Review: Tower of Dawn

 

tower of dawn.jpgBook: Tower of Dawn            Author: Sarah J Maas

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.


*warning – major spoilers*

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WOW. YES. A MUST READ. Okay okay I admit it, I was skeptical and not altogether excited to read this book, solely based on the premise that Aelin would not feature in it and I have to be honest that, much to the dismay of the fandom, I’m not the biggest fan of Chaol, but this book surprisingly gave me a new respect for him. I was also quite resentful of Sarah J Maas because Tower of Dawn meant that Throne of glass no.7 would be delayed another year and that meant another whole year of torture and agony as I wait in suspense to find out if my precious Aelin is actually okay.
However, my skepticism was quickly overthrown by awe and empowerment as I delved into the astonishingly well-built world of the southern continent. If Empire of Storms was Lord of the rings, then Tower of Dawn is Game of thrones, filled with politics and mind games, and there’s no doubt that Aelin is the Daenerys of this world. Sarah J Maas never ceases to amaze me, and the southern continent was no exception. Her development and evolution of the society and culture blew me away, as well as the long-awaited representation of POC, with Chaol being the only white person to feature in the book. However this is not the only long-awaited representation, as Chaol, one of the main protagonists in this book, is disabled. Sarah perfectly executed the way in which she dealt with these issues, and although I myself am not disabled I know how hard it is when ill health holds you back in life and I learnt an extremely important lesson from Maas: Disability or illness DOES NOT define who you are, and Choal’s emotional struggle to cope with this was one I could relate to. Furthermore, Maas realistically handled the topic of disability, with emphasis on physical therapy and, perhaps more importantly, healing from the inside and learning to accept yourself, conveyed through the Chaol’s journey from resent and anger to acceptance of himself and help from Yrene. This is yet another important lesson I learnt: It is okay to accept help, it does not make you any lesser.  The ending in particular in which Chaol remains disabled emphasised that all important theme that disabilities don’t have to be a major significant part in defining you, specifically shown in the powerful quote:

““Using the chair is not a punishment. It is not a prison,” he said softly. And I am as much of a man in that chair, or with that cane, as I am standing on my feet.”
“Chaol was right. Whether he stood or limped or sat … it did not change him. Who he was.”

Which reflects how his character development was not dependant on physical recovery but emotional recovery.

A further talent of Maas’s is her capacity to create a diverse mix of strong women, all of which display their strength in different ways. Yrene Towers is one of the strongest women Maas has ever dreamed into existence and yet this strength is not shown through traditional brute strength, but through her compassion, intelligence and resilience. Her courage and ability to “enter where you fear to tread” resonated within me and filled me with empowerment.

What really mesmerised me though is Maas’s overwhelming ability to build on foundations she has set up long ago, particularly the way in which she somehow weaves Aelin into every aspect of the series. Aelin is essentially the cement that holds every defining moment together and I couldn’t possibly love it anymore than I already do. If you are thinking of skipping this book then let me warn you that it contains a vital plot twist that puts all the pieces, that Maas has carefully interwoven, together and really sets things in motion for the gripping finale of the series. When I first read the plot twist of Maeve actually being a Valg I stared at the page for five minutes, closed the book, opened the book, re-read it, closed the book and descended into panic at the realisation that my precious Aelin is in more danger than ever. Maas’s foreshadowing is so subtle that it’s pure brilliance, she even had Aelin figure out the plot twist in a conversation with Brannon in Empire of storms without any of us realising it.

Some bonus points:
– Duva says “let’s begin” before she tries to turn Yrene into a valg, which is repeated by Maeve to Aelin and essentially fills me with dread that she is going to turn my beloved Aelin into a valg. But then again, Kaltain burned that darkness right out of her, and if she can, then so can (my strong fire breathing bitch queen) Aelin
– I can already tell that Borte is going to be one of my favourites and I can’t wait for her to meet Manon Blackbeak
– I also really need a Borte and Yeran spin off book!
– Excited to see how Maas handles the meetings in the next book because Yrene will see Aelin and will surely be ecstatic because she’s the person behind her inspiring note, but she doesn’t know that it is actually Lysandra pretending to be Aelin who won’t have any idea about that night in Innish
– Similarly with Falkan being Lysandra’s uncle (which filled my heart with happiness because she now finally has the family she so desperately wanted), how will he meet her if she has to be “Aelin” all the time?
– Hasar and Renia make me happy
– Sarah now owes us TWO wedding scenes
– My heart skipped a beat every time Aelin and Rowan were mentioned
– Sartaq and Nesryn are a great pair and I’m overjoyed that she will be the future empress
– The fact that Chaol is going to ride into war and slay Valg on a horse called butterfly is probably the best thing Sarah J Maas has ever written

Ultimately Tower of Dawn is a story of hope, but more prevailingly, one that inspires hope within the reader.

HOWEVER it’s not all smiles and happiness because that last chapter ripped out my heart and killed me. You know what I’m talking about Sarah, HOW DARE YOU SARAH J MAAS, HOW DARE YOU?!

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Cydney Harding

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