Reviewed in the United States on September 7, 2017
Tower of Dawn is my second favorite book that Sarah J. Maas has ever written! And it is, hands down, the best installment in the Throne of Glass series, in my honest opinion. I completely and wholeheartedly loved it. This is easily one of the best books I’ve read in 2017.
The first part of this review is spoiler free for Tower of Dawn, but it does have minor spoilers for the rest of the Throne of Glass series!
Also, before I even start this review, I just want to say that I actually think Sarah has been listening to her readers and this book truly proves it. First off, we have a very predominant queer side character, who clearly states this from the beginning and is written very believably and seamlessly. Next, we have a full diverse cast of characters, besides Chaol, in this novel. And lastly, and the thing I was most concerned about going into this book, Sarah respectfully writes about Chaol’s disability, without ever making it seem like he must be “fixed” in order to have self-worth. (But please be aware that this review is coming to you from a white, able-bodied woman, so I am not the voice you should be listening to for the last two representations.)
I also think Sarah unfortunately listened to the backlash about her “young adult” books having so much sex in them, because there is totally less sex in this book than in EoS, ACOMAF, and ACOWAR. There is still amazing angst and build up to sex, and there is one actual sex scene, but nothing near as graphic or even as descriptive as her previous works. Me, being the perverted person that I am, was a little disappointed by this, especially with how much I love Chaol.
I should also preface this review by telling those of you who do not know that Chaol is my favorite character in ToG, well, besides my queen, Manon Blackbeak! I’ve never been the biggest fan of Celaena/Aelin, and I think this story (and the rating I gave it) probably really benefited from that.
The last thing I will say before I actually start this long-winded review is that I cannot stress enough how important it is to read The Assassin and the Healer novella from the novella bind up, The Assassin’s Blade, before you read this book!
Tower of Dawn is a story that is running parallel with the events that took place in Empire of Storms. While Aelin, Dorian, and the rest of the gang are trying to unite empires and bring them together to fight the greater threat at hand, Chaol and Nesryn left for Antica, located in the southern continent, to convince another strong empire to join them in the battle that is inevitably coming, while also seeing if the healers at the Torre can heal Chaol’s paralysis.
Also, the southern continent is way more advanced than Erilea could ever hope to be. Magic is not only thriving here, but it’s celebrated. And healing is one of the most prized powers of all. And one of the three points of view in this book, besides Chaol and Nesryn, is a very talented and powerful healer named Yrene Towers.
I would say the point of views are definitely equal seeming between the three, but there are two big story lines going on. The first being Chaol’s healing, and how he is hurting a lot more than just physically. Chaol is struggling with his self-worth, but I believe he’s also struggling with PTSD. He feels very guilty and that he is to blame for Aelin, Dorian, his family, his guardsmen, and also his disability. This book really showcases and highlights how mental pain and disabilities are just as hard to overcome as physically pain and disabilities, and Chaol for sure learns this lesson in true Chaol fashion: the hard way.
And the second storyline is a big mixture of different ways Chaol and Nesryn are trying to sway the current khagan, Urus, to their cause. Urus has six children and when he passes on one of them will rule, because in this kingdom it is not automatically given to the first-born heir. No one knows who the ruler will be, so this can make siblings rather blood thirty for one another, and once one is chosen to rule, the others must submit or things can get really bloody. This also makes the task of winning them all over a little difficult for Chaol and Nesryn.
“Your city is the greatest I have ever laid eyes upon, your empire the standard by which all others should be measured. When Morath comes to lay waste to it, who will stand with you if we are all carrion?”
Urus’ six children:
➽Arghun – oldest child and enjoys power in knowledge.
➽Sartaq – second oldest and commands the Rukhin riders.
➽Hasar – third oldest and amazingly queer.
➽Kashin – fourth oldest and most loyal.
➽Duva - fifth oldest, who is married and carrying the first grandbaby right now.
➽Tumelun - the baby, and the cause of an underlying mystery.
All of these side characters are very impactful to not only this book, but the greater arching story at hand, too. These characters also put a big emphasis on family for this story, and the amazing lengths we are willing to go for the people we love.
Tower of Dawn not only introduces a vast array of new characters, and it also helps showcase that this book feels like a love letter to being young and finding yourself. Yet also, finding what you truly want in your life. I mean, these characters are all in their early 20s, it’s not plausible that they are all going to know what path they want to take, or that they all choose to take the path that was set for them by others. I love that this book realistically depicts that your first love won’t always be your last love, and how normal and okay that truly is. Finding yourself, and what you want from this life, is a truly beautiful story in and of itself.
There is a vast amount of world building and character development within these 700 pages, and I truly believe this is such a wonderful addition to this series. Before I get into the spoiler section, I will say that there are trigger warnings for talk of suicide, grey area cheating, war themes, and violence. I will also say that the epilogue of this book will probably shatter your soul. Like, is it Fall of 2018 yet? But I loved this and it was such a wonderful and important installment in the Throne of Glass series.
“The heart he’d offered and had been left to drop on the wooden planks of the river docks. An assassin who had sailed away and a queen who had returned.”