Monday, January 28, 2019

Review: HEIR OF FIRE by Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I’m a little conflicted on my rating for this book because I think the first hundred pages or so were solid, as were the last twenty pages, but the whole middle of the book just wasn’t there for me. I enjoyed Throne of Glass more than this book, but I definitely think Heir of Fire is a stronger book in the series. Ultimately, this book was a bit confusing for me in multiple ways, which ended up hindering my enjoying the story to its fullest.

There were quite a few new characters who subsequently talked about the histories and lives of a bunch of non-present characters, and the lineage was something I had trouble keeping straight, especially when Aedion was talking to his men about the rulers of Terrasen. My eyes kind of glazed over at that part so I hope it wasn’t vital information.

And then when Celaena met Queen Maeve, that scene was confusing too because I thought she knew what she was going to Wendlyn to do and who she was going to see, but she acted all terrified and surprised like she never expected to run into Fae royalty there.

I actually didn’t prefer Celaena as the main character in this book. I found myself looking forward to Chaol’s, Dorian’s, Sorscha’s, and Aedion’s chapters much more. I guess I’m just kind of tired of reading about Celaena flip-flopping back and forth between being ruthless and being soft.

The only character who I didn’t care to read about was Manon, the new fierce witch girl. In the beginning, I didn’t really mind her, but the more I read about her the more I just didn’t care about her training her wyvern or preparing for the king’s War Games or fighting with the other witch clans, and I really struggled to get through her chapters. She was overall a rather unlikeable character, and I hope she doesn’t show up in future books, but she probably will, unfortunately.

Alternatively, the character who I started out not really caring for but ended up liking was Rowan. He wasn’t a particularly likable character at the start but I love his bond with Celaena, and I’m looking forward to seeing where that connection goes. I hope their relationship stays platonic though because I want her to get back with Chaol again.

This book has cemented that I like Chaol more than Dorian as a character. In Throne of Glass I liked them equally, and in Crown of Midnight I liked Chaol only slightly more, but now after Heir of Fire, I much prefer him over Dorian, who has just become somewhat melodramatic.

Who I ended up being surprised that I liked, though, was Sorscha. She was more than she appeared, with how much she seemed to know about the prince and Chaol and Celaena. I’m happy Dorian found someone to turn to and trust during this book, but I am sad I won’t be seeing her in future books.

At first, I really hated the piece of crap that was Aedion, but he slowly grew on me—and I grudgingly accepted that I started to like him by the halfway point in the story. Once I got to hear his thoughts and emotions, especially regarding Aelin, I started to realize he wasn’t as bad as he pretended to be. I still don’t fully trust him, but I no longer think he’s an insufferable jerk.

Heir of Fire felt somewhat similar in plot to Throne of Glass, with Celaena training and needing to prove herself at the end in order to get what she wanted. And what was she even doing in Wendlyn? She went over there to dispatch the king and his son, yet when she gets there she totally forgets that plan and mopes around in the city for weeks until she’s summoned to see Queen Maeve, who instructs her to train and prove herself before she can enter Doranelle. So that’s what Celaena does for a few hundred pages, paying no heed to her initial quest, not even so much as mentioning that she’s flouting the king’s orders.

And then why was Norrak sent to kill Celaena? The king didn’t know what she was up to, and for all he know, she could have been fulfilling her duty by killing the king of Wendlyn like she was supposed to. There was never a chapter from the king’s perspective so we don’t know what his thoughts were, although I wish we could have read from his point of view because even though he’s a terrible person, his is the most interesting perspective to read from.

Another thing I had an issue with in this book is that there were multiple scenes that started out in third-person limited point of view from one character’s perspective and then suddenly switched to another character’s point of view without so much as a break to indicate such had happened. Or the perspective would switch to third-person omniscient and that was just confusing because I couldn’t tell who was supposed to be thinking. This was just poor writing in my opinion; viewpoints should never be mixed without some sort of page break, and they should stay in a limited perspective if that’s how they start.

I personally don’t think Sarah J. Maas has the best writing style. I found it hard to understand what was being described or what was happening until well after the fact, like she just didn’t explain anything well enough. I felt like information was constantly referenced that I had no prior knowledge of; like details were talked about in a way that I should have known them already but I didn’t. And since I’m reading these books back-to-back, it’s not like I’m forgetting major details; I just don’t think these pieces of information were explained well and that’s why I was confused. For example, someone made a comment like, “who do you think betrayed us?” and this was the first I had known of a betrayal, like it was never clear earlier that they had indeed been betrayed, and that’s not a detail I should have missed. Or about Celaena’s Fae magic—do all Fae have magic? Is it always elemental magic like Celaena’s and Rowan’s? And is Celaena’s human form her animal form? Do all Fae have an animal form but not all their animal forms are human? Just little details like that, that I’m sure were implied but never outright stated, were what caused confusion for me and ultimately made me feel distant from the story. I mentioned this writing technique to some friends who have already finished this series and they all confirmed that that’s just how Maas writes, and I don’t like it. There’s still quite a bit I’m confused about after finishing Heir of Fire, and I don’t like when an author doesn’t explain details well enough so that I have to intuit my way through the story and then misinterpret information. This writing criticism is my biggest complaint about Heir of Fire, and I feel like it will happen again in future books, which doesn’t make me excited to continue on with the series.

I just wasn’t as into this book as I was with previous installments. Even during action scenes that should have had me on the edge of my seat, heart pounding, I found them boring and I tried to read quickly to move on. The whole middle made me kind of upset and not very excited to keep reading, and then the last twenty pages finally became more interesting. Heir of Fire felt like a big book of set up for the rest of the series. Lots of new characters were introduced, lots of new abilities were revealed—and then honed to be lethal—lots of betrayals happened, lots of deaths occurred, and much of this book felt like a catalyst for what’s to come in future books.

To be honest—and I feel bad saying this—but my interest has just waned and I’m not feeling super inclined to finish the series. I’m going to, or at least I’m going to try, but for some reason I’m not obsessed with the Throne of Glass series as it seems everyone else is. I don’t dislike it, but it’s just not capturing my attention as much as when I started. For now, I’m going to take a break from it and read something else, but I do intend to finish it in a month or two, and I hope by then I will be more excited about it.

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