Author: Sarah J. Maas
Overall Rating: 3/5
Spicy Rating: 3/5
I’m going to be completely honest, I hated this book, but not for the reasons that I usually hate books.
The characters were spectacular, even when I loved to hate them, the magic was fantastical, and there were scenes when I was certain that my favorite characters were going to die and I was hanging on to every word.
But the last two hundred pages infuriated me beyond belief.
If you have read the rest of the series you have to read Kingdom of Ash, and I’m sure that like most of the fandom you will love it and I congratulate you on that and hope that you do enjoy every word of this book because it truly is a marvel.
The depiction of Aelin’s trauma is a graphic and terrifying excursion from the happy free-spirited girl that she is and her words during it are something I can imagine getting tattooed on myself they were so powerful.
The relationship that she built with Fenrys in this book made me love them and him so much more and while there was a lot going on in this book (going on over 1000 pages and almost twice the size of most of the others in the series) I do wish that his recovery and friendship would have been focused on even the slightest bit more for the fact that he held her together all of that time.
During this novel, I fell in love with Rowan so much more, for how he took charge, how he took care of Aelin and validated her feelings, and allowed her to tell him what she could when she could and without the pressure that most people would have. Sometimes people just try to pry the information out before you’re willing to share it but Rowan’s patience and steadfastness made me love him so much more.
In this book, Dorian and Manon take off together with the Thirteen though they know that at some point they will have to part ways because Manon and the Thirteen need to find the Crochan witches and raise them to ally with Aelin and Terrasen and Dorian must find the third wyrdkey.
Manon and Dorian also have a strange romance that forms from the ashes of Dorian’s first love and his trauma from having been possessed by a demonic monstrous Valg prince, and Manon having been raised to be a monster herself and only beginning to find her own morality after hundreds of years of killing without bias.
This book also contains some of the most heartbreaking scenes that I’ve ever read and I guarantee that after having read the series this book will make you cry.
This novel does contain a few sex scenes which are why it earned three stars on the spicy rating. While it didn’t use explicit language I would still consider the imagery explicit which is something to keep in mind when deciding whether this is something that you or your kids should be reading.
But now onto the spoiler section and why I despised the last two hundred pages of this novel. Skip the spoilers.
Throughout this series Aelin has proven how loyal she is to her friends, they are her family and she is one of the most self-sacrificing characters I have ever read and I absolutely believe that she would have sacrificed her life to save her friends from Erawan. So when she goes with Dorian to sacrifice her magic and possibly her life in order to lock Erawan away I understood why she would kick him out when it seemed that it would just take both of their magic and lives. What I don’t understand is why for one she would open the portal for the gods to go back to their realm before attempting to negotiate and essentially throwing all of her cards on the table and giving away her only bargaining chip, and why she would attempt to negotiate for Elena’s life when she has no idea whether her suspicions that Yrene can kill Erawan herself are true. Additionally, she hasn’t told anyone her suspicions up to this point and thinks she’s about to die to lock Erawan away so no one else knows that they might be able to defeat him with the healers. This “plot twist” felt like a complete betrayal of the character that Sarah J. Maas developed over the last six books, not including Tower of Dawn because she’s not included in that one.
Aelin is a brilliant mastermind of a planner, and she is loyal to her death, she is also flawed in that she doesn’t communicate her plans with the people that she loves. But regardless of what she thinks or feels for Elena, be that sympathy or love or something else, she never would have risked her friends lives in a war where it seems like they’re all going to die if she doesn’t succeed at this, on a whim to save a ghost. And in the end, the gods don’t lock away Erawan, they take most of her magic and they leave into their own world without a backward glance and she gets a small bit of reward but Elena dies and all she has left is a hunch about possibly killing Erawan, a drop of fire magic that’s practically worthless, and a really good poker face.
Furthermore, after she has supposedly lost most of her magic she goes into battle and manages to use it for far longer than she should have to bluff her way through winning a battle against a woman with far more magic than she has and who has been manipulating people for thousands of years compared to her 18. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it. She should have run dry after the first couple of shields, maybe even after lighting her sword on fire and ringing her head in a fire crown.
And then, the saving grace is that all of these fae that have been hiding in Doranelle come out of the woodwork and flood the battlefield and save them? Even if Aelin got the little people to go and find them and tell them to come, it’s a cop-out on Sarah J. Maas’ part to just say “oh and then they were saved by a bunch of strangers that no one knows and my readers don’t care about.”
There are a dozen other ways that the plot could have gone that wouldn’t have been so out of nowhere.
In Crown of Midnight, Maas kills off Nehemia, and in my review of Crown of Midnight, I discussed how she essentially “fridged” her, which is a term for when you kill off a female character for the sole purpose of motivating a male character. In this case, Maas killed off a character of color for the sole purpose of motivating a white character. This becomes exponentially worse though as the series progresses and in this book, we learn that Nehemia planned her own death for this purpose and she is portrayed as having made this decision to manipulate and betray her friend in order to motivate her. Blaming her for her own death made the entire thing feel gross and it felt like Nehemia’s character was defiled by this revelation.
We are then introduced to a number of new characters of color in Tower of Dawn during which Nesryn gets a much larger part and Sartaq and his siblings are introduced and we’re led to believe that they will be given a larger part during Kingdom of Ash as well, but they had very few scenes in the whole book and their scenes were somewhat insignificant. Their characters weren’t developed any further than in Tower of Dawn and the entire inclusion felt like an afterthought.
If you enjoyed Kingdom of Ash you might also enjoy the A Court of Thorns and Roses Series, the Crescent City Series, the From Blood and Ash Trilogy, The Folk of the Air Trilogy (also known as the Cruel Prince Trilogy), the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, and its follow-up the Six of Crows Duology, the Serpent and Dove Trilogy, and The Shadows Between Us.
Buy the book here:
Thriftbooks: Kingdom of Ash
Half-Price Books: Kingdom of Ash
Better World Books: Kingdom of Ash
If you can’t afford to purchase the book, consider subscriptions like Scribd which I reviewed here, or by visiting your local library or using the app Libby to borrow books from the library digitally on your own devices.