Book Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

Posted June 12, 2014 by Kara in book review / 12 Comments

Book Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J MaasHeir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Published by Bloomsbury on September 11th, 2014
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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four-stars

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy. While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?This third novel in the Throne of Glass sequence, from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, is packed with more heart-stopping action, devastating drama and swoonsome romance, and introduces some fierce new heroines to love and hate.

Spoiler-Free for the Series

This review is a struggle to me.  This huge brick of a book pulled so many emotions from me – from despair, to giddiness, to bone-deep exhaustion.  So much happened in this installment, and yet it wasn’t the perfect book and a good amount of it actually pissed me off.  Please bear with me while I try to wrangle all my feelings into a coherent review.

Heir of Fire is completely different from the first two books in the Throne of Glass series.  Entirely.  This book pulls away from the tropes we’re used to seeing in YA, particularly the selfishness of the main character and the focus on romance.  Instead, Sarah J Maas expands this world she has created, indulges in much of the fantasy wall-of-text description, and Celaena grows exponentially.  In fact, I’d say she is a new person by the end of the book.

Where Throne of Glass introduces us to Celaena, the other characters, and a small slice of the world they live in, and Crown of Midnight further attaches you to those characters, Heir of Fire was all about scale and world.  All those far off places we heard of in the first two books, all those characters and species only mentioned in passing – we’re introduced to all of it.  And I was blown away by the sheer vastness of this world inside Maas’s head.  There are evil creatures you’ve never even dreamed of, Fae beings and witches that will send shivers down your spine.  And the way they interact with one another is fascinating.  I loved exploring the lands of Wendlyn and Doranelle with Celaena as she tried to regain her sense of self from the earth-shattering events at the end of book 2.  I loved getting to finally see all these places we heard only whispers of previously.

Heir of Fire also introduces us to a host of new and interesting characters.  Maeve, the Fae queen.  Aedion, a general in the King of Adarlan’s army with a hidden agenda and a major role in Celaena’s past.  Rowan, the silent and strong Fae Celaena meets in Wendlyn.  Sorscha, the gentle healer who helps Dorian contain himself.  And my favorite, Manon, the Blackbeak ironteeth witch, who we get to follow as she breaks and trains with wyverns.   Each of these characters – and the other less central secondary characters – brought with them a surprising depth in personality that had me in a mad sprint through the first half of the book.  They were all so strange and unique, with their own back stories and pasts to contend with.  I wanted to know more, more, more.

And the feels.  Holy gods, the feels.  This is the kind of book wherein every single character’s world is utterly falling apart and no one is happy.  This is not an easy book to get through not just because of its hulking size but because there is so much sadness.  Celaena finally reaches the bottom of herself, her hopelessness and guilt and rage coming to life on the page.  She is broken and you break with her.  But it isn’t only Celaena – Manon, born without a heart or soul; Chaol reeling from the loss in book 2; Dorian, slowly learning the truth of his kingdom and his legacy; Rowan, eternally bound by a blood oath to someone he despises; Aedion, living with the weight of an entire kingdom on his shoulders, even today forced to do terrible, terrible things.  Everyone is wrestling with themselves in this book and it really never lets up.  I had to take frequent breaks just to remind myself that the world isn’t actually this miserable.

But as much as I loved this book, there were things I did not like about it as well.  First of all, I thought it was just entirely too long, especially for a book with such little action.  Don’t get me wrong – there are huge revelations and a ton of unearthed secrets.  But at over 550 pages, I expected more action, something to bring up the pacing especially in the middle of the book.  I honestly believe that it could have been 100 pages shorter and would have been just as good.  Also, Maas struggles with her endings.  Seriously, the ending of Heir of Fire took about 150 pages itself.  It was exhausting.

Also – my ship.  Ow ow ow it hurts.  Because I officially unship Chaol and Celaena.  Chaol is not himself in this book – at least not the version of himself that I absolutely fell in love with in Crown of Midnight.  Of course, in CoM, he started acting a bit out of character, and that made me angry enough.  But instead of being the strong, bullheaded, self-assured Captain of the first two books, HoF Chaol was a sniveling wuss.  Compared to the men he was working with in this book, he was a child, even a coward, too afraid to accept change, too scared to choose a side.  It was frustrating and, in the end, saddening.  What made him so good and noble in the first books disappeared and instead he was just insipid and limp and sad.  Thinking about it now is actually depressing me.  Good thing this series is about so much more than Celaena’s romantic life.

Honestly, if you haven’t read this series, I don’t even know what to tell you.  Get on it.  And if you have read this series, you’re going to continue on with this book.  You HAVE to.  It is miles and miles away from the boy-and-candy-crazy ‘assassin’ of Throne of Glass and is instead a story of a people rising up to face an oppressor, of a girl coming into her birthright, of hope and healing and fighting back.

bekka

hof bingo

This book checks off the Green Cover square on my Bookish Bingo card!

12 responses to “Book Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

  1. I intend to start this series this month and the idea around it is scary, but I’m prepared to rise and fall with this series, as yours is the most positive a review I’ve seen so far. You’ve conveyed how the plot is developed and the romance became secondary without giving anything anyway and I love and appreciate that Bekka, so thank you! 🙂
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    • Bekka

      A lot of people have a lot of problems with book one (myself included.) I’m not usually one to advocate pushing through a series you like because “it gets better” but SERIOUSLY, each book gets better. I hope you like it when you get around to it!

      • celeste c

        hi was just wondering if u have actually read the book and if you have where are you from? this book isn’t supposed to be out yet in Canada and i’m so upset

        • Yes, I actually read it, that’s how I reviewed it. I was given an advance reading copy for promotional purposes, so that I could read it and review it early and get people excited about it.

  2. I am so jealous that there are people in the world reading this book already.

    Your review has me excited. I’m not a person that needs the romance to be centre stage, and while I love Chaol – I’m also not so invested in the ship that I’m too worried by what you said. At least…as long as it’s INTENTIONAL from Sarah. If she isn’t intentionally showing a less favourable side of Chaol…then maybe I’ll hate it.

    Anyway, I’ll look forward to the rest! There is a ‘reunion’ of sorts that I am DESPERATELY anticipating. It probably doesn’t happen in this book…but I’ll keep the anticipation just in case!

    • Bekka

      Hmm trying to think of what that reunion might be and I’m coming up blank!

      As for the Chaol thing, it didn’t seem intentional. It still felt like she was trying to make him noble and conflicted, but standing next to all the characters who had been stripped of their families, their livelihood, and their homes, it was just silly and childish.

  3. I really need to read this series. I started reading the first book a long time ago and never finished it due to other books grabbing my interest. I should go back and try it again.

    Thanks for the great review! I’m glad you enjoyed this series.
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  4. It hurtsssss, your review. I’m so fucking scared to start this because of all the feels and now Chaol! Unacceptable. I can feel all the feels already from here and I’m just not ready to go in. Ahhhhhh!!!!! XD
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