A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: May 3rd 2016

4 OUT OF 5 STARS

“No one was my master— but I might be master of everything, if I wished. If I dared.”

Amarantha is dead and Feyre survived. But she is broken beyond repair. Tamlin keeps her cooped up and her life is nothing but planning her wedding. She should be happy, but there’s nothing but emptiness inside. Her bargain with Rhysand still stands and she could be snatched away at any moment. There is something darker brewing, something worse. Feyre will have to decide her fate, and prepare for a war.

There are parts of this book which are almost unbearably slow. Focusing on Feyre just doing everyday things and thinking thoughts that could have been left implied without several paragraphs of description – but the exciting parts of the book are like wildfire.

We get to see more of the Faerie realm, and more of the fae who inhabit it. There’s a strong and interesting cast of characters and several layers of devious planning. While the characters are all a little edgy backstory wise their personalities are mostly very fun to read.

The plot of this book focused heavily on Feyre finding herself again but there’s a healthy dose of danger and action. Feyre has brand new powers and we get to learn about the powers faes other than Tamlin posses. There’s also a spot on depiction of abuse as something that might seem like it had loving intentions but still being horrible.

I can’t exactly put my finger on why I liked this book so much (probably Rhysand), because I can see a lot that should be undesirable about it. Maas’s characters feel so familiar to her Throne of Glass characters, and though the world is new there are so many parallels that it would be easy to imagine them as one in the same. The writing can make things slow and the pairing all the straight couples up because no one is single is a little tiring – but I loved it. I enjoyed every second of reading it.

With a little more focus on action or character and a little less focus on long descriptions and meandering thoughts this book could have been five stars. I can easily see why it would be rated lower but love is blind and all that.

For Fans Of: Six of Crows

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication Date: September 6th 2016

4 OUT OF 5 STARS

“It is not such a hard thing, is it – to die for your friends.”

Aelin is ready to claim her throne. With her band of loyal friends she works to gain allies while fighting enemies on every side. As Aelin discovers the depth of her magic and the strength of her love, she also discovers something else – she doesn’t have much time.

Aelin is the main character, but I’ve always seen her as the weakest point of view in the books. Empire of Storms gives quite a few other characters their own voice and it is so much better for it. The world feels vast and Aelin’s quest feels huge because of all the other places we’re seeing. Lysandra and Manon definitely hold the book up for me.

The biggest issue with me for this novel was coupling off. I loathe when novels have to give every prominent character a romantic partner. It’s not realistic that the eight most important characters all find love within their own tiny group. A group of eight people who (mostly) started out hating each other becoming a group of four couples is ridiculous. Maas tries her best to write the relationships realistically (for three our of four) but it just feels wrong.

The story starts a little slow – but once it picks up the action is non-stop. There is some absolutely stunning character development and some big reveals that will leave lovers on the series breathless. The ending is absolutely beautiful and perfectly sets up for the final book in the series – and also gives Aelin a little more interest as a character which she was desperately lacking.

There are some pretty terrible sex scenes, weak romance and sometimes the characters seem off – but it is an epic story. Manon’s chapters had me on the edge of my seat and the ending left me thrilled.

Throne of Glass has never been my favourite fantasy series, in fact, it’s not even my favourite Sarah J. Maas series, but Empire of Storms is a cut above the rest and I think that this series could actually end on a high note.

For Fans Of: Cinder

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Genres: New Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Publication Date: May 5th 2015

4 OUT OF 5 STARS

“Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”

Where Feyre kills a wolf in the woods she’s unaware of the consequences. Tamlin – a faerie – demands she give her life in exchange. She’s forced to cross over the wall with her captor and live out her days in his manor. Feyre, however, feels less like a prisoner and soon discovers herself developing feelings for the handsome faerie. But a dangerous sickness plagues Tamlin and his land – if Feyre doesn’t act fast not even the mortal world will be spared.

Despite being an entirely new series with no relation to Maas’s other series Throne of Glass – this novel doesn’t escape it’s shadow entirely. Feyre in particular seems to have shades of Celaena all over her. They have some base differences (a love of painting vs. a love of music) but I didn’t feel like I was meeting someone entirely new.

That being said the rest of the cast was fascinating. Tamlin and Lucien are fantastic together. Rhysand in particular is an interesting character, though it’s a shame he didn’t get more page time. Between Tamlin’s sweetness, Lucien’s wit and Rhysand’s mystery there’s a well rounded out male cast. Feyre’s has sisters who are a little involved as well and Nesta in particular is a good female character. It would have been nice to see more female friendship bonds though.

Beyond the characters Maas has built a brilliant and interesting world. The faerie are all interesting, the different species really make the world colourful. It’s interesting to see how they all react to a human. The courts are also fascinating – four seasonal, three time – although I would have preferred to see a little more of how the citizens of each court differ. It would have been nice if magic had been given a set of rules or more explanation but otherwise the world building was well executed.

There are several references to fairy tales. For the most part A Court of Thorns and Roses is a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast – however, there are references to Cinderella and a few other stories if a reader is observant. Though these might not be intentionally they’re fairly close to the original texts (ex. Cinderella/Feyre picking lentils out of ashes). Just little nods to older tales made the story charming.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the novel was the tasks and riddles that the reader gets to experience with Feyre. The tasks are certainly the most exciting parts of the story but the riddle is something else entirely. It’s a joy to be given a riddle and then be allowed to work on the answer for several chapters before it’s handed to you.

It’s a good book – in fact I believer that A Court of Thorns and Roses has the potential to start a series even better than Throne of Glass.

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Read this if you’re a fan of: Cinder

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Publication Date: September 1st 2015

4 OUT OF 5 STARS

“She was a whirling cloud of death, a queen of shadows, and these men were already carrion.”

Celaena Sardothien is ready to shed her old identity and become who she was always meant to be. She’s going to return to Rifthold and put an end to the King of Ardalan once and for all. She must save her cousin while working with the ex-captain of the guard and her ex-lover. What she didn’t plan on was for the prince to be her enemy, his body inhabited by a dark force with no signs of her friend beyond.

This book feels very much like it’s building up towards something huge and then the end is too quick and clean. Things do go wrong for Celaena, but nothing ever goes so wrong that she can’t just sweep it away. At least nothing since she lost Sam.

Manon’s story line is the real gem, just like it was during Heir of Fire. She’d really developing and changing as a character and her relationship with her thirteen and newly introduced Elide are wonderfully written. Manon is complex and powerful, and a hero without being entirely good. The same could be said for Celaena, but other than her own occasional self-pity her actions are never seen as selfish.

That’s not to say Celaena hasn’t changed. She’d definitely come quite far from the volatile character in the first novel. She’s still a little too much though. She’s beautiful, incredibly powerful, incredibly intelligent, essentially good, and while I have no problem with characters being that way they should at least have something terrible happen to them. We know Celaena’s past is terrible but throughout the main series she rarely loses anything. There were such high stakes and then everything goes…pretty fine.

Also I got a little sick midway through reading her every action as being feline.

Lyssandra is a brilliant new character and a personal favourite. Her little twist is something I honestly didn’t expect. She’s sympathetic, and powerful without seeming as unrelatable as I feel Celaena to be.

It was a good read, and these are all mostly minor issues. It set up fantastically for the next book in the series. It’s laced with anticipation for huge events to come.

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Read this if you’re a fan of: Game of Thrones

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Short Stories
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: March 4th 2014

5 OUT OF 5 STARS

“Life isn’t easy, no matter where you are. You’ll make choices you think are right, and then suffer for them.”

A prequel to the wildly popular Throne of Glass series, The Assassin’s Blade follows Celaena Sardothien before her stay in Endovier. Five short stories following her adventures as Ardalan’s Assassin. Pirate Lords, new friends, love and loss, experience Celaena’s life before the popular series and learn how she became infamous.

Prequels are a very tricky business, and writing a prequel that adds something to the series is difficult. Maas has done an absolutely stunning job with hers. In a lot of ways The Assassin’s Blade is certainly better than some of the books in the series proper and it is the only book by Maas to bring me close to tears thus far.

When the readers know the eventual outcome, as most readers of this novel would, creating shock and sadness becomes harder. Despite this Maas wrote five beautiful stories full of adventure, excitement and chronicling the beginning and end of a relationship that has hung over the series since book one. She writes a character that readers know is doomed, and it’s still impossible not to fall in love with him.

This is all dwarfed by what this series of short stories does for Celaena as a character. She has experienced quite a lot of growth in the main series, but this peek into her past rounds her out even more. Celaena starts the series broken, and seeing how she breaks, while perhaps not necessary, is incredibly beneficial to the series.

Prequels are normally something that you can pick up if you really love the series, or just leave it if you’re not interested. The Assassin’s Blade is certainly not mandatory reading to understand the rest of Throne of Glass. However I would strongly urge all readers of the series to pick up this novel. The dimension this book adds to the main story and character would be a terrible thing to miss.

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Read this if you’re a fan of: Game of Thrones

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: September 2nd 2014

5 OUT OF 5 STARS

“She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.”

After surviving years as an assassin, suffering in Endovier and becoming the king’s champion, Celaena has new problems to face. Her destiny is calling and she must finally face who she really is. Meanwhile witches, fae forces and strange beasts are all rising up for a war. A war that needs Celaena to turn the tides.

Throne of Glass never quite captured my hear the way it stole everyone else’s. It was definitely a good book, but it never felt explosive to me. Heir of Fire finally manages to bring the series up to five stars in my eyes though. It starts a title slow but there is much more going on now than in the two previous novels. it’s also nice to see grief change Celaena. Too many heroes handle grief with too much grace. Celaena feels real and effected. The previous books really end up tying together well and very little is forgotten.

The POVs were fantastic in this book. From Dorian’s budding romance, Chaol’s struggle between duty and good, Celaena’s new path and best of all Manon Blackbeak’s training. Manon is a wonderfully written character with a (mostly) blackened heart. Her POV and plotline really brought the book over the edge ratings wise for me. I would read an entire series about Manon and the other witches.

This book is epic, tragic, and beautifully put together. It’s exactly what YA fantasy should be.

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Read this if you’re a fan of: A Game of Thrones

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Publication Date: August 27th 2013

3 OUT OF 5 STARS

“But death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.”

After winning the competition Celaena serves out her sentence as the King’s Champion. Though she’s far less loyal than she leads everyone else to believe. It’s not long before Celaena realizes she’s not the only one working against the crown. Secrets, love and mystery all collide until everything falls apart, In the face of tragedy Ardalan’s Assassin will need to face everything she’s been running from.

Maas is a skilled author, her world is vast and her characters all feel real and alive. The book suffers with it’s pacing though. The first part of the book seems to drag on, while the second part seems to be cut short just when things get exciting. I felt that the romance was a little too whirlwind and cheesy, and I still feel a bit tired of reading about how stunning Celaena is. However, she is one of the first strong female fantasy leads I’ve read that’s been so successful so I can’t be too hard on her. It’s a good book but I struggled getting through it until the last third when things started to heat up. It was enough to ensure I purchase the next installment.

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READ THIS IF YOU’RE A FAN OF: A GAME OF THRONES

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Publication Date: August 7th 2012

4 OUT OF 5 STARS

“Libraries were full of ideas–perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.”

Celaena Sardothien is the assassin of Ardalan. She can take down any mark and can command any price, but she’s made the worst mistake any criminal can make. She got caught. However, after long months of slaving in the salt mine, the Crown Prince has come to offer her a deal. She’s t enter a competition to become the King’s Champion, but with 23 other criminals and a dark force at work will Celaena be able to survive and win her freedom?

Throne of Glass is an incredibly hyped up series, and there are good reasons. Celaena is a remarkably well portrayed female character, she’s strong without being an empty machine. She feels real, as do all the characters around her. The fantasy aspects were well written, and the descriptions of dresses were lovely. It did feel a little unnecessary to include the overused love triangle, and the “mystery” villain is so painfully clear from the beginning it makes Celaena look a little less clever than she’s said to be. These are only small faults however and I’m nearly positive the next book in the series will more than make up for them.

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READ THIS IF YOU’RE A FAN OF: A GAME OF THRONES