Tag Archives: fantasy

Review: Dark Triumph

Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Books for Children for providing me with a review copy through Netgalley! 

Book Overview:

Title: Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) 

 Author: Robin LaFevers

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Publication Info: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2013

Synopsis: Placed back into the household of her terrifying and cruel father, Count D’Albret, Sybella must conceal not only her identity as a handmaiden of death, but also her mission to kill the Count. Yet obstacles to her mission quickly arise, and Sybella must decide what is more important, revenge or justice.

(Note: To see a review of the first book of the series, Grave Mercy, click here.)

Book Review:

Overall Rating: 5/5

This book takes the series to a deeper and darker level of politics, relationships, and justice, and as in the Throne of Glass series, the second book is far better than the first. I finished this book in just two days, which (with my crazy life schedule) shows just how absorbing the storyline and characters are. Please make time to read this book–it’s so worth it!

Plot:

My main complaint against Grave Mercy was that I felt the story relied too heavily on dialogue, politics, and romance/infatuation, so at first I was wary of reading this book at all. I can’t begin to describe how shocked I was at the difference between this book and the first in the series; although political issues and romance definitely play their part in Sybella’s story, they’re offset by action and backstory (this is a word, right? I feel like it’s a word. I’ll get back to you on that). And I could talk for hours on Sybella’s backstory–how she distances herself and makes every decision based on not only the trauma she experienced, but also her deep understanding of her father’s nature and others’ ability to overlook his brutality. In a nutshell, LaFevers weaves together Sybella’s past and present beautifully to create a perfectly balanced story.

Characters:

LaFevers continues to make multi-faceted, complex characters, like Beast, D’Albret, and Sybella. In particular, Sybella’s past (increasingly revealed) and conflicting emotions and loyalties make her an intriguing and unique character to follow. As is probably obvious by now, I absolutely adored and supported Sybella throughout the whole book. Although I did also appreciate Ismae’s feisty nature in the first book, I somehow didn’t connect with her in the way I have with Sybella. This heroine is wary of others, untrusting of Mortrain and the abbey’s intentions, and bitter–and all rightfully so. As more and more of Sybella’s past is revealed, the reader can understand her decisions more, and every action of hers that might have been questionable makes perfect sense. But the beauty of LaFever’s characterization is that the reader can see Sybella growing throughout the book, can sense her begin to trust and protect others, instead of only looking out for herself. This, I think, is where LaFevers developed most as a writer, and I can’t wait to see what the next book will hold with Annith.

Writing Quality:

LaFevers continued to use historically accurate language, over which I practically threw up with happiness (hint: slight exaggeration there). She even mentions in her notes at the end (yes, I read author’s notes and introductions because I’m a geek like that) that she researched specific words and usage to stay as accurate and meaningful as possible–super kudos to her for this! This attention to detail was definitely apparent in other aspects of the writing, as with characterization and plot, as well as timing. Her action-filled storyline and romance are not rushed, and I give major props for the pacing of this book. Like Sybella’s character, the story draws you in subtly but strongly, and  I was hooked long before I realized it.

(TLDR: This book and its writing are killer, so you should buy and read it pronto!

Who I recommend this to:

  • Readers who enjoy bada** heroines with well-developed backstories
  • Fans of The Grisha series, Throne of Glass series, Mortal Instruments series
  • Late high school, college, and beyond (warning: strong amounts of violence, death, mentions of sex)

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Review: Heir of Fire

Book Overview:

Title: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)

 Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Publication Info: Bloomsbury Childrens, Sep. 2, 2014

Synopsis: After the death of her best friend, Celaena vows to end the King of Adarlan’s rule by traveling to Wendlyn and discovering the secrets of the King’s power. Yet she quickly finds that, to defeat the king, she must come to terms with  her true identity and destiny.

 Book Review:

Overall Rating: 5/5

This book is by far the best and most amazing threequel (yes, that is a word) I have ever read. I honestly cannot find words to describe how perfect this novel is, so I will attempt to say what this novel isn’t.

Heir of Fire is not a resolution or ending. It is not a continuation or simply another step in the chain of events. It is not a quest story. It is not a teen fantasy story. It is not a romantic love triangle story. And it is not the story of Celaena, or Chaol, or Dorian.

Heir of Fire is the story of Adarlan and Wendlyn and Terrasen and Ellwye, and it is the story who Celaena was and what she will become to these countries and people.

If this description seems overly vague or confusing, please know that this is intentional. Only by reading this series will you understand how truly phenomenal and revolutionary these books are. So please find time in your busy lives to read Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, and Heir of Fire. .

Plot:

This book begins with Calaena at the lowest point we have seen her, grieving for the loss of Nehemia, broken by ending things with Chaol, and utterly emptied of ambition and motivation. From this beginning, I knew Heir of Fire would not be the typical revenge or quest story. Celaena shows authentic signs of grief and depression throughout the novel, and because of this, her experiences become very real: even when we want to shake her for making stupid decisions or become frustrated with her apathy and indifference, we understand the emotions and drive behind her actions. Even if I didn’t agree with her actions, I supported and cheered on Celaena throughout every step of the plot, and I’m so impressed by Maas’ ability to keep me so well hooked.

Maas also flawlessly weaves together so many plots and characters. Although obviously Celaena is the main character, both Chaol and Dorian are given separate plot lines (along with new characters, such as Aedion and Sorscha) with their own complexity and depth. Yet everything intersects and builds together so that you quickly forget you’re reading about a nonexistent world, which I consider the mark of amazing writing.

Furthermore, this book provides so much more depth and material for the series to continue. While I fully expected Maas to start wrapping up development of  the plot and world, I was delighted to find the exact opposite — in a style that reminded me of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series, everything and everyone grows and becomes more complex, creating new conflicts and problems to solve. If I was invested in the series before, I am now ten times more so!

Characters:

As mentioned before, Celaena becomes even more real and human in this book through her grief and depression and apathy. Even in grief, she still remains as sarcastic and stubborn and combative as ever, but the darker emotions give depth and meaning to her responses and actions. And she is forced beyond her limits, becoming a version of Celaena we have never seen before; we learn so much of her past and see how her Fae heritage will change her future.

Both Chaol and Dorian show tremendous growth as characters, Chaol struggling to move past his feelings for Celaena and finding where his true loyalty lies, and Dorian working to control his newfound magic.

Additionally, as if the book couldn’t get any better, we meet so many new characters with complex motives and personalities of their own: Aedion, Sorscha, Rowan, etc. Although all of these characters deserve descriptions of their own, allow me to expound on Rowan,  a character who becomes incredibly important. When Celaena first meets Rowan, he is painstakingly abrasive and harsh — as well as violent and potentially sadistic — and this characterization is constant for a large portion of the book. But he certainly grows and develops. The changes in his character are subtle and well-hidden, so that you don’t realize how much you love this asshole until find yourself defending his every action and smiling at his sarcastic, cynical comments. Take caution.

Writing Quality:

Again, the worldbuilding Maas accomplishes in this book alone is more than in the previous books combined, with what we learn not only of Celaena’s past, but also of the Fae and the Wyrdkeys (and even the Valg). Due to this, I would consider Heir of Fire a true fantasy book, because this world certainly has more complexity and background than most worlds in teen novels. And after reading this third installment, I have no hesitation in saying that this is the best teen series I have ever read, not just in depth, but also in characterization and plot and writing style.

Who I recommend this to:

  • EVERYONE (or more specifically, everyone who enjoys fantasy)
  • Fans of The Grisha series, His Fair Assassin series, Mortal Instruments series
  • Late high school, college, and beyond (warning: language, violence, mentions of sex and drugs)

 

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