Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J. Maas
Page count: 660 pages
Release Date: September 5, 2017
My rating: 5 stars
It might be an understatement to say that fans were shocked when New York Times bestseller Sarah J. Maas announced that what was once going to be a novella about one of the main characters in her Throne of Glass series had turned into a novel. The character was none other than Chaol Westfall, former Captain of the Guard for the King of Adarlan and not necessarily a fan favorite.
I went into this book expecting a 3-3.5 star read, stemming mostly from my dislike of Chaol as a character. Now, that kind of star rating from me is not bad by any means. It simply means that it was an average book -- nothing spectacular, but still worth the read. But considering Sarah is an auto-buy author for me and I have been a huge fan of her other works, both in the "Throne of Glass" series and her "A Court of Thorns and Roses" series, expecting only 3 stars was a strange feeling.
That feeling changed almost immediately.
I was curious to see how Chaol's story would unfold after being excluded from "Empire of Storms (TOG #5)" and with his new disability: paralysis from his hips down. While the rest of the TOG gang was going off on their own adventure, Chaol was sent down to the Southern Continent to find a cure for his disability as well as possible allies to aid in Aelin Galathynius in the war effort.
Let me begin with the world building of this new setting.
For five books we had heard mention of the Southern Continent and even met some characters that used to live there (wassup Nesryn and fam? I'm talkin' bout you), but we never actually got the chance to see it. Now that it became the setting, we got to see more of it than we had ever hoped, and Maas does a brilliant job of creating this "new world" in just one book. I feel like I can visualize it just as well as I can Adarlan -- and that city got four books and some novellas for development!
Then let's address the new and returning characters.
Yrene Towers from "Assassin's Blade" makes her grand comeback at last! Honestly, after reading "Empire of Storms" and seeing just about everyone else from those novellas return at one point or another, I was kind of curious where she was, but lo and behold! Yrene returns as one of the best healers at the Torre Cesme in Antica and somehow managed to become one of my new favorite characters after I found "The Assassin and the Healer" to be the worst novella in "Assassin's Blade."
We also get introduced to the sons and daughter of the khagan of the southern continent, most of whom play a major part in the story. And I'm not going to say much, but Sartaq... you charmer, you.
Finally, let's talk about characters with disabilities.
In YA novels it is very, very rare to find a character who has any sort of disability that can stop them from being the kick-ass hero/heroine that everyone loves to read about. But going into this novel people know that Chaol is paralyzed after what happened at the end of "Queen of Shadows (TOG #4)." The first time he is talked about, it is describing his wheelchair and his hatred for the lack of mobility that he has. It is the hatred for the injury mixed with the hatred for other actions Chaol regrets that drives the story forward, creating the perfect opportunity for character growth and development.
For the previous novels, it is no secret that Chaol is a self-loathing character who thinks there is nothing he can do to better himself. Each time we hear about his struggles with the adjustment to his new way of living, it is clear that it causes him pain and humiliation. And that is where every step of the healing process with Yrene helps turn Chaol into a character that I can now actually stand reading about. His realizations are similar to those of Aelin in "Heir of Fire (TOG #3)" where he had to face his demons (literally and figuratively) in order to rebuild himself and move forward with purpose. This was without a doubt the most powerful part of the book for me alongside when Chaol comes to terms with his limitations and does not let them continue to be a cause of self-hatred, but rather a cause of strength and self-worth.
Other random things I loved:
-POC getting some major representation (Chaol is the ONLY white person!)
-Characters with flaws/faults
-Fae history (PLOT TWIST ALERT!!!)
-THE LAST 2 PAGES Y'ALL
In the end, this was not just a story of how Chaol became stronger, it was a story of how many characters came to terms with who they are and where they need to go. It was a story of changing paths and how those paths lead people to one other. And more than anything else, it was a story of hope.
This was not my favorite "Throne of Glass" book by any means, but I was very happy with the end result. It was sometimes clear where some of it was once written with the intent of releasing a novella, but I am so glad that it turned into a full-length novel and cannot wait to see where these new characters fall into the final installment of the series.