Book Review: Kingdom of Ash

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one star

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

In short: this book was a complete disappointment. Prepare for spoilers throughout this review.

I want to also preface this by saying that I LOVE this series. I have been reading and rereading it since it came out, so to be here now writing a one star review for a book that I had hoped would be an epic conclusion to a life-long favorite is heartbreaking.

As someone who has read all of the TOG books as well as ACOTAR to ACOWAR (sadly), Maas’s writing never bothered me until this book. Her use of ellipses and dashes were something I found enjoyable as it added a lyrical/poetic sense to her writing. As with ACOWAR, Maas listened to complaints and did a complete 180 to fix this issue. Where she would once use dashes to break up a sentence or a thought, she would now place a period and continue the thought in a separate sentence. The constant usage of these lazy fragmented sentences added to the overall ambiance of the story.

Now into the spoilers.

What I liked in the book:
– I loved the scene with Lysandra carrying the dying soldier on her back, and the Silent Assassins gingerly taking the body off her back once he died. The whole scene was very touching, and if Maas wrote more like this, I would have enjoyed the book.
– Aelin giving Rowan a wedding ring in the barrows was a sweet touch.
– Lysandra rallying the fleeing army by shifting into Aelin’s form on the front lines of the battle knowing that she would probably die.
– Chaol keeping the couch that he and Yrene had fallen in love while sitting on and wanted that to be the first furniture in their future home.
– Chaol and Aelin’s reunion as well as Yrene and Aelin’s reunion, and Aelin getting to see what her few actions put into motion.
– Lysandra giving Aedion the smack-down he deserved for how he treated her.
– Dorian shape-shifting into a woman and dealing with hips and boobs.
– Manon as a queen and the whole beacons of Gondor-esque scene, but it was different enough that I loved it.
– The fact that the Thirteen died. I did not think Maas had it in her to actually kill anyone, considering ACOWAR.
– Aelin losing her powers except for a flicker. Cool twist, though I was upset that Aelin didn’t die as the prophecy said.
– The last 200 pages of the book actually felt like a war novel.
– Gavriel died, so yay, Maas had the guts to kill off part of the Cadre, but he wasn’t that important so it also doesn’t matter.

Okay, now into all of my issues.

I was genuinely bothered by both Aedion and Dorian’s attitudes in this novel. Dorian spent the majority of the book walking around thinking about how soulless and awful he was and sobbing over Sorscha, but he was fully prepared to use the witches and Manon as he saw fit and kill the spider person because she was “bad.” I don’t care if the character is a villain or not. Dorian killed the spider because it was convenient to his cause, not because she posed a threat. His whole character was so changed (and not in a good way) from the first few books that I was hoping when we got to the Lock he would actually die.

Aedion treated Lysandra like absolute shit throughout this book, and he never actually gave her a decent apology. I despised how Lysandra was thrown into a relationship after she has been out of the prostitute life for less than a year. I REPEAT LESS THAN A YEAR AND SHE WAS CRAWLING ALL OVER AEDION. I do not find this believable after the way he treated her OR in any way shape or form good.

Fenrys’s brother’s death was the absolute most idiotic thing ever. Why. And this was the first of two times where Maas shied away from killing a character who’s death would have made an incredible impact on Aelin. Once with the scene where his brother was “going” to kill him, and when the blood oath was broken. Lazy. Writing.

On the note of deaths that didn’t happen: Lorcan, Aelin, and Dorian. This was insane. So after seeing Fenrys get saved from death twice, I have to sit back and read Lorcan, whose body is split open, live because of magic, and Aelin and Dorian get saved because Dorian’s dad shows up to fulfill the prophecy because he is “nameless.”

Bull. Crap. This is insane and just what she did with ACOWAR when she brought two characters back from the dead in the end of the book. It’s stupid.

Also, we get an explanation for why Dorian’s dad has no name–I guess Maas listened to the criticism on how the King of Hybern never got a name and scrambled to come up with a reason. On its own, having Erawan erase Dorian’s dad’s name because of his rebellion toward the Valg king was a good idea. Mixed into the rest of this, it was, again, stupid. Also, we find out that Dorian’s dad’s name is, wait for it, DORIAN. Because originality.

The fact that page 179 had two whole paragraphs devoted to a dam that was totally not going to be important later on ALL TO EXPLAIN WHY THERE WAS A FIELD OF GRASS was ridiculous. This book could have been shortened if Maas’s editors had cracked down on her and made her write more concise, less repetitive chapters because I would say that easily 50+% of this book was pointless.

I thought the fact that the Terrasen army allowed an unknown soldier to march right into the tent with all the important people was a stretch. I understand that the army was huge and not everyone would know everyone, but if you’re fighting someone who inhabits other people’s bodies, logic would dictate that only certain messengers were ever used and that anyone else showing up, claiming to be a messenger would be forced to tell their information to an actual person and then wait for a response, NOT DRAG THEM INTO THE TENT WHERE THEY CAN PROVE THEY ARE A VALG. This felt like a totally contrived plot point to let Erawan know that Lysandra was playing as Aelin and that Aelin was gone.

Also, the battle scenes were super glossed over and would start on one page and then end on the next with little to no action talked about.

I predicted before the book even began that Nox would show back up and be vital, Yrene was pregnant, and that Maeve would try to get a hold of a Wyrdcollar. None of that was surprising in the least.

I really disliked that Aelin was so brutally tortured and didn’t have a single mark to prove it. She didn’t have a single scar on her body. For someone who has an issue with vanity, and for someone who is constantly described as beautiful, Maas had a chance to show war for what it is: brutal and scarring. Instead, we have a perfectly healed Aelin who can use magic, sword fight fine, and is beautiful as always, also when she returns from the Lock, she’s immortal and beautiful. Poor thing.

The magic system in this book was even worse than the others. It was reminiscent of playing make-believe or DragonBall where there have to be more insanely strong abilities to try to make the story interesting or the villains scary.

Dorian wanting to masturbate as a woman was so disgusting and further made me hate him.

In the end, I was bothered by the fact that everyone paired off. The only reason Lorcan and Rowan survived are because they are mated to a female character. The only reason Fenrys survived was because he was important in this book. Hence why Gavriel had to be the one Maas sacrificed to try and make her story look sad.

I still believe that Aedion/Lysandra and Manon/Dorian are toxic, dysfunctional relationships. Both women would be better off single or as friends to the guys, not married to them.

There were so many Lord of the Rings references that it was a bit ridiculous.
– Gondor calls for aid lighting of the Beacons/Crochan hearths
– Glennis saying final stand of the Crochans/last March of the Ents
– Urukai finding sewer and blowing a hole into Helm’s Deep/Morath’s army finding sewer and attempting to get into Orynth
– keys are the one ring/”The keys cannot be wielded, not without destroying the bearer.”
– Rohan came to Gondor’s aid/Aelin comes with an army to Orynth to fight Morath–reminiscent of the Fields of the Pelannor scene from LOTR
– Aelin comes riding a white stag just as Gandalf rides Shadowfax and leads Eomer and the Eorlingas into the ridge at Helm’s Deep
– heads launched into the city’s walls like the orcs did with the soldiers from Osgilliath
– Elide asks Darrow if there’s a way to escape Helm’s Deep–I mean Orynth. It is almost identical to Theoden being asked by Aragorn in The Two Towers

And finally, my biggest issue with the entire book and series as a whole: the timeline.

Chaol states on page 623 that from the end of TOG when he kills Cain until that page in KOA, less than a year has passed. LESS THAN A YEAR. In this time, the cast has travelled back and forth between multiple continents, met spouses/mates and gotten married, and all the plots of 5 books have occurred. To go further, from the end of EOS to that moment in KOA< approximately three months had happened. That means Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms/Tower of Dawn ALL OCCURRED WITHIN NINE MONTHS TOPS. THERE IS NO FREAKING WAY. Also Aelin is 19 in KOA. Sure she is. She talks more like a 27 year old (could Maas be projecting herself on her character?).

As a series that was marketed as the YA Game of Thrones and that started with the potential for such, to have such a disregard of a timeline and magic system speaks that either Maas doesn’t care or that no one flat out told her that, hey, this series needs work. Maas has reached the level of popularity where she can write a 980 paged book that reads like fanfiction and it’s published as a grand conclusion to a series.

I’d like my time back, please. Good-bye TOG, and good-bye Maas.

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