Review of Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Rating – 4/5
Momentum is a tough thing to maintain through an epic series. Rowling did it with Potter, Joe Abercrombie is doing it with the epic Shattered Sea trilogy (check the series out if you like gritty high-fantasy).
A world and story as big as the one Maas started with Throne of Glass, and continued to build and better in Crown of Midnight, is a tough world and story to maintain. And Maas does it with Heir of Fire, even if the third book isn’t as strong as the second.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first book, but Maas made the second gritty and action-packed…
Heir of Fire is still stirring, gripping epic fantasy and no mistake. It develops the plot and the characters and advances the story. But it’s also about 100-150 pages too long. And a lot seems to be dragged out for no other reason than to extend the word/page count.
The opening is strong. Celaena is consumed by grief and a desire for revenge. She’s left Rithfold to find a way to stop the King and end his plans for world dominance. She finds herself in the court of her ancestors and ends up training to awaken her magic.
The training plot device is used in a lot of YA–and while it is necessary in Heir of Fire, it maybe didn’t need to take up almost the entire length of the book. The training could have been cut down, and the plot would have felt a bit tighter. It was a little boring at times, but Maas’s world-building kept me reading, as did the punches of action she kept delivering to keep things moving.
Like the other books in the Throne of Glass series, Heir of Fire is divided between multiple perspectives and stories. This time around, Maas introduced a new character in the witch Manon whose plot line involves training wyverns. This is interesting and offers up some awesome set pieces, but it felt unnecessary at times, even if it did help expand the world and expand the scope of the story.
The previous books had epic world-building, and Maas’s imagination is just as epic, but there were things in Heir of Fire that seemed a little familiar. Giant talking spiders (Tolkien), a magical ring that controls people (Tolkien), a stag who watches over the forest and wild wolves who serve a manipulative queen (Princess Mononoke)… But it’s hard to find a book that isn’t influenced by one or more others, and Maas delivers enough originality that nothing is ever too familiar.
The ending is the strongest part of this book, and Maas delivers the literary version of a punch in the gut.
Overall, this is a strong, if flawed, third entry in the six book Throne of Glass series. The uneven pace is compensated for by some solid action set pieces, good character and story development, and Maas’s epic world-building. Great things are promised for the rest of the series.