Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Celaena begins her quest in Wendlyn where Chaol sent her to keep her safe. We now know that her true name is Aelin Galathynius and she is the lost Queen of Terrasen. She is tracked by the fae Queen Maeve, her aunt who rules over the fae that still have their powers, outside the reach of the King of Adarlan and his curse. She spends the book learning control over her powers and being confronted with how weak her mortal self truly is against an immortal opponent who has been a warrior for hundreds more years than she has existed. We meet Rowan, the fae prince tasked with teaching her and when she is ready taking her to Doranelle.
This book lacks the aspects of romantic intrigue of the last three, where she had a brief romance with one of her friends in each previous novel in the series. But for its lack of romance, it more than makes up for in the aspects of the fantasy genre that are introduced. In this novel, we see what the monsters under the prison are when they aren’t broken like the one killed in Throne of Glass. We discover how the King has cursed the continent, and how the spell might be broken. We find out where and what the third wyrdkey is and just how powerful Aelin is when she is imbued with magic.
This series is a must-read for any young-adult fantasy lovers. It’s action-packed and the plot keeps me riveted throughout every novel including this one. Read the entire Throne of Glass Series: Assassin's Blade, Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms, Tower of Dawn, Kingdom of Ash.
WARNING: SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT
Celaena, who we now know is Aelin Galathynius, begins this novel as a depressed, self-loathing, destitute thief drinking herself to death on a blistering rooftop. She sees the prince of Wendlyn, Galan, is beloved and launches into a fit of self-deprecating woefulness that I found incredibly difficult to read. Rowan sweeps into the picture and forces her to accompany him to Mistward where her aunt, the fae Queen Maeve, awaits her arrival. She demands that Aelin must learn how to use her powers and if she is impressive enough she may proceed to the fae city of Doranelle which Queen Maeve calls home.
Meanwhile, Chaol is back in Adarlan trying to figure out how he can protect Dorian, the crown prince and friend he loves and wants to see rise to the throne and Aelin, the woman he loved who poses a grave potential threat should she rise to her throne and decide that Adarlan was her enemy number one. He also doesn’t know how he’s going to prevent Dorian from realizing the true identity of Celaena because her cousin Aedion is a general for the King of Adarlan and has been recalled to the court in this novel. Aedion, Dorian, and Chaol do not get along because of their perceived notions of each others motives but in the end, they must rely on each other to survive.
We also meet Manon Blackbeak and the twelve other witches that make up her coven within the Blackbeak witch clan, together known as the Thirteen. The Blackbeak, Yellowlegs, and Blueblood clans are the three branches of Ironteeth witches that went to war hundreds of years ago with the Crochan witches over a plot of lands that was cursed by the Crochans and is now known as the Western Wastes. One of the things I greatly appreciate about Sarah J. Maas’s authorship is how well she weaves subplots into the main plot of her books and this chapter highlights how this plot has been woven into the tapestry of this series from the very beginning. In Assassin’s Blade, we met Ansel of Briarcliff which is part of the Western Wastes, and she was friends with Celaena Sardothien during her time residing with the Silent Assassins. In Crown of Midnight, Aelin killed the then-Matron of the Yellowlegs clan to prevent her from telling anyone about hers or Dorian’s secrets. In Manon’s chapters, she and the rest of the Ironteeth witches ally with the King of Adarlan and he gives them dragon-like creatures called wyverns. She chooses one that was used for bait when she realizes that he is a warrior and a survivor and she trains him and reinforces his armor with iron and spidersilk that she steals from the Stygian Spiders. They win the competition for wing-leader and save the Blueblood heir and is sent to Morath with half of the Ironteeth witches as the King of Adarlan prepares for war.
In Aelin’s segments of the book, she realizes her powers through her stubborn relationship with Rowan which begins as a stubborn master and student relationship and becomes a very close friendship when they realize Adarlan has come to their shores with powerful demon princes that have taken over demi-fae bodies and seek to slaughter the demi-fae of Mistward and go on to conquer the continent. Aelin defeats them when she realizes that it is through loving herself that they cannot kill her and she finds new depths to her powers and burns them from the inside out. She also realizes that Rowan is her carranam which is their term for blood-bonded and that she can draw upon his powers to reinforce her own. They return to Maeve and Aelin shows a depth of her power which is terrifying to Maeve, and Aelin forges a trade in which she gives Maeve the ring of her long-dead lover in exchange for her removing her blood oath with Rowan and freeing him. When she does Rowan swears a blood oath to Aelin so that Maeve knows that to go after Aelin she must also confront Rowan, essentially the two strongest fae in the world at this point.
In the plot with Dorian, Chaol, and Aedion, Dorian begins to fall in love with a mortal healer named Sorscha who helps him to control his magic by swallowing iron in his food. Chaol and Aedion join the rebellion and Chaol tells Aedion about Aelin and the wyrdmarks and everything else he knows which Aedion uses to plan for the rise of Terrasen. The three men realize that magic has been cut off by the three towers built by the King a decade earlier, one of which is the clocktower that Aelin despised so much in Throne of Glass. They are all brought to the King in an attempt to find out what plots are against him and after Aedion reveals that he is a rebel he is arrested and the King reveals that Sorscha was the only rebel he knew about. He executes her and it breaks Dorian but then he threatens Chaol’s life and Dorian uses his magic to help Chaol escape. Chaol flees and the King puts a wyrdstone collar around Dorian which allows a Valg prince, essentially a powerful demon, to enter his body and begin to kill him.