The short: 3.5/5 ✦. A fine installment of the Throne of Glass series, including more in-depth character development, plot advancement, and an all-new set of questions.
Now I’m truly beginning to understand the hype of this series. Celeana has finally stopped flouncing around so much (after she got totally and deservedly told off for being a spoiled brat). In fact, this Celeana is broken and depressed. She still doesn’t forgive herself for what happened to Nehemia, despite knowing there was nothing that could have been done to prevent her death. She hates herself for hurting Chaol, for hiding her identity, and for running away from her responsibilities as Aelin.
Of course, this is all coming from Crown of Midnight, which further drives home the awkwardness of the first book, Throne of Glass. It is truly the black sheep of the group, since it really doesn’t fit in, both in terms of quality and pure character development. It’s as if it should’ve been included in The Assassin’s Blade collection of short stories for all the impact it seems to have made. There is no mention of Celeana’s childhood or Fae or anything in it, as it merely sets up the king, the lack of magic, and Celeana’s (at the time) purely informative famous status. Thanks to the other books, though, we have a much better understanding of who Celeana is, both now and in the past, and she’s a much, much better character than in Throne of Glass. She’s still bratty, but now there’s context: she was once a princess, then a skilled assassin, and then lounged around the castle as King’s Champion. There were undeniable horrors along the way, and I suppose there is something to be said that her spirit hasn’t been destroyed yet – that she can still find happiness and be selfish about certain things. But on the flip side, she’s been hiding from her duties for so long, it’s no wonder Rowan dismisses her angst by pointing out that it is self-inflicted: if she really felt guilty about running away, she would’ve returned long ago. Nehemia was right: she’s a coward.
Heir of Fire doesn’t focus entirely on Celeana, which works for me since she can be a bit overbearing. It jumps around to various characters but primarily between cousin Aedilon, Chaol, and Manon, a Ironteeth witch. I’m still not entirely what the point of her story was, since it seems to be all preliminary stuff leading up to a big confrontation in later books, but I found it pretty interesting. Chaol continues to be wishy-washy about his allegience and Honor, so brash Aedilon was a bit of refreshing contrast. Dorian gets some perspective, too, showing how he’s moving past his puppy-love for Celeana. Like her, he’s been hiding from his rightful role as royalty, and though it’s not by much, he does make some changes.
Celeana’s story featured another new character, Rowan, a full-blood Fae who is her magic instructor. Though it did take a very long time for Celeana to embrace her abilities, I did like how and why it took so long. Why she kept it repressed, why she was so scared, how it manifested, etc. That was all incredibly interesting, and it made it feel more realistic. She needed time to get better, and eventually – slowly but surely – she does. She realizes her guilt and shame and remorse and fear is all internal, and she manages to painfully work it out.
Overall, this is an excellent installment of this series, which started off less-than-stellar but has slowly improved. As soon as my library gets it, I’ll be reading the next book, Queen of Shadows!
(P.S. This week on the blog will be Book Review Week! Every day, I’ll be posting a new book review to close out the year – watch this space!)
Header image: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas, published September 2nd 2014 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens.