My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book destroyed me. I cheered when my baby, Abraxos, appeared (legitimately out loud cheered) and wanted to cry at those fateful words. If you’ve read this book, you know which ones I’m referring to and if not, I can’t say because there would be spoilers. Despite the issues and shift in the characterization of some of our leads, this book takes you on an incredible emotional journey with highs that make you cheer (see above) and lows that bring you to tears (almost).
Despite the length of the book, I didn’t feel as though the story lagged or the pacing was poor. Any free minute I had, I immediately turned to the book to continue where I left off. Even knowing what was going to happen, it managed to enthrall me.
One of the problems that I have with this book is its portrayal of relationships. There are aspects of it that are so swoon-worthy and make your heart hurt, but there are some that are not healthy. It’s nice to see diverse portrayals of love and relationships, but my concern is that a young adult reader might see the territorial Fae nonsense in the book and not realize that it’s an extreme. It might seem normalized. As I am not a teenager, I am aware of the intricacies and can roll my eyes at the “nonsense” without putting any weight on the idea. That may not be the same for teen readers.
There are aspects of the character development that seems off and others that, although regrettable, are completely valid. For example, Dorian has gone through an incredible amount of turmoil and emotional upheaval in the last two books. It’s understandable that his personality would not quite be the same carefree, flirty scholar that we met in the first book who wished to stand up to his father but could never garner the courage to do so.
In a similar vein, we watch other characters develop into multi-faceted people and understand them more. Manon and Lysandra have become much more interesting characters as they were expanded upon, and at least for me have become some of my favourites. Despite the huge cast of fairly main characters, each is still given the time to shine and grow.
Finally, the world building continues in this book to an immense degree. A combination of the book’s size and the various viewpoints has allowed Sarah J Maas to expand the world we have come to know. Erilea has been developed and we are able to see more pieces of Nehemia’s homeland, Aelin’s kingdom, and so much in between.
I still love this series and highly recommend it to young adult/teen readers who enjoy fantasy books.