Kingdom of Ash
Though I will try my best to omit spoilers from Kingdom of Ash in the beginning portion of this review (I will make sure to warn you when I start talking about spoilers!), there will be spoilers ...
- Plot Progression4.0
- Emotional Trauma4.9
- Re-Readability Measure4.5
Though I will try my best to omit spoilers from Kingdom of Ash in the beginning portion of this review (I will make sure to warn you when I start talking about spoilers!), there will be spoilers revolving around the previous books of the series! You have been warned!
A prophesied battle looming over them, a group of royals, outcasts, and magic folk alike grapple for victory against a demonic race and it's followers. Throughout Kingdom of Ash, we follow the sanctioned sections of the rebellion against Erawan, a Valg King that threatens the end of life as they know it. With Aelin in Maeve's hands and her friends scattered to the winds, one truth remains clear to the Queen of Terrasen:
You do not yield.
At last, the long-awaited conclusion to this powerhouse of a series has arrived! I was so ecstatic to pick this book up, and after finishing it in four days (which Bella, the other admin on this blog, is still pissed about), I don't know what to do with myself. Since beginning this series this past summer, I've been enraptured in the tale of Celaena Sardothien turned Aelin Galathynius, and now that it's over...
Needless to say, it's been a trying journey. If any of you have any recommendations for a new series, feel free to leave them in the comments below!
Anyway, overall, this book did indeed meet my expectations with great character moments, a spectacular final battle, and a conclusion that made me sob. However, that's not to say I had no qualms towards certain elements of the novel because I did, but this definitely will be a book I re-read time after time.
Similar to the other novels of this series, there are multiple intertwining plots and narratives rotated between throughout the story. As established in Empire of Storms, Elide and the Fae warriors are on a mission to liberate Aelin as Lysandra, Aedion, and their allies are marching to Terrasen. Dorian and Manon are hunting for the third Wyrdkey, and the Westfalls, Nesryn, and the khaganate are a joint unit heading to fight against Morath's forces. Wow, that was a mouthful.
I think Maas did justice to the character's plot lines, as they all got the attention they deserved. Aelin, Dorian, and Chaol's plots were all interesting, heartfelt, and featured some great moments. I found Lysandra and Aedion's to be rather slow, and it was similar to Victoria Aveyard's War Storm, as they both featured lengthy battle scenes that didn't catch my interest. It may just be me, but for the first half of the book, their scenes weren't very memorable.
(You can find my review of War Storm here: https://wedreaminchapters.com/review/war-storm-review/ ).
Seeing as this book is almost 1,000 pages long, yes, it was a lot to get through. However, I think, for the most part, every page was necessary for how explosive the climax of the story was.
The twists were absolutely amazing and left me in tears for half of the book. This book made me cry so much. I can't even begin to explain the Snapchats I sent Bella throughout reading the end of the story. It was an emotional roller coaster that I'd gladly board any day of the week, despite my adamant fear towards the amusement park ride.
My favorite moments were when the characters are together. While Dorian's chapters were wonderful, I wish he had more time with the characters, especially Chaol and Yrene. I really missed a lot of their dynamics, like Aelin and Aedion's, which weren't prevalent in the story.
I live for these characters. They are everything.
The couple moments were honestly everything I could have asked for. I've always been a Rowaelin stan, so their moments were so touching and really strengthened them as a couple. Aelin put more trust in him, and it really showed growth in her as a character. I'm not going to spoil how certain pairings end up getting together, or which ones actually do, so I won't go into depth. That being said, Elide and Lorcan's moments were so great in this book.
Since Lorcan's decision to alert Maeve of Aelin's whereabouts, Elide was not happy with him, to say the least. Their progression throughout the novel was stunning, so props to Sarah J. Maas on that one.
Okay. Now I'm going to be treading in some treacherous waters. Time for some controversy!
For me, and this is my opinion, I seriously love Aelin. A lot of people didn't appreciate the way she went about things in the previous novels, and actually preferred her as Celaena, but I disagree. Of course, I miss the Celaena we saw in The Assassin's Blade, but I can't even read the early books of the series because of how much Aelin has grown as a character.
Regardless of whether I agreed with her decisions, I loved the snarky, unapologetic, unchecked arrogance of her character; it really livened up the story. In Kingdom of Ash, I only came to love her character more. She began taking other's views into consideration, focused more on a democratic way of going about things, and was so selfless. She became a queen deserving of the title.
Chaol and Yrene are so happy and so deserving of it... I love them so much. Sure, it's kind of sickening to read about how in love they are, but I'll live! Chaol has grown so much as a character and I enjoyed reading about him in Kingdom of Ash.
Okay, but I want to bring some attention to an underrated couple of the series: Borte and Yeran. I love them so much. Their dynamic is confusing but fun nonetheless, and I wish there was more of them.
Personally, I find Manon and Dorian's relationship to be a bit... off, but I won't go into that, lest I risk attracting the wrath of Bella. I miss Dorian's character from the beginning of the series, though I understand why he evolved the way he did. Regardless, their plot was so cool. Manon's moments ( If you know, you know) left me bawling.
I appreciated the growth each individual went through over the course of this series. I love them all to bits.
From this point on, I will be going into MAJOR spoilers. If you have not read the book, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Problem #1- The Deaths
What I mean by this is that I feel like the only characters who didn't survive were the ones that didn't have a love interest and weren't integral to the plot. Whether it be Gavriel or the Thirteen, the only characters besides Asterin's wyvern that died didn't have a 'mate' or love interest. Like, I get all of the characters were masterful warriors or magic-wielders, but while their forces were being mowed down, it would make sense that they would suffer more dramatic losses to the main cast.
I'm not trying to discredit the deaths that did occur, though. I cried for all of those that died in this book. But with all that happened, it's improbable that everyone came out unscathed.
Problem #2- Forging the Lock
What happened? I'm still unsure. So, Aelin decided, for some reason, that she would rather save Elena's soul than banish Erawan. A noble effort, but did she really expect the gods to be okay with that?
Anyway, so she ends up sending them to a hell-realm? Or does she open Hell into the gods' realm? I don't know, honestly. Bella texted me after she read this part, completely bewildered. I tried to explain as much as I could, but to no avail. It was just a lot.
Problem #3- The Epilogue
I love epilogues. They are the best thing ever, and while I loved the epilogue to Kingdom of Ash, I wish there was more. If Sarah J. Maas ends up doing a Dorian novella where things are delved into more sufficiently, then the epilogue is fine, but in the instance that she doesn't...
I want to know about Chaol and Yrene's baby. The gender? Name? I want to know.
Vaughn was mentioned in like two sentences. I'm really, really hoping we get some stuff with him in it, because you can't give me that hypothetical without following through!
Things I Loved
- Evangeline and Darrow's dynamic. It was great. Honestly, anyone and Evangeline is great. I love her.
- The way Maas wrote about Aelin's time with Maeve. It was cool to see how Maeve psychologically manipulated her. Her eventual rescue and subsequent breakdown broke my heart a little.
- When Aelin released her power after burrowing into it for three months. It was epic, and wonderful, and everything. Lorcan's confession to Elide before Aelin saves them was amazing as well.
- The scene of the Thirteen's death. It was so symbolic and triumphant while gut-wrenching nonetheless. The writing was beautiful.
- On the last page, when the kingsflames blossomed, it was such a beautiful sendoff to Aelin and her story. It truly was the perfect ending to her journey.
I know this one was long, but this series was one that deserved it. This novel was one of my favorites in the tale of the Queen Who Was Promised. Her story will always be one near and dear to my heart.