Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas. Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books. Hardcover. 672 pages.
Note: There are no spoilers for this book in my review, but there will be inadvertent spoilers for previous books in this series as I discuss the events of Tower of Dawn. Please be aware if you have not read the previous books and plan to!
As most of you probably know (or even if you don't), Tower of Dawn is the sixth installment in the Throne of Glass series, but instead of following Aelin and the regular cast of characters, it follows the events of Chaol and Nesryn as they travel to Antica in hopes of having Chaol healed by the famed Torre Cesme healers.
In the beginning of this series, I really like Chaol's character and I don't remember having any major problems with him. However, as the series continued, I started losing interest in him and stopped caring much about his own story arc. A lot of people talk about his character being ruined throughout the series, which I can understand even if I don't fully agree. Other people, however, still completely love him and have been anxiously awaiting this release. If you, like me, lost interest in Chaol and are hesitant about reading this book -- do it! Even if you don't love him, it's still a fascinating story and contributes so much to the series, as well introduces some great new characters--I definitely understand why Maas says it is necessary to read this in order to understand the rest of the series.
In Tower of Dawn, the perspective is split between three characters: Chaol, Nesryn, and Yrene, a healer at the Torre. These three perspectives are, overall, fairly evenly split throughout the book and provide an interesting look into a variety of different aspects of this particular kingdom. I defintely enjoyed Chaol and Yrene's chapters the most, as I simply found their actions the most interesting to follow. Nesryn's sections are still interesting, but seem to be much more information-heavy and action-packed and tended to drag just a bit every once in a while for me.
I found Chaol's entire character arc in this specific book really well done. He is paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the battle in the previous books (though certain body parts still function, as was repeatedly mentioned), and as expected from someone who used to be captain of guard, work out regularly, and train soldiers, it frustrates him quite a bit. We get to have a very personal understanding of his struggles and how things both big and seemingly minor bother him regarding his feelings towards being unable to walk. What I most appreciated about this entire plotline is that whether or not he regains the ability to use his legs (I won't say!), he overcomes this, eventually realizing that having a disability does not make him any less of a man or person in any way, and I think that that message itself is extremely powerful and important to convey.
Yrene is a new character that we are introduced do and one that I found myself really liking. She is an intriguing character, both confident and unsure at the same time. As a healer, she has great knowledge of her own powers and how she can improve, and I loved her strong work ethic and compassion for what she does. However, she also has her fair share of insecurities and struggles from her past, which were interesting to explore and allowed me to understand more about her and why she acted as she did in certain situations.
I really don't have that much to say about Nesryn. To be completely honest, I didn't really remember that much about her, so I really had no opinion on her or her character. She is certainly not my favorite character, but she is still a complex, driven woman who brings a lot to the story.
The other main plot of this book is Chaol and Nesryn's attempt to persuade the khagan to join their cause. The khagan has six children, which, I won't lie, I had a hard time remembering and telling apart at first. In addition the way the ruling and power works in their kingdom is a bit complicated and cutthroat, but I'll let you explore that for yourselves instead of trying to explain it all in a confusing manner. I found it to be particularly interesting, and definitely found myself enjoying reading about this particular political system.
Now: the world-building. Tower of Dawn vastly continues on the worldbuilding that Mass has already set up in the past couple of books, and if you have been hoping for more in-depth worldbuilding-- here it is. This world is so vibrant and multi-faceted and there are many cultures, customs, kingdoms, and creatures, that make it up. I really enjoyed exploring this land and the different peoples within it, and I look forward to seeing where else Maas takes this story.
There is some romance in this book, but it is very much more of a small subplot. The romances are not forced or overused, but seem to fit in perfectly with the rest of the events of the book. As always with Maas, you never really know what to expect, and I appreciate that. Also, if you're wondering if there are any explicit sex scenes like in her previous novels, it's safe to say that there is only one sex scene, and it is not all that explicit.
Overall, I've given Tower of Dawn five stars! I really loved this book and had a great time reading it. It was a unique experience to read a book in the same series that didn't include Aelin herself, but I loved all the mentions of her and Rowan and Dorian, as it really made the book cohesive and not at all out-of-place.
And a quick note: before I end this review, I feel as though I should comment upon all of the Sarah J. Maas drama. I don't really like to get involved, but I feel that it is important to note that I think Maas has really listened to her readers' complaints and wishes and has really developed her writing well. If you're hesitant, I do implore you to give this book a chance and see what you think!
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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff