Review: “Tower of Dawn” by Sarah J. Maas

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
2.5 stars out of 5 

I. Hate. Everything.

Cards on the table: I love Chaol. Chaol is my favourite character in the Throne of Glass series followed immediately by Celaena. Yes. Celaena. Not Aelin. Celaena. They are basically different f-ing characters by this point, so I had to make the distinction.I wish I didn’t have to make the distinction. But, alas, that is what has happened with this series.

I loved the first two novels of the Throne of Glass series: they were mindless, fun fantasy-action stories where I figured: “Great. Now the assassin and her captain of the guard lover and the crown prince boy-toy will team up with our QUEEN Nehemeia (RIP) to take down the evil king and it’l ll be great.”

I was a sweet summer child, who knew nothing of the winter that is the (by this point) toxic relationship I have entered into with Sarah J. Maas’ writing.

Yes, I said toxic. I almost said abusive. And here’s why: Maas has a habit of inducing brain-damage in her characters — specifically, her male characters who are initially the main love interest before she writes some new dominant, extremely testosterone-filled, overly-masculine male hero to “dominate” and likely magically mate with her female protagonist.

Did you catch the bitterness in my tone? Get a taste of that saltiness? Oh, good. I just wanted to make sure it came through.

Now, here’s the thing (and why I say toxic): I can still enjoy Sarah J. Maas books, despite acknowledging a systemic problem like literally almost every single romance that shows up in all of her books — and that’s a lot of romances. They are trash. By the end, very action-packed trash…but trash, despite my constantly wishing that they were better than they were. That, somehow, someday, I will be able to say “YES. YES THAT IS ACTUALLY A GOOD BOOK AND I FEEL FREE!”

They have sentence structure that makes me wonder if she even actually has an editor checking on such things; they have “foreshadowing” that requires air-quotes because she likes to smash you over the head repeatedly with a fucking anvil until the moment of the “reveal” so that you can go “Oh, wow. Much surprise, very twist. I never could have predicted.”; and she also likes to assassinate her characters.

Not necessarily kill them, but assassinate their character in such a way that you cannot like them. You cannot like them because they were a previous love interest and we’ve now moved on to a new one.

This nugget bothers me more than anything else, specifically, when it comes to the Throne of Glass series. It bothers me because I love Chaol. He was an interesting character with a backstory I was intrigued by, especially when you used it to understand his personal code of ethics and the majority of his actions. But obviously we cannot have nice things, so Maas induced brain-damage in Chaol so that, in Queen of Shadows, he would behave entirely out-of-character in such a way that Celaena-who-is-now-Aelin (don’t even get me started) would never be at fault, and we could just say, “Eff Chaol, bring on Rowan.”

Unless you’re me, in which case, you’re still standing on the deck of the sunken USS Chaolaena, having never (and I do mean never) warmed to Rowan, and dreaming of what the series could have been.

What does this have to do with Tower of Dawn? Well, Tower of Dawn, is the “Chaol novel.” It is here to explain away his absence in Empire of Storms, and Sarah J. Maas’ attempt at retconning some of the brain-damage she induced in her otherwise great character. Because, you see, now he’s crippled and physically helpless, so we can very heavy-handedly make this story of physical healing also about inner healing — oh, and let’s throw in another new love interest, and make sure that his previous love interest goes off to fuck a prince, because gods forbid anyone be single in a Sarah J. Maas book.

I’m not giving it side-eye, what are you talking about?

This book grates on the very fibre of my being in so many ways I don’t honestly have time or energy to write them all down. Needless to say: it’s dull, it’s predictable, it doesn’t make me feel any better about what has happened in this series — and were it not for a few, very brief moments of interesting mythology/world-lore, I think I might have actually screamed as opposed to, you know, screaming internally and imagining myself spontaneously combusting.

Augh. Just…just release the last Throne of Glass novel already so I can finally stop seeing more of this garbage

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