The assassin-queen has sworn not to turn her back on her kingdom again. Especially when she might be the only one who can raise an army to keep the Dark King from unleashing his beasts upon them all. But Erawan will wield Aelin’s past, her allies, and her enemies against her. With a powerful court trusting Aelin to lead them, and her heart devoted to the warrior-prince at her side, what – or who – is she willing to sacrifice to spare her world from being torn apart?
The long-awaited march for Aelin’s claim to Terrasen’s throne begins with this book. Now that she has defeated the King of Adarlan, freed Dorian from the Valg prince, Aelin finally longs to return to her throne and rally her armies for the looming battle against the Valg King Erawan. But what Aelin doesn’t fully realize at the start of the book is the burden of her ancestors, the ones who had sealed him away in the first place. As the book moves on, several shocking truths come to light, and several paths are changed.
Aelin’s main plotline in this book was to gather forces to make an army to rival the dark forces of the Valg King. But she is also having to tread lightly where Maeve and her Fae politics are concerned. Between the devil and the deep blue sea, it seems, is to be Aelin’s struggle as she systematically, and cunningly maneuvers pieces into getting her armies, by calling on old life debts and allies, Certainly, we see the reappearance of many secondary characters, particularly from the Assassin’s Blade novella series (I would strongly urge reading that novella if you haven’t already, for the sake of understanding those recurring characters) as well as certain figures in the earlier novels whose motivations make more sense now.
While Aelin is certainly what the series revolves around, this book strangely didn’t feel like an Aelin book. There were a lot of secondary plot arcs, which meant that when the perspectives switched, you had to wait a few chapters to pick that thread up again. We had Elide traveling with Lorcan to reach Aelin, Manon and her stand against the cruelty of her clan, Dorian’s quiet contemplation, Aedion’s slight resentment towards Aelin and Lysandra’s wake to utter loyalty. It wasn’t bad – it certainly enriched the story much more, and brought out a well-expanded range of characters, but the writing was overdone in some parts so much that the pace lagged.
A book this long shouldn’t make you want to think about when it will end; the length of a book should be congruous with the plot, and I felt here Maas may have over-reached with the lengthy scenes at some points. Aelin’s endless chasm of magic certainly did not warrant the endless pages toward it, especially when there were other concerns to the plot. The ending was devastating, no question, but what came before it probably saved the slow pace of the plot, as it then felt like more building than waiting. Overall, it is a magnificent book, but then the series has already been explosive enough. This may have been just a little under the bar, so I would rate it 4.5 stars.
P.S. This book is more new adult than young adult (sexy times involved!) so reader discretion is advised.
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