A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas-Book Review

 A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas is a high-fantasy novel that is *loosely* based off of Beauty and the Beast.

When I first caught wind of this novel, I avoided it like the plague. Yes, me, one of the major contributors to Maas mania, avoided it. I was just so damn sick of retellings, especially Beauty and the Beast retellings.

I like a good retelling, sometimes. But I’m quite picky on them, and they’re supremely easy to royally screw up. If there is any author that could be trusted to do it right, it was Maas.

So, I let all of that hype get to me (as usual) and purchased all three novels all in one swoop.

 

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A Court of Thorns and Roses is the story of Belle, er, I mean, Feyre, a young, painting huntress who is dragged off to an enchanted but cursed castle after she kills a Fae while hunting.

Going into this, I initially wondered how much it would actually remind me of Beauty and the Beast and, the truth is: not much. There is definitely some strong overtones in the first novel, particularly the beginning, but that quickly fades as the series progresses and becomes its own entity. I really appreciate that, because retelling that are too similar to the original are, to me, pointless.

But I digress.

A large chunk of the first novel is spent with Feyre exploring the castle, learning about the different Fae creatures that lurk there, and deciding who she does and does not like.

Tamlin, our “beast” if you will, is ruler of the castle and all-around shapes-shifting badass. Well, if you ask Feyre, anyway. Even when she still thinks he’s going to eventually use his beastly claws to slash her to ribbons, she doesn’t fail to notice the lovely tan-ness of his skin or the sparkly flecks in his dazzling eyes. Gee, I wonder where this is going.

She’s kind of all, “Well, this is my very last scrumptious meal, for sure. I’m sure he’ll kill me in the morning.”

Is it possible that, before this story, Feyre was captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts?

“Good night, Feyre. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”

What are the odds? Girl’s got quite a case of the paranoia. I mean, sure, she was marched out of her home and into a foreign land where she has no idea what they intend to do with her.

Still, our Feyre can’t decide whether she wants to faint or flirt. Typical. Her description of this hunky overgrown bear is:

“This beast was not a man…he was one of the High Fae, one of their ruling nobility; beautiful, lethal, and merciless.”

Beautiful, indeed.

I will say that the first half of this novel moves rather slowly. There are some doo-dads around the Spring Court, and a few get-togethers, but it’s all pretty blasé. Even after Tamlin (the beast) and Feyre start hooking up, it doesn’t get much more interesting. I suppose because you can see it coming from miles away.

I didn’t really get encased in all the sensuality of it, either. I didn’t fall in love with Tamlin. He is alright, and pretty I suppose, but he is lacking. I don’t mean he is a poorly written character, but just that he isn’t my type.

All that being said, Sarah J. Maas gets major points for her imagery and word usage. She has very flow-y, lyrical language that I am a huge sucker for. While our time in the castle may have been a bit dull, compared to other things that happen later, it was certainly described beautifully.

There is a growing tension throughout the whole book that leads you to believe that something is quite amiss, but that really doesn’t go anywhere until the end.

Okay, so there are two reasons that I rated this book 4 stars, which is very good. The first is the writing. It is something lovely.

The second reason is the last 100 pages or so of this novel.

While the first two-thirds of the book move rather slowly, comparatively, the last bit speeds up to breakneck speed and keeps you biting your nails and chewing your fingers and all manner of nasty things.

After some key events, Feyre finds herself in the court of Amarantha, a beautiful Fae dictator who rules the Fae lands and tortures because, well, she can.

Feyre battles Amaranth for Tamlin’s life, and we see her go through a myriad of trials and emotions.

Yes, ma’am! I was getting a little nervous that Feyre had a very shallow well of emotions but, luckily, she begins to prove otherwise.

The last part of the novel is entertaining and completely exhilarating, and it more than makes up for a slower plot to start off with.

 

Rating: 4 Stars

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Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas-Book Review

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas brings us to the third installment of the acclaimed Throne of Glass series. In this one, Celaena travels away from the corrupt castle, and king, and to a faraway land where everything will change.

Order it Here! > Heir of Fire

 

Okay, for those of you who read my Crown of Midnight review (read it here if you missed it!), you know I said that COM lagged a little. The plot was nice and lovely to read, but it was a bit slow until right at the very end.

With Heir of Fire, we immediately get a major change of setting. I think it was a very smart move to change things, pretty drastically, at in this third book. The first book (not counting the novella prequels) was an introduction to the setting and a whole rigmarole of how things operated in that castle. By the second novel, I was getting pretty familiar with the castle and was pretty ready for something new.

I’m not sure if that was careful planning on the part of Sarah J. Maas, or if just happened that way through circumstance, but the timing, I thought, was near perfect.

Here is our opening line to Heir of Fire:

“Gods, it was boiling in this useless excuse for a kingdom.”

Wow. First of all, right off the bat, we begin in a completely new location, which is already attention-grabbing. Secondly, as has become the pattern, we can already tell a lot about the character just from one, single line.

This is also something, I think, that Sarah J. Maas has mastered quite well. I’ve come to appreciate how she can introduce a character, and tell us so much about them, in very few words.

Anyway, this “useless excuse for a kingdom” that Celeana speaks of is no other than Wendlyn, the land of the Fae.

She is under the guise of going there to kill the despicable Fae rulers (as the king sitting on the Throne of Glass sees them) but, really, she is there to get some answers about how to destroy some really evil objects. Oh yeah, baby.

So, this novel also begins a little slowly. However, this is a pretty good slowness. Moving at a slower pace is not always a bad thing, I don’t think. It just has to feel like it’s going somewhere, you know? It’s a kind of slow burn that lets you know a raging fire (excuse the pun) is just around the corner.

Heir of Fire pulls this off perfectly. The first few paragraphs are nothing but Celaena surveying her surroundings and complaining about their food and yet, you somehow know that something big is coming.

When Celeana finally gets into the heart of Wendlyn, things really begin rolling like a pile of boulders, not intent on stopping any time soon.

I think this novel was a vast improvement from the last one, personally. The pace, as said above, improves a lot, and things begin rolling once again.

In addition to the pacing improvement, there is also a whole new cast of characters. The Fae, of course, are a nice addition.

Let me just say that Rowan Whitethorn is my new favorite male character of this series. Seriously. I know not everyone digs him, but I definitely do. Yummy. (I kind of have a thing for guys that are also animals…)

Also, Celeana undergoes a huge, huge character arc in this novel, and it’s quite lovely to see. She’s not the only one, either. While most of the focus is definitely on Celaena and Wendlyn, we do get a little bit of action back at the castle with Dorian and Chaol. I won’t drop huge revealing bombs, but let’s just say that, for once, Dorian is being sensible and Chaol is being pigheaded. I know, it blew my mind too.

Still, I wouldn’t say that Chaol undergoes a character arc just yet because, well, he doesn’t, but he is getting there! In this novel, he’s basically the annoying date that you know can be a nice guy if he’d only get beyond his own stupid stupidness.

Dorian, on the other hand, goes through quite a change. Is he still the same Dorian? Yeah. Do I like him any more now? No. But I appreciate the attempts to make him at least slightly more aware that a world, and other people, actually exist that aren’t, you know, him.

The entire plot of this novel is riveting and breathtaking. Cutting, emotional scenes are dispersed between scenes of breakneck action and angst. This is how you write a novel with equal parts bark and bite (hehe. I just made that up.).

I’m honestly so glad to see this series return to its former magnitude. Don’t get me wrong, because I still thought Crown of Midnight was pretty good. I’ve definitely read worse. But all in all, compared to the first one, it was a tad disappointing.

Heir of Fire, however, more than makes up for all of that. It really does. It’s a monster of a book, both literally and metaphorically, and it will drag you from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other.

If you have not gave it a go yet, then please do, especially if you liked the first two. If so, you will lovelovelove Heir of Fire. What are you waiting for?!

No, seriously, what are you waiting for?

Rating: Five stars. Oh yeah.

 

 

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5 Underrated Female Protagonists in Fiction

As the literary world continues to grow in abundance, there are many female protagonists to fawn over. That number doesn’t seem to be slowing down, which is awesome. I love badass female protagonists like I love puppies. That’s a lot.

Right now, the market is pretty saturated with Hermione Grangers and Katniss Everdeens. Praise for these characters seems never-ending, which is amazing, because they certainly deserve it. These two heroines, and countless others, have rightfully earned their spot on the Female Protagonist Throne of Honor.

Be that as it may, though, I can’t help but turn my eye to a few other heroines that I love and wonder where their cheering crowds are. After all, they have proven themselves just as much and, yet, their fan corner seems relatively silent. I’d like to do my part to bring them the attention and love they deserve.

So, here are 5 female protagonists (plus a few honorable mentions!) that I think are a little underrated.

 

5. Rhine Ellery–The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano

In a world where dystopian heroines are pretty much made up of Katniss and Tris, there is definitely room for Rhine to stand out if given the chance. The Chemical Garden trilogy features your typical post-apocalyptic anarchist world that is heading more and more towards disarray. Rhine, like so many other women, is sold off as a bride into a loveless marriage. There, she has to navigate through her new life, and how to escape, while also learning as much as she can about her fracturing world. Unlike the other dystopian novels, this one is more of a slow burn, unfolding piece by piece until it reveals, slowly, just how messed it up it is. While it doesn’t quite move at the breakneck speed of the others, Rhine is still a capable heroine who is worthy of her book. She undergoes many trials throughout this series, many of them heinous, and still manages to fight her way to the other side in one piece.

 

4. Risa Ward–The Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman

Honestly, while I did hear some blurb about these novels, I was very surprised that I didn’t hear more about this character. Unwind, and its subsequent sequels, features another dystopian world where parents have the option to “unwind” (read: legally kill) their children if they want to. Risa, an orphan, is the main female lead of the entire series. At the beginning, she is due to be “unwound” due to budget cuts and being deemed “not talented enough” to be kept alive (despite her piano abilities). This leads her to run away and into the two other protagonists (Connor and Lev) who are also due to be unwound. The next four novels follow these three, as well as countless others, as they run for their lives and try to rectify and save a horribly broken and twisted society. During the course of the story, Risa undergoes unspeakable hardships and pain. She is, literally and figuratively, broken by the system and by the cruelty of others. And yet, despite such pain, she never waivers in her strength and hope for the future. She does not falter, nor have a weak, pitiful moment, not even once. Her quiet, un-ending strength is a beacon of hope for other characters, and for the reader as well.

 

3. Katsa–Graceling by Kristin Cashore

This is yet another series that I heard a few murmurs about, before it dying down. Personally, I think it needs a good bit more murmuring. Graceling is high fantasy novel where some people are born “graced” (i.e. gifted) with a certain ability, anything at all. Katsa, the heroine of this novel, is graced with death. She can hand it out as she wishes, which makes her a pretty hot commodity in a land with warring kingdoms. Throughout the novel, Katsa, surprisingly, finds a friend in a foreign prince and begins to learn even more about her own abilities and the rising powers that threaten her home. Katsa is basically the epitome of walking death and, yet, she is not evil or wicked. She is strong and capable, yes, but also kind. She desires to, somehow, use her abilities for good, and she is determined to find a way.

 

2. Fire–Fire by Kristin Cashore

Ahh, yes, another heroine from the Graceling world. They are both simply too awesome to leave out! This companion novel to Graceling follows the character of Fire, an inhuman girl with the ability to control minds. Mind control, yes! Kristin Cashore seriously just takes the coolest abilities you could possibly think of and hands them, no strings attached, to her heroines to play with. However, like Katsa, Fire is a girl with kindness in her heart and the will to do good, despite her abilities. This book follows Fire as she struggles to overcome the memories and remnants of her brutal father, finding herself in the process. Her story is poignant and original, and her character is one that deserves much more chatter from you Bookions!

 

Honorable Mentions

 

Valentine Wiggin–Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

While this beloved sci-fi series, about child geniuses who are bred to help fight off an oncoming alien invasion, is filled to the brim with unique characters, I feel like Valentine gets a little overlooked sometimes, simply because she is a sweet girl. For some people, “sweet” equals “weak.” Not so! Valentine has all the makings of a great female protagonist, and a good, gentle heart to boot.

 

Alanna–The Song of the Lioness Series by Tamora Pierce

In this classic, swords-and-sorcery style fantasy series from Tamora Pierce, Alanna dreams of being a knight. Except, girls are not allowed to become knights. So, Alanna simply disguises herself as a boy and does it anyway. The first novel of the series, Alanna: The First Adventure, follows Alanna through her initial training and her attempts at keeping her gender a secret. As this series is on the younger side of YA, close to middle-grade but not quite, I think Alanna is one of the best examples for young girls that there is. Always follow your dreams, and never let someone tell you that you can’t because of your gender.

 

Primrose Everdeen–The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

This series is definitely one that gets a fair share of praise, along with its primary heroine, Katniss. While Katniss is deserving of her crown, I feel like Prim could stand to get a little more love. She is a kind and talented healer, proving herself capable of surviving time and time again. While Katniss is all anger and revenge, Prim is grace and hope.

 

1. Eowyn–The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Wow, really? Yep. You may be wondering why I’ve chosen a character from one of the most popular series of all time as “underrated”, and your wondering would be fair. However, personally, I feel like Eowyn, despite her pure awesomeness, gets badly overshadowed by the other women in this story, mainly Arwen and Galadriel. While they both deserve praise in their own right, it is definitely Eowyn who wins my vote as the most badass woman of Middle-Earth. Slaying a non-killable, evil witch-king has got to earn you some credit, right? Well, that is pretty cool. However, Eowyn gets the vote largely because she is yet another woman who refuses to remain in the box that her gender has laid out for her. She wants to fight for her people, and protect her home, alongside the male soldiers, and so she does. Seriously, where would we be with that damn witch-king if Eowyn had meekly accepted her given role and went back to counting her dresses? Somewhere shitty. That’s where.

 

I really hope you enjoyed my list of some underrated female protagonists that I have notice. Don’t forget to comment and tell me which women in fiction you think deserve more love and attention!

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5 Heart Wrenching Novels (That I Love!)

Heart wrenching novels are very therapeutic for me. Personally, I crave feeling. I’ve had books and movies that have made me have to go and lay down for a while until I can move on and feel somewhat normal again. It’s quite an experience, indeed.

Now, for me, a truly heart wrenching novel has more than just sadness. There is sadness, happiness, anger, pain, joy, elation, etc. It circles around the whole grid, yanking my emotions from one end to the other, and that is truly what brings me into a major book hangover when it all ends.

So, I would like to share with you 5 heart wrenching novels that I love. There are many others, of course, so perhaps I will do a few sequels to this post. Let me know in the comments if you would like to see more!

Okay, get out your tissues and let’s crack on.

5. The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan

In an 1600s era village, Marnie becomes a reluctant wife for a less-than-deal husband. After she is widowed just after their marriage, though, she becomes an outsider as the villagers suspect her of murdering her husband. With no one else to turn to, Marnie befriends the only other outsider in the village: a raving, homeless, mute boy she dubs Raven. As Raven and Marnie develop a bond, and she discovers what is truly ailing him, the villagers come at them with a vengeance. Soon, the whole ordeal will threaten Marnie, Raven, and both of their lives.

This is a remarkable story of two broken people who heal each other only to be tested again as outside forces threaten to blast everything to bits. This book is hard to read at times, but you cannot help but cheer and pray for Marnie and Raven until the very end.

4. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flag

Evelyn, a dissatisfied housewife, accidentally meets and befriends a woman called Ninny at a nursing home. As they talk, Ninny begins telling Evelyn her life story, which includes the many tales of two other women–tomboyish daredevil Idgie, and sweet church-going Ruth. Idgie and Ruth’s lives are full of laughing, crying, friendship, hatred, violence, and everything in between. Once Evelyn hears of their past, her present will never be the same.

Okay, for this one, I actually saw the movie first. I was at my grandmother’s house, bored, and it was the only movie she owned. Literally, the only one. I had never been too keen on giving it a shot because, hey, who likes the same movies as their grandma?

I did give it a shot, though, and I absolutely loved it. I laughed, I cried, I re-watched like a madwoman. After that experience, I just knew I had to seek out the book. I did, and boy, those emotions came rushing back at me all over again. So. many. feels. Do yourself a favor and give it a go.

3. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Noah and Jude are twins, and their story is told in alternating viewpoints, the first half from Noah and the second half from Jude. During the early years with Noah, the twins are best friends and inseparable allies. Life happens, but they stand strong together. Then it skips forward a few years. Suddenly, we are with Jude, the twins aren’t even speaking anymore, and we have no idea what happened in the middle that tore them so wretchedly apart. Their journey back to each other will leave you crying, laughing, and sometimes both at once.

I picked this book up on a whim when I first read it, but it was one of the best “whims” ever. The story, like all others on this list, is moving and poignant and gut-wrenching. The real star of this book, though, is the writing. This was one of my first experiences with truly dazzling writing. This is the kind of book that makes you want to be an author, even if you had no interest in it before, just so you can learn to write like that. If you do yourself the favor of checking out this book, you won’t be able to stop yourself from gobbling up every page.

2. The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

If you’ve read the Throne of Glass novels, you know that Celeana goes through many changes and reveals many layers of herself over time. Some of those layers are expected, and some are not. In The Assassin’s Blade, a series of short stories about our favorite assassin, Sarah J. Maas gives us a deeper look into Celeana’s life, background, and what makes her who she is. The stories in this book come together to make one whole, amazing person. The range of emotions is steep, as Celaena goes through everything you could possibly imagine and then some. If you would like a deeper look into the psyche of a wildly popular character, or if you just want to read some awesome high fantasy that will leave you with a massive book hangover, then I definitely recommend picking up The Assassin’s Blade.

Honorable Mentions

Don’t Hurt Laurie by Willo Davis Roberts and Ruth Sanderson

I read this novel as a child, and I read it so many damn times that I knew the story by heart. Even then, though, I couldn’t stop reading it. This novel, a children’s book, is the story of Laurie, a young girl who is abused by her mother. Her stepdad is kind, but distant and unaware, and the only ones who believe her are her young siblings. Laurie’s struggles through abuse and mistreatment, from a child’s perspective, are just about as heart-wrenching as it gets.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson is most famous for her novel Speak, the story of a girl who was sexually assaulted and the resulting trauma. However, it is Wintergirls that makes my list. This is the story of Lia, a girl with an eating disorder. At first, it starts off normal enough. Lia and her best friend Cassie want to lose a little weight. What starts innocently, however, spirals into a harrowing disease that eventually claims Cassie’s life. Now, Lia, racked with guilt, is still struggling with her own illness. Her ongoing struggle and subsequent return to wholeness is crushing.

Lia’s story will leave you trembling and unable to look away, and that’s what it did for me. I’m not a person who ever struggled with an eating disorder, but this novel will make you understand exactly what it feels like.

1. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders. Oh, boy, The Outsiders. This is a coming-of-age novel about a boy called Ponyboy and his subsequent encounters with friendships, love, family, drugs, gang violence, and redemption. This novel is filled to the brim with feeling and golden words. Ponyboy might be the greatest YA hero of any novel, but he would never know it.

I had to put this novel first, because it was the novel that got me into reading. This started it all. Once I read this novel, I couldn’t stop, and it was all downhill from there. For that reason alone, it deserves the number one spot, and it will always be a favorite of mine. This story of an innocent narrator who learns about the harshness of life is one that I never forgot.

 

Let me know in the comments which heart-wrenching novels you love!

 

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Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas-Book Review

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, the second installment of the Throne of Glass saga, brings us even further into Celaena’s world. Now, she is the King’s Champion, having defeated her opponents in Throne of Glass to win the title. However, Celaena quickly shows us once again that she is not all she appears to be at face value. Once we realize her true intentions, the stakes rise to a bone-chilling level. While her days are spent fooling the kind and her nights are spent making friends and lovers, the world begins building to a deafening crescendo. When it shatters, what will be left of Celeana?

Okay, that’s a lot of drama in the first paragraph. I like to start off with something like that, though. Makes me feel more professional…or something.

Anyway, here is our opening line: “The shutters swinging in the storm winds were the only sign of her entry.”

It’s a lovely opening line, to be fair. First off, we know exactly who “she” is. Who else? Also, though, given the previous events of Throne of Glass, combined with the secrecy conveyed in this sentence, we have a pretty damn good idea of what she is doing. But she couldn’t, could she? Hmmm…

Anyway, in Crown of Midnight, we once again follow Celeana throughout her adventures and struggles in the Adarlan castle. While it first appears that she is being a good little Champion and is killing every innocent being that the king sends her after, as implied in that opening line, we soon learn otherwise. Yep, turns out that Celaena is totally duping the king. She hasn’t actually killed anybody. And because the evil King of Adarlan is such a thorough guy, he, of course, requires that Celeana bring him “proof” of her completed jobs. And by proof, I mean body parts, of course.

No worries, though. Celeana just strolls through the recently deceased of the nearest sickhouse and borrows some of their…belongings. Then she presents that to the king as her proof. Pleasant.

You should see Chaol’s reaction when she finally reveals all of this to him. It’s probably about what you are doing right now.

If we dig a little deeper, though, we can see that there is actually a lot going on. Maas is a great “salt ‘n pepper” author. What the hell do I mean by that? If you’re not familiar with the term, that’s because I just made it up. And no, it doesn’t have anything to do with female rappers.

No, by “salt ‘n pepper” author, I mean that she is very good at taking an ordinary scene and sprinkling almost unseen bits of salt and pepper all over the place. She gives you a giant piece of bread, which seems like a whole lotta boring nothing. But once you sink your teeth in, you actually taste everything that she sprinkled in and then it’s “Like Whoa!” Clear as mud? Good.

You know that old saying for authors that says: If you mention a gun in chapter one, you better have it go off by the end of chapter two? Well, I absolutely love it when authors can put some tiny, minuscule detail in a scene that seems like nothing, only for it to show back up later and actually be…kinda huge and crucial to just about everything. I’m not even talking a gun, I’m talking something so small that you barely even notice it as your eyes scan on to find the “good parts.”

Maas, I must say, is great at that. She peppers in those little nonsensical details, and they have a tendency to come back around, full force, later on.

Do you know who the other master of this particular technique is? That’s right, Ms. J.K. Rowling. It’s kind of like her signature thing, actually. That one little detail from Book 1, Chapter 5 is now blowing things all to hell in Book 7, Chapter 9.

Anyway, with that in mind, the plot of Crown of Midnight seems to…lag. Don’t get me wrong, because it’s lovely and enjoyable reading. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m a ha-uge sucker for flowery and lyrical writing, and I eat it up like nobody’s business.

And, there is one burst of excitement and apprehension when we learn about Celaena’s fooling of the king. After that, though, things kind of settle back into a rhythm of court life and Celeana being Celeana and everybody else just acting like themselves. Now that I mention it, how is that character growth going? Let’s take a look.

Chaol

Everybody’s favorite Captain of the Guard is such a pleasure to be around. He can’t decide if he’s horny, sad, angry, or just resigned. Maybe a little bit of all those.

Chaol is a bit of a wild card to me, honestly. He really doesn’t fit into his own role, if that makes sense. Even when he’s being all stern or scolding one of his guards, I can never take him seriously. I also get tired of his daddy issues, to be honest. Oh, he definitely has them. And they’re annoying as hell.

That being said, I think Chaol is a sweet guy, and I do think he is experiences a little growth in this novel. It is miniscule, to be fair, but Celaena does inadvertently teach him to be a little more open and understanding about people.

Of course, that all comes to a crashing and burning halt at the end, but I won’t spoil you on that one in case you haven’t read all of it. Suffice to say, Chaol pissed a lot of people off here.

The problem I personally have with Chaol, I think, is that he reminds me too much of myself. Stuck in a less than ideal situation and a little too stunted to do anything about it? Yeah. You may spend this whole novel whishing he would just…do something.

Dorian

This one is going to be short and sweet. I don’t like Dorian. I know he has a good heart underneath all of that swagger (Good LORD the swagger), but I can’t stomach his entitlement, his riches, his sexuality, his…anything. I’m also kind of pissed at him for making me type the word “swagger.”

Also, I don’t think he really experiences very much growth. Sure, Celeana makes him more aware of things like, uh, slavery is bad, Daddy is a bad man, this is wrong, etc..

But, hey, he SHOULD have known all of that anyway. Come…on. I’m not giving him credit for something that he should have realized, realized and been outraged about, from the start.

And, I could say the same thing about Chaol. But I am giving Chaol a slight pass because he at least had the decency to be miserable and less than approving of the King of Adarlan, even if he didn’t do much about it.

Celeana

Ah, I saved the best for last. Celeana is like a giant onion, full of many layers. And, every so often, we see one more tiny little later being pulled away to reveal something new and surprising. Just when you think you’ve got her figured out, she does it again. It makes for delicious reading.

Celeana is such a strong-willed character that it is almost necessary to put her in a box to keep her contained and easier to deal with. At one moment, she’ll fit perfectly in that box and then, the next moment, she won’t fit at all.

There are things about Celeana that remain completely constant and expected. She is her own cliché sometimes.

Still, though, I think it’s lovely to watch her grow from a good-hearted yet spoiled brat into something worthy of being great. The process is long and arduous, and there are a few steps back in there, but I think that makes it very realistic and relatable.

And those are all of the characters that I feel are worth mentioning. I may get some flack for this but…I don’t really like Nehemia. She’s okay, but not earth-shattering to me. So-so, though I do appreciate the effect she has on Celeana and the way she whips her into shape a few times. I won’t give away too much about what happened with her character’s storyline, but I will just say that I had a really hard time scraping up any emotion for her. This was one of the few times where I didn’t identify with Celeana that much.

Before I end this review, I want to say one more thing about the plot. As I mentioned, it has bursts of excitement but overall moves rather slowly. That is, however, until the end. The final few chapters of this novel are a rip-roaring joyride and, honestly, they are the best thing about this entire novel. They are its saving grace.

While I wish the whole novel had been this way, the good thing about that happening at the end is that i definitely revs up the excitement for the next installment. Hopefully, that novel will live up to that same, breakneck pace to pull this series back out from the “slower traffic” lane, because it definitely has the potential.

Final Ruling: Three Stars

Posted in Book Reviews, High Fantasy, Three Stars, Young Adult Books | Tagged , , | 1 Comment