After the exciting events of Queen of Shadows, with magic getting unshackled and a slew of revelations, the fifth book of this series raises the level of writing and story-telling a bar higher. SJM is not the master of world-building in this series but it gets better.
Technically speaking, this book and the Tower of Dawn go hand-in-hand as the adventures of Chaol and Nesryn are elaborated in the latter. I decided to read the two together and here is a link on how you can read the chapters of these two books without stumbling upon any potential spoilers: https://throneofglass.fandom.com/f/p/4400000000003175117
The King of Adarlan learns to hone his magic and uses it for lethal purposes initially without anyone’s help.
A major secret that is a huge plot-twist is revealed about the Wing-Leader and this changes many dynamics! But the character development of Manon Blackbeak is phenomenal! Her maturity while guiding Aelin, her possessiveness towards Elide, her attitude towards Abraxos and her mischievous recklessness towards the King of Adarlan are refreshing to read!
Talking about the King of Adarlan, who was such a sweet cutie-pie and a cinnamon roll in the previous books (barring that raunchy flirting with Manon in the Oakwald forest) – he is trying to think more shrewdly and learns well from Rowan on how to strengthen his raw magic. He is tired of feeling useless and there are a few jaw-dropping moments where he is more vicious and alert in a fight than the Fae and demi-Fae around him. He even stands up to the recklessness and abusive behaviour of Aelin and begins stressing that he is a powerful King with raw magic.
“Phantom hands” are extensively used in combat and a few other things that are only meant for mature audience.
The Pirate Lord’s secret is revealed after a legend is talked about and oh my, this plot twist takes some time to get used to.
The storyline of Elide also gets interesting and I felt that this girl is a cunning survivor. Imagine Lorcan of all people calling this sweet innocent lass a “she-devil”! Talking about Lorcan, we get to see his softer side also and are assured that this supposedly stone-hearted Fae is not so stone-hearted at all!
While midway through this book, I’m coming to hate Aelin – Sarah is trying too hard to show how she is such a powerful protagonist and blah blah. She is a 19 year old immature, abusive, arrogant and rash teenager who does not care much about the opinions of her closest allies. Manon is turning out to be a far better character with the right amount of sass, kindness and cruelty of course. But in the end, after a slew of plot twists, I realized that Aelin has good many reasons for doing what she does.
The Wolf-of-the-North shines again in this book and opens up more about what he feels and his past. Although in the ending, he just screws up. Big time!
Fenrys, another blood-sworn of Queen Maeve, is such a refreshing and hilarious character to read about! He is supposed to be a mischievous young Fae who is clever enough to try to work around the blood oath for decades. His Fae power is also interesting and helpful.
We also get to know Gavriel up close and it feels good to read about a sane person in this melee of crazy do-gooders!
And talking about trying too hard to show certain characters as over the top, now this exercise of part of SJM is getting monotonous. We know how mighty Rowan is, how angry he gets if someone looks in a different way at Aelin, how Aedion is “Wolf-incarnate”, and so on!
The forms of the shape shifter are getting breath taking! And these forms fit so well in the different combats and fights. Major respect for Lysandra!
A revelation about the earlier wars with Valg is revealed and how those events are now impacting the lives of our characters are elaborated.
The ending is sad but satisfactory. The unexpected happens, in good as well as bad ways. If you have read the novellas of 0th book, The Assassin’s Blade, you will be elated to read about many familiar characters coming back!