Reader beware: Tower of Dawn is the sixth book in a seven-book series! So there will be references to plot-points from the last five novels. If you’re cool with that, or if you’re up to date on the series, no worries! There will be no spoilers for Tower of Dawn!
It is taking more effort than I want to admit to not just make this entire review an inhuman screech, like “EEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHAFKHOEINFLSDKNVFPIENF” and just hit publish.
Sarah J. Maas’s writing has come so far since Throne of Glass. Book one was good, but it was pretty usual for YA at the time (and, sort of, now): Lost princess pretends she’s someone else because of angst, there’s a (sorta) love triangle, she’s super pretty and talks about it a lot, the book is about fighting but there’s no fighting, etc. Crown of Midnight was only marginally better — more true to Celaena’s character, but still fell a little flat to me.
Heir of Fire is when this series dragged me in. I drowned quickly, falling like a stone into Sarah’s unbelievable character and world building. Her writing. The new characters. The big “reveal” that was, somehow, still dramatic even though we knew about it. Aelin was born, and we got to experience her forging (get it? Forging, like with fire? I’ll stop).
I read The Assassin’s Blade after Heir of Fire, which was a solid decision, because it tightened the books’ grip on me. I was gone at that point, and I will continue to buy all of Sarah’s books on release day, always.
Anyway, flash-forward to book six. This book wasn’t even meant to be a book! It was originally another novella, not meant to be a major entry in the series, just a supplemental story about Chaol and Nesryn. And then, whoops, Sarah wrote a 600-page masterpiece.
The now-book six is possibly the best book I’ve read since V.E. Schwab’s A Conjuring of Light. It’s better even than Heir of Fire, if I’m being honest. This book was masterfully crafted. It’s most certainly important to the main plotline, so I’m glad Sarah and her publisher made it the sixth official book.
As someone who found Chaol pretty damn boring and called him “Mr. Vanilla,” I wasn’t even excited for this book. I read it out of loyalty to the author.
And oh, damn. Damn was I wrong. This book was promising right out of the gate, especially with the return of Yerene Towers (last seen in The Assassin’s Blade). I won’t tell you anything about anyone’s specific character arcs, but between Chaol, Nesryn, Yrene and a full house of foreign royals, a lot of sh*t goes down. A lot. You get to learn more about the Valg, you get to experience the Southern Continent and its peoples, and if you read The Assassin’s Blade you’ll be even more overjoyed than the average reader to connect some dots. Plus, whether you love or hate Chaol, his character arc was well-done and Sarah stays true to his character. Getting to sort of see inside his head and hear his take on the series’s events was interesting, even though I always thought Chaol was annoying.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cry some more… oh, and also, somewhere in there is a chapter titled “Fireheart,” so good luck keeping your sh*t together during that. My heart stopped beating when I saw the heading.
Sarah’s writing has — almost — never shone brighter. I’d argue that this book is only second to A Court of Mist and Fury, but that’s in a separate series of Sarah’s. This book was certainly the best so far in this series, and I am beyond glad that Sarah “accidentally” wrote a novel instead of a novella. Plus, since the book is centered around the Southern Continent, all of the new characters (except Yrene, who isn’t actually new) are POC. Sarah also put a lot of work into her depiction of wheelchair-bound Chaol. So it’s a nicely-written, diverse book full of new characters and new experiences! What could go wrong?
Also, I just think it’s cool that the title references both Yrene’s last name (Towers) and the Torre Cesme, which is a white tower housing the best healers on the Southern Continent.