BOOK REVIEW: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas

This review contains mild spoilers.

Consumed by guilt and rage, Celaena can’t bring herself to spill blood for the King of Adarlan. She might fight back …

The Immortal Queen will help her destroy the king—for a price. But as Celaena battles with her darkest memories and her heart breaks for a love that could never last, can she fulfil the bargain and head the almighty court of Terrasen? And who will stand with her?

Okay, here’s the thing. When I finished this book, I was totally in love. I’d decided it was definitely a five-star book, that it was the best thing I’d read all year and all those kinds of things. But after a little bit of time (like, maybe a day or two) I started thinking back on parts of Heir of Fire and realised that I actually had issues with quite a few things.

First, let’s talk about Dorian. I never felt any chemistry between him and Celaena and though I enjoyed the scenes between him and Sorscha, it did seem like a bit of a rehash of his relationship with Celaena. There’s something there—something comfortable and interesting but not necessarily passionate. And I feel like it also takes Dorian right back to where he was when he was with Celaena: a bored prince looking to distract himself. His magic is touched on very little and, considering how much trouble he was having with it in Crown of Midnight, I found that to be a bit of an unrealistic jump.

Chaol was … honestly, I can’t remember. It’s now been a while since I finished Heir of Fire and I truly can’t pinpoint what Chaol was doing apart from teaming up with Aedion and setting things up for the next novel. Yeah, most of this novel is filler. It’s interesting filler and there are some promising new characters but after Crown of Midnight, which was basically non-stop action, it’s hard to adjust to a novel where the exciting parts are few and far between. When the plot does get going, it’s amazing. I’m a sucker for high fantasy and complex plots and this series is really starting to deliver. But in order to get to the exciting parts I had to go through a  lot of character development.

The introduction of Manon Blackbeak and the witches felt like it could have (and should have) been fascinating but for some reason I found myself constantly getting bored with her chapters. I don’t think it’s anything to do with bad writing. In fact, it might be that Sarah J. Maas writes an emotionless character a little bit too well. I couldn’t connect with Manon for most of the book because she just seemed so utterly inhuman. I only started feeling anything for her when she started questioning her world and opening herself up to emotions. It was still a bit of hit and miss for me, so I’m hoping that Manon will continue to develop in the following novels.

Rowan was much the same. There were sparks of something interesting but his aloofness made it difficult to connect with him at first. In the end, though, I was glad that he existed. As much as I loved Chaol and Celaena’s relationship in Crown of Midnight, I don’t see Chaol’s prejudice against magic fading away any time soon. With Sam out of the picture (still devastated about that), I think it’s vital for Celaena to have someone in her life who doesn’t judge her for her murky past and who is capable of loving her not just in spite of but because of it.

I felt like Crown of Midnight didn’t get me a real opportunity to grieve over Nehemia’s death because the action just kept pushing on. For the first time in this novel I shed a tear over her death because we finally had the time to slow down and see what it truly meant to Celaena. It’s more than just the loss of a friend; it’s an insecurity that goes all the way back to her childhood and makes the reality even more heartbreaking.

I did love getting to know more about Celaena. The Assassin’s Blade gave some insight into her life as an assassin but there are quite a few questions that had previously gone unanswered about her earlier life. Towards the end of Heir of Fire, we finally get some of the answers and it all fits perfectly. I now feel like I have the complete story behind Celaena—or all the big parts, anyway. But I have a sneaking suspicion she’s going to continue to surprise me.

 

The verdict

Most of Heir of Fire was spent developing characters, with the complex high fantasy plot inching along in the background. As much as I initially enjoyed it, this book really is filler. The characters are its saving grace and I’m sure that, in future books, these characters will blow me away and steal my heart. For now, they were very … okay. Almost interesting but not yet fascinating.

I rate it ★★★½


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