while reading! Content and trigger warnings for captivity, graphic torture, threats of sexual assault, talk of past sexual assault, murder, death, self-harm, talk of suicide, blood depictions, PTSD depiction, depression depiction, animal abuse, animal death, very severe physical abuse, verbal abuse, enslavement, sexual content, and war themes.
Now, I’m going to get into FULL SPOILER THOUGHTS FOR KINGDOM OF ASH below! Please do not read past this point if you do not wish to get spoiled for Kingdom of Ash and all the books in the series leading up to this final book!
(Breathtaking art by Gabriella Bujdoso)
Okay, friends! Again, I’m going to be talking about SPOILERS FOR KINGDOM OF ASH so please use caution before reading! Basically, all of our main characters are broken up into five different groups, all being tasked with different things.
Dorian, Manon, and the Thirteen, are trying to unite the witches and find the third wyrdkey, which is being hidden in Morath. Lysandra is pretending to be Aelin, while Aedion is leading the army. Chaol is heading to Silver Lake to meet with his father, with Yrene, Sartaq, and Nesryn. Rowan, Elide, Lorcan, and Gavriel are trying to rescue Aelin. Because Aelin is still in captivity because of Maeve, being tortured by Cairn, with her only ally being Fenrys.
Kingdom of Ash is broken up into two parts, and part one is very much all of these groups trying to come together, while all fighting their own little mini battles. Where part two is really about everyone coming to Terrasen for the big and final battle.
I think I’m going to start out by doing character break downs with my thoughts and feelings about the cast individually.
➽ Celaena / Aelin – My heart actually felt for Aelin throughout most of this book. Like, again, the first 25% of this book, and everything she had to go through, was really dark and really hard to read. But when her *sacrifice* in part two, lead her to just being an immortal fae, completely taking away her being a human…. Come on. And then I was like, “oh, but she lost her powers! That’s the trade!” No, they are just weaker, BUT she infused her blade before, just in case, so that’s still super powerful. Like, my eyes, they are rolling out of my head.
“I told you once that even if death separated us, I would rip apart every world until I found you.”
➽ Rowan – I was actually really empathetic towards Rowan in this book too.
➽ Chaol – It’s no secret, Chaol has always been my favorite character (behind Manon in later books), so I am really biased. But he really let Yrene be the person she wanted to be, without question, every single time, and it made me love him even more. I still think Chaol is easily the best dude in this entire series, and I still never understand the hate he gets.
➽ Yrene – When it first came out that she was pregnant I was so scared. Like, during a war? I was not prepared. But Yrene is honestly such an amazing character, and I loved her entire storyline and every scene that she was in. Also, my favorite part of this entire one-thousand-page book was when Yrene and Aelin met up for the first time in all those years.
➽ Abraxos – Why give him a mate to just… kill the mate? Like, honestly a lot of things made me upset about KoA, but that might be the thing that made me the most upset.
➽ Petrah – The true MVP of this book, for saving Abraxos’ (and my) life.
“Only a Crochan Queen may ignite the Flame of War, to summon every witch from her hearth.”
➽ Manon – Manon, Queen of witches and my personal queen, deserves better than Dorian’s rude, wish washy, refuses to communicate, ass. And no one in this world will ever convince me that Manon is straight, I’m sorry. Like, the most uncomfortable I felt while reading this book was when they had sex, and she told him what she wanted and that she didn’t want him to leave, and then he left without even saying goodbye… I mean, after they fucked. Then seeing her say that she thought it was a promise, but it ended up just being a farewell? Like, friends, Manon deserves every star on her crown and every star in the sky, she doesn’t deserve Dorian’s nasty behavior. Like, I really wanted her to tell him to get bent at the end of this book. And there is no way that she would be this weak over some twenty-year-old dude that was treating her like crap throughout the book. Dump him.
➽ Dorian – I’ll be honest, I thought the reason that I was disliking Dorian in this was because Maas was going to learn from A Court of Wings and Ruin, and actually give a more believable war ending with Dorian dying. But no, he was just an asshole throughout the entire thing to Manon. And when he was like checking out Maeve? I threw up in my mouth. Oh, and when he turned into a girl and was discovering his new body? *throws up again*
➽ The Thirteen – (Minus Manon) Wow, they got done so dirty. Like, I know I touched upon it in the Abraxos paragraph, but like I can’t believe SJM would only kill them and one other dude that we honestly didn’t give a fuck about. Feels so bad. So damn bad. When they told Manon to live, I threw my book to the other side of my bed and just bawled, because I knew that it was going to happen. Asterin dying really messed me up. All of them dying just felt so cheap, so bad, and I knew when it happened that they were going to be the only real sacrifice SJM made with this concluding novel. And it ended up being true, so everyone else could be heterosexually paired off with their mates.
➽ Elide – I love Elide, and her loyalty, but she also said some really abusive things to Lorcan, and then only regretted it when he was going to die. Also, again everyone is just going to heal all their disabilities and it feels a little questionable. Also, also, does Elide have a foot fetish? I mean, I don’t kink shame, but…. what.
➽ Lorcan – I really loved Lorcan in this. He tried so hard, for Elide, for his friends, and for himself, and it really warmed my heart. Also, now he’s making and packing his own homemade pads for Elide. Bonus points.
“How long until the allies you collected start asking why the Fire-Bringer does not burn.”
➽ Lysandra – I’ll be honest, Lysandra and Aedion’s points of view were easily my least favorite. And let’s be real, Lysandra could do way better…
➽ Aedion – …Because Aedion was an asshole in this book and was so hurtful. And again, things are realized, and things are forgiven, because death almost came for them. That will never excuse abuse, ever.
➽ Gavriel – I actually hated how he and Aedion reunited for only like one page, just for him to see his dad die. Like, not only did it feel pointless, it felt cheap.
➽ Evangeline – Sweet lil’ bean. And I really do love her found family with Lysandra, and I just wish her the best in life.
➽ Falkan – I loved his reunion with his niece, Lysandra.
➽ Fenrys – *blinks once* I actually loved this character and felt so many sad feelings for him, but I think the book was honestly better with the addition of him.
➽ Nesryn – I still feel like Nesryn was such a fill-in character, always, but I’m happy she’s happy, I guess.
➽ Sartaq – I enjoy him and his birds, and I’m happy he makes Nesryn happy, I guess, but it’s whatever.
➽ Erawan – The last remaining Valg king! But how they *tricked* him was like the most Scooby-Doo thing I have read in years.
➽ Maeve – I felt like she was going to get a redemption arc like five times while reading this book, and I was so scared. But, again, anticlimactic ending. And I hated how when these two villains were taken out, so was their army. It just felt too easy, and even the battle scenes weren’t great.
But let’s talk about the real character that I want to talk about…
“Do you know the story of the queen who walked through worlds?”
➽ Rhysand – Did Aelin really see Rhys and Feyre in Valerius and did he like help her get back to Rowan and the gang? Like, I felt like he was playing Star Fox 64 and he gave her the boost (or slow) or something? Like, I’m not making this cameo up, right? Like this happened? My mind still can’t process this information. I mean, we all knew the crossover was going to happen, but I truly didn’t expect it to be like that.
Okay, let’s talk a bit more about things that happened. First off, everyone is a couple. And more importantly, everyone is a straight couple. Next, everyone was a shapeshifter in this book! Like, Lysandra totally lost her unique and cool ability because like everyone and their mother can do it in this book. I hated it. Seriously. And Maeve could have done so much more with her powers, but she just chose not to for some reason. Thirdly, there is still a lot of sex in this book, but I feel like the scenes were a lot briefer and much more fade to black. So, that’s either going to be a good or bad thing for you.
I kept forgetting two things while reading. 1.) that Aelin is only twenty-years-old. That’s so wild! I’ve been reading these for so long, it just feels like she should be older. And 2.) This entire series really plays out just over the course of a year! Again, I’ve been reading these for so many years, I just can’t wrap my head around this timeline and everything these characters have done. I mean, how many relationships they’ve had, how many deaths they’ve witnessed, and how many terrible things that have happened. It seriously blows my mind that this it’s only been a year.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to bring this up for not, but I guess I will briefly, especially if you’ve read the entirety of this monstrosity of a review: I was hurt by the Charlie Bowater art, found in the B&N special edition, and I just wanted to say that Asian and white will never, ever, be interchangeable. Ever. And you know what SJM didn’t do with these 1,000 pages of KoA? Anything to say or show that Manon was Asian. I am half white and half Asian, and this is not the representation that even I will ever think is acceptable, and most certainly not the representation that will ever make me feel seen. And authors and artists (who have previously drawn characters as white) need to do better.
I also want to link Aentee’s review, because it is amazing, and she really talks about the lack of diversity in this book. And she brings up a lot of similarities that really blew my mind regarding The Lord of the Rings. It’s a really good review, you all should check it out!
Overall, I am happy that this series is over. I’m not sure if I will pick up more by Sarah J Maas or not, but I am happy to have finished this series off. Again, this will never be a series that I love, but I truly love the reading experience of feeling like I’m a part of a massive buddy read with 75% of the book community. It’s a feeling that I can’t put into words, but one that means a lot to me and that I cherish with my whole heart.