Tag Archive | fantasy book

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review

23201647_1584530964946131_1083387079_nBook: Tower of Dawn
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass, #6
Genre: High Fantasy
My Rating: 4.5

“I will cherish it always.
No matter what may befall the world.
No matter the oceans, or mountains, or forests in the way.”
  
 Tower of Dawn, the 6th installment in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, turned out to have so much more depth and growth than I was expecting in terms of world building, character development, as well as one of the most interesting and well thought out Empires I have ever read about. It took me nearly two months to read it, which had nothing to do with the book itself. A busy schedule and the daunting length of the book really took a toll on my reading speed. Though, I enjoyed Tower of Dawn’s constant presence as I dragged it everywhere I went.

Tower of Dawn follows the events of Queen of Shadows and has a parallel timeline with Empire of Storms. Instead of seeing Aelin and her crew, we are sent to a journey to the Southern Continent with Chaol as he seeks out the best healers to cure him from an injury that has changed his life. We learn so much fascinating history about the Southern Continent, the Khagan’s family dynamic, as well as vital information that can change the course of the war. Nesryn accompanies Chaol on this journey to her homeland, and they both have set plans for themselves and each other. But the more they’re informed about the events taking place back in the Northern Continent, and as new and old characters get introduced into the narrative, such as Yrene Towers, they find that their paths don’t turn out the way they imagined.

In terms of the overall pacing of the book, I definitely found the beginning to be a bit slow as a lot of information about the Khagan’s Empire, his children, and the Southern Continent were thrown at us. As I mentioned before, though, I found all this world building that Maas thought out and executed to be so fascinating to learn about, that I truly just embraced the info dump.

*Spoilers Ahead*

Well am I ever overwhelmed at the prospect of the amount of point of views there will be in the final Throne of Glass book. Not to mention the amount of ships…

Having read the bonus scene with Nesryn and Chaol on the ship to the Southern Continent, as well as remembering the events that took place between them at the end of Queen of Shadows, you could imagine how ready I was to see this ship set sail in Tower of Dawn. While considering any previous Sarah J. Maas book, it’s not that surprising that the paths of romance consistently change. I have to say though, the main two ships in this book had me hooked to the story.

With Chaol being my favourite character from the beginning of this series, I was so excited that he was getting his own book, especially since I missed his presence in Empire of Storms. Chaol goes through an emotional journey throughout this book. His injury was a huge part of it, but he was also dealing with self hatred as his past actions were constantly haunting him. Yrene Towers is of course appointed to heal him. Though their relationship starts off bumpy, I found their banter to be hilarious. I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of Chaol’s healing process, and whether or not by the end he was going to fully recover. I didn’t know what I wanted the outcome to be. There were so many twists and turns, with him recovering fully and then getting injured again. By the end I think what was most important was Chaol healing emotionally and mentally and accepting his injury for what it is, not believing that he was any less because of it.

“Using the chair is not a punishment. It is not a prison,’ he said softly. ‘It never was. And I am as much of a man in that chair, or with that cane, as I am standing on my feet.”

I knew nothing about Yrene going into this book since I haven’t read The Assassin’s Blade yet. This resulted in not being too excited when I was introduced to Yrene, but that first impression was quickly forgotten as her character really made a huge impact to the depth of the story. There isn’t a shortage of badass women in any Sarah J. Maas book, and I found it heartwarming that Yrene Towers was a badass herself, but in a different way. She wasn’t skilled with swords and she didn’t partake in ending lives, but she was one of the most caring, nurturing, and selfless characters I had the pleasure of getting to know.

“He didn’t understand-how she could be so delicate, so small, when she had overturned his life entirely. Worked miracles with those hands and that soul, this woman who had crossed mountains and seas.”   

I knew where Chaol and Yrene’s relationship was headed early on because I got spoiled, but that didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy their development any less. In fact, knowing that they were going to get married made me curious, excited, and invested in every interaction they had together. Now that they’re married and now that they have a physical bond to each other, I’m eager to read more about them in the final book.

“Will you marry me, Yrene? Will you be my wife?”

We were introduced to so many new and intriguing characters throughout this book, but I would say Sartaq was by far my favourite. I knew from this moment:

“Nesryn dragged her attention away from the prince, even as she felt Sartaq’s keen stare lingering like some phantom touch.”

That something was going to happen between Nesryn and Sartaq, and I was ready for it. I absolutely loved reading about the ruks and Nesryn adapting to Sartaq’s true home; the environment that made him who he was.

In terms of their romance, can I just say that Sartaq is so smooth at flirting it’s not even funny. I mean:

“And I’m relieved to see that the reality lives up to the legend.”
“You had doubts?”
“The reports left out some key information. It made me doubt their accuracy.”
“What, exactly, did they fail to mention?”
“They didn’t mention that you’re beautiful.”  

One of my favourite scenes in general had to be Sartaq and Nesryn fighting the kharankui when they trapped them, even though those demon spiders gave me the creeps. It was horrifying and yet… we got a declaration of love out of it, and I’m a sucker for those in near death experiences.

“I loved you before I ever set eyes on you.”

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the dynamic between the royal siblings in the Southern Continent’s empire, yet some parts of it were confusing to me. Such as the siblings genuinely mourning their little sister’s death but also claiming they were willing to murder each other if one of them was pronounced heir and another tried to get between them and the throne. Of course by the end it’s resolved as Sartaq is named heir and a sort of peace falls over the siblings. This makes me wonder if it all was an act considering every generation before them practised in this tradition.

Tower of Dawn is definitely not a book to skip as so many shocking revelations about the war were revealed that will be important in the final book. This is yet another Sarah J. Maas book that has not disappointed me. I’m so grateful that I decided to pick up Throne of Glass a few years ago and I’m so excited to pick up any future book by this talented author.

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab | Book Review

shade of magicBook: A Darker Shade of Magic

Author: V.E. Schwab

Series: Shades of Magic, #1

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5 Stars

“You don’t know anything about these worlds,” he said.

“Sure I do. There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London.”

When I decided to pick up A Darker Shade of Magic, the first V.E Schwab book I was acquainted with, I never anticipated loving it as much as I did. Obviously I scolded myself for not picking it up sooner, but nevertheless I believe it was the right time to finally read it considering I sensed another reading slump creeping its way towards me. The book managed to draw me into its strange and unique world(s) from the very first line. It was hard to put down, especially when I needed to during exam season, but it helped me get lost and get through some stressful times.

The characters were a pleasure to get to know and the rules of magic, as well as the way the world(s) worked, developed in an informative yet not too overwhelming way throughout the book. This book also reminded me why I love fantasy so much. The little things, such as taverns, swords, magic, and the overall atmosphere of the book, were a part of why these familiar feelings came flooding in. A few parts definitely made me cringe though when the violence was described in vivid ways, and the amount of blood used and spilled in this book was constant, but it didn’t entirely falter my enjoyment of the book as I felt my rating should be a solid 5 stars.

A Darker Shade of Magic follows Kell Maresh and Lila Bard. Kell is what is known as an Antari, one of two that exist, which means he possesses the power to use blood magic to travel between all the existing Londons. Red London, which thrives with magic, is where Kell is from. Grey London, which is very mundane. White London, which starves for magic. And Black London, which hasn’t existed for a long time. The determined, cunning, and brave female protagonist, Lila, is from the dull Grey London and her only wish is to be free. Of course freedom is hard to obtain, so Lila is determined to get what she wants by being a cross-dressing, cutthroat thief. Her goal of being a pirate is how she imagines her freedom to look like, but she can’t be a pirate without the perfect vessel, a scabbard, and a sword. These two characters meet each other in a dramatic and unpleasant circumstance, but perhaps having each other’s backs is the smart option if defeating and surviving the darkness and the danger, that is inevitable to come, is a possibility.

I loved the relationship that developed between Kell and Lila. The mix of Kell’s seriousness and Lila’s talent of finding trouble resulted in hilarious banter that was highly entertaining. The fact that they kept saving each other from danger never ceased to surprise me and yet I appreciated how it got them closer together. And boy was Kell’s constant solution to getting Lila out of trouble by telling her to run my favorite thing ever.

I’m excited to pick up and get through the next book in order to learn more about the world(s) and the characters. There is still so much to explore and I imagine more of how the different Londons and the magical elements are designed will come into play in the continuation of this series.     

Heartless by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

 

heart
Book: Heartless

Author: Marissa Meyer

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy/Retelling

My Rating: 4 Stars

“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.”

 Having rarely been immersed in the classic world of Alice in Wonderland in the past, Heartless by Marissa Meyer threw me into this impossible, whimsical world and I fell in love. And falling in love can in fact lead to a broken heart, which is one of the many emotions I endured because of this tale of the Queen of Hearts before she was the Queen of Hearts. Throughout this book I felt joyful, flushed, in love, annoyed, heartbroken, and angry.

Heartless follows Catherine (Cath), a young girl who only wants to follow her dreams of opening up a bakery. She is the daughter of the Marquess and Marchioness and because of this, expectations weigh her down, ones she wishes she could defy but deep down knows it would be useless. So Cath went on dreaming of the impossibilities with her maid and best friend Mary Ann. Cath knew that the inevitability of the King of Heart’s proposal of marriage was to be bestowed upon her and that her rejection would follow the disappointment of her parents, who were so pleased at the notion of their only daughter becoming queen. Cath’s dreams of the bakery were soon met with the dreams of being with Jest, the new court joker, who she encounters unexpectedly after running away from an almost marriage proposal. Jest was enchanting, entertaining, romantic, and impossible and their forbidden fondness for each other grew rapidly and passionately.

Heartless was such a beautiful but oh so strange read that was hard to put down once the story took off. Almost like falling down a rabbit hole with no tether to stop you from reaching the end. My 4 star rating was the result of my love of the characters and the entertainment of the world’s magical elements, but I was pained by the fact that I felt heartless myself at a certain point in this story, so I couldn’t give it that perfect rating.

Spoilers Ahead

 

Talking animals, a romantic relationship between a pig and a human, enchanted pumpkins that can turn someone into the vilest creature, a vanishing cat, and so much more.

Wonderland is an odd place and despite expecting all this already, it definitely had me surprised more times than I could keep track of.

My love for the main characters, Cath, Jest, Mary Ann, Hatta and Raven, left me in complete shreds by the end because all I wanted was for my favourites to be happy.

Cath knew what would bring her joy for the rest of her life, opening up a bakery and being with Jest, but was restricted by her parent’s dream of her becoming queen. Unfortunately the world she lived in didn’t see it proper for a woman to own a business, especially one who already had a high title in society. Her reputation was on the line, one she didn’t care about tarnishing, but her parents obviously thought differently. I just wish Cath was able to stand up for herself, her future, her happiness from the beginning, to not allow anyone to restrain her wants and dreams.           

Jest. Jest!

This beautiful, spirited joker who only wanted a lifetime at Cath’s side! I just can’t. I knew from the moment we met Jest that something was going to happen. There needed to be a motivation, something to turn Cath into the one thing she never wanted to be. And of course I was preparing myself for the inevitable, but when it happened, it didn’t sting any less.

There were so many great moments between him and Cath though. I loved the angst when Jest had to help woo Cath on the King’s behalf and witness their courtship, wishing he was in the King’s place. I loved when they snuck away in the middle of the night to join Hatta’s tea party, which is also where he found out how much of a talented baker she was. Or that time she chooses him and he whisks her away from the King and kisses her passionately. There were too many beautiful moments and all I can say is that Jest deserved better.

It was all just multiple catastrophic events that lead to that fated outcome. If Hatta didn’t throw those pumpkin seeds in the patch, if Mary Ann wasn’t stupid enough to venture there by herself, if Cath didn’t decide to go through that door… maybe things would have turned out alright. But it’s exhausting to think about all the what ifs.

Like I’ve said before, that outcome was inevitable. Cath needed to be heartless, to seek vengeance, to be angry, and what better way to motivate her into becoming one of the most treacherous villains we have ever known then by taking away the one person she loved the most from her life in the most horrific way.

Despite feeling sad about this conclusion, I’m actually glad that Raven stayed with her. Even though he has now become her executioner and the whole thing is entirely messed up, at least she still has a part of Jest with her. I just hope between all that wickedness she realizes it too.

I’ve always found Marissa Meyer’s stories easy to stay absorbed in from the very first line. I love how she’s able to take these beloved and well-known characters, write a unique twist to their stories, and still include elements from the original. For example, Jest gave her white roses and the castle gardens were full of them, reminding her of the grief and pain she was enduring from losing him. So she demanded only red roses to be planted, which is a parallel to “painting the roses red.”

I believe where the story ended was pretty conclusive and it makes sense that Heartless is a standalone, but I’m not opposed to a sequel if Marissa Meyer ever wanted to tell more of Cath’s story. Regardless, I’m looking forward to reading more books by Marissa Meyer.