HEIR OF FIRE | Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass, #3
Paperback: 562 pages
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
“Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth…a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.
Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.”
Chaol has always been a bit dull but his internal struggles in deciding where his loyalties lie provides a much-needed counterbalance to Celaena’s extreme behaviors. That being said, Chaol didn’t do much in this one. His scenes were scarce and in some cases, a bit pointless. His mindset remained stagnant and he buzzed around in this one like some mindless drone. He seemed very much unchanged for the majority of the book until he’s compelled to act at the very end.
As for Dorian, his storyline also fell short in HOF. His scenes were even more scarce and useless than Chaol’s. He helped propel the plot in some small capacity, but not enough to justify his even being in the book. And his little love story was so sudden and poorly constructed that I couldn’t care less about his romantic interest, no matter how sweet she was. I knew nothing about her and the relationship she formed with Dorian seemed forced and unnecessary in the long run. Dorian’s only success was barely helping Chaol in deciphering the King’s magic and challenging Chaol’s biased perception of Celaena (aka Aelin). It felt like a total waste of his wonderful character.
The strongest aspect of this book is certainly Celaena’s character arc. For the first part of the book, Maas guides us through a tumultuous odyssey into Celaena’s troubled mind plagued by self-loathing, a mind constantly tortured by the deaths of her beloved friends and family. Celaena finds herself in much of a funk for most of this book and for a long while she struggles to find a way to forgive herself, to rediscover and accept her past identity, and to reconcile her human and Fae counterparts. Some of the most memorable moments are when she finally shares her burden with understanding companions and lifts the many weights from her shoulders in order to move forward.
Manon is the most welcome addition to the story. I loved her bloodthirsty nature and strong-mindedness, and the fact that her journey involves wyverns (huge shout out to best boy Abraxos) and witches is the icing on the cake. Though she didn’t have many chapters, I was always excited to jump into her narrative. Aedion is also a happy addition to the cast, as he presents a much-needed relation to Celaena. His role, though simple, provides a plethora of possibilities for the future of Terrasen.
The Plot and Pacing
The pacing is very slow. The book feels very much like filler. It’s a set-up book, for sure. It acts as the foundation for Celaena’s self-acceptance and mastering of her Fae abilities and royal identity. While the King’s schemes are unraveled, most of the important information and progressive events occur in the last 20% of the book. Everything before is repetitive training sequences, Celaena’s inner struggles, and the other characters just toddling about. The book could have easily been cut down a few 100 pages.
Not great. I’ve said it many times already so I won’t say much about it again. All I will say is that Maas’s writing style certainly is not for me; her descriptions are basic and her diction is unimaginative and repetitive; too many sentences or dependent clauses begin with “no” or “oh” for dramatic effect and the overuse of “male” and “female” could drive a person crazy; the language lacks any identity and is rarely specific to a character or region; uninspired swear words are used generously for the sake of being edgy.
Rowan (*Unpopular Opinion Alert*)
I decided to put Rowan in his own subcategory because I feel a certain way about him and it’s not good. From the moment we meet Rowan, he is rude and venomous. He remains that way for most of the book. He’s a bully and at no point did I find him charming. He taunts and insults Celaena constantly, abusing her emotionally and verbally. He even goes so far as to say that the world would have been better off if she had died ten years ago. And though it is implied that he treats her so badly because he, too, is a tortured soul, I can’t dismiss this disgusting behavior.
In the latter half of the book, he and Celaena form a healing bond after discussing their haunting pasts. I understand that their supposed friendship is a sign of moving forward, but I still had trouble forgiving Rowan for his actions. Whatever friendship they have is in no way cute, and is done only for the inevitable romance to be established between them in the future.
Maybe Queen of Shadows will change my mind. I desperately hope that it does. Because I want to like him for Celaena. They both deserve some happiness. However, both of them need some some serious behavioral improvements, Rowan especially, before that happens.
Heir of Fire was a book of highs and lows for me. The end of Crown of Midnight was an exciting segue into HOF, but the book starts off much slower than expected and plateaus in the middle. Even though not much seems to happen across a span of 400 pages, Celaena does make some strides in character development and the story slowly, but surely, makes its way into a much more complex and thrilling plot. And by the end, the story improves immensely, the pacing accelerates, and the characters find themselves in much more harrowing positions than they began.
…I’m going to rattle the stars.