My Hot Take on Kingdom of Ash

kingdom of ash book cover

It’s safe to say this was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. As the long-anticipated finale in a 7 book series, my excitement to read this was sky high… so much so that I decided to go to a book event, got myself a signed copy and some other goodies beside- look how pretty!!

(no pics of the actual event sadly cos my camera is really crummy)

All of which begs the question: how could the book possibly live upto all the hype? Well, I’m pleased to say it did in a lot of ways it made me a very happy monkey. Although I won’t pretend it was everything I dreamed it would be (more on that later) I did come away pretty darn satisfied.

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From the beginning, Maas’ writing walked the thin line between decadence and accessibility. In an exquisitely balanced fashion, she drew on her reader’s emotions and went for some gutsy manoeuvres. Each torture scene was measured and well executed. With plenty of tension, the stakes were high, and every tweak of the plot felt like another turn of the thumbscrew.

What I especially appreciated about these scenes was how it allowed for a more intimate view of the villainess. Maeve telling her side of the story was particularly rewarding. While I was left unsure after Empire of Storms why she would abduct, instead of kill, our heroine, it made perfect sense here. The one flaw that this did open up- unfortunately- was that it repeated the reveal for Maeve’s true identity… the same one that was allegedly the vital piece of information we needed to read Tower of Dawn to get.

Now this led to its own set of problems. Suddenly, this whole setup (one which became an entire book I might add) was suddenly redundant, because Aelin had figured it out all on her lonesome. Which, *yay, goodie for her* but sadly this meant a lot of characters lost their purpose. Given that the cast was too large anyway, I wondered why this unnecessary plot point wasn’t trimmed.

It didn’t help that there were a lot of characters I’d lost interest in. As much as I had previously liked Nesryn and Sartaq, they may as well have been cameos in the book, because they added nothing to the story. And, something which came as much as a shock to me as it will to you, was that previous favourites like Lysandra and Aedion no longer held my interest. Part of my falling out of love with them came from the pettiness of their scenes- their fallout felt manufactured and most of their scenes were needless drama that could have been streamlined. But the other issue was that I struggled to care for so many characters once they were reunited with the ones I actually loved- especially if I’d only recently managed a grudging respect for them (*coughs* Chaol *cough cough*). I personally found that some new characters hadn’t earned the amount of attention they received (to be frank: Yrene) while some older characters were given short shrift. It certainly didn’t help that the perspective shifted at regular intervals (something that didn’t happen earlier in the series). At the event, Maas said that this was to frustrate the reader a little… and frustrate me it did. In fact, I found it easier to put the book down because of it.

Nonetheless, there were always characters I was desperate to see more from. Most notably my favourite couples: Lorcan/Elide and Manon/Dorian. For me personally, the Manon and Dorian scenes (together and apart) stole the show. Practically every Manon moment made me *squeal* with glee and every Dorian part made my heart melt. I especially liked the progression of their stories. The scene with Abraxos and Petra was a culmination of *everything* (more so even than the one with the Thirteen- which is also pretty spectacular given that if you’ve read the book you know exactly what I’m talking about). And each of Dorian’s victories was *the best*. Highlight for spoiler: in the whole book, my pity panged most for Dorian seeing his father’s sacrifice. And I loved seeing the explanation for why the king had no name.

True to form, the plot was very exciting. There was a lot mastery in that no scenes were wasted. I can see what Maas meant about not skipping anything out. My one issue was that a lot of these events could have been reordered for a bit more oomph. Especially when it came to the point where the plot hinged: the wyrdkeys. In my opinion, this major showdown happened too early and easily could have been saved to coincide with the final battle. Highlight for spoilery section: It would have been fine to have Maeve see Aelin lose her powers and not have her just mysteriously *know* anyway. I also felt that the betrayal of the gods was shoehorned in to “surprise” the reader that they’d still have to defeat him. I’d have been happy if either Erawan had been blasted into outer space like planned or the gods had lied about being able to get rid of him in the first place.

Still, I did think there was too much going on in the last battle. For me, it would have made sense to put a number of players out of commission and not switch perspective at this crucial stage. Highlight for more spoilers: Elide saving Lorcan could have been early in this battle. Maeve could have consequently been torturing just Rowan, not three people at once. And, as well written as it was, I didn’t have a dog in the Erawan/Yrene fight scene if I’m honest. And as much as I liked Dorian getting his little victories- I’d have had him unconscious for the duration of the fight too. What I did like was Aelin riding in on the Lord of the North was wonderful. I liked that she was heroic as ever, that she retained her swagger and most of all her last words to Maeve. Basically, Aelin, Aelin, Aelin. There was one last flaw and that was that OF COURSE they killed the main villain and all the other enemies *run away*. Because this overused film trope isn’t overused

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After that, the ending was pretty much as expected. Highlight for lots of spoilers Happy happiness with a hint of happy-juice. Complete with that cliché that will piss off many fans of “oh I’m queen now, let’s have democracy”. Not to sound like a miserable bugger, but at the end of a saga like this, I think I could have handled a bit more loss. The thing is, whoever died would have annoyed fans, because let’s face it, the choice would have been between Dorian and Chaol. Now, as a lot of you may know, I’m totally biased, so you may think my choice of Chaol is tinged with that. NOT SO! (okay maybe a little) Hear me out- the reason why I’d have killed him off was because it would have been simultaneously tragic, what with the so much to live for, and yet also would have made sense since he’d reached a full character arc. Whereas Dorian is kind of needed to rule- because his useless brother would hardly be any good in his place, and he hadn’t yet fulfilled his romantic purpose (basically, if there was a half decent alternative ruler and he’d knocked Manon up, I’d have sobbed my little heart out, but agreed it was fair for him to go). So yeah, my main message is kill Chaol (#SorryNotSorry).

Other than that, I was amused to find that Maas was clearly on a Tolkien bender. The witches going to war was an amazing scene- but did anyone else find it reminiscent of “the beacons are lit”? Also “that’s no horn of Morath” felt like the arrival of the Rohirrim. Yet, even with some moments feeling derivative to me, I did like the fact that all the stories- the fae, the witches and the men- all tied into the theme of homecoming. That worked splendidly.

Ultimately, this was a tad too long and there were too many characters I wasn’t fussed about. There were some things I wish had been done slightly differently. That said, despite these kinks, I can’t deny I enjoyed a large proportion of this book. Plus I thought it was a massive improvement on book 5! Like many of the books in this series, it’s not perfect, but it’s certainly a wild ride:

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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So have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Empire of Storms Was A Tempestuous Read

*Spoiler free for this book- though may be spoilery for series as a whole!*

empire of stormsHello all! In case you don’t already know, I am a *massive* Throne of Glass fan. Naturally I had to read this as soon as possible- and naturally this is going to be a ridiculously gushy post (look away now if you’re not a fan of the series!) So let’s get to the review, shall we?

As I’ve come to expect from Maas, this book was a complete rollercoaster ride. It made me breathless with excitement. Part of that was from the pure thrill of the wickedly woven, complex plot; part of that was from how it made my emotions squirm and scrambled my brain with its sheer awesomeness. But like always, the thing that got to me the most was how much the characters have developed.

I already adore the characters- but every book I just get more and more invested in them. Manon’s story just keeps getting better and better. My beautiful Dorian’s gone a little dark- and I like it. And even Lorcan has become one of my favourites! (Seriously- Maas knows how to work her magic to make me like just about anyone!) A small bonus for me (although a lot of people won’t like me for saying it) was that my least favourite character- Chaol- was not in it. The only downside to that was that there had to be a character criticising Aelin- and for some reason that task had to fall to the adorable Aedion. This was a little annoying, to be honest, because I could see why Maas felt like she needed someone to fill that role, but it felt a little out of character for Aedion, who hero-worshipped Aelin in the last two books, to be the one to do it.

In terms of plot, this one felt a bit like an extended subplot to the main finale. Not that that’s a bad thing- stories advance slowly in all epics and sometimes the subplot can be the most entertaining bit. But one thing I did see coming was the massive cliff-hanger. My friend and I have a theory that all the Throne of Glass books go in pairs- which means there’s a cliff-hanger between books 1 & 2, 3 & 4 and now 5 & 6. And boy was I right- because I am massively stressed out by how it ended.  Honestly- I don’t know how I’m going to make it a year before the last one comes out- what am I gonna do?!?

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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Alright I think it’s safe to say I am going to have a massive book hangover…. So tell me in the comments how am I going to last a year waiting for the last one to come out? Any tips? (Aside from curling up in a ball and crying)

And are any of you a fan of this series or have read this one? Commiserate with me in the comments!

Assassin’s Blade and Why I Will Go Down With This Ship

assassin's blade*With Spoilers*

Alright, so for everyone that doesn’t know, I am a massive fangirl and *love* the Throne of Glass series. For that reason I’m kind of duty-bound to write this (perhaps superfluous) post about Assassin’s Blade, even if I’ve covered a lot of this ground before and even if I will basically just be discussing ships… lots and lots of ships.

But I just had to discuss this book anyway. Because it was full of surprises! Let’s talk about what I liked, shall we? Firstly, I was impressed with the fact that the stories all connected and it practically read like a single story- even though it was a collection of novellas. Secondly, I liked how Maas kept Celaena’s thoughts veiled, so it was more consistent with her earlier character. But, undoubtedly, the best thing about this was Sam.

Now, at this stage, I know Maas can create great characters and wonderful love interests- but even so, I was taken aback by just how convincing Sam was. He was such a well-drawn, intriguing character- I only wish there was more of him! In fact, I found myself lamenting the fact that he can’t be in the rest of the series. I mean- what??? How could Maas create the *perfect* love interest and then go and take him away? It just seems too cruel.

And he *is* the perfect love interest. Their relationship, of all the relationships in the books, seems the most natural and organic. Honestly, it made me evaluate all the other guys she’s been with. After this, it feels like her current guy is simply with her because they both understand the pain of losing their true love- and not because they are actually right for each other. The guy before that was all wrong for her because he didn’t understand her and was scared of her (and I don’t even like him- there I said it!- although it’s not much of a secret at this stage). And the first guy she’s interested in is clearly all wrong for her (even though I love him). But Sam is just right!!

Now, having read this and seen how perfect it was, I refuse to believe this ship has sailed. Basically, I want Maas to resurrect Sam. If that’s even possible in this universe?!? (Ok it isn’t- but I can dream- right?)

So, at the risk of sounding a little silly, that is why I will go down with this ship- even though Maas has made that ship sink already and it’s lying at the bottom of the ocean like the Titanic. But I refuse to let that stop me- even if I have to go deep sea diving to drag Sam back from the depths of the ocean myself!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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Anyone else picturing Rose from Titanic right now…

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A Liberal Reading of Throne of Glass

Disclaimer: This is satire. If you are offended, then I recommend you watch Seinfeld, in the hope you pick up a sense of humour. All the ideas are my own, except for the ones that belong to Adina Holder, who I couldn’t have done this without 🙂

So without further ado, here is my liberal reading of “Throne of Glass”…

In Throne of Glass, Valg are depicted as evil, soul sucking, body stealing monsters. But are they really? Could it all just be a ploy by right-wing readers to keep us from seeing who the real victims are? Orangutan Librarian reports.

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While “Throne of Glass” is an enjoyable series, I can’t help but notice a glaring moral dilemma embedded in the narrative. For, every time a hero or heroine executes “justice”, is there not a possibility that they are actually perpetuating a terrible evil? An evil that, until now, has not been fully recognised. I propose that it is not the Valg who are the enemy- but those who refuse to see the other side of the debate. Because who, in all these books, is standing up for Valg rights? After all, the poor Valg don’t even have bodies to defend themselves! Clearly, the real issue here is the mistreatment of the Valg.

No one talks about the reasons the Valg want to migrate into a new world. Most probably, they are suffering back in their own lands. They should have refugee status. No, we should go further. Everyone should open up their body to share. It’s their human rights. And, yes, I say human because they can be human if they want to be. The Valg have always felt human, they have always acted human, they have always believed they were human. They’re just being who they really are. No one has the right to tell them they’re not. It’s disgraceful that the main characters in Throne of Glass deny them these basic rights. And racist. And homophobic. And probably misogynistic- because most things are misogynistic.

Of course, none of this gets any mention in the history books, because the world is human controlled. Obviously, this is down to the Jewish media and the evil Zionists. N.T.C Mite, of Conspiracy’s R Us, puts it most succinctly: “No doubt the Jews ate the Valg children and then covered it up with trite propaganda. But we know the truth! We are incredible for being the only ones to see the pattern and now we must teach the world.”

It certainly seems logical. The hidden signs of Zionism are everywhere: the stones the Terrasen’s lay at their graves, the references to their “homeland” and yada yada yada. And who’s to say the Terrasen holocaust ever happened? Not content with running this world, it seems the Jews have set their sights further, determined to control fantasy worlds too. Who knows where their reach will lead next? Perhaps Middle Earth or even (heaven forbid) Hogwarts.

I for one hope that Maas resolves this in the last two books- hopefully with the redemption of the Valg and all the main characters indicted for war crimes. Or I might be inclined to call her a racist.