Review: Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

TODAlthough Tower of Dawn was published in September, I knew that I needed to read Empire of Storms first, so I wasn’t sure when I would get around to it. And then, after I’d begun reading it, I was afraid that I would put it down for a while, fall into a reading slump, and not pick it up again for another few months. Thankfully, I’ve now finished it, and for those of you who have yet to read it, let me tell you… It’s a wild ride! Not quite as wild as Empire of Storms, but it’s full of new, compelling characters and plot points that will leave you gasping, or at least saying, “WHAAAAAAT?!” (At least that’s where I was at.)

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here! 🙂

What I Liked: When this book was first announced, I think many readers were skeptical about a Chaol-centric installment in this series — especially considering the massive, heart-wrenching cliffhanger at the end of Empire of Storms. (I’M STILL NOT OVER IT.) But this book served multiple purposes. After the events of Queen of Shadows, Chaol considered himself broken — in more ways than one — and was sent by Dorian to seek guidance and healing at the Torre Cesme. On top of that, he and Nesryn — now Captain of the Guard — were charged with bringing an army from Antica to the northern continent in order to aid Aelin in the coming war against Morath. For fans of Chaol who were eager to see more of him, especially after his absence in Empire of Storms, this book delivers. And for fans who were looking for major plot developments and huge, game-changing reveals… this book definitely delivers. I don’t want to spoil anything, but HOLY SHIT. 😱 If you’re thinking about skipping this book, don’t. It’s a great story, but it also contains vital information that will become even more important in the final book.

I enjoyed that this book had some “whodunnit” vibes, and that not everything was as it seemed. Of course, there was some romance. (But, refreshingly, only one sex scene. Like I said in my review of Empire of Storms, don’t get me wrong — I enjoy a good sex scene! But it has to feel natural. Not forced into the story.) No spoilers, of course, but I might have two new favorite pairings… 😉 I loved exploring a new kingdom and familiarizing myself with a completely different power structure, culture, and environment. I wouldn’t be opposed to Maas writing a spin-off series that takes place on the southern continent, but this world is so massive that she could probably spend the rest of her life writing about it… Top-notch world-building, for sure. It took me a while to warm up to the Khagan’s family — and this is probably intentional, because Chaol is certainly wary to place his trust in any of them upon his arrival — but by the end of the book, I loved them. (Except for Arghun. I feel like there’s a reason “ARGH” is in his name… 🙄)

What I Disliked: It took me a while to read this, and aside from this book’s incredible length (672 pages!), some of the reasons why include getting ready for Christmas, cleaning and unpacking around the house (yes, still), and switching back and forth between the hardcover, the Kindle edition, and the audiobook. 😅 Do I think this book could have been shorter? Absolutely. There were some chapters that just didn’t interest me. And to be totally honest, it took me a while to really become invested in Nesryn’s story. I found myself more drawn to the scenes with Chaol and Yrene than anything else. I think the pace of this book increased towards the end, and by the conclusion, I was practically on the edge of my seat, eager to see what would happen next. But it had its slow parts.

Going into this book, I was concerned that any personal growth Chaol would experience over the course of the story would be tied too closely to his desire to walk again. In the beginning, he was in the mindset of, “This chair is a prison, and I’m no longer the man I used to be.” But as the book goes on… Well, things happen, and Chaol does change and grow as a person, but he thankfully begins to see things in a different light. And he comes to recognize the fact that being in a wheelchair doesn’t make him a different person — that’s entirely dependent upon him and how he approaches the world. So, I guess I disliked Chaol at the beginning of the book. He was very difficult to deal with (even as a reader), and rather angry and terse. And while I can understand those emotions, and I think the transformation that occurs necessitates that roughness in the beginning, I think it made it harder for me to get into the story.

Overall, this was a great read, and I think its differences from the other books are some of its biggest strengths. While we’re all eager to find out what happens to Aelin, this installment shed some much-needed light on other parts of the world and how they’ve been affected by what’s going on in and around Morath. And this book does contain huge details that will influence the events — and even the outcome — of the final book.

NOTE: If you didn’t read it prior to Empire of Storms, I would recommend reading The Assassin’s Blade before diving into Tower of Dawn. Several of the stories — one in particular that is closely tied to a character in this book — are mentioned, and it will leave you with less confusion.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (This isn’t really rating-related, but I highly recommend the audiobook, as the narrator, Elizabeth Evans, does a fantastic job from start to finish.)

About the Author: Sarah J. Maas
More Books by This Author:
Throne of Glass
Crown of Midnight
Heir of Fire
Queen of Shadows
Empire of Storms
The Assassin’s Blade
A Court of Thorns and Roses
A Court of Mist and Fury
A Court of Wings and Ruin

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