Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A Book Review of Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

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Aelin has risked everything to save her people-but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they've gathered to battle Erawan's hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation--and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen-before she is lost to him forever.

Series: Throne of Glass (Book 7)
Genre: NA Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA; 1 edition (October 23, 2018)
Page Count: 987 pages

I've made it to the end! Seven books later and I've reached the climax and it's been a wild ride, but I was so nervous about the fates of all of the characters!

The Plot: The climax has come and all of the characters from the past volumes are coming together to make a last stand against the Valg! I'm so amazed how Maas wove so many plots together into such an epic conclusion. This book has the most action out of the series as it consists of mostly preparing for battles and fighting battles--oh yeah and a certain super important rescue mission. The pacing was fast and I was enraptured the entire way through!

The Characters: Aelin was almost literally stripped down to the bare bones of herself. Her endurance was tested and it was honestly inspiring, especially her mantra: You do not yield. Some people may complain that she's less sassy in this book and that may seem like she's lost some of her charm but what do you expect after what she's gone through? She's still a worthy queen. I really like her mating bond with Rowan, though sometimes it's a bit too sensual for my tastes.

Yrene and Chaol are just wonderful and have become my favorite pair of the series. Their relationship is just so pure and kind. Yrene is a worthy heroine and Chaol a hero. Dorian gets a host of new abilities what with his magic full awakening, which I'm trying not to spoil, but just know that they're super cool. Manon I felt like was a bit inconsistent. I thought she was in a positive arc then it's like she stumbles at one point when she does a villainous move to make an alliance, but I like how she ended up, so she did redeem herself.

Poor Aedion is exhausted and battling for pretty much the entire book and Lysandra is as awesome as ever. Lorcan and Elide I'm shaky about since I guess I just don't get what Elide sees in Lorcan. I also like how the blood oath boys get some good spotlight too. I felt like this book focused on them more than the others. I really like Fenrys.

The Setting: The story takes place in oftmentioned settings, but the battlefield changes them into something new and terrifying at times. They're overall very dynamic and engaging. *minor spoiler* One thing that did change is that the "gods" turned out to be immortal beings from another world. This seemed to promote a humanist outlook of the world that I wasn't too too crazy about. It's mentioned that they're not needed anymore.

Epic Things: I love the Little Folk. I've wanted to know more about them the whole series so I'm happy they finally got some decent spotlight! There are so many other moments I want to share but they're spoilery! But some involve riding the Lord of the North, a wing tattoo, and a dark power turning into light. There is a lot of epicness to be found in this book! I also think that Maas is a big LOTR fan because there were several references in there.

The Theme: Giving your all was a big one. Many of the characters had to give more than they thought they had to accomplish their goals.

Content Cautions: There's quite a bit of content. In the violence department, there's a lot of blood, torture, a suicide, lots and lots of battle scenes with the expected violence, lots of severed heads (including a scene like from the Lord of the Rings where heads are launched into battle via catapult), bone shards, desperate self-mutilation, a soldier frozen to a wyvern's back by gore, a horse crushes corpses under its hooves, intestines coming out of wounds, bones coming out of wounds, and blood raining from above from battles between ruks and wyverns.

And then there is a lot of sexual content three sex scenes, stripping, groping each other naked, and a lesbian relationship. I was really disappointed in Elide stripping for Lorcan. I mean, come on. Is this Game of Thrones now?

There's also a good bit of profanity. *takes a deep breath* Forty-five uses of d***, thirty-two uses of ba****, twenty-two uses of h***, eighteen uses of sh**, thirteen uses of bi***, seven uses of a**, six uses of pi**, four uses of pri**, and the middle finger.

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

1.) Short POVsNear the climax of the book, the POVs shift from each character in the scene in short POVs of less than a page. This made a really cool effect and added a new dynamic to the scene. I've seen this done by one other author and I really like it when it's used at the right time.

How this can be applied to writing: Have you ever seen short POV's done in a story?

2.) Shapeshifting Animals - Briefly, there is a shape-shifting spider also known as a Kharankui named Cyrene. She can shift between her arachnid form and a human form.

How this can be applied to writing: It's rare to see shapeshifting animals in fantasy (at least that I've seen), but it is more common in mythologies such as the kitsune (Japanese). 

3.) Taking the Environment into Account During Battles - In one battle, a dam that holds back a river is a huge turning point. If the dam was opened, the good's forces would be swept away and the bad was prepared to take the casualties.

How this can be applied to writing: When writing battle scenes think about the environment. Weather, terrain, and season can be what wins or loses a battle. Cold can freeze troupes or a desert can be impossible to move troupes over so they have to go around.

Conclusion: Besides the content, I really enjoyed the book. I felt very satisfied with the ending. 4.5 stars!

About the Author: Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series (Queen of Shadows, Book 4, will be out in September 2015), as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series (out 5/5/15).

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she's not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.

You can find her on FacebookTwitterGoodreads, and her website.

A Book Review of Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

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