Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J Maas

* * 3/4

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?

The way Crown of Midnight ended in such a frenzy, I thought Heir of Fire would be bursting with energy from page one. It didn’t.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, especially because of how much I love this series and have been looking forward to this but compared to the previous two books, Heir of Fire is slow moving until much, much later and by then the book is over.  Let me explain …

The biggest factor in the lack of action is Calaena. She’s mopey. She’s a mere shell of herself and I can’t blame her. She suffered so much loss in Crown of Midnight and was so manipulated by the king where she eventually had to leave Chaol behind to serve the ruthless monarch. She’s just defeated and when someone is defeated they dwell in self-pity and withdraw into themselves. Then Rowan, another Fae finds Calaena to bring her to her aunt, Queen Maeve. This is a good thing as it’s Calaena’s chance to ask questions and get answers. Of course, it’s not that easy. She is instructed to undergo training under Rowan’s strict tutelage in order to draw out her magical gifts. Only then will Maeve give her the answers she seeks.  Calaena essentially roughs it throughout her training as she and Rowan just antagonize each other. But no matter how grueling it is, the training doesn’t really do much good. It’s so bizarre and aggravating to see Calaena give up so easily. 

In the meantime, Chaol is back in Adarlan desperately trying to protect is best friend Prince Dorian and his potentially deadly secret that he has magic. Keeping the king’s suspicions at bay becomes his other full-time job, as is putting off his promise for as long as he can to his father to return to his homeland. Unfortunately, the events in the last book have left things a bit messy and it has strained his relationship with Prince Dorian. Both start to keep to themselves under the noble but misguided idea that the less the other knows, the safer they’ll all be.  Without each other, they seek alliances elsewhere. Learning who to trust is literally a life or death undertaking.

I mentioned above that the action does pick up towards the very end only because Calaena finally gets her head out of you know where. But that’s only because she’s had the crap beaten out of her several times by then. It does get more interesting because Calaena learns something vital about herself and what she needs to defeat the king and restore balance to the world. All of that comes after her long struggle to get over her depression and find her purpose again.

So while Heir of Fire may be a harder read because it isn't as fast-paced and the overall mood is downcast, it is a very crucial next step in Calaena’s story.  She's constantly met with the question of whether she will embrace her fey nature and fight for the good of all or if she will only seek personal vengeance and walk away when done. This is about her evolution. And then of course there’s my burning question: will she and Chaol reunite? Oh please let that be so. A sad Calaena and a sad Chaol make me very sad too.

~ Bel

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