YA Weekend Audio: Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Book 6 of Throne of Glass
Publisher: Audible Studios (September 5, 2017)
Length: 22 hrs and 39 mins
Narrator: Elizabeth Evans
After my disastrous time with Empire of Storms, I wasn’t sure that I would be continuing this series, especially when I found out that there would be not one but two more books left until its completion. However, that was before I realized that Tower of Dawn would be focusing exclusively on Chaol Westfall, whose absence in the previous novel was one of the main factors that rattled my cage. Thing is, despite Chaol’s many faults, I still like him. I also consider him to be one of the better Throne of Glass personalities amidst this sea of unlikeable characters. And so, just like that, I was suckered in once again.
But flying in the face my initial concerns, this book actually turned out to be pretty good (it’s amazing what a difference it makes not having to put up with Aelin’s brattiness and endless self-absorbtion). Tower of Dawn is basically a story that runs alongside what we’ve been seeing from the point of view of Aelin, Dorian, and Rowan so far. While those peeps are off busy fighting a war, Chaol and Nesryn are instead traveling south to the land of Antica where they hope to convince more allies to join their cause. Moreover, it is said that the empire’s best healers dwell in kingdom’s Torre Cesme, and after having his lower body paralyzed from a magical blow that shattered his spine, Chaol is desperate to see if there’s anyone there who can cure him.
In fact, there is indeed someone at the Torre who has the specialized skills to help. Yrene Towers is a powerful healer who has recently treated a similar injury in another patient, with great success. As heir apparent to the Healer on High, she has completed many difficult trials to get to where she is today, but the task she receives now could be the greatest challenge she has ever faced. Tasked to oversee Chaol Westfall’s convalescence, Yrene is at first vehemently against the idea of treating the former Captain of the Adarlan Royal Guard, a man she considers an agent of the enemy that invaded her homeland when she was a little girl. Adarlan soldiers burned her mother alive, leading Yrene to flee her native land and ultimately end up in Antica.
In news that should surprise no one, Tower of Dawn is mostly a romance with 90% of the story concerned with how Chaol and Yrene eventually get together. Yes, there is some mystery and action involved as well as some political maneuvering, but these were mostly distractions to give readers the semblance of moving the series arc along. Still, let’s not kid ourselves—most are likely here primarily for the love story, and secondarily for Chaol’s redemption, so the question is, how did Maas do this time?
Well, I’m not going to lie, there are still a lot of aspects of her writing I find annoying, like her overly dramatic, flowery prose, or the fact that her characters all seem to follow a particular template. The story was also very clichéd, and for a book that was supposedly giving fans a chance to follow a different protagonist and visit a new setting, I frankly expected a lot more.
That said, this was still an enormous improvement over the previous novel. Maas may have taken her sweet time developing Chaol and Yrene’s relationship, but at least she always stayed on point, avoiding the lengthy and pointless conversations and meandering plot threads that plagued Empire of Storms. And while the romance itself was still eye-rollingly predictable, it deserves some credit for at least giving us some meaningful questions and themes to chew on.
In my time spent working in the rehabilitation field with individuals with disabilities, one of the main principles drilled into all of us care providers was the importance of client dignity. Kudos to the author, I believe she did her due diligence in researching the related issues, and I probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn if some of these efforts had involved actual conversations and interviews with people living with paraplegia. A lot of Chaol’s thoughts and emotions echoed closely to those from real clients I have worked with in wheelchair and seating clinics, immediately making his character feel genuine to me. Yrene, too, is like a representation of a caregiver’s guide of dos-and-don’ts as it relates to medical professionalism, exploring how her mistakes can affect Chaol. Hence, compared to the series’ other couples, I just felt like there was something a little deeper and more heartfelt to their romance.
My one big complaint, though? I did not like how Nesryn’s storyline was sacrificed for the main couple’s happiness. Oh sure, true to form, Maas made sure she was paired off with someone else, but as other reviews have mentioned, there is some serious grey area cheating happening here, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Strangely, infidelity as a plot device has never bothered me as much as some people, but in Chaol and Nesryn’s case, it was the way it was handled that didn’t quite sit right. Emotional affairs are not something to take lightly, and there were times I felt all the characters involved were really pushing the boundaries of appropriateness. That everything worked out in the end is irrelevant; it’s the principle of it that irked me. Plus, considering how it was Nesryn who carried out most of the difficult investigative work while Chaol was busy making moon eyes at his healer, she didn’t get nearly the attention or recognition she deserves.
Final thoughts? I make it no secret that I disliked the previous volume, but in truth, I’ve been unhappy with the series’ new direction since Queen of Shadows. So if nothing else, Tower of Dawn was a welcome reprieve as it meant simply taking a break from all the obnoxious Aelin drama, and overall this book was a much needed high point even if it was just a modest bump in rating. At the moment, I’m feeling way too cagey to say whether or not I’m looking forward to the next installment, but seeing as it will be the series finale, I will most likely read it for completion’s sake.
Audiobook Comments: As usual, Elizabeth Evans rocks. Her excellent performance has always been my main motivational reason to continue picking up these books in audio format. I actually thought they would go with another narrator for Tower of Dawn, perhaps a male one because of Chaol being the main character, but in the end I’m glad they didn’t. A new reader would have been interesting no doubt, but to me, Elizabeth Evans will always be the voice of this series.
More on the BiblioSanctum:
Mogsy’s review of Throne of Glass (Book 1)
Wendy’s review of Throne of Glass (Book 1)
Mogsy’s review of Crown of Midnight (Book 2)
Wendy’s review of Crown of Midnight (Book 2)
Mogsy’s review of Heir of Fire (Book 3)
Wendy’s review of Heir of Fire (Book 3)
Mogsy’s review of Queen of Shadows (Book 4)
Mogsy’s review of Empire of Storms (Book 5)