So after how much I absolutely loved Crown of Midnight, and after what a cliffhanger it left off on, I was super excited to start Heir of Fire.
Annnndddd…. It started off pretty disappointing. Where Crown of Fire seemed to hit the perfect balance between developing nuanced characters and weaving their growth in with a fast-paced, exciting, and steadily forward pushing plot, Heir of Fire, well, didn’t.
It’s a Little Bit Wibbly-Wobbly.
In terms of pacing, this book felt very unbalanced. It starts off slow. Very slow. And then somehow gets slower. Even as it introduces a new character who should be a thrilling addition (I mean an ancient, full-blooded, animalistic Fae warrior with a chip on his shoulder? Sign me up for some angst!), it’s just… slow. There’s a lot of Celeana wallowing in self-pity. A lot of Celeana struggling with her identity, avoiding accepting responsibility and her past, and it just gets tedious.
Not to say that any of those things are bad inherantly. Those kinds of moments and struggles can be great in terms of character development, and even in this narrative they’re pretty necessary for Celeana to be able to come into her own and take up the yoke of her birthright. But they way it’s handled in-text left me jussssttt on the edge of bored a lot of the time. The character development just wasn’t woven in with forward motion as adeptly as it had been in Crown of Midnight.
Maas tries to break up Celeana’s “woe-is-me” party and keep things interesting and moving by frequently switching up perspective. She jumps between Celaena and Rowan’s POVs, and then also jumps back and forth from Wendlyn to Adarlan, keeping Dorian and Chaol in the mix. She also then adds a new thread to the narrative by introducing Manon Blackbeak and the Ironteeth Witches. In the end all this POV hopping kind of becomes too much. Too many strings, all at once, without any real sufficient weaving. No one storyline really provides enough movement for the plot until really, the last third of the book. And to be honest, in this book I found Manon, Dorian and Chaol to be a bit of a snooze. If the POV switches were meant to break up the slowness of Celaena’s inner struggles to come to terms with the fact that she’s actually Aelin, it just didn’t quite work.
Not a Stand-Alone Experience
I think the main reason for that is the fact that this is without a doubt, completely a set-up book. A very long one, at that. Both of the prior books had, in addition to the overarching plot of the series, a strong, cohesive plotline of its own – one that came together at the end and tied all the POVs in to some sort of final conflict or confrontation, while still enhancing and furthering the overall mystery of the series. Heir of Fire doesn’t really do this. It can’t stand on its own the way Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight could. So in the end, it’s kind of just 560 pages of set-up for book four.
Still Worth It
Now none of this is to say that I didn’t enjoy the book at all. Slow as it may be sometimes, and as much as I found Manon and Chaol’s sections to be a giant snoozefest, ultimately when all is said and done when the story moves, hot damn does it move. And like in the prior books, the world is engaging, and it’s fun to learn more about it. Maeve is a delightful addition as a villian/rival, and Rowan eventually grew on me (although I kind of can’t stop picturing him as Fenris from Dragon Age). And so by no means would I label this book as a bad read – it just didn’t quite live up to the standards set by its predecessors.
In summary: It’s worth the time, but don’t expect the same kind of book that you got before. This one is more of a “buckle in for the long haul” kind of experience – but generally, it’s worth it.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Would recommend to: Anyone who has read the prior two books.
Did you read Heir of Fire? If so, what did you think? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
See my review of Throne of Glass here.
See my review of Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass series #2) here.