Heir of Fire, by Sarah J. Maas. If you’re into the Young Adult genre, you’ve seen this book. If YA Fantasy is at all your jam, you’ve probably read it. Heck, I had already read it myself, back in late 2014.
But this book plopped down on my table again recently. Literally–my roommate borrowed it from a friend and dropped it in front of me when it was my turn to read.
Now that I’m making time for books in my life again, and since this series is still so hyped up, it seemed like fate. How could I turn down a chance to jump back into the Throne of Glass world, right where I left off?
Sarah J. Maas’s debut, Throne of Glass, was a super fun and fluffy read that I devoured in early 2014. A high fantasy world with a boss female assassin, competing in a Hunger Games-esque competition to be the best assassin in the kingdom? Sign me up. I was looking forward to seeing what happened in the second book, Crown of Midnight, but didn’t have my hopes up too high. I thought that the series might flounder a bit without the methodical outline of the first book’s competition to keep it moving.
It’s a good thing I didn’t have high expectations, because even my modest ones were not met. It’s been more than two years since I read it, and if I’m being honest, I don’t remember all of the specifics of why I was so dissatisfied, but I was alternately bored and annoyed for most of the book. I almost quit the series then and there, but on a whim I decided to give it one more go.
I’m glad I did, because Heir of Fire is a markedly different from either of the first two books in the series. This book got a hook in me, and is keeping me on the line for the second half of the series.
Everything about Heir of Fire is grand. The characters adventure much farther than ever before, into not just new countries, but new continents. More characters are introduced, more perspectives are added. By the end, the stakes get raised, big time. In this book, it feels like Maas is finally growing into her vision for this epic fantasy.
In this third installment of the series, our hero Celaena is on a mission to a brand new continent. While initially on a job as the King’s private assassin, she ends up being swept away by a stony Fae warrior named Rowan towards the Fae kingdom, where she will have to confront her past and claim her heritage if she wants the information she needs to free the oppressed peoples of Erilea and live up to the promises she has made to those she’s loved and lost.
Action-wise, not terribly much goes on in this book. This one is all about expanding in preparation for the rest of the series, but that doesn’t feel like a bad thing while you’re reading it. Maas dives deeper into the history and lore of the world, and she cuts deep into the heart and soul of her main character. Celaena’s character arc is the heart of the novel, and is well executed.
My favorite new perspective came from Manon, a ferocious warrior and heir to a powerful witch clan. Her plot line was fascinating, but very out of step with the rest of the book. Her POV chapters shed a little light on broader parts of the plot, but for the duration of this book had basically no bearing on anything happening to our already-established characters. All the same, I’m excited to see where her part of the story is going.
I loved finally seeing the pieces of the greater plot of the series come together, and I liked finally seeing some real growth in Celaena, but on a whole, I felt Maas’s character development really left something to be desired. We get four new major characters in Heir of Fire. Three of the four are slightly different spins on the same persona: a badass warrior with a heart of ice (but who probably has a deep, hidden sensitive side). That kind of character is great… except that we already have one of those in Celaena. Oh, and the last of those four was obviously a one-off disposable plot device.
Rowan, who is supposed to be a core part of the book’s emotional journey, fell flat for me, and the majority of the dialogue felt the same, no matter who was talking. It was an echo chamber of people trying to sound tough and intimidating, instead of actually being those things. Even though Manon stood out from the faux-heartless warrior crowd, her dialogue often felt very unnatural for the character she was supposed to be.
Even though Maas could still stand to up her game when it comes to parts of the writing, it’s clear that she has grown leaps and bounds since her debut, and her vision for this series has grown in equal measure. Heir of Fire is by no means perfect, and I still don’t think it quite lives up to the hype.
But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to pounce on Queen of Shadows the second my roommate sets it down on my desk.
All in All…
- 4/5 sea stars
- Published September 2, 2014, by Bloomsbury USA Children’s
- 565 pages
- For fans of the series, YA Fantasy, snarky characters, Cassandra Clare