Book Reviews

Tower of Dawn: Review and Discussion

“Using the chair is not a punishment. It is not a prison,’ he said softly. ‘It never was. I am as much a man in that chair, or with that cane, as I am standing on my feet.”

Tower of Dawn is the most recent addition to Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, chronicling Chaol’s and Nesryn’s journeys following the events of Queen of Midnight. Set during the same time period as Empire of Storms, the novel introduces us to Antica and shows the efforts put forth to convince the Southern Continent to rally their forces against Erawan. It also takes on the healing of Chaol’s spinal injury at the Torre Cesme, a tower filled with magical healers.

Going into Tower of Dawn, I was skeptical about how Sarah J. Maas would handle Chaol’s “healing journey.” It’s no secret that readers were unhappy after she paralyzed Chaol from the waist down, then wrote him out of Empire of Storms. So when she announced an entire book dedicated to him, people were worried she’d find a way to magically undo his injury and send him home good as new. I’m so glad that she didn’t take that route. Though Chaol does regain feeling in his legs, he is not 100% healed by the end of the book, nor will he ever be. And I appreciated that he’s able to piece himself back together mentally without fully healing physically. His is a journey of acceptance, and I thought it was handled carefully and well. I can’t speak to the representation, of course, though I’d love it if anyone can find reviewers who can. I’ve been looking without much luck.

I also have to give Sarah J. Maas props for listening to the criticism she receives and attempting to diversify her series, adding characters of different cultures and sexualities into the mix. The representation in this series is still by no means perfect, but she’s trying – and I applaud her for that.

Now I’ll get into my biggest issue with this book: the length. While reading this book, I kept thinking that it could have been cut by at least a couple hundred pages. The story starts out slow, and I never felt that it picked up to the point where I was entirely engrossed in it. I found myself getting bored frequently, especially when Maas would go off on world building tangents or give us long-winded descriptions of the landscape. I understand that some of this information was necessary, but I think she needed a bit of moderation. I also felt that the Valg plotline was completely overshadowed by the romances and the healing story – which just wasn’t my jam.

The perspectives alternate from chapter to chapter, switching between Chaol, Yrene, and Nesryn – likely another reason I felt bored at times. Chaol is my favorite Throne of Glass character, and Yrene is an amazing addition to the cast, but I cannot bring myself to care about Nesryn no matter how hard I try. Her chapters put me to sleep the fastest, which is a shame, because almost all of the action scenes were from her POV.

Romance-wise, I loved watching Yrene and Chaol’s relationship grow. Something I’ve always appreciated about this series is that the characters date several different people before finding the one they end up with. It’s a realistic portrait of relationships, something we don’t often see in YA. Finding out that Yrene and Chaol were married at the end was a bit jarring, though, and I wonder why Maas finds it necessary to marry characters off-screen so often (especially when they haven’t been together all that long). Also, her obsession with labeling certain actions, like smiles or gazes, as “male” has really begun to distract me from the rest of her writing.

The twists at the end of the book weren’t ones that I saw coming, but none of them genuinely wowed me either. Duva’s part in the story felt a little out of left field, and Maeve as a Valg queen didn’t surprise me (though I wonder how it will affect Aelin’s current situation). I would have liked the story to end with more of a bang, but I am excited to see the Southern armies reach Terrasen.

I gave Tower of Dawn a 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I enjoyed being back in this world, and I loved reading from Chaol’s perspective once again. The book just didn’t quite live up to my expectations, especially after the bomb drop that was Empire of Storms. I do recommend reading it if you’re continuing with the series as it does contain some important information.

Have you guys read Tower of Dawn? What did you think of it?