I read the first book in this series, Throne of Glass, just over a year ago. I would sum my thoughts on the book with “a good book with flaws”. The second book, Crown of Midnight, was a huge improvement over the first in pretty much every single way, kind of like Illona Andrews’ Magic Burns improving over Magic Bites. The third book in Sarah J. Maas’s series, Heir of Fire, is a complete game changer.
Heir of Fire is the third book in Maas’s fantasy series. The first two are in a lot of ways, down to earth. They took place entirely in a kingdom where magic is locked away, where nobody can seem to use it. There’s a mystery involving the King of Adarlan, his castle, and the missing magic itself that’s slowly revealed over the course of the two books. There’s also a lot of mystery surrounding the main character, Celaena, an assassin who’s named the King’s champion at the end of the first book. Heir of Fire reveals so much about what’s going on, while still leaving plenty of mystery left for the rest of the series.
There will be spoilers for Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight throughout this review, since talking about the previous entry’s reveals are necessary to talk about this entry. If you don’t want the spoilers, let me point you to my review for the first two books.
It turns out that Celaena is really the lost demi-fae princess Aelin, who possesses very powerful fire magic. She spends most of this book training and re-connecting with her past. There’s a lot of deep character studying in these sections, exploring Celaena’s personal trauma and the hopelessness she feels. It’s an emotionally rough journey, and a very well-written one at that. At the same time, it’s fun to see her power develop slowly at first, but much quicker once she finds something new to live for. This book weaves her backstory into the narrative, exploring dark moments in her past in much more detail than before, but also moments of happiness that help her regain a sense of self.
Other returning characters are made more compelling as well, like Chaol, Adarlan’s captain of the guard, Dorian, the prince of Adarlan, and the king himself, who really starts to show his brutality in this book. There isn’t as much focus on Chaol or Dorian in this book, but what is there feels like a spy thriller. They’re both trying to hide information from the king that would get them both in serious trouble. Dorian’s recently discovered magical powers that he’s struggling to control is a huge problem for them, since his father seems to hate magic. Somehow, his power still works in Adarlan when nobody else seems to have any. While this section of the book isn’t as prominent as Celaena’s story, it not only helps keep the tension up during the lost princess’s early training sessions, but it’s a very tense thriller that also expands on the politics in the world as a whole.
There are some new characters as well, but I found some of them more interesting than others. Celaena’s cousin, who’s also a major character in the Adarlan half of the story, starts off as a mysterious figure and eventually develops into very compelling one. I didn’t enjoy the other major new character, Manon, that much. Her sections feel a bit repetitive, but she seems to be quite popular. Maybe she’ll be more interesting in the next book, Queen of Shadows. Her story isn’t really a huge section of the book either way.
The first two books both stood on their own as complete stories. This one on the other hand is entirely entrenched in the series. There’s a lot of stuff you won’t understand if you don’t read the first two books, nor will you fully enjoy it. It also feels like a bridge between the first two books and what is to come. That in no way is a bad thing. There’s still a lot of tension, drama and some pretty intense action at the end to keep things interesting. The book ends with a sense of hope for Celaena’s story, while the Chaol/Dorian half of the book gives us a brutal ending and a powerful teaser for Queen of Shadows (book 4). As a whole, I’d call this the best book in the series so far without hesitation, and I look forward to whenever I read the next entry.
This is a young adult fantasy series that started off starring an assassin working for the very king who ordered her family dead, and it’s turning into a straight fantasy with a lot of political intrigue and promise of an upcoming war. If that interests you, then you should check this series out. Just don’t start with this book or you’ll be completely lost.
As for the next book I’ll read, it’s between the third X-Wing book (The Krytos trap), One Fell Sweep and re-reading one of the Kate Daniels books in anticipation for the upcoming 10th entry. If it is a re-read, I won’t re-review it.