Review: Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass, #6) by Sarah J. Maas

12:13 AM

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas | Rating: ★★★☆☆

"I once lived in fear of other people. I let other people walk all over me just because I was too afraid of the consequences for refusing. I did not know how to refuse.”

Oh, I had high hopes for Tower of Dawn. I always felt that Chaol Westfall had so much more to offer than we'd been given in the course of the series and Maas obviously felt the same too. Although I had a lot of love for Chaol at the start of Throne of Glass, my interest in him faded as his character became less and less like what I'd assumed he once was. Admittedly, this fact is what caused me to just procrastinate Tower of Dawn for as long as I have. I just didn't have enough interest in picking it up for these few months that I've had it in my possession.

Maas, of course, forever has a pull on me in spite of this. I picked it up one day and finished it within the span of two days. I'm going to be honest with you: Tower of Dawn is not my favourite installment in the series but it's still solid and thrilling to the extent that we all expect from Maas at this point. The woman knows how to pen a story and even the ones that aren't fully my cup of tea are beautifully crafted, quality stories that are equally romantic and full of fantasy.

Once more, Sarah J. Maas' worldbuilding is outstanding and breathtaking; truly vivid in a way that takes us out of this world and expands the world we see throughout the Throne of Glass series. I like that we were taken to this new location that balanced out the danger, angst and romance perfectly. I especially appreciated getting to know new and old characters alike because it just built something that was desperately needed to flesh out and elevate their worlds. Tower of Dawn's greatest triumph lays within this exploration and how it ties into the fifth book of the series perfectly.

Part of me had an issue with the length--there were times where it dragged on for me, personally, and felt like it could have ended sooner--and that's what knocked down the rating by at least a star. I just felt like there was something slowing it down that just... wasn't for me. And felt a bit choppy. Tower of Dawn fit somewhere in the previous installment but it was entirely necessary to make it into a story of its own.

That being said, let's get to the characters:

I missed seeing a bigger presence of the usual suspects, but I liked the mentions of them that line up with the timeline and what we know was happening in the previous book. Still, their full on presence is a little unsettling to me--but only because I love them so much and everything being scattered was blah to me.

(No, not blah. I just missed Aelin and Dorian and Manon and everyone.) 

But I did enjoy the introduction of several other characters and their voices; the relationships they make and the path that each of them embark on. While Throne of Glass has no shortage of delicious characters, it felt very right to include some new faces and have their stories be told.

They just fit.

And then there's Chaol, Chaol, Chaol.

Okay, I'm back to not totally hating him now. Not that I ever truly hated him, mind you. I had a lot of grudges held against Chaol Westfall and he certainly, ah, fell from grace in my mind. Tower of Dawn is definitely more prominently his story and the moment that will either make or break him. I'm glad we got to spend so much time in his head because it reminded us why we loved him to begin with. I felt like Maas did a great job rebuilding Chaol's mental state and it was just... nice. Because it's this defining moment where we're like, "Yep. Chaol Westfall is back and better than ever."

Chaol is flawed. He isn't always going to do or say the right thing but that's what makes him fit in with each of the characters in this series. Somehow, everyone is a huge part to the bigger picture and in his narration we're reminded why he truly fits. Everything he goes through in Tower of Dawn is a true coming-home type of feeling. I liked seeing him find himself again as well as his relationship with Yrene.

It was satisfying.

I'll admit, I was a little concerned that their budding romance was going to feel forced due to what we saw him Chaol's feelings with Aelin and the chemistry he had with Nesryn. I also had concerns that it would border on one of those, "Man meets woman. Woman heals man." and that be it. Which was just dumb on my part, considering the trust I hold in Maas' storytelling. I really enjoyed the relationship that forms between Chaol and Yrene because they just click while maintaining who they are as two very different individuals.

Yrene, for example, becomes a character that punches you in the gut in terms of her entire backstory and appearance*. I wasn't sure I'd like her (let alone love her because frankly, I'm in love with her, oh my God!) because it was one of those, where did you come from? moments introduction wise but that made me appreciate her more.

*I have not read the Assassin's Blade yet, so Yrene's presence was out of the blue for me in this way only. 

We had very little time with her (although I use that statement loosely, as it is a Sarah J. Maas book) and her narration felt very special. She ties into the entire world perfectly and stands out. I really love the strength we witness from her from the very beginning--she is determined, caring and intelligent. I wanted to know everything, you know? And it was impossible not to root for her in her career, in her personal aspirations and in the relationship that begins to bloom with Chaol.


(Plus, I'm a sucker for the trope of hate-turning-to-friendship-turning-to-love.)

Next up: I loved that we saw more of Nesryn. I always wanted to know more of her POV and we get a lot in Tower of Dawn. I liked that the story was split in narration because it gave us a chance to see things through a variety of eyes and Nesryn's chapters were some of my favourite. I just appreciate the care that obviously went into crafting her and the journey she goes on is equally as important as Chaol's journey but ultimately different. As per usual, she joins the ranks of many Maas women who kick serious ass and bring pure fire to every scene she is in.

There's this parallel between Nesryn and the newcomer prince Sartaq, one of the more prominent new characters in Tower of Dawn, that makes you want them together before the romance becomes fully apparent. I found that they were very similar to the core and both are legendary in their own rights--I liked this vibe that came out between them and they both had this, 'I admired you from afar.' bond. It was very satisfying seeing them become a true pairing.

In spite of me liking the chemistry between Nesryn and Chaol, I'm really pleased with the fact that they obviously aren't endgame. I think their attraction served a good purpose but they were not at all meant to be and I'm glad with where it lead them. Which is on a journey--finding themselves and the one they just may meant to be with.

(I grinned all silly over this. I have no idea why.)

That being said, I loved the other characters we met in this book even if only for a brief moment in time. The new continent (to us) is explored and in this, we see a lot of differences. Yrene's connection to the royal family, as a prominent healer, leads us to the introduction of the central plotlines and the reasons that led Nesryn and Chaol there to begin with.

I really loved what we saw of this particular royal family and definitely need a spin-off centered around them and their world: Khagan Urus, Duva, Hasar, Kashin, Arghun, the previously mentioned Sartaq and the recently departed Tumelun. I thought they were all interesting, even the ones that we had not seen much of and their culture was very fascinating. I wasn't sure at first about the siblings and their intentions, or love, towards one another, but by the end--I really felt for them.

I was very intrigued by the Southern Continent, in other words. Especially after this scene towards the end--after it is revealed that a vlag princess had possessed one of them:

“Not her,” she said quietly. “All the others,” she added with a stark look at Sartaq, who nodded grimly. “But never Duva.” 

Overall, I really enjoyed Tower of Dawn but did take issues with some moments within it and that caused my rating to go down a bit. I can't say that I am overly fond of the way that Maas explored Chaol's disability and how it was woven into the story as an ailment that needed to be healed AT ONCE (although, I do understand how stressful this would be for someone like Chaol, don't get me wrong) and felt it could have been done with more care.

I loved the adventurous vibe to this book and all the romance. By the end, I was beyond excited to see what happens in the next installment and loath the fact that we have to wait for it!

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