Kingdom of Ash
Author: S J Maas
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Synopsis from goodreads:
“Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…
With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.
And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.
As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.”
It’s the end to the Throne of Glass series and we see Aelin and her friends battle against Erawan and Maeve as they try to save Terrasen and even all of Erilea from their destruction. It’s a book of battle and loss and choosing to risk it all for a better world.
I absolutely loved the Throne of Glass series from the minute I picked up that first book. My love for the series grew as I read more and more, Heir of Fire becoming a firm favourite of mine but suddenly there seemed to be a different tone set in Empire of Storms and it carries on through Kingdom of Ash. Ultimately, I did enjoy this last book to a beloved series but I do have a few things niggling away at me and it got me thinking about the Throne of Glass series and what it has become.
Kingdom of Ash picks up where Empire of Storms ended with Aelin being tortured daily and it’s as horrific as it sounds. Her friends are scattered all over the place with their own journeys to go on and tasks to complete, and after about 300 pages Aelin escapes – sort of like Feyre in A Court of Wings and Ruin where she’s stuck with Tamlin for a good portion of the last book to start with and then manages to get away.
And the similarities didn’t end there.
What I’ve noticed with this series is how you can see the writing change throughout and the tone of the books with it. Throne of Glass was a teenage and young adult book but could really be read by anyone, almost like Harry Potter. But then you see the content and the tone change following the release of A Court of Mist and Fury and everything is suddenly a bit more… mature than what it had been. It’s like the writing style of the ACOTAR series leaked into Erilea and they suddenly weren’t two separate worlds any more, and it didn’t work for me.
Throne of Glass is completely different to ACOTAR but they suddenly became quite similar with mates being found left, right and centre, and details of everyone’s sex lives made apparent at any given opportunity (do you really feel like having sex when you’re that exhausted and have to prepare for battle tomorrow?!) That’s not Throne of Glass, that’s ACOTAR and it annoyed me they became so similar and Throne of Glass changed into something else entirely. It was originally about an assassin trying to escape her awful life, then she found out she had magic and that she was Fae, and then it turned into her needing to sacrifice herself because of some idiot ages ago and somehow the assassin was lost somewhere along the way and all the things I loved about that character was… different.
I found as the series went on I started to dislike Chaol and grew to like Dorian with Tower of Dawn (one of my favourites in the series) really changing my opinion of Chaol for the better and introducing properly one of my favourite characters – Yrene. She was totally the winner of Kingdom of Ash for me and she deserved to be on that front cover. What did Aelin and Rowan do, really? I really liked Rowan when we first met him in Heir of Fire but throughout these last two books, he’s become a bit boring and almost like he’s just there but not capturing my attention in any way. He spent most of the book pining over Aelin and trying to cram in tattoos every five minutes, and Aelin became more of a symbol or figure of hope than defeating Erawan in the end. I was really hoping for more from Aelin in terms of her scheming and planning but after the whole torturing ordeal, she seemed a lot more hollow and distant which is obviously what you’d expect after someone has been tortured, for them to have changed but we lost that cheeky swagger from our favourite assassin. It was all about the Fire-Bringer who lost her fire in the end and with it her humanity which was sad. We lost the assassin in the end.
On another note, I have to say the whole ordeal with the Wyrdgate and the keys annoyed me relentless. All of that work to get the keys, and what does Aelin do? Try to trade for getting rid of Erawan for Elena who messed everything up in the first place, got her killed by the gods and still had to shut the gate, leaving Erawan in Erilea still.
She was supposed to put Erawan back! Instead the gods killed Elena (harsh), Aelin trapped them in hell then returned back to Erilea with next to no power left? It just seemed like a waste of a scene or there could have at least been a bit more drama with the gods. This was the whole point of the series – leading up to putting Erawan back in the gate and it ended up being a wasted opportunity.
It seemed like any interesting scenes in this book – the Wyrdgate and the gods, Maeve and Dorian – they were skipped over far too quickly but oh my god the battles and the leading up to battles and the fighting fighting fighting just kept coming.
I know this is a book about war but, and maybe it’s just me that felt this, but this book was too long! There was so much dead space and chapters that could have been shorter or endless descriptions that could have been cut, it was almost like it was long just for the sake of being long. I love a juicy long book to get stuck into, but there was so much faff around the edges in this book it irritated me.
Please just stop with all the endless fight scenes that are ultimately very similar to the last one in the fact that NO ONE DIES even though there’s about ten pages worth of everyone feeling scared witless that they’re going to die.
And the random scenes and sentences where all the couples that were clearly marked out in Empire of Storms get together or almost do or think about having sex as they look at their probably mate or finally do end up sleeping together –
It was good in ACOTAR, it doesn’t work in Throne of Glass. Give it up. I don’t need to know Aelin and Rowan just tangled in the bed sheets, it literally adds nothing to the scene or story – I know they’re a couple, let’s move on.
When they weren’t getting it on with each other, they were scared they were doing to die the next day. I don’t know why everyone was so worried about dying in this book because barely anyone did. We see some baddies get killed which is pretty obvious is going to happen unless the series is going to end up in a Voldemort actually won sort of situation. I was almost glad we saw someone die to make for a more emotive story – the Thirteen all die together and that scene was pretty powerful and was one that had me hooked, because it was so devastating but heroic. Gavriel’s death on the other hand was sort of a cop-out with me asking, did he really have to die or did you just slot that in to say a main character had died?
His death was completely avoidable and made me think that maybe he met Aedion and decided actually nope he didn’t want to be a dad so sort of just threw himself into open jaws. Apart from these, no one else died. Dorian and Aelin where apparently one definitely had to die? They’re both fine. Obviously.
I just wished that maybe a bit more thought had been put into this last book with a lot less chapters just for the sake of making it longer, more worthy deaths that actually meant something and the fact that they all ended up paired up and married by the end… It felt sort of boring in a way. Aedion and Lysandra? After what he said to her I wouldn’t ever want to be near him. Elide and Lorcan? I grew to like Lorcan towards the end but I found it a bit unbelievable that they would actually get together. Dorian and Manon randomly having sex all the time? They never get together. Nesryn and Sartaq? Literally what was the point. Why did everyone have to be paired off – you don’t have to get married and get pregnant for a happy ending!
My favourite couple though, was Chaol and Yrene. They were the one couple I thought actually made sense and I enjoyed reading about them together in this book and the love they had for the other. I quite liked Dorian on his own in this book as well; Dorian and Manon never made sense to me in Empire of Storms and I think it was best to leave them going separate ways in the end.
Overall, I have to say I liked the happy ending with Erilea being saved and Erawan and Maeve destroyed, but I was sort of hoping for some more juicy scenes with them and Aelin. This book was very clear who was bad and who was good – not many twists to shock you along the way which are always a pleasure to read.
I guess this series changed too much for me half way through, or maybe I changed. All I can say is while I love the Throne of Glass series, Empire of Storms and Kingdom of Ash won’t be firm favourites of mine.
I do have to say though that the best bit in this book was probably the scene where Aelin is tumbling through worlds and sees none other than RHYS from ACOTAR in Prythian who helps her find her way home.
It was quite a cute moment and for which I appreciated thoroughly.
All in all, it was a nice end to the series and I’m glad these characters got a happy ending. Throne of Glass is a series that I will always treasure and recommend to anyone who loves fantasy, but I think it lost its way towards the end a bit, but at least now all is well in Erilea.