Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (@jessicadhaluska, @SJMaas)

Posted September 7, 2014 by Jessica in Fantasy, Jessica, Reviews, Young Adult / 41 Comments

Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (@jessicadhaluska, @SJMaas)
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Published on: September 2 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 565
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
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Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy. 

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?



Heir of Fire begins with Celaena lazing about on a rooftop in Wendlyn’s capital city, drinking cheap wine (that she stole) from a jug, and feeling sorry for herself.

Actually, she wasn’t drinking it. She was looking  for it, and when she found it, it was empty (having already been drunk). Shortly thereafter, she gets mistaken for a vagrant . . .

By a vagrant. *snorts*

But as funny as that was, for the first 15-20% of the book, I thought we were getting ToG’s version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

If you haven’t read Harry Potter, book 5 was filled with teenage ANGST and wallowing and self-pity, and as much as I appreciated Rowling writing the book accurately in terms of Harry’s adolescence, it was still my least favorite book in the series.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long to see that Celaena wasn’t wallowing . . . she was . . . trying to cope.

The depth of her sorrow and regret . . . (<——it HURTS).

Maas communicates Celaena’s anguish so deftly that you can see her, hear her, feel her agony.

But Celaena has never been one to sit around and twiddle her thumbs, feeling sorry for herself. She pushes the things that hurt her to the side. She ignores them, and focuses on the task at hand.

And that works fairly well for her . . . until it doesn’t . . .

I think a lot of us can relate to that tendency. I see myself in her ostrich-like avoidance tactics, and I know firsthand that no matter how hard you try not to think about something, there will always be seemingly innocuous things that act as triggers . . . triggers that send you spiraling into the depths of despair, b/c you have refused to deal with the things that lay heavy on your soul.

“Because she is dead!” She screamed the last word so loudly that it burned in her throat. “Because she is dead, and I am left with my worthless life!”

Have you ever screamed like that? Screamed so loudly out of fury and despair that it feels like the lining of your throat is being eaten away by the acid that fills you?

Celaena has . . . and bearing witnessing to it almost makes you feel like you have too.

So we have Celaena desperately trying to control her magic, desperate for answers about the wyrdkeys, desperate not to look too closely at the guilt that surrounds her like a fog.

And then we have Rowan Whitethorn . . .

Rowan Whitethorn

Rowan Whitethorn is a world-class jackhole. He’s verbally abusive, he’s scary as hell, and he is pissed about being ordered to babysit Celaena.

But as with Celaena, there was more to Rowan than the obvious. He is nursing his own hurts, and also like Celaena, he uses emotional distance to protect himself from further injury. Their similarities allow them to REALLY understand each other:

“You collect scars because you want proof that you are paying for whatever sins you’ve committed. And I know this because I’ve been doing the same damn thing for two hundred years. Tell me, do you think you will go to some blessed Afterworld, or do you expect a burning hell? You’re hoping for hell–because how could you face them in the Afterworld? Better to suffer, to be damned for eternity and–” 

But Rowan isn’t the only new character we meet in Heir of Fire.

I don’t know if any of you are Sarah J. Maas fangirls like I am, but I’ve been stalking her on Pinterest since before Throne of Glass was released. If you stalk her too, then you’ve been looking forward to meeting Manon Blackbeak as much as I have. Manon Blackbeak, heir of the Blackbeak Witch-Clan. Manon Blackbeark, who wears the scarlet cloak of the teenaged Crochan witch who was her first kill. Manon Blackbeak who says things like:

It would be nice—really damn nice—to peel off the Yellowlegs heir’s face one day.

Manon Blackbeak

YIKES. Clearly Manon is more than just a surprisingly pretty face—she is clever and determined and ruthless . . . I’m fairly certain that she and Celaena would have been friends in another life.

The last important character we meet in Heir of Fire is Aedion Ashryver, Celaena’s cousin and childhood friend. Briefly mentioned in Crown of Midnight, we learned that he grew up to be one of Adarlan’s fiercest generals.

Aedion Ashryver

And perhaps that is the reason we haven’t heard more about him before now. As discussed, Celaena is a master at avoiding painful subjects, and a beloved friend who is perhaps the only surviving member of her family (on the continent), who rains terror on the remnants of Terrasen at the King’s command would certainly qualify as “painful.”

But once again, Maas gives us a character with depth, and Aedion almost immediately shows himself to be fiercely loyal to Celaena:

“All I want,” he snarled, “is for my people to be free and my queen restored to her throne.”

“They burned the antler throne, Aedion. There is no throne for her.”

“Then I’ll build one myself from the bones of our enemies.”

As much as I hated Celaena’s separation from the characters we all know and love, I loved the new characters too much for it impact my overall reading experience. I LOVE THIS BOOK.

My only issue was the POV changes in the first several chapters. They occurred frequently, sometimes lasting only 4 or 5 pages at a time, and the result felt choppy and disjointed. So if that’s a problem for you as well, don’t give up—it gets better, I promise.

And just b/c I can’t help myself . . . this isn’t a spoiler exactly, b/c if you haven’t read Heir of Fire yet, it won’t make sense to you. It’s a pin I found on SJM’s Throne of Glass board that inspired one of my favorite scenes from the book. ALSO, the pics of Rowan, etc. are also SJM pins and hyperlinked back to the originals, as is this one:

View Spoiler »

Throne of Glass remains my favorite YA series, and in Heir of Fire, Sarah J. Maas proves that she has staying power. She continues to create places we long to visit, if only they were real, and characters that I’m not entirely convinced aren’t real. Surely, given the depth of emotion Maas is able draw out of her readers, they must exist somewhere. Or maybe Maas is just a true artist who makes us feel and believe and that is enough.

Throne of Glass series:

My Review

My Review

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My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.


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41 responses to “Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (@jessicadhaluska, @SJMaas)

  1. Would you hate me if I told you that even though I saw your first line saying, “No Spoilers”, that I glossed over your review b/c I still haven’t started this series???? Please, don’t throw anything, up wind is so hard throw, anyways. I OWN it so I will start it this week, tho!!

    I LOVED the pins/pics you added to the review!!! Amazing!!!!
    Kristin recently posted…Sunday Post #44: Back in the Habit

  2. The angst in the beginning actually didn’t bother me as much, Jessica, but I did find Dorian and Chaol’s chapters the most boring in the book. They lack a certain panache? I think. Manon, though, was awesome, and I couldn’t drag myself away from the book right until I finished reading it while my chores kept piling up :))) Excellent review!
    kara-karina recently posted…The Postman Knock #94

  3. This book was a difficult one for me to read. I wasn’t intimidated by it’s size and finished it in two short days but there were some things I wasn’t a huge fan of. I didn’t mind the new chaarcters and their POV’s but I would have loved if one particular POV could have played a significant role in Hier of Fire (instead of being set up for book 4) that was sort of a minor issue I had.
    I actually didn’t mind Celeana’s wallowing in the beginning. It seeemed like the right place for her to be at the time. it broke my heart to see her so broken.
    While this one isn’t my favourite in the series it felt like a much needed book character wise. Great review Jessica!
    Lily recently posted…Rites of Passage: Review

  4. Mogsy from BiblioSanctum  

    I put in a hold for this at my library, let’s hope the waiting list isn’t too long because I’m really looking forward to this! Heck, depending on how long the wait it, maybe I’ll just give in and get the audiobook. I listened to the last two books in audio format too, so I might as well continue the tradition, plus the narrator is quite good! Anyway, glad you enjoyed, and you’re making me so excited to read this now 🙂
    Mogsy recently posted…Sunday Musings: Sunshine and Sniffles

  5. I love this hard! Some people disliked the multiple POV’s but I felt it was a necessary evil since the story is shifting and new characters are joining the chaos. Also the games among the witches reminded me of Quidditch and aside from GoT reminders, I also saw hints of LOTR & other epic fantasy series. At one point I felt like I’m reading a super awesome fan-fic mash-up but I didn’t care. This series is fantastic! as well as your review 😉
    Braine Talk Supe recently posted…Steampunk Sundays: Forged by Desire & Bec McMaster’s Book List + Giveaway

  6. Everyone is reading this series and I know I need to start it… I even have the 2 first books thanks to my amazing friend Marcela, but I still need to get into them. Need more time lol.

  7. Mary from BookSwarm  

    I know. I need to read more than just the first book. I liked that first one okay but (it being a YA) I kind of dropped it after that. But I feel like I’m really missing out, especially after this review of yours (damn book pusher!).

  8. Sarah  

    I have to skim your review, Jessica, because I haven’t started with this series yet. I am currently reading Throne of Glass though and so far so good. I saw your rating and I’m happy Heir of Fire rated that high. I’ve heard about this one’s multiple POVs. I wonder if they would work out for me or not.

  9. I had avoided reading your review until I finished Heir of Fire, since I was trying to go into the book knowing as little as possible… It always happens to me, now I want all the details about the next book as possible but once the time of publication and getting my hands on the book is getting closer I don’t want to know anything in order to experience the book as freshly as possible!

    I absolutely adored this book! Somehow the POV changes never bothered me cause I was anxious to know more about what was happening to all the different characters! I was surprised to see how easily I began to love Manon, given that I didn’t like her character much on her first POV chapter. But enter the wyverns and her picking Abraxos and I was rooting for Manon like mad!! Rowan was a character that took longer for me to like, even if by the end of the book I think I’m rooting for him as much as I am for the rest of the previous core of characters.

    Some people might have not been too keen on the lenght of the book or considered it slow, but I’ve loved the growth in world building all over the book, the character development and I’m feeling like re-reading it again, when I’ve just finished it!

    I cannot wait to see what Sarah J Maas has in store for us, because she seems to manage to make this series better and better with each book, and we still have 3 more to look forward too!

    Fantastic review, Jessica! I’ve loved all the images and links to the Pinterest boards, that I’m now gonna stalk for sure!
    Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #59!!

  10. My copy of Heir of Fire is on its way and I am so excited to see. This is my favorite high fantasy series and Crown of Midnight left me reeling so… anxious does not begin to cover how I feel. I cant wait to meet the new characters, especially Rowan, I have a feeling I will love him. And I cant wait to read about new surroundings, away from Adarlan. I also cant wait to read about Chaol, even a little bit of info will be good. Great review 🙂
    Lea Krnjeta recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (67)

  11. I bought the audiobook for Heir of Fire and after an hour or so I still felt a little lost. After reading this I’m going to listen to it again. Or maybe I should re-listen to the whole series.

  12. Berls from Fantasy is More  

    Urgh, I just wrote this long ass comment and then hit “buy now” instead of submit and it’s gone – let me see if I can remember what I said…. (apparently I need to learn to read lol)

    I guess I need to start stalking her pintrest page too – those images are great! Especially the ice one!

    I really struggled with the first 3/4s of book 1 – Heir of Ash. The multiple POVs were a bit too much for me, like you said. And even though I agree – Celaena’s despair was well done and made sense – I wanted her to pick herself up already. But once I got past that point – not exactly sure what happened, but I couldn’t put it down.

    One thing that really bugged me was that I didn’t have a good sense of time, though. I knew Celaena was sent to kill the royal court and yet I had no idea when that deadline was and if she was past it, approaching it, or what. It was just another week and another week, etc.

    Manon bugged me at first, but I think it was just because I felt guilty for liking her LOL But I was completely won over when she chose Abraxos. Loved those Wyverns – I’m an animal sucker!

    Great review Jessica 🙂
    Berls recently posted…Teaser Tuesdays | Austenland Teaser