I was honestly ready to walk away from this series. This book was going to be the make or break point for me, and (thankfully?) I’ll be sticking around a bit longer. I guess I should have believed everyone that kept telling me the third book was when things really picked up and things started happening. Which isn’t to say that some of my issues from the start of this series weren’t present—they were—but they were easier to forgive with the introduction of my new favorite character(s), as well as the growth Celaena/Aelin undertook that finally started endearing her to me as a character.
I will start by saying that pretty much all of Choal/Dorian/Aedion’s chapters were the least interesting. There just wasn’t much going on there, and the biggest conflict for them was STILL the fact that none of them could just talk to each other. So much time could have been saved, lives too, if they could have all stopped pouting and just been honest with one another. The miscommunication trope in YA just happens to be one of my least favorite tropes, so while there aren’t many chapters with just the boys, they just stick out more to me because of my personal tastes. I also still think Chaol gets done so dirty by pretty much everyone… It looks like that’s finally changing, but it took way too long in my opinion.
The book was slow though. So much of it was a training montage and an introspection of grief and survivor’s guilt, and a study in self-loathing. However, I did really enjoy seeing Celaena/Aelin going through those issues, because I just personally found her to be irritating a great deal in the first two books, so it was really nice to see that façade drop and real growth occur. But it did get a bit repetitive at times… And while I know what purpose Rowan ultimately fulfills in this series, a lot of the intensity of them together, or just them being together sometimes, felt forced at this point. But the slowness, and the kind of repetitive nature of Celaena/Aelin’s grief was forgiven by Manon and Abraxos (even if their story lines right now are pretty disconnected from the main characters), and the sheer insanity that was the last 20% of the book.
Whereas Celaena/Aelin’s attitude in the first two books irked me, something about Manon’s murderous arrogance felt more natural, more deserving of that character. It was more an unknown mask that this character doesn’t know she has been wearing for her long, long life than a mere simple act like how our main girl put on. Her chapters were easily my favorites and I wish there were more of them, I also wished Manon's story arc was a bit more connected to what was happening with the rest of the story, but whatever, I still enjoyed it. I wanted to see more of the witches and their mounts in general, and for a character that is supposedly heart and soulless, Manon’s chapters had me feeling the most, hands down. I also really enjoyed when things finally started coming together; the King of Adarlan’s hand was finally shown, and these warrior main characters began actually standing up, and fighting back. The monsters were interesting (even if I could have used more fleshing out of the world they inhabited), the magic intense, and Maeve is a particularly slick kind of manipulator that I personally love in fictional adversaries. The King of Adarlan is billed to be this master manipulator, but honestly he always felt one dimensional to me; evil for evil’s sake, power hungry simply because. Whereas Maeve is a different beast all together, and I liked that more and am eager to see what happens on that front.
So yes, I’ll be sticking it out with this series a bit longer. Manon was the MVP for me this time around, and I am very worried about Chaol and Dorian, even if Dorian didn’t really have the same swagger that he did in the previous books. Things finally feel like they are happening, and I am intrigued and excited about where they are headed, which is why this book gets 4 stars from me. I know this is an older series so some things are naturally spoiled with fan art, but please don’t tell me specifics! I’ll eventually find out for myself…
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