Book Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Written by: Sarah J Maas
Release Date: September 2nd 2014
Pages: 562, Hardcover
Series: Throne of Glass #3
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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?

LetsTalk

Sarah J Maas just consistently gets better with every book she writes! It’s strange to think that I was so ambivalent towards the first book, because now I care so much about this series. In Heir of Fire, Sarah J Maas expanded the world of the series, developed her characters beautifully, and set in motion so many new pieces for the rest of the series. This is not a fast paced book; for the most part, it focuses on set-up, worldbuilding and character arcs (until the end where EVERYTHING HAPPENS SO MUCH). For me, this was not a problem. I loved everything the book introduced, and I can’t wait for the next installment of the story.

Heir of Fire followed multiple storylines. My personal favorite was Celaena’s adventures withthe fae; I’ll discuss these more in the “what worked” section of the review, but for now, let’s just say that this book cemented Celaena as one of my favorite YA protagonists ever, and that her friendship with Rowan was The Best. Despite the lack of immediate connection with the overall storyline, the Manon chapters also kept my attention; I was intrigued by the witches’ hard, violent way of life, and by Manon herself, particularly the moments showing that she wasn’t as unfeeling as she believed.

The sections taking place in Adarlan, primarily in Chaol’s, Dorian’s and new character Aedion’s points of view, were the most confusing and difficult to follow; however, I appreciated the information they contributed to the storyline and the character development. I also liked the introduction of Aedion’s character, with his past and his loyalty to Celaena. I was frustrated with Chaol for a lot of the book, but I appreciated his growth and the decision he ended up making. Dorian’s fate at the end was the most shocking event in the story for me; I won’t give it away, but I am Very Concerned about him. (When is the next book coming out, again?)

One thing I noticed while reading Heir of Fire: I’m not quite as invested in the romances of the series. If I had to pick one, it would be Chaol and Celaena, but if they aren’t together by the last book, I won’t be too sad about it. Strangely enough, this also made me realize how much I like the love triangle in the series (is it even a love triangle anymore? Dorian seems to have moved on, but you never know). Romance is just so much more effective when the relationship accentuates the characters’ conflicts and arcs but doesn’t completely take over.

Didn'tWork

Heir of Fire introduces a lot of new points of view and doesn’t have much action until the end. Due to this, you might find the beginning of the book boring or confusing. Even though I loved it, I found it very difficult to get through sometimes.

[SPOILERS] One of my biggest problems with the series as a whole is the narrative treatment of characters of color. So far there have been only two major POC characters–Nehemia and Sorscha–and both of them were killed to further the character arcs of white protagonists Celaena and Dorian. These deaths carry the implication that people of color only serve the purpose of accentuating white people’s stories, that they are ultimately less important than white characters. I liked Sorscha–she was adorable and subtly strong and she deserved better than that. It’s very frustrating to see occurrences like this  in a book I would otherwise completely love. I hope that in future books, Sarah J Maas will be better at intersectional feminism.

DidWork

Celaena’s character arc was A-MAY-ZING.  I liked Celaena before, but watching her grow here gave me a whole new level of respect. Heir of Fire really explores Celaena–her loss and fear and guilt, all the things she needs to face to become the queen we know she’s going to be. The book shows her at her lowest point, and it shows her standing back up. She loses her way, and she finds it again. She faces her past, accepts who she is, gets up and fights. She is going to rattle the stars and I can’t wait to see it.

I’m a fan of all the new characters, but Rowan is my personal favorite addition. I live for dynamics between characters who dislike each other at first, but grow closer together; as a result, the slow build of Celaena and Rowan’s connection was everything to me. By the end of the book, they have adorable banter-y moments, they understand each other deeply, and they make a powerful team. If they lived in the world of Pacific Rim, they would totally be drift compatible. Manon is a close second-favorite; she is terrifying and awesome and has huge potential for growth and I loved her relationship with Abraxos.

The wordbuilding is much, much better. I remember reading the first book and thinking the setting felt so generic and underdeveloped. This is no longer the case; the world feels far more solid now, and there are more explanations of how things work. The writing is also stronger.

Pickup

Heir of Fire had some flaws, but it was the best installment in the series thus far. If you’re already a fan of the series, you will definitely enjoy this one. Pick up for sure.

Polina 

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