Note: There are spoilers for previous books in this series.
This is the final book in the Throne of Glass series.
Kingdom of Ash, as noted above, is the conclusion of a series, and it seemed like the author hated to let it go. Not only is it 980 pages long, but the ending stretched out over several chapters, as if an orchestra concluded a symphony with multiple crescendos. I don’t think fans of the series will be disappointed however, as they probably feel the same reluctance to leave the story as Maas apparently did.
Most of the book is devoted to the efforts of Aelin, the heir to the kingdom of Terrasen, to escape the clutches of the evil queen Maeve and get back to her own people to defend them, and the efforts of her friends and supporters to help her. She doesn’t know it, but help is coming from all directions.
Aelin’s mate Rowan, as well as his Fae compatriots Lorcan, Fenrys, and Gavriel, are searching along the east side of the Kingdom to locate where Aelin is being held captive. They are accompanied by Elide Lochan, who is trying to deny her feelings for Lorcan.
In the north, close to Terrasen, Aelin’s cousin Aedion is fighting against the soldiers of Morath who are made up of Valg, a race of malicious demon parasites who have taken over human bodies. They serve their leader, Erawan, who wants to destroy the world. Aedion is greatly assisted by Lysandra, a shape-shifter. Aedion and Lysandra are also loathe to admit their feelings for one another.
On the sea in the south, Chaol, who is sworn to Dorian – the heir to the kingdom of Adarlan and Aelin’s friend, is heading toward Terrasen with fighters from the Khaganate to help. Chaol has gotten word that Morath is planning to destroy Chaol’s homeland at Anielle; it is on their way to Terrasen, and he feels compelled to stop there and help defend Anielle. With Chaol is his new wife, Yrene, who is a powerful healer.
And in the western mountains, Dorian is traveling with Manon Blackbeak, a witch who has broken with the malicious Ironteeth witches and is searching for the more peaceful Crochan witches. She wants to convince them to join the cause of saving Terrasen and making a better world for everyone. Dorian has his own mission: to find the missing key that will lock the Valg back in the dark world from whence they came. Lest any group not have a romantic entanglement as well, Manon and Dorian are dancing around their attraction to one another.
Some of the characters get broken; some get killed, and some get stronger, albeit in ways they had not anticipated. The questions for this book are who will survive and how, and whether the forces of darkness will succumb to the combined might that stems – in this story, anyway, from loyalty, goodness, and love.
Discussion: There were less sex scenes and more battle scenes in this book, and a clear emphasis on wrapping up the story. I was fine with that; I feel the author’s descriptions of sex are the weakest part of her writing. She is quite good at battle scenes, however.
As I thought in the previous book, the portrayal of the relationship between Elide and Lorcan stood out for its romanticism and emotional depth. Aelin, despite clearly being the heroine of the series, never seemed as “real” or sympathetic to me as did the other women, especially Elide and Yrene. The characters of Dorian and Aedion saw more development in this book, and each of them became more interesting.
Alas, it would appear the series is over. It is not out of the question, however, that Maas could pick it up again one day; there are plenty of aspects to the story that could be continued.
Evaluation: Maas really is a master of fantasy, or what one hopes and wishes is fantasy: her descriptions of the intentions of the evil Valg to change the world for the worse seem all too real at times. She gives them some nuance too, which is laudable. She also has her heroic characters reveal their fears and failures. In addition, I like the way the story reflects her own experience and feelings as a new mother, and shows her commitment to demonstrating, as she says in her dedication, that “girls can save the world.”
These books are definitely not standalones, but should be read in order.
Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2018