The things I loved best about this story were the magical elements and the strong heroine. I'm so over the paranormal reads with whiny protagonists wh...moreThe things I loved best about this story were the magical elements and the strong heroine. I'm so over the paranormal reads with whiny protagonists who simply can't survive without a boy. There is a love story in this book, but it is only a subplot and serves to further, not hinder, the main storyline.
I wouldn't say the plot was predictable but it was easy to follow along. The characters were very well-developed and took on a life of their own. Their actions were surprising and thought out and are what made this story so amazing. You just can't have a good story without good characters in my opinion.
The narrator for this audiobook was skilled at voicing each of the characters, though I never quite got used to the voice for the Commander. At least, not until the end, when I realized that maybe it was intentional. ;) I'm excited to start Magic Study now, also narrated by Gabra Zackman.(less)
I loved this book soooooo much, and I almost thought I wasn’t going to get to read it until it was released. (I have a bit of an impatient streak, and...moreI loved this book soooooo much, and I almost thought I wasn’t going to get to read it until it was released. (I have a bit of an impatient streak, and so I might have cried myself to sleep, had that been the case.) I think I requested a copy every way possible, and being a somewhat green-behind-the-ears blogger, I assumed I WOULD have to wait. But lo and behold, I actually ended up with my very own ARC, thanks to @HMHKids, and I could have kissed their feet for their generosity.
You see, this is EXACTLY the kind of book I fall in love with. The kind that stays with me for days, weeks, even months later, begging to be re-read and discussed, shelved and re-shelved. It is YA historical fiction. It is romance. It is action-packed. It is everything I had hoped it would be and more.
I can’t imagine not loving a book about assassin nuns. Honestly, can you? There is no easing into this story. From the very first page, you are thrust immediately into Ismae’s story, meant to feel as she feels, see as she sees. It’s disconcerting at first, but wow, does that first chapter pack a punch! And then Ismae is propelled into a world she’d only heard stories of. She is now a daughter of Death and must be at Death’s beck and call. This new life not only opens her eyes but her heart, as well.
Ismae is conniving, quick-witted, and if you’re smart, she is to be feared. She knows all manners of killing, and you’re as likely to face her poison as her knives. This young woman is a trained assassin, and she is VERY proficient at the tasks set before her by Death himself, or at least by his emissaries. After the upbringing Ismae suffered, and the future she was sure to endure, this new path seems fitting. And yet, Ismae’s heart is not cold. She still manages to develop friendships with the other girls training at the monastery before she is sent out on her mission.
The love story…it’s the kind I adore. They hate each other. They work together toward a common goal. Someone saves the other’s life. You totally saw it coming, but it seemed like the characters didn’t, and then BAM! They came together and somehow, they had both known, without truly knowing the other’s feelings. I just love it when a romance works out that way. Yes, they held each other at arm’s length forever, but there were hints. And it was enough.
Coming in at 549 pages, this book is long by normal YA standards. But it never felt long. I read it in four days, but had there been no interruptions—like sleep, work and eating—I would have read it straight through. (And people might have found me a little more pleasant. I loathe the waiting to get back to a book I’m thoroughly enjoying, and people can sense this, even if they don’t know why.)
So, in case you didn’t catch it the first time, I LOVED this novel. I’m excited for the second in the series, although the synopsis makes it seem as if it is told from the point-of-view of one of Ismae’s friends from the monastery. Not that I didn’t like that character, but I fell hard for Ismae and Duval, and I’m not sure I’m ready for their story to be over. I don’t hate companion novels, but I never love them as much as the first installment. But for Ismae’s sake—and her fellow maidens of Death—I’ll definitely give it a try.
So good. It seriously rivals the first book for awesomeness.
I lovedGrave Mercywhen I read it last year. In fact, it's right up there with my...moreSo good. It seriously rivals the first book for awesomeness.
I lovedGrave Mercy when I read it last year. In fact, it's right up there with my favorites of 2012. So, to say that I was worried Dark Triumph would fall short as a sequel is an understatement...especially since this book is a companion novel, not a true sequel. I wanted to follow Ismae and Duval on their exploits, but alas, I was consigned to learn more about the mysterious Sybella, another of Death's handmaidens. I was intrigued by her character in Grave Mercy but not enough to desire a whole book from her point-of-view.
Or so I thought. If Ismae's past was bleak, then it's sufficient to say that Sybella's was insufferable. The things this young woman has survived...and yet she manages to walk tall in the face of all those who have wronged her. You don't know everything Sybella's endured right from the beginning, but it's obvious she's every bit as strong and deadly as Ismae, maybe even more so. It almost felt like a betrayal to Ismae to like Sybella's character as much as I did, but they are best friends, and so I think Ismae might approve.
“I cannot tell her I have been moping over a broken heart when I have worked so hard to convince her I have no heart at all.”
Dark Triumph picks up right where Grave Mercy left off, only from Sybella's perspective. It is not, I repeat, NOT the events of Grave Mercy retold from Sybella's point-of-view, as I've seen some report. Instead, Sybella finds herself back in her father's household as a spy for the Reverend Mother. The vileness this poor girl must withstand, it's enough to turn your stomach and pity Sybella. But she would not want your pity. No, Sybella merely wants vengeance. Fitting for the handmaiden of Death, right?
“Truly, we are the gods' own children, forged in the fire of our tortured pasts, but also blessed with unimaginable gifts.”
What isn't appropriate to Sybella is the attachment, the allegiance she feels to a certain soldier responsible for keeping the Duchess safe. (view spoiler)[Yes, BEAST! (hide spoiler)] He ends up being her salvation. She has only ever sought to exact her revenge since leaving the monastery, but now with the aide of this man, she has more to live for, to fight for. And the relationship that develops between these two lethal beings is just so pure and beautiful...I was rooting for it from the very beginning. It's nice that for two who have suffered so much, they may finally have a chance at some semblance of happiness.
“It is a good thing I no longer have a heart, because if I did, it would surely break.”
Fret not, fans of Grave Mercy. Many of your favorite characters from the first book do make an appearance in this companion novel, some with a more substantial presence than others. Sybella's story hurt my heart, but it was promising to see how many have her welfare in mind. (view spoiler)[Even Duval! Which is surprising, indeed, considering how he first felt about his own handmaiden. =) (hide spoiler)] Just seeing how the author was able to seamlessly continue this story, but through another's eyes, gives me hope that the least known assassin's tale will be tremendously exciting. I now know I can go into Annith's story in Mortal Heart with zero trepidation.
If you loved Grave Mercy, I pretty much guarantee that you'll love Dark Triumph as much, if not more. It's that good. More poison. More weapons. More action. More everything! I couldn't have asked for a more perfect follow-up to Grave Mercy. There is no question that this will be among the leaders of the pack for my favorite novel of 2013.
Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt & Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review.
This review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Sometimes, a book comes along that just blows you away. Throne of Glass wasn’t that book for me. But not for the reasons you might be thinking. As soo...moreSometimes, a book comes along that just blows you away. Throne of Glass wasn’t that book for me. But not for the reasons you might be thinking. As soon as I read the synopsis for Throne of Glass, I knew I was going to love it. So, no, it didn’t blow me away, but that’s only because I was expecting it to be awesome. And I was not disappointed!
Throne of Glass touts a protagonist with a will of her own, who doesn’t bow to pressure easily and is quite the opposite of mousey, as so many heroines are wont to be. Celaena is my favorite kind of heroine: strong, resilient, and whip-smart. But Celaena is also a bit of an opportunist, and I loved that about her. Celaena’s an assassin; she doesn’t normally do things out of the kindness of her own heart, though there are moments where the reader gets a peek at what type of person she might have been, had she not been drafted as an assassin at an early age. And not only is she a remarkably skilled fighter with an ultimately good heart, she’s also a book lover:
"She'd entered a city made entirely of leather and paper. Celaena put a hand against her heart. Escape routes be damned. "I've never seen--how many volumes are there?" Chaol shrugged. "The last time anyone bothered to count, it was a million. But that was two hundred years ago. I'd say maybe more than that, especially given the legends that a second library lies deep beneath, in catacombs and tunnels." "Over a million? A million books?" Her heart leapt and danced, and she cracked a smile. "I'd die before I even got through half of that!" "You like to read?" She raised an eyebrow. "Don't you?" Not waiting for an answer, she moved farther into the library, the train of her gown sweeping across the floor. She neared a shelf and looked at the titles. She recognized none of them. – p. 50 of galley
The world of Throne of Glass is at once beautiful and ominous. The author’s brilliant use of imagery to describe the setting left me at home in a world with stunning gowns, filthy mercenaries and an intimidating glass castle. Celaena evaluates her surroundings as one might expect an assassin to, but it’s her reaction to the breath-taking scenery that makes the world come alive.
I enjoyed the third-person narrative, especially since it transitions to Prince Dorian’s perspective at the most opportune moments. The reader even gets a glance at Captain Westfall’s inner-workings, which I very much appreciated. Yes, there is the potential for a love triangle, but Maas handles it in such a way that it never truly feels as if Celaena is caught between the two men, who also happen to be best friends. I adored the way Celaena and Dorian carried on with each other, but it was the quiet and respectful way Chaol and Celaena grew to care for each other that swayed my heart. And while Dorian was very forth-coming with his feelings for Celaena, despite how impossible such a pairing would be, Chaol often denied his feelings, even to himself. Does he do so to spare Dorian’s feelings? Or is it because of who Celaena is that he will not allow himself a dalliance with her? I have to admit I’m rather torn on this one. To choose the obvious passion with Dorian or the hard-won and long-developed love of Chaol?
The contest to find the royal assassin was just as exciting as the romantic aspects of this novel. And it upped the ante to include a murderer among the contestants. Of course, our heroine takes it upon herself to discover the identity of the assailant, but she uncovers far more than just a murderer in her search. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting the direction the story took at this point, but I’m definitely intrigued to see where the author takes the story from here.
Throne of Glass will probably go down as my favorite debut of 2012, barring any surprise contenders in the next few months. As soon as I finished this book, I wanted to read it again. I guess it’s a good thing there are several prequel stories to be had! This book is a perfect read for lovers of fantasy novels, but I think it has a little something for everyone.
She glared. "I hate women like that. They're so desperate for the attention of men that they'd willingly betray and harm members of their own sex. And we claim men cannot think with their brains! At least men are direct about it." -- p. 68 of galley, when Celaena and Chaol observe Dorian with Lady Kaltain
"Good. I thought so. And what of the others? Any potential rivals? Some of the champions have rather gruesome reputations." "Everyone else looks pathetic," she lied. The prince's smile grew. "I bet they won't expect to be trounced by a beautiful lady." -- p. 65 of galley, after Celaena first meets the king and the other contestants
Big thanks to Bloombsury & Netgalley for providing a galley of this title for review!
I was so engrossed in this one that I didn't even realize I'd come to the end until Mr. Audible guy did his thing. I mean, how you gonna leave a girl...moreI was so engrossed in this one that I didn't even realize I'd come to the end until Mr. Audible guy did his thing. I mean, how you gonna leave a girl hangin' like that? Sheesh.
I love audiobooks. I know I say that entirely too much, but if it weren't for the audio being on sale at Audible recently (and currently still $3.49 for members!), it would probably still be months before I made time for this book. And I would be missing out on an awesome tale of pirates, assassins, curses, and magic. Everything about this book was screaming at me to read it: the title, the cover, the whole premise. And now that I've listened to it, I want a physical copy. My shelves deserve to be graced with this book's presence, and I know this is a book I'll want to read again and again.
However, when I started the audio, I did so with slight trepidation. The narrator has a British accent and she sounds a bit stuffy. Pair that with the uneducated vernacular of the pirate (think Saba from Blood Red Road but a little less so, lots of ain'ts and got no's), and I thought the narration was going to drive me batty. Talk about contradictions! But as the story unfolded and I got to know Ananna's character, I could see why this narrator was chosen. Not only does she give a unique voice to the protagonist, but she also makes every other character sound singular. Considering how wary I was of her accent in the beginning, that is truly a feat.
I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher via Netgalley prior to its release last fall, but for some reason, I didn't make it a priority. I don't know where the disconnect was because as I've already mentioned, this book was perfect for me. There's no romance to speak of, though one is definitely in the works by the end of the story, and I found that immediately refreshing. In a fantasy, especially one focused on a quest of some sort, I always feel like the romance should take a backseat to everything else in the story. I'd much prefer it gradually develop and not overpower the more important aspects of the story, namely the search for the cure to the impossible curse in this story.
That's not to say that I don't like where the romance is headed. Because I do. Ananna and Naji are very unlikely allies, considering he's the assassin sent to deliver retribution for the jilted fiance. Their uneasy alliance grows into friendship, though, as they set out to break the curse they unwittingly brought upon themselves, and it's easy to see that this will blossom into something more...eventually. Remember the banter between Penryn and Raffe and how they barely tolerated each other at the beginning of their journey in Angelfall? That's probably the best comparison I can make, just with a little less banter.
The quest in this novel seems never-ending because as soon as they reach their destination, the assassin and the pirate discover that they need to continue their search elsewhere, which means we get to see a lot of scenery in this book. The world-building in The Assassin's Curse was perfection. The descriptions were not overly pretty or image heavy, but they were just enough that I felt myself enveloped in the mist or swaying aboard the ship with Ananna and Naji.
And I can't wait to return to this world in The Pirate's Wish, due out this summer. As much as I enjoyed this book, I don't think I'll be waiting months before picking up its sequel.
I was tremendously excited to read Poisonthe second I heard about it, undoubtedly from a fellow blogger's Waiting on Wednesday post, as it seems every...moreI was tremendously excited to read Poison the second I heard about it, undoubtedly from a fellow blogger's Waiting on Wednesday post, as it seems everyone I know wanted to read this book. Not only did the cover of Poison draw me in, but the title itself was enough to ensure that I would be reading this book. However, I was also deeply saddened to learn that Poison was to be published posthumously, as the author succumbed to a long battle with cancer in May of 2011. It's disheartening to know that she'll never see her book out in the world, never write another book, but let's guarantee that her life and her work meant something by spreading the word. You can find more details on the author's website.
I don't really know where my fascination with poisons stems from because I detested chemistry in high school, but I can't get enough of characters who dabble in them. Even better if the characters are using their knowledge of poisons for seemingly nefarious purposes. I know, I know...one might think I could be a criminal mastermind, what with my love of villains and poisons and murder plots.
Another thing this novel had going for it was the fantasy elements. Aside from poison and potions, witches and magic play a big role in this novel. Poison has all of the components that make a great fantasy novel, but it never takes itself too seriously, as most high-fantasy novels are wont to do. Yes, in answer to your unspoken question, this novel is fantasy-light. It is much closer to a fairy tale than an epic quest, but it is more enjoyable because it doesn't strive to be something it is not. In fact, one of my favorite aspects is the humor and banter between the characters. That, and the too-cute pig.
My only complaint, aside from the fact that I wished the story had been longer as I was not yet ready to part with these characters, is the fact that so many of the twists were obvious to me. Even if they had not been, the way in which the secrets and mysteries were revealed was a little unsatisfactory, especially in the way the characters handled them. The shock and awe factor just wasn't there, but it did not detract much from my enjoyment of the story overall.
Fast-paced, fun, and highly entertaining, I think everyone can find something to enjoy in Poison. With clever, whimsical characters and an engaging plot, this novel has the potential to appeal to fans young and old. The author's warmth and joy shine through in this story, and it is with a heavy heart that I realize I'll never again get to visit Kyra or Rosie or Fred, let alone any other characters and stories Bridget Zinn would have bestowed upon us.
Thanks to Disney Hyperion & Netgalley for providing a copy for review.
This. THIS is how you write a sequel! I couldn't even tell this was a second book, there was so much action and intrigue going on. And now my heart is...moreThis. THIS is how you write a sequel! I couldn't even tell this was a second book, there was so much action and intrigue going on. And now my heart is broken and I want to forget what I've read until I have the rest of the series in hand. Of course, that's not going to happen, so I'll just get on with it.
First, how much do you love the new covers? I think they're so representative of Celaena, especially what we learn of her in this book. She just has this "otherness" about her that really comes through on these new covers, but you'll probably understand that more after reading Crown of Midnight. We knew from the previous book that under her cold, hard exterior, a normal girl lived. And even though we continue to see her callous behavior in this book, her brutal quickness as an assassin, we also get to see even more of the girl she truly is, the girl who wishes for a simple life away from court stratagem and a merciless king, especially in the ways that she endeavors to maneuver around such palace intrigue.
If you enjoyed Throne of Glass even a little bit, you're going to love this sequel. The writing is tighter, the details more prevalent, and the action more exhilarating. And that's saying a lot, what with the battle for the King's Champion in the first book. But this is a well-rounded sequel, full of romantic interludes (YES!) and higher stakes. And let's not forget the enigmatic new characters that are introduced, for they are just as essential to the plot.
Archer was difficult for me to get a read on at first. It took ages before I realized he was not one of Celaena's fellow assassins, despite the fact that he trained with her at the Assassin's Keep. I'll leave it to you to discern the true nature of his "occupation". ;0) Baba Yellowlegs, on the other hand, was creepy from the get-go and I had no trouble determining that this witch was trouble. And I mean witch literally, not as a euphemism for something else. She has metal teeth for crying out loud! I see the altercation with this character coming back to bite our favorite assassin in the arse.
As for the romantic interludes I mentioned, it does seem that Celaena has made her choice, though certain developments in the second half of the book do leave one wondering. Not where her heart lies, but what will become of it. Both Captain Chaol Westfall -- am I the only one who didn't realize that name was pronounced Kale? I was pronouncing it with the CH, d'oh! -- and Crown Prince Dorian Havilliard have proven to be great friends and allies of Celaena's...and also great admirers. But there is no room for trust in this threesome, apparently, at least not until it's nearly too late for them all. This lack of understanding between them all did lead to rather a lot of complications, without which I don't think we would have learned half the truth from Celaena. They all have their secrets, but Celaena's carries the most of all of them. And though we discover quite a few truths before the end of this book, I do believe she carries still more. But would you expect anything less from Adarlan's Assassin and the King's Champion?
Death. Betrayal. Love. Misery. Sarah J. Maas left no stone unturned, no feeling unearthed in this fantastic sequel to the equally amazing Throne of Glass. Celaena undergoes quite the transformation in this book, and she (and the book) are all the better for it. Crown of Midnight is shocking and painful and lovely, and I can't wait to see what's in store for Celaena et al. If you're looking for an amazing new fantasy series with a killer attitude, look no further.
Thanks to Bloomsbury Children's (and Jen) for the ARC for review!
So, the end to The Assassin's Cursecame rather abruptly, and I was ill-at-ease to let the story go so suddenly. These characters and their strange ci...moreSo, the end to The Assassin's Curse came rather abruptly, and I was ill-at-ease to let the story go so suddenly. These characters and their strange circumstances had made their way into my heart, and I was reluctant to see them go. Lucky for me, I only read/listened to it a couple of months ago and didn't have to wait too long for the end to this duology. And what a spectacular ending it was!
I'm always intrigued yet leery of the new characters that are introduced in sequels, but I should have known better than to question such things when it comes to this author. Especially since one of the new characters is a talking manticore named Ongraygeeomryn. (Say that three times fast!) A manticore has the body of a lion with a human face and a barbed tail like a scorpion, complete with poisonous spikes. It can also have wings, like the one in Clarke's story and the image to the right. Ananna forges yet another unlikely alliance with this mythical creature, and the trio sets out to break Naji's curse and free both Naji and Ananna from their bond.
I liked the manticore more and more as the story wore on. She was tricksy but not in a completely evil way. Under the guise of secretly helping Ananna to aide Naji in breaking one third of the curse -- the impossible task that we already know isn't quite so impossible -- she knowingly forces the duo to face their feelings, something neither would have done without the push. Even so, it takes an achingly long time for them to get their act together. Luckily, as with the first book, the focus of this story is not entirely on the romantic aspect but rather on the curse and the quest to break it. Reunions are aplenty, as are pirates and assassins. But I wouldn't have expected anything less from this story.
I love that with this story, we get to see so much of Ananna and Naji's world. From the desolate floating island in the sky, to the torturous voyage across the sea, to the manticore's home on the Island of the Sun, I've been able to envision a lot of the beauty this world holds. Though, it would still help to have a map to keep track of it. I do so love maps of fantasy realms. Even so, the lush imagery employed by the author, as well as her engaging prose, make it nearly impossible not to imagine yourself in this land of desert-dwelling assassins and bad-tempered pirates.
I can't tell you what ultimately happens with Ananna and Naji, but I can tell you that it was fitting in the best possible way. Ananna is ill-mannered and foul-mouthed most of the time, while Naji continues to maintain control of his emotions and displays a knowledge that Ananna will surely never possess. She is at home on the sea, and he will always be an assassin. Their ending in this story is not perfect, but it is perfect for them, and I am supremely happy with the author for the way she finished their story. Even if there was a little less banter and a little more cold-shoulder this time around. ;0)
I do hope that the author will revisit these characters in The Wizard's Promise series, since it is set in the same world as The Assassin’s Curse/The Pirate’s Wish series. I'm still not ready to say goodbye to these characters, but at least I know they may pop up elsewhere in this world. You can't go wrong with pirates, assassins, and magic. Full of unexpected surprises and three impossible tasks...I am unbelievably happy with how this duology turned out.
Thanks to Strange Chemistry and Netgalley for providing a review copy!
Oh, my poor Naji. It's no wonder he seems so hard and distant in The Assassin's Curse. He's suffered, been betrayed by someone close, and he believes...moreOh, my poor Naji. It's no wonder he seems so hard and distant in The Assassin's Curse. He's suffered, been betrayed by someone close, and he believes he's becoming the monster everyone already sees him as. I knew there was more to him, but now I think I have a better understanding of his character and therefore a better understanding of his intentions.
All the while Ananna was taunting Naji in The Assassin's Curse, you could see that he was truly hurt and disparaged by some of the comments she made. It took time for her to see the man beneath the cold, calculating exterior of an assassin. I could tell he wasn't what he seemed from the moment they met, but getting this peek at who he was before their encounter cemented my earlier impressions of him.
If you were as intrigued by Naji as I was, I definitely recommend picking up this short story. And if you despised Leila as I did in The Assassin's Curse, you'll definitely enjoy seeing her put in her place in this prequel story. I'm hoping Ananna will one day learn the history between these two and know that although she may not be stunning like Leila, she is still a far better woman, even if she is a pirate. :)
I love fantasy. I mean, that's primarily all I reviewed in the beginning. So, when I saw that gorgeous cover and read the word assassin in the synopsis, I knew I was meant to read this story. I've had Mistwood by this same author on my shelf for ages, thanks to a Borders going-out-of-business sale, but aside from that, I have no prior experience with Leah Cypess' writing. That said, I think it's safe to say that I went into this story with some pretty high expectations, especially since several of my fantasy-loving friends had enjoyed the book.
What Went Wrong
1. The story starts off so slowly that had I not requested this book for review, I surely would have DNF'd it. I probably should have anyway. I actually ended up borrowing the audiobook from my library because I often find fantasy books are that much better when you're hearing them, but not so in this case. I've never listened to a book narrated by Cris Dukehart before, but her narration added little to the story.
2. I didn't connect with the characters at all. Including Ileni and Sorin, the girl who's lost her magic and the assassin who's sworn to protect her. They all seemed so shallow and one-dimensional, unable to move past their initial purpose and see things on a grander scale. Even the villain(s) seemed haphazardly drawn.
3. There was little to no world-building. I think something like 95% of the story occurred in a dank, dark cave system where the assassins trained, but a little more explanation as to what was going on in the outside world would have gone a long way. I get that a war is brewing and that it has a lot to do with magic and power plays, but I didn't take much else away from this book.
4. The romance was so unbelievably meh. Sorin wants Ileni but his duty to his Master and fellow assassins comes first...always. Eleni doesn't trust any of the assassins, including Sorin, but falls for him anyway. They can't be together because of who they are and what they're supposed to do. Despite their feelings, or whatever, I never saw them together. Just as I never felt an emotional connection to these characters, I never felt that they had made a connection either.
5. I listened to this just last week, but I can't tell you what happened at the end. That's how very unmemorable this story was for me. Pretty fantasy-lite in my opinion with little to entice me to read the second book in the duet. I mean, usually when I don't like most of the book, at least the ending is explosive enough to make me want to carry on with the series, but I just don't know if that's going to happen this time.
What Went Right
1. Proper assassins. Don't you hate when you read that there are assassins in a story and they never do any real assassinating? Yeah, me, too. But Ileni's deadly students go out on missions, kill their targets, and plunder what they can, all in the name of the Master.
2. The setup for an epic battle between the Master and those wielding magic is fairly decent. Especially since it seems that Ileni will be at the center of it all.
I think those who are usually wary of high fantasy will find plenty to enjoy in this novel, but it just didn't live up to my expectations. I just don't think this author's work is for me, especially after perusing my copy of Mistwood and seeing some of the dialogue. I'll probably end up giving that book away to someone who will enjoy it more than me, unfortunately.
GIF it to me straight: Since so many others enjoyed this, I have to think that it's just me...(less)
This got off to a bit of a slow start for me, but it soon got around to being amazing, just as I expected. I really love how everything's coming toget...moreThis got off to a bit of a slow start for me, but it soon got around to being amazing, just as I expected. I really love how everything's coming together, how much better I understand this world now after this third book. Lots of new characters to love and/or hate depending on where their arcs take them, but just in this one book alone, I saw so much development in their characters.
An advance copy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
**As always, no spoilers for this book, but there are potential spoilers for the previous books. Read at your own peril. But if you haven't started this series yet, why the heck not?!?**
After I finished my re-read/listen of the THRONE OF GLASS series, I had to wait a bit because I was still overcome with Crown of Midnight feels. Again. Okay, AND The Assassin's Blade feels. I had so many emotions leftover from the previous books that I didn't want that to affect my feelings toward Heir of Fire. After several weeks, though, I just couldn't wait anymore. (The first 30% or so of HoF was a tad slow for me, but I knew the pace had to pick up eventually, and it did.)
Even after waiting so long to start it, I was still a bit overwrought with everything that happened at the end of CoM, but I kinda think it worked for me. I was feeling every bit as gloomy about Celaena's situation as she was, which is to say we were having an extreme pity-party all on her behalf. Things have taken a dark turn for all involved parties, but most especially Celaena, who's coping with her past and what it means for her future while also trying to fulfill her promise to Nehemia. (If you haven't read The Assassin's Blade yet, I highly recommend it. It's the five prequel novels to the series, and they give the reader some incredible insight into Celaena's character.)
BUT this installment has really upped the magic factor. And unearthed some major secrets from Celaena's past that have only been hinted at before. This includes Celaena's ability to wield magic, as we saw in CoM. This book may be the darkest yet, but Celaena is still her charming self. And I don't mean that sarcastically...mostly. Seeing her have to really work at accessing her magic and seeing others' reactions to her progress were something else. This is a character who's been adept at everything she attempts, and to see her struggle -- and give up only to come back fighting harder -- only endeared her to me more. Celaena may be beautiful and fierce, but she is not above reproach and she is not without her faults. Her character growth over the course of this series has been monumental but never more astounding than in this book, especially as we learn more about who she is and what that means for everyone else.
Everyone else. Yes, them...they're important to the story, too. Favorites, those that remain anyway, are still featured prominently, but for now, we're beyond petty romantic entanglements. A war is brewing and there are ever so many more players now than there were before. There's the heartless Manon Blackbeak and her wyvern, who bears a striking resemblance to Toothless. (I'm not making that up...Summer thought the same of Abraxos when we discussed it. :D) And Rowan, the ageless fae prince tasked with helping Celaena access her magic and teaching her how to control it so that she might get the answers she needs. Dorian finds a friend in Sorscha, the healer who is complicit in her knowledge of the existence of magic in the castle. Aedion is Aelin Ashryver Galathynius's cousin and there is much more to him than meets the eye, especially once he learns that his cousin has truly survived all these years. I loved the addition of all these new characters and new perspectives and what they all bring to the table, and I sense that the characters that survive this book will become very important indeed in future books.
As I said, unlike the previous books, this installment does not focus on romance nearly as much. I appreciated that even though Celaena dwelled on what happened with Chaol a bit, she concentrated her attention on the task at hand. Chaol and Dorian do their own fair share of dwelling on the subject, and their friendship has suffered for it. Dorian has to learn how to wield his own magic while also keeping it a secret. Chaol's sense of duty, his desire to protect his friend at all costs, his love for Celaena, and his promise to his father are all vying for his attention. These two are at odds with one another after Chaol's decision to send Celaena to Wendlyn and his discovery of Dorian's own magic, and it leaves them turning to others for help. And for better or for worse, they'll each have to live with those decisions and what they may bring.
The tone of this book is definitely darker, but the story also delves so much deeper into this world. Yes, this is somewhat of a typical middle book, intent on exploring the world and the rules it abides by over intense action scenes and swoonworthy romance. However, that's not to say that neither of those things makes an appearance in this book. Those scenes are just few and far between in favor of the overarching theme of war that looms over everyone's heads.
I'm very much looking forward to where Maas takes this series in the next three books. I doubt I adequately expressed my sentiments in this review, but I don't think I could honestly do that without spoilers. So, I leave you with this instead: this book does start out slowly with a wallowing Celaena, but give it a chance. If you loved the previous books, you will absolutely find something to love in this book, as well. I promise it's just as engaging as the rest once it gains momentum. And if you haven't even started the series, 1) why are you reading this? and 2) I suggest trying the audiobooks, which are beautifully narrated by Elizabeth Evans.
GIF it to me straight: Pretty much. Also, I want demand my own wyvern.(less)
Midnight Thief was full of surprises. It would have been a great novel to use for my "Review in a GIFfy" feature, if only to use a lot of GIFs with shocked faces. I read the novella last fall after the author graciously sent me a copy, and I think she did so to throw me for a loop once I got to Midnight Thief. Poison Dance is a prequel to this novel and provides the backstory for a very significant character in Midnight Thief, one that seems very much changed...or maybe affected is a better word choice. If you decide to read that story prior to this full-length novel, I recommend keeping in mind that the author wrote the prequel because she had lingering questions about one of her characters.
The characters in Midnight Thief were nothing like I was expecting, especially after reading the prequel story. They were so much more, and I'm actually pretty satisfied with the direction the author took with each of their stories, even if it did take a bit of deliberation to get to that point. I won't make any justifications for any of the characters, but I feel like their actions -- and what led them to them -- were fitting. Kyra is a very talented thief, one with cat-like grace who can circumvent palace guards and deadly assassins alike. But she isn't a skilled fighter. Her successes have all come from her need to survive and look out for the few people who depend on her. Tristam is a privileged knight, dead-set on avenging his friend's death at the hands of the Demon Riders. The story is told from both of their perspectives through alternating chapters, and when I got to nearly half-way through the novel, I started to wonder if the two main characters would ever meet. But meet they did, and what an encounter that was!
I really enjoyed the writing in this story. It's not high fantasy with crazy names for people and places, or one where I needed a map at the start of the book to get some sense of the land, but there is a seriously fantastical element having to do with the Demon Riders that I wasn't expecting at the onset of the novel, and that more than made up for the slightly slower pacing in the first quarter or so and kept the story from feeling generic. I did find that it was fairly easy to guess the nature of the "startling secret" mentioned in the summary, but it didn't detract from the story. In fact, I think knowing that made it easier for my brain to take a break and ignore clues to other goings on that might have made parts of the ending less astonishing. What I mean to say is, though some aspects of this novel may seem slightly predictable, the novel as a whole lends itself to an air of unpredictability, much to my delight. I'm horrible about trying to guess every secret a story holds, and I love a book all the more if it can keep me guessing, as Midnight Thief did.
I've found lately that a lot of summaries for fantasy novels like to mention assassins in the story and then not a whole lot of assassinating actually happens. Kyra is NOT an assassin, nor does she wish to become one. Honestly, there isn't much in the way of assassinations in this novel, but there is plenty of intrigue, death and betrayal, and I don't think that's too far off. Also, I appreciate that this summary makes little to no mention of a romance because this was most certainly not a swooning, fall into his arms kind of story. There are a few moments, and they were spectacularly handled -- both by the characters and the author -- but romance is definitely not where the author's focus lies in this first book. I loved where the author left things, with questions and uncertainties for both of the characters but no one's life is left hanging in the balance. Though there are definitely some major changes coming for some of the characters.
Midnight Thief is an excellent fantasy story that is sure to keep you on your toes. This novel will surely appeal to readers looking for a fast-paced story, full of danger and intrigue and just a hint of romance. It was riveting and damn-near unputdownable, and I hate that I now have to wait another year for more of this story. If you're contemplating reading this story or still unsure, I highly suggest picking up the novella, which is free for Kindle and Nook right now.
This. This is what I was hoping for from the last couple of "fantasy" novels I've read. Unfortunately -- or fortunately for this short story -- this novella packs more of a punch than either of the last two fantasy novels I finished, and it only comes in at a whopping 54 pages!
Okay, maybe I'm a bit biased because I do have an affinity for stories that focus on assassins. Still not sure what that says about me, but there it is. At any rate, there wasn't all that much assassining to be had in this book, but even so, the author captured the world of the assassins -- the betrayal, the mutiny, the upheaval -- in a way that almost glorified the role James played in the Assassin's Guild.
In her pitch to me, the author stated that "I'd classify it more as upper YA or New Adult, while Midnight Thief is mid YA", but honestly, I felt no need to make the distinction. I don't want to compare it to Throne of Glass based on the content because even though assassins are pertinent to the storyline in each book, the actual premise is very different in each story. However, based on maturity level, I'd say this prequel story is comparable. Which means the author's full-length novel will be perfect for everyone! Yay!
Basically, in a few short chapters, the author managed to engage my fantasy-side and keep me glued to the pages, wondering how this story will play into Midnight Thief and Kyra's story when that full-length novel is released next year. I'm looking forward to that book even more now, and I'm so glad I had a chance to try out the author's writing with this prequel story.
GIF it to me straight: Ryan and I both approve...assassins are my weakness!(less)