Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. MaasHeir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on September 2, 2014
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 565
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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four-stars

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

With Heir of Fire, I realized I was wrong about the Throne of Glass series. Not that I was wrong to think it was good. If anything, the opposite of that. It’s more that I realized that, even after Crown of Midnight, I sort of underestimated the series. I still thought of it as somewhere around a fantasy romance. In Heir of Fire, it’s clear that, though Maas likes romance and she know audiences appreciate it too, this is not just fantasy but epic fantasy. I think the broadening scope will be a surprise to many and ultimately an amazing thing for the series. Heir of Fire may not end up being my favorite in the series, but damn do I need the next book now. There will be spoilers for the previous books in this review, so keep that in mind.

The first thing you guys need to know is that Heir of Fire is a lot slower than I was anticipating. It’s over five hundred pages and they do not go incredibly quickly. For all that there was a lot of world building in Crown of Midnight, there is ever so much more here. Those of you who read epic fantasy novels know what I’m talking about; roughly the first half is set up for the latter part of the book. It’s like the first book in an epic fantasy series, even if it’s in the middle. I think the set up ends up paying off in this book and will pay off even larger dividends later, but it’s something to be prepared for.

The good thing is that by the Heir of Fire, I feel like my grasp on Maas’ world building is much stronger than it was at the end of Crown of Midnight. After CoM, I felt a bit awash, confused by the busy world building. Now, Maas is really tying things together and I’m starting to really get what she’s doing rather than just sort of shrug and keep going. Basically, the time she’s spending on world building is needed and useful. Also, though it is slow and dense, Heir of Fire doesn’t feel infodumpy to me. What we learn, the characters are learning and needed to learn.

Speaking of characters, there are a whole load of new ones in Heir of Fire. That was part of the slowness too. There’s a lot of time spent with Manon, this black-hearted, iron-toothed witch. Her sections were rather torturous for me at first, because I didn’t know her and I hadn’t bonded with her. I just wanted to get back to Celaena. However, Manon’s third person perspective gets really good in the end. My most emotional moment ended up occurring during Manon’s section, not Celaena’s, which I never would have predicted. As with everything else, my point is that Heir of Fire is worth it if you hold out and spend the time. Well worth it. Because wyverns.

You also need to know that there’s not going to be a massive showdown in Heir of Fire. There are definitely enemies to be faced and wars to be waged, but Heir of Fire is more setting the stage and moving the players than actually getting into that. The battles waged in Heir of Fire are primarily inner conflicts. Manon the witch is, without even realizing it, in conflict with a kinder nature than she’s meant to have and the expectations her clan has for her. Chaol’s torn between his duty to the kingdom, his desire to help Celaena, and his promise to his father. Dorian’s struggling with whether to resist or accept his magic. Celaena’s inner conflict is most obvious, as she’s figuratively divided herself into two. She is both Celaena Sardothien and Aelin Ashryver Galthynius. The problem is that she thinks of those identities as separate and not as parts of who she is as a whole. Without accepting both sides of herself, Celaena/Aelin (henceforth to be called by me Celaelin) will not have enough power to face what’s coming.

Speaking of Celaelin, I love her even more now than I did before. Though it’s third person limited, her sections pop with excitement no matter what she’s doing. Celaelin is vibrant and jumps off the page. What I like here is that we get to see new depths to Celaelin. We’ve seen her as the pretty girl who loves parties and dresses, a childish spirit with a love for candy, a fierce warrior and a true friend. Now we get to see her so intimidated by the pressure on her shoulders that she becomes a drunken, homeless wastrel instead of making a move. We see her so terrified that she pees herself. It’s a whole new Celaelin.

That said, Celaelin obtains a whole lot more power in Heir of Fire. An absurd amount of power. However, she works hard for every bit of it. Maas is very good about showing the training and the pain and the strain. The power feels earned and not like it comes to her easily, even if it is part of her nature. That does slow things down, but it was so necessary for Celaelin’s journey and for the reader to really get to know her and care about her even more. We also come to care for Rowan, her trainer, though I differ from the bulk of my friends since my new favorites characters are Aedion and Abraxos rather than Rowan. They’re all fabulous, but those two are where my feels really reside. Well, with them and Celaena.

So far as the romance, previously my favorite aspect of the series goes, there’s not actually too much of it in Heir of Fire. Celaelin and Chaol are apart and honestly not too sure how they feel about each other now. It’s not so much that they don’t think they love or at least loved one another, but that they don’t know if that means anything in the context of everything else and whether they can possibly be right for each other. Dorian has a romance, but I can’t say I ever got particularly invested, aside from being really glad that Maas seems to be moving him out of the list of possible love interests for Celaena. The romance could go anywhere and I’m really happy with that for the moment.

Heir of Fire isn’t the book I expected it to be and it’s got a slow pace, but I think that it’s the book that will turn this series from really good to incredibly amazing. Heir of Fire is a turning point and from here the scale gets so much more epic and dangerous. Prepare yourselves for Maasive pain, because it’s coming.

Favorite Quote:

“And then I am going to rattle the stars.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif game of thrones no mercy
This gif works equally well for Sarah J. Maas or Celaelin, tbh

8 responses to “Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas”

  1. Isabel says:

    I want this book RIGHT NOW!
    Isabel recently posted…Book Blitz: The Winter People by Rebekah PurdyMy Profile

  2. Giselle says:

    I only skimmed your review bc I haven’t read this series so a lot of things mentioned I had no idea about, but it sounds like this turned out to be a must read series! I’m not huge on fantasy so I only read those that are the most recommended and this one is definitely one. The world building sounds especially amazing. And the characters really seem to pop alive. Or whatever. Come to life?

    Massive pain! I LOVE PAIN!!!
    Giselle recently posted…Tour: The Art of Getting Stared at by Laura LangstonMy Profile

  3. YEAH^^ You perfectly summed up all the feels (THE PAIN!) that I’ve come to live with upon reading HoF. You’re right that this one seems to have full on switched to epic-fantasy, what with the world-building, setting up the pieces for future moves and the introduction of new and important characters (ABRAXOS!!♥) and since I adore epic fantasy, I was all set for this one. It’s like I knew the pace was slower and the book was bigger but I DIDN’T CARE AT ALL. The massive feels I got for Manon, Rowan, Aedion, Dorian, Chaol and Celaena – the latter whom I didn’t think I could possible love more – still haven’t left me, months after reading it.

    And you’re right, the world building and magical system were kept at a minimal up until this point. NOW we finally get a sense how everything will fit together and man did it ever make me crave book 4…AND the rest of the series! Awesome review Christina, glad you loved this one too 🙂
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday *89*My Profile

  4. Nori says:

    I agree with you on so many things. Though I think you actually liked a book more than I did! I understand what you’re saying about the author’s scope of her writing, and how it’s all getting setup for one pretty awesome next book. It just wasn’t enough for me. I expected a little more action and a little less setup. However, like you, I’m needing the next book now. And I’m excited to see where it all leads. Also, I love wyverns too!
    Nori recently posted…Falling into Place by Amy ZhangMy Profile

  5. Lesley says:

    Aedion’s my favourite now, too! I didn’t get along with this book so well, partly because of the slow pace but mostly because I didn’t enjoy all the characters being in different places from one another. Just didn’t really work for me and it ended up feeling like a filler book, even though I know everything happening is important. That being said, I did enjoy it, I was just disappointed by it.
    Lesley recently posted…ON THE FENCEMy Profile

  6. I’m in the middle right now and loving it! I hadn’t thought of it as slow but I can see where you’re coming from. Usually I get tired of training scenes too but you’re right- they’re necessary for her character. I’ve avoided most Heir Of Fire reviews because of spoilers but yours was fantastic and thank you for NOT spoiling anything but getting your feelings across 🙂 So far Aedion is my new favorite character too. And I actually really like Dorian’s new ship. I haven’t gotten to the ALL CAPS parts yet I guess but I can already tell I love this book. And this series is all kinds of amazing. I can’t wait for the day when I can binge reread the heck out of it.

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