BOOK REVIEW: Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

Heir of Fire is book 3 of the YA epic fantasy series, Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll go to the nearest bookstore and pick up book 4.

If you haven’t picked up this series, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Jk. J But you can see my review for book 1, Throne of Glass, here. And for book 2, Crown of Midnight, here.

Now for my thoughts on Heir of Fire

NON-SPOILER-Y REVIEW

In book 3, Maas expands both the world and the plot, adding layer upon layer of brilliant world building and character development. She introduces new characters, new villains, and really sets you up for what to expect from upcoming books.

I loved this book. It was unlike the first two in a lot of ways, but I thought it was an awesome gear-change from the first two in the series. We left Crown of Midnight shortly after Celaena experiences a tremendous loss that leaves her broken and alone. So while we got to see the depths of Celaena’s darkness in COM, we get to see the depths of her grief and pain in HOF.

Again, Maas gives us an incredible narrative wrapped around friendship and love of all kinds, and what that means to different people. In this third installment, she really challenges each and every character to their breaking point, and you as the reader, have no choice but to break with them.

And that’s it for the non-spoiler-y section, come back once you’ve read the book and we’ll discuss!


SPOILER-Y FANGIRLING

So I connect with Celaena on several levels (No, I’m not an assassin), but especially with the never-ending need to be seen and accepted. Basically, I cried throughout a good portion of this book. Like choking on sobs for a half-hour, tears streaming down my face, UGLY CRYING. But I’ll get to that later.

First off, we have the opening, seeing Celaena beat down, hungry, filthy, drunk on the streets of Wendolyn. This really sets us up for the growth Celaena experiences throughout the course of the book. And when she realizes the vagrant woman mistook her for another vagrant, we all understood that our girl had hit an all time low. Of course that didn’t last long before ROWAN (mmm, Rowan) walks in and drags her sorry ass to Mistwood, where we meet Queen Maeve of the Fae for the first time.

Maeve is dark and manipulative and you don’t trust her for a moment, but I love how her plan to manipulate Celaena backfires on her when Celaena and Rowan visit her in Doranelle. “You wanted to see how powerful I am…” YAS!!!! Basically, cue the rock star music and pyrotechnics because Aelin Galathynius gives ZERO shits. ZERO. NONE.

Which brings me to the second of our new cast of characters, the lovely hard ass that is ROWAN WHITETHORNE. Guys. Guys. This fae prince. I can’t. But no, honestly, I can’t express how much love I have for this character. He’s exactly what Aelin needed to shed the prison that was her Celaena persona. He’s a friend, a confidant, caretaker and warrior. He’s legitimately Aelin’s other half, her Carranam. BUT as much as I SHIP THEM (Seriously my OTP), I appreciated that their relationship was strictly platonic in this book. Not to mention he’s loyal and compassionate and doesn’t shrink away from Aelin when she goes off the edge. LOVE HIM! Can I have one? Please?

Okay, okay. I’ll stop with the Rowan love…

So we’ll move on to Aedion Ashryver, Aelin’s cousin. Have I mentioned how much I love the characters in Maas’s books? Because I do! Aedion is such a curious character for me because he straddles the line of “Super-macho-general” and “wounded-immature-boy,” which I think is a perfect characterization for Aelin’s cousin. His love and loyalty for Aelin is so endearing, and when he puts Chaol’s life before his own for Aelin’s sake, I really wanted to throw something through the pages at him. Because for as much love as I have Chaol, Aedion is so much more useful to Aelin.

Speaking of that last scene, was I the only one who didn’t like Sorscha? I appreciated what she did for Dorian’s character (CONGRATS, KID! You made a decision for yourself!), I was relieved she wasn’t going to join us into book 4.

And our final new character, Manon Badass Blackbeak. Okay, so “Badass” isn’t her middle name, but it should be. At first, her POV made me feel the way Sorscha’s did: Can we get back to Aelin please? BUT the moment she claimed Abraxos, she won me over. 1. Because Abraxos is ADORABLE! “I can’t eat right now, I’m smelling the flowers.” Gaawww, it’s a puppy-dragon. 2. Because I’m anticipating some epic awesomeness from the witches in the upcoming books. One thing we can always count on from Maas is that no POV is wasted space, each is important to the final puzzle, so I’m excited to see how the witches fit in with Aelin’s plot.

So much happened in this book, and I’m trying not to make this super long. But one final thing: the moment when Aelin goes emotionally numb and lashes out at the other demi-fae. I mentioned before that there were parts of this book that had me just sobbing, and this was one of them. Living with PTSD, you spend every day battling triggers that could break you apart at any given moment. When you do break, at least for me personally, you hide away in a state of numb suspension. Maas captured this beautifully and reading it was such an incredibly cathartic experience for me. So as Aelin began to heal after that, I kind of did too.

And that’ll be it for this review of Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. Check out my review of Queen of Shadows, here.

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Personal Milestones & October Goals

It’s September 30th… Tomorrow is October… Where has this year gone?

So yesterday was a complicated day for me. It was the anniversary of losing my grandfather, and even though it hurts knowing that I won’t be seeing his smile or hearing his laugh this holiday season, I spent the day doing what I do best: working.

Anytime there’s a significant date (for most, this is birthdays or other holidays), I take a few moments to reflect on what’s happened this past year, eg. how I’ve grown, what I’ve accomplished, etc.

In the past year, I wrote my third complete MS, had it beta read, and have deconstructed it to paste it back together. That deconstruction started mid-May and here I am, entering October, with only a few new chapters left to write/revise before I begin to polish for querying. It’s surreal, seeing how close I am to turning the page on this chapter of my journey (pun SO intended).

But (and I’m going to get super sappy here) I couldn’t have gotten this far without the support of my friends, family, and the writing community.

My poor friends and family. I apparently have two modes of conversation: writing and discussing world issues. I do try to act like a human being, but that never lasts long. People bring up a movie or tv show, I mention the writing or cinematography, then the conversation begins to lull. Woops.

But I have some of the most loving and compassionate people in my life. A couple weeks ago, I was experiencing this insane bit of writers doubt, so I called my dad, who I haven’t discussed my writing with very much in the past. And he was fantastic, truly, wonderfully fantastic. He didn’t give me a “it’s all going to be all right” pat on the head, but a “you’ve been working so hard toward this; you’ll continue to do so until you make it happen” pep talk. It was exactly what I needed in that moment… I may have teared up in the middle of Starbucks… I love my dad.

And since I’ve already climbed onto this sappy soapbox, let me tell you about my very lovely CP’s. There’s a lot that makes up the perfect CP. You want someone who will keep you excited about your project while still pushing you to write better stories. And I’ve found a brilliant group of writers who put up with my neurosis. All I can say is thank God for Twitter and Facebook DM’s. Otherwise, my brain would be rolling around on the floor because my skull couldn’t contain it. My dear friend, Lynanne (check out her blog, Daybreak In Autumn), is a fellow YA fantasy writer who will go back and forth with me about characters, plots, and world building; not to mention discussing YA books, trends, as well as some choice manga’s and anime’s.

Then there’s all of you beautiful people who visit this blog and leave wonderfully supportive comments. I wasn’t sure where this blog would go when I started, but I don’t think I was prepared for all the positive feedback! I remember reading a comment a few months ago and I was crying (again at Starbucks) because I felt so humbled and thankful for a stranger’s support. (Looking at you, Nicolette Elzie & Aura Eadon! Check out their blogs, A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly and Into The Imagination Vortex.)

Ok, ok. I’ll stop with the sap.

So I’ve added a few new things to this blog (Personal Musings being one of them), but I’ve also started posting book reviews. On top of finishing up the current draft of Guarded (the current WIP & Book 1 of my YA F series) and preparing for drafting Enveloped (NaNo 2015 Novel & Book 3 of the series), I’ll be posting my reviews of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. I’ve already posted my review of book 1, Throne of Glass. You can check that out here. A new review will be posted every Friday before noon CST.

What about ya’ll? What are your October goals? Who keeps you motivated? Share in the comments below.

Happy writing!

BOOK REVIEW: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

So funny story. I’d put off reading this series for reasons I can’t remember. Then picked up book 1, Throne of Glass. Less than two weeks later, I was itching for books 5 and 6, WHICH DO NOT YET EXIST!

Over the next few weeks (the goal is once a week), I’ll be posting a review of each TOG novel with a non-spoiler-y section as well as a total spoiler-y gushing fangirliness rant section. So without further ado, Throne of Glass

NON-SPOILER REVIEW

Throne of Glass was a solid debut fantasy novel. It had the spunky, kickass heroine, the handsome prince, magical villainy, non-magical villainy, great action, and a unique, complex world.

Celaena Sardothien is an assassin who has spent the last year in a slave camp. She is pulled out of slavery to compete to become the King’s assassin. Publisher’s Weekly described it as Graceling meets The Hunger Games, and between the to-the-death competition and court intrigue, I have to agree. You find reasons to root for all the characters and you keep reading to see how their motivations all intertwine and develop.

Overall, it was a really fun adventure. But it did have a habit of feeling like every other YA High Fantasy with a female warrior. There were moments during the novel that I thought I was reading Tamora Pierce’s Alanna: The First Adventure.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED this book, as well as the book it reminded me of. And though the plot was a bit on the predictable side, Maas lays the groundwork for a phenomenal series. So even if you thought TOG was “meh,” I still recommend diving into Crown of Midnight, because OH MY GOD, THESE BOOKS! Celaena and her world only become more complex and spectacular as you go along. Also, Queen of Shadows is everything!

Stop reading now to avoid spoilers.


SPOILER-Y FANGIRLING

Four words: Love Triangle Done Right. It’s not just there to ruffle the plot, Celaena has legitimate reasons to fall for both Dorian and Chaol. And because Maas writes in the 3rd person, from multiple POV’s, you know where everyone stands. So by the time you get to the dual at the end of the book and Dorian is standing by while Chaol is standing on the ring’s edge, giving Celaena strength, you’re feeling ALL THE EMOTIONS. Which I think speaks to Maas’s incredible talent and skill with wordsmithery.

I also want to talk a little about Celaena. Despite her unfortunate situation with Endovier, she’s in complete control of herself. She holds no bars in letting Chaol or Dorian know when they’re pissing her off, and she’s fully aware of the effect she has on both boys. Celaena holds her cards very close to her chest, from her friends and, somehow, from the readers. Of course you don’t realize all that until later books… SO KEEP READING THE SERIES!

And before I write a complete dissertation, I’m going to stop here. See you next time for my review of Crown of Midnight.

Don’t be afraid to let your characters be dark.

So there are a few times during the writing process when my characters do something unexpected. Or they do something expected, but in a completely different way, usually making them WAAAAY darker than I thought they were.

And this isn’t a bad thing.

We all know that a great story begins and ends with a well-developed, fully rounded character. Sometimes, we feel the urge to downplay their flaws and their demons. DON’T!

I recently read the first four books of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series, and her MC, Celaena Sardothien, is far from being a perfect human being. In fact, Celaena has some of the darkest-rooted demons of any MC I’ve read to date and that’s what makes her so terrifyingly awesome.

For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Throne of Glass is about a teenage assassin who is brought out of slavery to work for a corrupt king, thrusting her into the middle of a conspiracy that could tear the kingdom and her world apart.

There are distinct moments where Maas lets Celaena loose on the people who have harmed her or her loved ones, and each one is darker and more terrifying than the last. Which makes sense, because Celaena is a freaking ASSASSIN (also so many other things, but I refuse to spoil it for you).

Maas offsets Celaena’s demons with how fiercely she loves and how deeply she feels the repercussions of her own actions.

It’s okay that your characters are dark. It’s okay that your characters do things that terrify you. Just be sure that everything each character does derives from his/her core. Terrifying moments of character darkness shouldn’t be there for shock value, but should be a pivotal and necessary moment in that character’s development.

Happy Writing!

If you haven’t started the Throne of Glass series, DO IT! Then email me and we’ll discuss. 🙂 It’s my new favorite series and there’s still two books left! I’m dying in anticipation, but we’re still at least two years from a resolution. Sigh.