A Review Of 'Kingdom of Ash' By Sarah J. Maas

A Review Of 'Kingdom of Ash' By Sarah J. Maas

'Kingdom of Ash,' is one of the most epic conclusions of a series that I've ever read.

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My journey with the 'Throne of Glass' series began in 2012, when the first book came out. I was 13 and blown away by the intensity of the novel and in love with all of the characters. I am 19 now, and the last book was released last week. These books were with me throughout my teenage years, and we grew together. Except now the series has concluded in an epic finale, and I have to keep going knowing that that chapter of my life is done. It is fitting that the series has ended as I am on the verge of not being a teenager anymore. Sarah is also moving on to new stage of her life as the series is ending, and I enjoy knowing that we are moving on together.

There were so many things in the first book that I missed the first time I read it, but Sarah J. Maas knew where the series was going to end from the beginning. Every reveal throughout the series made sense; they were all moments of "Wow! How did I miss this?" because they seemed so obvious once you finally knew what was happening. That feeling happens in the last book, but it is accompanied by so much heartache for so many reasons.

The satisfaction of Rowan and Aelin's relationship becoming canon after 'Heir of Fire' was possibly my favorite moment of the entire series. I got what I wanted, and I didn't even realize that I wanted them together until I re-read 'Heir of Fire' for the first time. 'Heir of Fire' is my favorite of the series and the book that I've read the most. I don't know if I can go back and re-read it after experiencing Manon's character arc, because even though she is delightful when she's wicked, it's beautiful to see her discover herself as becomes someone she likes for reasons beyond brutality and the ideals she was raised on.

Somehow this is going to be a spoiler free review of 'Kingdom of Ash' by Sarah J. Maas, because this 980 page book is an experience to read. It's so much of an experience that I actually took my time reading it. Normally I fly through everything I read, but I let myself take my time (though the amount of schoolwork that I had played a role in that). 'Kingdom of Ash' is paced like a marathon, not a sprint, because of the high stakes intensity that is maintained throughout. There are moments of stillness and quiet, but that didn't change the face that there was a war and our heroes were at a disadvantage.

This book is a game changer for all series finales.

'Kingdom of Ash,' was long, it had multiple points-of views, but not once did I feel that it was dragging on. It was easily one of the most painful books that I've ever read, but the ending and the moments of beauty balanced out the pain very well. There were still times that were very, very frustrating to read. That's to be expected, however, as two of the central characters had some tough choices to make. On top of that, literally all of the characters in the series are stubborn. Beyond the stubbornness, though, there's real intelligence, and that's what makes it so hard to read, sometimes. It's easy to understand all of the characters reasonings, so, for me at least, I rooted for what I wanted to happen, which was for all of my favorites to come out alive. That's a lot to ask from a book where the main event is a great war.

The only part that I would have changed was something related to the climax of the book, so there's not much I can say about it other than it involved one of the only tropes I don't like. The second part of the novel was a whirlwind, moving fast as everything really started falling into place. There's a certain amount of panic that all of the characters have until the last few chapters, where there's nothing left to be done but fight.

This book was one that I needed this year. It is triumphant; it is exultant. It is filled with sacrifice and reminders of where the series started, with Celaena Sardothian. "You do not yield," Maas writes (KOA 120). "[He] found himself, for the first time in a while, looking forward to tomorrow," Maas writes (KOA 971). These quotes are ones that struck me while I was reading. They're beautiful sentiments out of context, but they're so important in context when you know which characters are saying that. The ideas of the quotes are ones that the characters needed, but they're ones that the readers needed as well. They're likely something Sarah needed, too. Beyond the vibrant world-building, beyond the deep love that the fans have for the characters, that is why this series has been so successful, and why it will live on.

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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