Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

Released on September 2, 2014, Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas is undoubtedly my favourite novel in the series thus far. It represents a turning point in this epic fantasy tale for Celaena, who must come to terms with her past to embrace her future. Packed with heart-pounding action, fierce new characters, and swoon-worthy romance, this third book is guaranteed to enthrall readers from start to finish.

Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak―but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life―and her future―forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?

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If Crown of Midnight was my least favourite book in the series, then Heir of Fire is far and away my favourite. This is, at its core, a coming of age story, and its just done so well. At the conclusion of Crown of Midnight, a heartbroken and ruined Celaena had revealed her true identity as Aelin Ashryver Galathynius to Chaol before sailing off to Wendlyn – the homeland of the Fae, and her Ashryver relatives, setting the stage for a major shift in the series’ tone and expected trajectory.

Heir of Fire makes much better use of multiple perspectives, giving Celaena, Dorian, Choal, Manon, Aedion and even Rowan their own perspectives, from their respective locations around Erilea. Celaena and Rowan’s storyline was (still) undoubtedly my favourite to read in this book, but the added perspectives of Dorian (in the Glass Castle), of  Choal and Aedion (in Rifthold and among the rebels), and of Manon (among the Witch Covens) went a long way towards building a more complex, detailed world, and filling gaps that may have otherwise existed in the narrative. This writing style really works for Maas, and it greatly improves problems I had had with the previous two books in this series – namely pacing, and a lack of detailed world building.

“She would remake the world – remake it for them, those she had loved with this glorious, burning heart” – Sarah J Maas, Heir of Fire

Heir of Fire picks up several months after the conclusion of Crown of Midnight, with Celaena finally well and truly broken – she is no longer the strong, sassy protagonist readers had grown accustomed to, but has finally succumbed to the horrors of her past (both recent and distant), and is drowning in self-pity and despair. But her Fae Aunt, Queen Maeve, has other plans for her recently rediscovered niece – and soon Celaena finds herself sequestered at Mistward, the home of many demi-fae like herself, being trained by the legendary Prince Rowan Whitethorn, in order to earn answers about the Wyrdkeys from Maeve. Rowan pushes Celaena hard – not knowing the traumas that mar her past – nearly breaking her spirit in the process. But slowly, throughout her training and their time together, the two grow close, Rowan beginning to understand the horrors that live in the Princess’ past.

The relationship that bloomed between Celaena/Aelin and Rowan in Heir of Fire was undoubtedly my favourite – it was nursed, slowly, like an ember growing into a flame. Maas didn’t immediately dive into any romantic connotations – in fact, at the end of Heir of Fire, the two are still just close friends, not lovers – instead building a real, fierce relationship between the two, that is rooted in loyalty, love and respect.

“It is easy to be lied to when you don’t know any of those people firsthand. It’s easy to believe when your king tells you that the people in Endovier deserve to be there because they’re criminals or rebels who tried to slaughter innocent Adarlanian families.” – Sarah J Maas, Heir of Fire

In Rifthold, Dorian, Chaol, and Aedion find themselves caught up in an increasingly complex political climate. Dorian, for his part, has grown to despise his father, following the events that led to Nehemia’s death and Celaena’s departure. A rift has also grown between Dorian and Chaol, with both hiding secrets – of mysterious lovers, clandestine meetings, and true identities – from the other. Chaol, for his part, is struggling to grapple with his loyalty to the King and Dorian, and his feelings for Celaena in light of the revelation that she is actually Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, the lost Queen of Terrasen, and the sworn enemy of his King. This leads him to Aedion, a fierce warrior known as the Wolf – a man who is also Aelin’s cousin, and who was once her closest friend and ally. Upon the revelation that Aelin is alive, Aedion begrudgingly begins to work with Chaol, who finds himself drawn into the rebel movement, further and further away from his loyalties to Adarlan.

“A cry went up from the witches, save for the Thirteen—­who stayed cool and quiet. They did not need to cheer, for they ­were immortal and infinite and gloriously, wonderfully deadly.” – Sarah J Maas, Heir of Fire

And in the North, the dark forces of the King of Adarlan are gathering – creatures of darkness and witches with teeth and nails of iron. Manon and the Thirteen are a fierce cadre of witches, sworn to serve in battle, training to enter the fray on winged beasts called wyverns. This book introduces Manon and her Thirteen as characters, but I did not much like them, nor did I particularly care for their story overmuch yet.  In fact, upon rereading, I often find myself skipping the witch’s chapters because – while I know they were important to developing Manon’s character and building background knowledge – I simply don’t care for them.

Overall, Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas is far and away my favourite book in the series thus far – I find myself reaching for it time and time again, unable to help myself. As I said, this is, at its core, a coming of age story, and its just done so well. Celaena, Dorian and Chaol all grow into the characters everyone always wished they were – no longer naive, self-centered and trusting, all three grow as individuals, accepting their roles in the game – especially Aelin, who finally embraces her past and leaves Celaena behind, accepting her future of the Queen of Terrasen (5/5).

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