Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J. Maas (2017)
YA/NA Fiction | Fantasy
“A glorious empire . . .
A desperate quest . . .
Chaol Westfall and Nesryn Faliq have arrived in the shining city of Antica to forge an alliance with the Khagan of the Southern Continent, whose vast armies are Erilea’s last hope. But they have also come to Antica for another purpose: to seek healing at the famed Torre Cesme for the wounds Chaol received in Rifthold.
After enduring unspeakable horrors as a child, Yrene Towers has no desire to help the young lord from Adarlan, let alone heal him. Yet she has sworn an oath to assist those in need—and will honor it. But Lord Westfall carries shadows from his own past, and Yrene soon comes to realize they could engulf them both.
In this sweeping parallel novel to the New York Times bestselling Empire of Storms, Chaol, Nesryn, and Yrene will have to draw on every scrap of their resilience if they wish to save their friends. But while they become entangled in the political webs of the khaganate, deep in the shadows of mighty mountains where warriors soar on legendary ruks, long-awaited answers slumber. Answers that might offer their world a chance at survival—or doom them all . . .”
Book One: THRONE OF GLASS
pooled ink Review:
Just a quick note in case you’re wondering if this is a spin-off book or if it actually fits linearly in the series… The events in Tower of Dawn (book #6) take place at the same time as the events in Empire of Storms (book #5) except on the southern continent and following the POVs of Chaol, Nesryn, and Yrene. In a way it is a spin-off but not really. Rather it’s more that if Maas had tried including those three POVs into Empire of Storms then that book would have been BEYOND MASSIVE so instead she broke them into two books: Empire of Storms for the north and Tower of Dawn for the south. So yeah, same timeline but different continents and they’ll meet up in Kingdom of Ash (book #7).
So as the main character in this book is Chaol Westfall, let’s begin with him…
I didn’t hate Chaol like a lot of people do (seems to be a 50/50 split of opinion on the poor guy haha) but by Queen of Shadows I definitely wasn’t his fan anymore (he was really annoying me in that book, ugh). Unfortunately though, because I was tired of his character, it made this book tough to get into, which makes sense like why would I want to read a book about people I don’t care about? Nesryn was cool but I didn’t know her well enough to feel invested in reading this book for her, ya feel?
This book starts so slow, I think I read maybe 12 pages in 4 days because I just kept feeling bored and would put it down to watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine haha. Especially considering how quickly I read the first 5 books this one took me ages to finish. Part of me just wanted to read a summary of spoilers (which, now that I’ve read it, I honestly think would’ve been fine) then skip to Kingdom of Ash but my library was taking its sweet time to order it so I figured until then I ought to try and read this book at least once.
It took me, uh, a while, but I finally finished Tower of Dawn and it is a good book and I’m glad for all the much needed progress/therapy Chaol goes through (I was really quite annoyed with him as a character but now I’m back to neutral. I don’t love him again (like I did for those few wonderful moments in Crown of Midnight) but he’s come along far enough for me to contentedly ignore him lol) but unfortunately next to Aelin he just isn’t nearly as interesting a protagonist to follow around. Although to be fair Aelin tends to steal more than her share of the spotlight even when she isn’t in the scene haha. This was a good book but after binge-reading 5 books starring Aelin and her court this just felt a bit deflated, slow, and like a desert I was being forced to cross before reaching the burning Kingdom of Ash on the other side.
I think Maas wanted to redeem Chaol and I love that she took the time to dive so deep into a character’s wounds and journey of healing (physical, mental, emotional…) sort of like she did for Aelin in Heir of Fire, so yeah it was a really good book, just not something I felt called to nor am in any hurry to read through again.
(And although it might seem a bit blasphemous, you really can just read summary spoilers online and skip to the next book if you’re honestly not interested in Chaol.)
But let’s talk about characters new and new-ish…
Yrene is a new character, hailing from Adarlan and dealing with her own soul-deep wounds while forced to attend to Chaol, a man who served the king that destroyed her life and murdered her family. She’s a lovely character and I’m happy for her and Chaol, but beyond that I didn’t particularly feel drawn towards her. (Also did anyone not guess that the mysterious woman who helped her afford passage to the southern continent was Celaena Sardothian on the very first mention of her? It was so obvious I was cackling like a witch as I waited for Yrene to eventually set eyes upon Aelin and have her jaw drop haha)
Nesryn is not new but we got to know so little of her in Queen of Shadows that she’s new-ish. She’s a cool female character and even though previously she played such a small role (well, a big role but we got relatively little time on the page with her) she always had this presence that caught my attention. Her character was really given the chance to spread her wings and develop in this book which I loved, but unfortunately, like Chaol, it wasn’t enough to really reel me in.
This seems so unfair of me but after binge-reading 5 books featuring Aelin, a brash, vibrant in-your-face and larger-than-life character, in the middle of every plot (often unintended and unaware by the plotters because Aelin was plotting before they even could start thinking to plot) Chaol, Nesryn, and Yrene just didn’t hold the same level of pizazz and drama and badassery that dear Aelin managed to stir up in a single finger. I got used to Aelin’s level of cunning and drama and without her everything felt a bit deflated. A peaceful kingdom? Sweet honest Yrene? Broken honorable Chaol? Free-spirited loyal Nesryn? Just not quite the spectacle of twists that I’d become accustomed to in this series. Oh sure the royal heirs of the southern empire scheme and hiss as dark forces lurk beneath their long-enduring peace, but I just wanted to laugh in the face of their preening, threatening faces. Compared to Aelin, Erawan, Maeve…well, they just seemed like children ignorant of true darkness and bloodshed with which their neighbors in the north were born bathing in.
(I know some people loved this book and appreciated the break it gave them to breathe for a moment away from Aelin’s chaos, but for me it killed the momentum I was feeling with this series a bit and would’ve rather stuck with the break-neck pace.)
Nesryn’s story does admittedly get more exciting than Chaol’s when she eventually goes off on her own adventure and the Rukhing and their Ruks were pretty cool to learn about (in a less bloody way than the witches and their wyverns lol). Sartaq was maybe the only royal I liked (I mean I did feel bad for Kashin…) and these mountain people with their ancient aeries was the first bit of culture I felt fascinated by in this book. We also meet another rare northern stranger here and between him and the ancient stories the Rukhin‘s storyteller dregs up the majority of progress related to Aelin’s quest was made on Nesryn’s adventure. (Did anyone else recognize at once whom Falkan’s niece is? I mean he describes the same childhood she did…)
There are a few twists laid out in this book but unfortunately none of them surprised me except perhaps for those related to the Valg and just how far back their reach extends. I took each one in and either had already guessed or took it in stride with a shrug of the shoulder (I don’t know what it was about this book but even things that totally surprised me didn’t make me feel surprised). The pace felt so slow that all the clues seemed easy to piece together as opposed to the other books in the series which moved at such a brutal exhilarating pace with so many threads and characters to keep track of that I was shocked time and time again too busy trying to keep up to assemble any hints hidden in the page. But even so this was a good book, I can’t deny that. Well written and with a genuine depth of character, this was a good book.
Tower of Dawn is also a nice detour just as Wendlyn was. I liked how we got to once again take a step beyond Rifthold/Adarlan to expand the world of the story, but now that I’ve read it I doubt I’ll read it again when I next read through this series likely just skipping from Empire of Storms to Kingdom of Ash. This was a good book, well-done and eye-opening to further clues about defeating the Valg, but not necessary other than to redeem Chaol and set Nesryn free. If the level of healing he required hadn’t been so intense then I think I’d have preferred if Maas had simply added his POV in as a few chapters throughout Empire of Storms or something.
Tower of Dawn is a step to the side following Chaol and Nesryn as they travel to the southern continent in search of armies and healers while Aelin continues her battle in the north. A bit like a reluctant sigh, the pace slows and dawdles, and while it is a fragment of peace much needed for Chaol and Nesryn, as a reader it is a bit jarring after waging war by Aelin’s side for so long. Regardless, this book is a well-written and difficult journey of healing not just for legs that no longer move but a soul that no longer sees the light. As intriguing as its lands were and as flowing as its pace meandered, my own heart is itching to return to Aelin’s court and finish what the Valg started so very long ago.
Purchase Here: Tower of Dawn