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.