Review: Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

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A glorious empire. A desperate quest. An ancient secret. 

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Chaol Westfall and Nesryn Faliq have arrived in the shinning city of Antica to forge an alliance with the Khagan of the Southern Continent, whose vast armies are Erilea’s last hope. But they have also come to Antica for another purpose; to seek healing at the legendary Torre Cesme for the wounds that Chaol received in Rifthold.

After enduring unspeakable horrors as a child, Yrene Towers has no desire to help a young lord from Adarlan, let alone heal him. yet she has sworn an oath to assist those in need – and will honor it. But Lord Westfall carries darkness from his own past, and Yrene soon comes to realize it could engulf them both.

And deep in the shadows of distant mountains, where warriors soar on mighty ruks, long-awaited answers slumber. Answers that might offer their world a chance at survival – or doom them all.

5 Stars

“Let’s have an adventure, Nesryn Faliq.”

Across a raging sea lies the God City, the mighty realm of the Khaganate where the Torre Cesme looms, stark like a glowing beacon of knowledge and hope – Silba’s temple of healing. An empire where muniqi stallions gallop across sun blasted sands, warriors bread in the wilds of the mountain aeries soar on their loyal ruks and an ancient darkness – the kharankui – sisters of the legendary stygian spiders stir. It’s to this sprawling empire that we find Chaol and Nesryn post Queen of Shadows. *Snort* An adventure indeed. Tower of Dawn is a rich, wind-swept tale of hope and healing packed with steamy scenes, magical troves, deadly scrapes and a whole lot of plotting, court politics and scheming. You know – basically your typical Sarah J. Maas epic at this point.

When Sarah J. Maas sat down at her writing desk to pen Tower of Dawn she was supposed to be delivering a short novella dictating Chaol and Nesryn’s adventures during their absence in Empire of Storms. Basically several hundred pages later (as you do) the proposal for a second novella was scrapped, giving birth to Tower of dawn; a full-fledged novel and the sixth official installment in the series. Tower of dawn is the installment we never knew we needed. Yes, Aelin and her court of misfits and rouges aren’t present but Tower of Dawn more than holds up as one of the stronger novels in Sarah J. Maas’s arsenal. Tower of Dawn reminds us what master storytelling and world building is, expanding the already complex universe of Throne of Glass , proving once again that this narrative is so much bigger than an assassin’s fight for her freedom.

Beware – Major spoilers ahead for the previous installments. You have been warned.

Amidst the vlag and the near constant threat of looming war, much in the style of my personal favorites’s; Heir of Fire and A Court of Mist and Fury, Tower of Dawn is, at it’s heart, a story of emotional healing. Running parallel to Empire of Storms, Chaol and Nesyrn have arrived at the doorstep of the Great Khagan with the purpose of mustering a host to rally against the threat of Morath in the north. It’s a desperate quest that will see them both pitted against the Khagan’s brutal, scheming would-be heirs as they plot their way to winning an army for Aelin and Dorian. As they work towards their means, both Chaol and Nesryn discover key information that could change the tide of the War, likewise altering Kingdom of Ash. Basically, don’t even think about skipping over Tower of Dawn because of Aelin’s absence – here there be long-awaited answers and I was 100% here for the revelations and that final twist of the knife in the form of a serious plot twist.

Chaol Westfall, the once honorable, charming captain of the guard now turned hand to the king takes the helm reluctantly in Tower of Dawn. left broken in more ways then one after the events leading to the glass castle’s demise, we see a raw extension of his character as he grapples with his bitter self-loathing and the consequences of his past choices. Chaol has always been a favorite of mine (even if I am firmly #teamrowelin) but I was curious as too how Sarah would handle his disability. It’s no secret that disabilities have limited representation in literature and it’s no wonder – it’s a touchy subject but I think Sarah handled it beautifully. Fight me on my opinions but you can’t deny that his character arch is inspired. I don’t want to give too much away, but the way Sarah chose to end his journey was just perfect. The honesty, the underlying message – utter perfection.

And – can we please just talk about my girl Yrene??? Remember everyone’s favorite bar maid from The Assassin’s Blade? Well she’s back baby and is a feisty and fierce as ever! Yrene is seriously a character you can root for, her character dynamic and what she brings to the saga is just fantastic. She’s a different kind of badass when compared with our heroine Aelin or even Lysandra and Nesyrn but what makes her strong is her will and her compassion. Speaking of Yrene, I really should begin to discuss the amount of world building in Tower of dawn because seriously, I was in awe of the sheer beauty of the Southern Continent. What made me fall in love with this series was the scope of the world building and the way Sarah crafted these sprawling continents and Antica doesn’t disappoint. Yrene has come a long way since the last time we saw her in Inish. Now basically the Healer on High’s unofficial heir, Yrene has made quiet a name for herself as a powerful healer in the Torre Cesme. My favorite aspect of her narrative was exploring the tower and all it’s wonder, especially the mystical caverns of the bath house – the Womb, lying deep beneath the Torre. I mean Sarah’s description of the thick air, and the echoing ringing through the open chambers of the bells was everything. Also – library cats (Baast Cats) are a thing and I need one now.

Then we have Nesryn’s arch and her high flying, wind-swept adventure aboard the ruks in the Tavan Mountains and the Dagul Fells. I actually couldn’t  tell you whose narrative I enjoyed more – Chaol and Yrene with their hand in hand journey of emotional forgiveness and acceptance or Nesryn and Prince Sartaq’s battle with the kharankui and the dark truths they uncover. Nesryn really took the helm in Tower of Dawn, exploding into the scene in a riot of overall badassery and high stakes shenanigans. Basically I loved every second. Also can we please just mention the appearance of a certain merchant and what his backstory might mean for a certain shapshifter? ASFTIQWOEHFBOQJWEFBQWEBFQWJBFOQJBFOQJWFBOEOJQFBOQERFBOQEUFGOQE While all characters unearth crucial information regarding the origins of the Fae and the healers and their relation regarding the first demon wars, what Nesryn learns deep in the mountains is truly a game changer. I mean am I the only one who didn’t see that coming??? That being said – the evidence was there all along. Please refer to my Heir of Fire review, in particular a certain quote taken from page 501. The end game was right in front of us the entire time guys. But what does this mean for Aelin and the Valg?

Basically, if you thought you could skim or even just skip Tower of Dawn entirely you are wrong. Dead wrong. Tower of dawn is such a sprawling, epic set up for Kingdom of Ash and yet is absolutely crucial to the overall story arch. Chaol and Nesryn’s narrative is necessary for a full understanding of the history of the fae and a certain fae Queen in particular. There is a lot of relevance okay – pay attention. The characters are diverse (in more ways than one with representation of race, disabilities – yes plural – and LGBT) and the world building is simply magical. Where Empire of Storms is a story of suffering and anguish, Tower of dawn is one of hope. I mean, if you thought Queen of Shadows was emotional and bittersweet then I kid you not, Tower of Dawn will destroy you. I cried. A lot. All I can say is I can’t wait to see the myriad of Sarah’s characters meet up in what will be the conclusion to end all conclusions; Kingdom of Ash.

Side note: And with that we come to the end of my Throne of Glass reviews… For now.  Hopefully, if unlike me you didn’t re-read the series in anticipation of Kingdom of Ash they acted as a refresher for you. I guess all there’s left to say is good luck tomorrow as we venture forth into Aelin’s shoes for the very last time when we, after all this time, get to hold Kingdom of Ash’s guided pages in all their glory in our hands. I’ll see you all on the other side. Just a warning – I’m going to savor this last installment so my review won’t be pumped out this week.

P.S. I’ll see you all soon to deal with what you just know will be the worst post-book-hangover-depression ever. Good luck.Alexandra

 

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