Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin

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Goodreads Summry:

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

I think I need to start with this: I still have no idea how books are classified as YA, because this should definitely not be in that grouping. My friend works at a middle school library and they have these books for the 8th graders, and I personally would not let my daughter read this until late high school at least. There are some very explicit sex scenes in these books, and some extremely brutal fight/torture scenes. I may be living in a bubble, but I would like to think kids don’t know about those kinds of things in such detail in middle school. . .

This picks up right where the second one leaves off and I really enjoy the scheming, and appreciate the fact that there are times when the Tamlin we first met shines through and Feyre notes those as well. With the history all of these characters share I was very glad it wasn’t all petty hatred for each other.

Lucien was one of my favorites from the beginning and I like seeing him in a larger role again. He’s a good guy and deserves a good ending.  He reminds me a lot of Chaol and how they have dueling needs within them for what’s right and what they believe they are bound to do. But I think Lucien is already on the way to wanting to take what’s right over commands. I like how quickly Lucien acclimates to the night court, and I think a lot of that is the fact that his council is appreciated. I also liked seeing him take initiative within the court and create an active role for himself. The tentative interest Elaine he’s showing is sweet and I hope he gets his girl, he deserves it.

It’s really nice seeing Feyre finally finding her place in the night court and falling into it, especially with the arrival of her sisters and the new skills they have. Amren and Nesta and Elaine and Azriel training together are such good matches too, their similar personalities allowing them to integrate into Feyre’s new family as well as coax them out of their shells and into their new powers and the court as a whole. Cassian and Nesta’s odd relationship was also very interesting to watch as it unveils sides of each character we never really saw before, given how they hide themselves behind facades the majority of the time.

The power plays within and without the court are getting very serious, and we are seeing how all of them are having to chose between various bad choices to try and save the country and themselves. It was really fun getting some more background on Amren, and watching her with Varian was hilarious.  It was nice to see Tamlin move beyond his jealousy and accept some responsibility for how things turned out. And even the tertiary characters get a lot more attention in this, giving us more background on Jurian and some of the other characters from the first war.

This book brings everything full circle. Most of the unanswered questions as answered (apparently we have three more books coming out in this series, so we should get all the answers at some point) and Feyre and her family (human and night court) reach new potentials and grown into themselves. There was a lot of great battle scenes in this, and I quite enjoyed seeing the night court operating at full family mode – there were no more secrets (mostly) and they were all supporting each other and revealing more about themselves.

I look forward to seeing what else comes out of this world.

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Revisiting: A Court of Thorns and Roses

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Goodreads Summary:

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

I was so excited about this book, I fell in love with Maas’ writing with the Throne of Glass series and so I could not wait for this. And then I started seeing reviews of my goodreads friends, who seemed to either hate it or love it, and I was terrified. Well, I loved it . . . the first time around.

I still liked it in my re-read, but it was so much slower than I remembered. I wasn’t really invested until about the 200 page mark, and nothing really intense starts to happen until about the 300 page mark. Also, the romance didn’t reel me in like it did the first time around, I just don’t really buy it’s depth, it was almost a case of insta-love with its shallowness. I mean Feyre doesn’t really know Tamlin at all, and besides the fact that he does nice things for her and is hot, I don’t know why she ‘loves,’ him. And his lack of reaction when she’s facing her trials really annoys me. I feel like Maas doesn’t want us to like Tamlin already, which is really annoying given our past experiences with romance in Mass books, and that the majority of this book is centered around a relationship.

I loved how Maas’ carried over a lot of the things we learned about Fae in ToG, consistency is a favorite trait of mine! I also really liked this loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast. That’s what seemed to be what a lot of people had issues with. Not long after finishing this the first time I learned that it’s actually based on the myth of Eros and Psyche, which is what the Grimm story is based on. I don’t understand why they didn’t market it as the Eros/Psyche story since they did the Hades/Persephone for the sequel, but whatever. Anyway, if you know the myth of Eros/Psyche I think it makes the story so much better, because so many of the nuances that irritated people who were expecting Beauty and the Beast are present in the original myth and make more sense.

Other’s had issues with the basic format of Maas books, which I can understand, but I think if you’ve read ToG you will be prepared for it. The first book of her series seems to be the – get to know everyone, introduction to the conflict, scraping the top of the iceberg on what’s really going on,  and the following books are when everything gets crazy.

I really enjoyed getting to know Feyre and watching her steady character growth. She goes from someone simply surviving, a cold, hard, bitter, and pessimistic person to someone who is able to find a silver lining in everything, who opens up and pushes herself to move past her preconceived notions,  and who embraces her strengths and weaknesses to fight for the things she loves.

I also loved all the other characters, because Maas does a great job with supporting roles and weaving them into the story later. Lucien is great with his snark and tragic backstory. Tamlin suffers from a lot of the same issues Feyre is dealing with, feeling alone/trapped in their responsibilities to their families/people, but ultimately wanting to do the right thing, but we get moments where we can see that’s he fun and caring. Rhys is so intriguing! I feel like he and Feyre are going to be the Celeana/Rowan of ACoTaR, the besties who prove guys and girls can be friends w/o and ulterior motive, and he is clearly a much nicer guy than he likes to admit.

With the last ToG book, I think we all know platonic relationships are not always what they seem with Maas. And while I was so upset (and still am) with how things turned out in the last ToG book. From what I have seen about ACOMAF, she does a much better job with the romance. Though I have to say, I am getting really tired of her female characters not being able to stay true to a relationship. I understand things happen, but seriously Celeana – or whatever your name is now – get it together. I really hope Feyre doesn’t become as fickle as our ToG protagonist.

The ending’s twist was the other thing that I kind of expected, and wanted to happen, but was still slightly displeased about, I guess it just felt too convenient. We’ll see what’s to come in this second one though, it seems like things really get taken up a few notches, which I am excited about!

Review: The Assassin’s Blade

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Goodreads Summary:

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

I can’t believe it took me so long to read these, I loved them!

Honestly, I think part of it was because I love Chaol so much, I didn’t want to see Celaena loving some other guy. But we all need our first love so I get it, and she and Sam’s relationship is so different from she and Chaol’s.

Anyway!

It’s really cool to see Celaena’s background, and learn about the things she alludes to in the books. I also really love seeing her move from being Arobynn’s devoted assassin to the still arrogant but also compassionate and caring Celaena that we get in Throne of Glass. She goes through so many changes and grows so much in the ToG series that its really fun to see her at this stage, when she’s still pretty carefree and hasn’t dealt with Endovier yet.

It was also really interesting to see how much she hides from everyone. I didn’t realize that Dorian and Chaol were the first people she told about her heritage.

I think of the stories, the one about the Red Desert was my favorite. We get to see so much of Celaena’s internal turmoil about what it means to be Adarlan’s Assassin, how she simultaneously resents and craves the title and the presumptions that come with it. I am also really hoping that we see Ansel in the ToG books again, she was really interesting!

So, these were all great and I feel like I understand Celaena a little bit better now, and I also want to re-read the series now. . .

Coming This Week: Feb. 9

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Good Monday everyone! I hope the weekend went well for all of you, mine wasn’t too bad, and “The Walking Dead” came back last night so that was amazing, as usual (so many feels!).

This week for book discussions look for:

I really enjoyed this series, and Susan Dennard has an online “space opera” with Sarah J. Maas that is amazing, so I was really excited to read her personal work. It’s really different from Maas’s, but definitely just as good.

Wednesday will be a writing update – some good news, some laziness to report. Friday is my wildcard day this week, I still haven’t completely decided about what I want to talk about, so if you have anything specific you want me to discuss, let me know!

Heir of Fire

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Goodreads Summary:

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? 

There is so much that happens in this book! It’s slower than the others, and a good bit longer, but we’ve got three new big characters, a lot of individual growth from Celeana, Chaol, and Dorian, and answers for all the questions the first two books gave us (finally!).

Celaena is having a hard time, but it all makes sense and is deserved, and I really like that we are getting her backstory. She is also forging new strong friendships, and learning to accept her past and the potential of her future. I love the maturity she leaves us with and can’t wait to see how that translates in the next book as she has to put her new attitude to action, among those who stripped her of her identity to begin with.

Chaol is facing a big debacle, he has to decide how blind his loyalty to the crown is, and if he can accept Celeana now that he knows her secrets. I understand why it’s hard for him to make this choice, and I appreciate that Maas presents this challenge at all – I think a lot of time characters react solely out of love for one another, which is certainly a legitimate element, but it’s not the only one. He definitely believes the king, and the evil he represents, needs to be destroyed; but he wants to see Dorian rule Adarlan, and he’s worried Celaena will seek vengace on Adarlan’s people and ruin the whole country. We’ve all seen the darkness that threatens to overwhelm Celeana, so I understand his fears. So while some people are hating on him on this book, I get his struggles; and doesn’t he come through in the end as always?

Dorian, I’m still just kinda “meh” about. I definitely like how much he’s grown into his potential as a king, and that he’s let Celeana go. His magic is interesting, and I’m upset about the King’s reaction to it all. But I still just haven’t felt that connection to him the way I have with the other characters.

New characters! I like Aedion, it’ll be interesting to see how he and Aelin are when they are reunited, and I would like to see more of a friendship grown between he and Chaol. Manon, it took me a while to care about her. Her relationship with her Wyvern makes her likable, and I’m interested to see how that grows in the next book. Rowan is really interesting, I like he and Celeana’s friendship and their devotion to each other (in a solely platonic way), he’s going to make a great addition to her court.

Chaol and Celeana . . . Both think their relationship is over, for different reasons. But I’m really hoping that all the growth they went through in this book will bring them back together. I definitely think they will have to start by learning to trust one another again, but I still think they can be a great couple. And I think the two of them together could be a great model for how the kingdoms could interact after the king is taken out.

Basically, I can’t freakin wait for the next book!

Crown of Midnight

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Goodreads Summary:

“A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie…and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Let me just start with: Chaol and Celeana are adorable. I can tell this is going to be an epic romance that sticks with me. It reminds me of an Alina/Mal, Karou/Akiva type relationship, and those are my favorite, because they are real! They both accept each other for who they are, they’re always there to support one another, and they don’t hold each other back from their personal journeys. It’s going to have to take a lot of healing on Celeana’s part, and a lot of growth/discovery on Chaol’s part; but I hope they make it.

I really appreciated the growth of all the characters in this book. Celaena is slowly revealing peices of herself, opening up to Chaol and Dorian, and starting to own up to her capabilities beyond being an assassin. She is also creating a new image of herself, working to have stronger morals and base things off her emotional responses; as opposed to just killing everyone, which was a threat she threw around a lot in the first book.

Chaol identifies himself through his loyalty to his country, but I think he has such potential as a leader outside of the castle. He’s so devoted to Celeana, even when he doesn’t know the whole story, and he constantly pushes himself to understand Celaena and her motives, which shows so much willingness to open himself up to other opinions and I think that’s great. Watching him navigate his fierce loyalty to his country, his unconditional love of Celeana, and his strong morals will be really interesting in the next book.

Dorian is magic! And this is just crazy, I have no idea what that is going to mean for him come this next book, but it’s going to be serious. And I liked how he accepted that he and Celeana weren’t meant to be – though he still has deep feelings for her, and how he starts to stand up to his father. He’s trying to become a man, and he’s beginning to succeed.

All this magic stuff. There is still so much we don’t know! But more and more is being revealed, and this book answered so many questions I had from the first one. We figure out where the King is getting his power, how it is accessed, the different types of magic; all sorts of stuff! Now we just have to figure out how Celeana, Chaol, and Dorian are going to use the info they have to save the world, especially as they will be seperated, and they are all still keeping secrets from each other.

Throne of Glass

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Throne_of_Glass_UKGoodreads Summary:

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

So I’ve seen these book floating around with nothing but rave reviews, and I have finally joined the club!

My first impression of Celaena – she’s vain, arrogant, and immodest. Basically, Chaol sums her up pretty well right at the beginning. But, then she has these moments where she softens, she shows an interest in reading, creates sincere friendships, and aches with the remembrance of the slaves and conquered peoples of the kingdom. She shows some growth throughout, mainly through her ability to let others into her life after living in a death camp for so long, and I like the walls that come down and show us that though she’s a deadly assassin, she’s still just a girl.

I like Chaol, he’s tough, but you can tell he’s got a heart of gold and he doesn’t coddle Celaena, which I think pushes her to get over herself and become stronger emotionally. Dorian’s ok, I didn’t really like him until the end when he starts standing up to his father. And Nehemia is a bad ass, I like that she gives us another strong female lead, and she and Celaena could take care of a lot of things together.

One of the things I have seen, complaint wise, about this book is the love triangle. I understand, but I don’t really think it gets in the way too much, Celaena is ok being on her own, something I really like about her, and that makes her feelings towards the boys a non-priority in the story. And there isn’t much of a triangle really. She and Chaol are building a friendship throughout the story, and hints at deeper feelings don’t arise until the end. Dorian is set to get her from the start, and it’s clear that he always gets what he wants; they have their fling, and while it’s obvious that Dorian is in love with her, I never got the feeling she reciprocated. I’m glad it ended, and I look forward to see how Celaena and Chaol’s relationship evolves in the second book (I hear it’s heart wrenching!).

Overall, the relationships are what stand out the most about this book for me. Celaena shows some maturity and growth, but all of her friendships are the center of the story. There’s a lot eluding to bigger things; fairy’s, magic, other realms, but not really enough to make much sense. All we are worried about is Celaena surviving long enough to become the kings Champion, which will hopefully give her some power to make a difference, and let us figure out what’s really going on with this King (who no one besides Chaol seems to think is up to something, I mean his entire guard is killed on his trip and he’s the only survivor, that doesn’t just happen!), and why Celaena is so important. It’s a set up book, but quite an enjoyable one!