We all know by now that Maas is a genius with world building, but something I almost love about her even more is the complex relationships she builds between characters. Nobody is ever standing still. They’re always moving, changing, and meeting new people who impact their lives and perspectives. Relationships start, grow, change, halt, and even end. Then it begins all over again.
I love this so much, not only because it brings so many new and fascinating characters into each new novel, but also, because it’s so true to life in general. The relationships that get built in this world are complicated and difficult. They take work and time, and sometimes, they’re set aside.
Our lives are composed of the people we meet that influence who we are, what we do, where we choose to go, and what we decide to make of the time we’ve been given. That is also true in this series, which is why these novels pull at so many of my emotions. They reflect life and relationships so accurately, even in a complex world.
We say hello. We say goodbye. We say I hate you, and we’re right. We say I hate you, but we’re wrong. We never understand, and then suddenly we get it. We say I like you, and someone says love you back. We say we don’t love you but want to be friends. We say we do love you, and you walk away anyway. We cheer and grieve and drown in desire. We screw up bad. We try to fix it. Then we screw up worse. We forgive people when they screw up, but we struggle to forget. We do lovely, kind things that make the world better, and we do rude, thoughtless things that make the world worse. We live, and it’s absolutely messy and painful and spectacular.
These books make me feel alive, and they remind me that life is so good, because it’s messy and challenging. We struggle through the mess, and that’s where we build our deepest friendships, create our strongest allies, and learn to be better, stronger, kinder, and more willing to fight for everything that matters to us, which is what leads us to the spectacular.
I love this book in the series, even though it made me suffer in agony for two whole years before I could find out what happens to Aelin, because there’s so much life and truth and nuance here. This world would have been incomplete without this story, and I wouldn’t have been willing to give up any of the time that was spent with these characters, not even for a faster resolution to what happened at the end of Empire.
Chaol is a difficult character. He’s hard on himself. He’s hard on others, and he hangs onto things that eat people up from the inside out. I get that, and while sometimes across the series, it made me really frustrated with him, the truth of the matter is that there’s a lot of me in Chaol, and not the good stuff. So then I was hard on him, impatient with him, irritated with him, and I didn’t excuse him for his mistakes, even though I’ve made just as many mistakes in my life, probably more.
For me, this is a story of growth, redemption, and finding where you belong, not just for Chaol, but also for Nesryn, and even Irene. It’s a rich addition to an already amazing series, and I’m so happy I reread it. This probably won’t be the last time I do so.
I love this world so much. I kind of hope the series drags on forever (this is book 6). Each book pulls me deeper and makes me love the series more. It’s one of those series that just grows and grows in the best sorts of ways. My least favorite book, is the first one, which is not to say that I dislike it, just that I can’t believe how much this series and world has grown since then.
I listened to the audiobook, which was excellent.
Also, I confess I was feeling a bit disgruntled with Chaol, whom long ago I loved, before I started to kind of hate him. This book really brought things full circle for me.