Wednesday, September 13 was a very special day. Of course, I forgot to say something on the actual day because school’s kept me busy, but I’m bringing it up now. A belated celebration. Heir of Glitter is officially two years old! *throws glitter*
See what I did there?
I honestly can’t believe I’ve kept this blog going for two years. I know I’ve said this before, but occasions like this require cheesiness, so I’m going to tell you again. I started Heir of Glitter in September 2015 just for fun. I had no idea if I’d actually stick with it. My first posts are embarrassing and I don’t think I had any readers until November. Last year my blog reached milestones I never imagined it would reach. And even though this year has been rough and posts have been few and far between, I can’t imagine stopping now. I could go on, but my review is already long enough, so I’ll stop here. Thank you so much for supporting my little cloud of the Internet, and for making these two years amazing! ❤
Now on to the real reason behind this huge post. Over the past week, I read Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas. Although it wasn’t the story I wanted, I was still really excited for it. However, I had recently come to terms with just how problematic the rest of Sarah’s books are, and knew I’d be reading this one critically. I annotated as I read, and this morning spent a grand total of four hours writing my Goodreads review. And because I’ve gone nearly two more weeks without posting, and had no other ideas, I thought I’d share it here. 😉
So without further ado, here’s my rather long review! After you read, feel free to start a discussion in the comments!
Warning: contains spoilers for Tower of Dawn.
“‘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. The day I reached these shores, I cast aside that girl. And I will be damned if I let her reemerge. Or let someone tell me what to do with my life, my choices again.'”
Prior to release, I wasn’t sure how to feel about this book. I knew I’d read it, but I was skeptical. I didn’t want a story about Chaol, I wanted the next leg of Aelin and company’s journey. I didn’t know how SJM would handle writing a main character with such a prominent disability. I went in tentative, ready to criticize, but hopeful. While the book wasn’t everything I’d hoped it would be, in the end it was still good.
I’m going to be blunt: I think this book could’ve been shorter. Nearly the entire first half was slow-paced, and as much as I like political intrigue and drama, I don’t want that as a filler for a bigger plot. In my opinion, the Valg attack in the Torre library was the first significant event, the event that got the ball rolling. Everything before was interesting, but not really gripping. However, once I reached the halfway point, the story began to pick up, and closer to the 60% mark I was really, truly into it. Of course, the last 100 pages were the most intense, as per usual with any SJM book, but I’m not there yet.
Most of the twists, big and small, were beyond what I ever imagined. Lysandra has an uncle. The Torre healers have magic that could be crucial in Aelin’s victory against Erawan. Duva was the one behind everything shady in the khagan’s court, because she was possessed by a Valg. Maeve is actually Valg, and a freaking queen at that. Despite the problems in this book (and others), I have to give it to SJM: she’s really good at putting a spin on things that I never expected.
Two of my favorite parts of the story were Nesryn and Sartaq’s time with the rukhin, and the Torre healers – Yrene specifically. I liked that the rukhin were warrior tribes, and in general they just seemed really cool. I liked the ruks too, and honestly, Kadara totally reminded me of Abraxos. As for the Torre, well, I didn’t think I’d care, but I did. It just felt like a homey place, and I enjoyed learning about the healers’ practices and history.
Even though I wasn’t his biggest fan in QOS, I have to admit that Chaol definitely grew on me while I read. His character arc was very evident, and well-done. He begins the story as an angry, self-pitying, and doubtful man, due mainly to his disability and confinement to a wheelchair, but also because he doesn’t know where or how Dorian is. As the story progresses, he realizes that his chair doesn’t define him, and he’s no lesser because he’s in it. Although there’s much more to it than that, including problematic rep, I liked that his mindset did eventually change. By the end he was happy again, and had regained his courage and confidence.
Yrene is my new favorite character and 100% my girl crush. Holy wow, girl! *heart eyes* Her character arc was also excellent, as she goes from spiteful to accepting in terms of Adarlan, and specifically, Chaol.
Although there’s a lot more to that second one. *smirk* I didn’t really care about her when she was introduced in TAB, but as I said, she’s now my favorite. When she’s first introduced in this book, she’s fairly vulnerable, but as chapters go by and new information is revealed, she becomes a serious badass. I love Yrene Towers. That’s that. I mean, in the beginning I totally thought she was too quick to judge and I wasn’t sure if I’d like her, but clearly that was resolved. I LOVE HER.
As for Nesryn, I was excited that her character would be expanded on and hopeful that I’d grow to love her after not really caring in QOS, but alas, that didn’t happen. I liked her, I thought she was cool, but that was about it. Also, I don’t think she had any real character development, which is unfortunate. I have to say, she’s probably my least favorite of the three. Again, unfortunate.
I won’t be going through all of the side characters, because that would take up a lot of time and this review is already going to be really long. The short version is that they were all cool, I liked them, but I felt like they had no real personality. Sorry not sorry.
I loved Antica. It was a clearly developed, picturesque country, and I just loved it. I would live there, to be honest. If I decided to move out of the Night Court and the Summer Court, I’d go there. I liked the idea of the khaganate, and that each khagan was just, impartial, and worthy of the throne. They had a system that worked, they stuck to it, people were happy. And, even better, they were respectful of their servants! There were laws to protect them, and punishments for anyone that broke those laws. Their servants were seen as people, and it’s about time that happened.
Although there was definitely a darker note to the ruling system. The current khagan had to choose one of their children to be heir, and it turned into a competition of sorts. Whoever was chosen had the option to castrate or even kill their siblings if they wouldn’t swear loyalty, once said heir had taken over. Luckily Sartaq seemed ready to end that, but still. Extreme, much? And while I’m talking about darker things, the Valg were in Antica causing trouble from the sidelines, and that was annoying. They can’t go away on their own, I don’t get it.
I’m totally being sarcastic here.
I was sad to see Chaol and Nesryn drift apart, but I think simple communication could’ve helped prevent that. Talk it out, people! Although maybe separating them was better, because I found a quote in one of Nesryn’s chapters that made me question their relationship.
“She’d started sleeping with him that summer because she didn’t see the point in resisting where her interest tugged her. Even if she hadn’t cared for him, not as she did now.”
I’m sorry, what? Nesryn slept with Chaol on a whim? Why even bother? Yeah, no thanks.
But Chaol and Yrene… YES I LOVE THEM.
I mean, ideally it would be Yrene and me, but they’re good too. Just saying.They have a total hate-to-love romance and I love it so much. At first I didn’t think they’d fit, but a few chapters later I was totally on board. One of my favorite things about their relationship was that they weren’t constantly thinking about or having sex, like Rowan and Aelin were in EOS. There was only one real sex scene and it was nowhere near what I’ve heard about those in EOS. I appreciated that SJM backed off in that aspect to focus more on their feelings and the story. My only complaint regarding the two of them is that THEIR WEDDING HAPPENED OFF-PAGE. I mean, yeah, they did get married rather quickly and I don’t know how to feel about it, but I got no details! I want details!
This isn’t major, but I just want to say that I love Yrene and Hafiza’s relationship. Hafiza is like a grandmother for Yrene and you can tell they care about one another. They aren’t related, but they love each other like they are. At least, that’s what I picked up on when I read.
As for Nesryn and Sartaq’s romance, well, I liked it. But since I didn’t find either one of them extremely interesting, I can’t say much more. I do hope they stick together though, because even if they aren’t my favorites I want them to be happy.
And there’s an f/f romance! Granted, it’s between two side characters, Hasar and Renia, but they’re openly gay (or bi, it wasn’t specified) and happy. I know it’s far from enough to make up from all of the hetero characters in SJM’s nine previous books, but it’s a small, positive step, at least in my opinion.
Okay, now let’s talk about that freaking ENDING. People were saying it was heartbreaking and I was curious. I reached the end and found it quite the opposite. I thought Chaol, Yrene, and Nesryn sailing north with a huge army consisting of land, navy, and aerial soldiers was a nice way to conclude the story. I was happy and in disbelief that a SJM book could end without hurting my soul. Then I saw that there was a page left, and the chapter heading was merely “Fireheart.” I was wrong. That part hurt my soul, and now I need the next book, but there’s 354 days until its release and I CAN’T WAIT THAT LONG. WHY WHY WHY. 😦
Funny moment interlude! My two favorite parts were Chaol’s cluelessness and Yrene shoving Hasar into the pool on their oasis retreat.
“It was perhaps the one place Aelin would never go – down to the domain of the Pirate Lord. He’d heard her story, once, of her “misadventures” with Rolfe. As if destroying his city and wrecking his prized ships were just another bit of fun. Heading there would indeed be the last thing Aelin would do, with the Pirate Lord’s promise to slaughter her on sight.”
Aw, Chaol, you’ve been gone a few months and you have no idea what’s going on.
“And though Chaol might have decided against pushing Hasar into the pool behind her, Yrene had no such qualms about doing it herself. One heartbeat, Hasar was smirking up at her.
The next, her legs and skirts and jewels went sky-up, her shriek piercing across the dunes as Yrene shoved the princess, chair and all, into the water.”
Best. Scene. In the book. Hands down. 😛
A short list of random thoughts:
– When Sartaq almost died, the scene with him and Nesryn strongly resembled one between Cassian and Nesta in ACOWAR.
“‘I loved you before I ever set eyes on you.’
‘I wish we’d had time.'”
– Even though the revelation that Maeve is a Valg queen makes the theory of them being related impossible, in a description of her powers and deception I saw a resemblance to Rhys’ powers.
“‘And using her powers, she ripped into their minds.'”
– There were very few scattered throughout the book, maybe three or four total, but the sexist remarks were there nonetheless. I don’t care what the context is. They shouldn’t be there and that’s that.
“He said it so calmly. With such male entitlement.” and “And not at all surprised to see the thinly veiled warning in the male’s gaze. Chaol had seen it often enough: Territory claimed.
Whether Yrene welcomed it or not.”
– And finally, a line that I found relevant in our own world, a sad truth. This is right before Yrene finds the dead healer in the library. “Not rape, not theft-not something that cowards would rather hide from. Yell fire, the stranger had instructed her. A threat to all. If you are attacked, yell about a fire.”
The last thing I want to talk about, and by far the most significant, is the disability rep. I’m not disabled so I can’t say anything about it on a personal level, but I was able to recognize plenty of ableism. I don’t know how much research SJM did, or if she did any, but I do know she didn’t do a very good job writing Chaol’s disability.
I know that this is a fantasy world, and what’s impossible for us might be possible in this world. I know part of the story is supposed to be Chaol learning acceptance, or something like that. But in this case, I’m not just going to accept that. I think a lot of improvements could’ve been made. Here’s a list of the issues I found. There could be more, smaller details that I didn’t pick up on, but I think I caught most of them.
– As early as page 6, Chaol believes he needs to find a healer at the Torre to fix him.
– On page 207, Chaol regains movement and feeling in his toes.
– Less than 100 pages later, on page 281, it moves up to his ankles.
– By page 440, he can move all the way up to his knees, but can’t stand yet.
– At the same time, he finally realizes that his wheelchair doesn’t make him any less of a man. This is over halfway through to book.
– Only 15 pages later, on page 455, he’s able to stand and walk around. In the story this is only a day later.
– Following that, in two to three weeks in story time, he gets better at walking and is able to mount, dismount, and ride a horse with no brace or assistance.
– On pages 575-576, he’s completely healed.
– Between pages 610-624, he’s injured by Duva/Valg and all progress is erased. But with the help of the other healers that came to their aid, Yrene is able to heal him once more and save him from dying. Now so long as her magic is full, he’s healed. His disability will return when Yrene depletes her magic, staying until it refills. When one of them dies, the other will too.
While I’m happy that Chaol is happy, I don’t think this was the right path for him. Just as he was starting to accept his life in his wheelchair, he was magically healed. The process was slow and in the end it still partially affects him, but I don’t like it. It’s ableist and honestly, I don’t get it. Why did he have to be healed? Did SJM not want to deal with the extra complications of writing a character in a wheelchair during the final battle? Was the goal to make him a “real warrior,” or something similar, by healing him? Was it so he could have sex whenever he felt like it? I’m an able-bodied girl and this makes me bitter. I can’t imagine how any disabled people reading this might feel. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry. ❤
So all in all, this was a good book. It certainly had a lot of issues, and it was far from what I’d hoped for, but I still enjoyed it. Now all that’s left is to count down to the hopefully grand, happy finale.
That’s about as likely as me getting a pet unicorn, but let me dream.
I gave Tower of Dawn 3.5 stars.
If you’re still reading, you deserve ice cream. Heck, I want ice cream too. THAT TOOK SO LONG.
Now let’s discuss! Have you read this book, or any others in the series? What are your thoughts? Do you agree with any of my points? Who’s your favorite character? Favorite ship? Will you be reading the final book? I’d love to know! 🙂
I’m off to start on a school project and, hopefully, start reading Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur and Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. 🙂 I hope you all have a fabulous day/night! ❤
Until next time…