ARC Book Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Posted August 20, 2014 by Debby in Reviews / 4 Comments

I received this book for free from Book Expo America in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Book Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. MaasHeir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Published by Bloomsbury on September 2nd, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 565
Format: ARC
Source: Book Expo America

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

4 Stars

Sarah J. Maas delivers again with Heir of Fire, the third installment in a high fantasy series that is turning out to be one of my absolute favorites. At 565 pages, this book is HUGE – but I loved it and almost wish it were longer so I could have stayed in that world. And I know this book hasn’t even been released yet, but can I has the next one plz? I’m only slightly addicted.

Heir of Fire is what I’ll fondly call the character and world building installment of the Throne of Glass series, because seriously. Sarah J. Maas steps it up and delivers an absolutely stunning world and gives amazing depth to truly unique characters. Celaena, now unveiled as a Fae, trains to control her fire magic, while she also struggles with the demons of her past. Through flashbacks and dreams, we finally learn about the horrors Celaena went through 10 years ago, and I felt like I got to know her so much better. She’s such a complex character, with so much depth, and I can’t imagine anyone reading those passages and not feeling immense sympathy. She’s flawed and at times selfish, but she owns that, and she makes great strides in character growth by the end of this book.

But anyway, I LOVE the magic. Love the Fae, the demi-Fae, the fortress where she trains, the places she visits across the sea. The training she goes through, with different trials and different tests, while also slowly unveiling a horrifying string of murders of demi-Fae, were all described in such glorious detail… I feel like Maas has finally come into her own – and thinking back to the previous installments in the series, her writing has become that much more impressive. I was immersed in this world and I never wanted to leave. It reminded me of all the fantasy greats – The Lord of the Rings, A Game of Thrones – you name it, Heir of Fire is on par.

But of course, Celaena doesn’t go through these trials on her own. She meets Rowan, a Fae prince, who is tasked with training her until her magic is deemed good enough to warrant a meeting with the Fae Queen, Maeve – who holds the answers to the many mysteries surrounding the Wyrdkeys. Rowan is basically my everything. He’s super mysterious and starts off completely silent and cold. Slowly but surely, however, within these 560+ pages, he completely stole my heart. He has so much depth; which is logical, as he’s lived for centuries and seen many horrible wars and deaths. After a very rough start to their relationship, however, Celaena finds in him a kindred spirit. He just understands her and doesn’t back down when she’s being her wonderfully snarly self. How their friendship develops is just the most beautiful thing – so heartfelt and emotional – and I liked that it just stayed a friendship. Look at this guys! A girl and a guy as just friends, despite both being extremely attractive, unattached, and powerful. I will say though that I raised some serious eyebrow at all the times they had “silent” conversations. They would have entire back-and-forths exchanged in looks… but there is no psychic bond or anything that I can tell. It felt a little odd and corny at times. BUT WHATEVER, they’re the best dream team ever.

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But don’t worry, I’m not forgetting about everyone’s love – Chaol. Chaol is still in Rifthold, where he finds out what he can about Celaena, the rebellion against the king, and the spell that took magic away. We also see some of Dorian, who is struggling with controlling (and hiding) his newly discovered magical powers – and he meets a true sweetheart who eases his burdens, Sorscha. I loved seeing their romance blossom so subtly and sweetly, though we didn’t see too much of it. Sorscha could maybe have been developed a bit more, because she seems a bit one-dimensional at times. View Spoiler » A new character also comes to court: Aedion, Celaena’s cousin, now a general in the king’s army. He’s a bit mysterious and at times I questioned him, but knowing the history between him and Aelin, I grew to like him as well. The Rifthold scenes really worked to give more background about the world and the politics, which I am always rather a fan of. The careful planning of the rebellion would appeal to any dystopian fans for sure.

The sad thing about this book, which could possibly disappoint many fans, is that there is very little romance involved – aside from Dorian’s mini-romance. Celaena and Chaol are still hung up on each other, but they both have so much else to worry about that they’re not pining. However, I appreciated it in the long run. It would have been so easy to make Rowan the new opposite angle in a love triangle. The book could have fallen victim to the trap of YA to have moany passages about being separated from your lover. But these characters are just too fierce for that. And it makes their relationship stronger and more real, I feel. But I’m not going to lie – I am dying for Celaena and Chaol to be reunited, though I can tell it’s not going to be easy.

For all my gushing, though, the book is seriously lengthy, and at times it feels like not much is happening. After finishing and looking back, I can recognize that every scene and action was in fact important, but it just felt slow at times. My biggest hesitance is all the scenes with Manon, a fierce new character, a witch who is being trained to fight for the king. She and her coven are assembled with rival witch clans to ride wyverns, so that in the coming war, the king will have an extra deadly force. Though I appreciated seeing her bond with her wyvern, Abraxos, and being introduced to this new race that will play an important role later on, it felt a bit out of place and didn’t really lead anywhere yet. This became especially apparent when Celaena and Rowan have massive, intense battle, and Manon doesn’t get any more chapters for over a hundred pages – and I didn’t even really notice or care. It was jarring to suddenly come back to her after all that time. While I cared for Celaena and Rowan and the party in Rifthold, I did not care so much for Manon; and while this is often the case with epic fantasies with many characters, the switches between the storylines felt a bit imbalanced.

The last 40 pages, however, bring sucker punch after sucker punch. To anyone who dislikes the pacing, I’d say just hang in there. Seriously, those last few pages were intense, and there were multiple instances of me yelling, “NONONONONONONOOOOOOOO!” at the book in my hands. Everything just came together: these beautiful diverse characters with all their bravery had somehow, unbeknownst to me really, wormed their ways into my heart, and I just CARED SO MUCH. The world, with all of Celaena’s back story finally revealed, brilliantly came to life, and I was just left with the desire for more.

Summing Up:

I won’t lead you on: Heir of Fire is definitely an intermediary novel. Though there are some epic battles and intensely emotional twists, most of the book is focused on character and relationship development (and not the romantic kind), while also revealing more about the world. But it never felt infodumpy, and though it is long and sometimes slow, I was never truly bored. These characters completely hold my heart, and I am extremely invested in their stories. Maas’s writing has infinitely improved, and she reassured me again that NO ONE IS SAFE – which is both terrifying and exciting. I cannot wait to see where this series goes next – it’s really shaping up to be one of my all-time favorites.

GIF it to me straight!

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Recommended To:

All epic/high fantasy fans!!

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4 responses to “ARC Book Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

  1. I basically agree with everything in your review! Very Game of Thrones vibe to me, especially with the many viewpoints and switching and sometimes I was just like ugh, Manon chapter… can I get back to Celaena? I did grow to really like Manon and that should be interesting to see what happens in future books. I also very much missed the romance but thank god Rowan and Celaena were just friends. I ADORED their relationship and would’ve hated for them to be more. I seriously loved it but totally agree — the first half was very slow to me.

    • I think Manon was interesting, but I just didn’t feel there was enough of her plot line there to make me really excited to read it. I dunno. Abraxos was really cute. So I should get over myself. That’s the thing inherent to epic fantasies though: some characters you LOVE, some you care a bit less about.

      I think I *could* potentially ship Celaena and Rowan later. Easily, really, especially given how Sarah writes. But I like it this way. Their friendship is just amazinggg, and this leaves Rowan single for ME haha.

  2. I finished Throne of Glass recently and I absolutely loved it. Now I just need to find a copy of Crown of Midnight! It’s so sad because I have Heir of Fire staring at me but I can’t read it yet. :'( Hopefully soon though! I feel like I’d really appreciate Heir of Fire. I’m glad that Sarah J. Maas has tried something different with all the aspects of her story. 😀
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