ARC Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas


title:  Heir of Fire

author:  Sarah J. Maas

pages: 565

format: Paperback

isbn/asin: 978-1619630659

buy it: Amazon  Goodreads  B&N

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 8/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  People who love The Lord of the Rings (I'm not joking), Tamora Pierce, and classic high fantasy.  

will i read this author again?:  As soon as the book enters my hands. 
will i continue the series?:  Can haz it now?  

My Ratings Explained

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

take home message
Heir of Fire wears the series mantle gracefully, showing a maturity of scope and characterization that few writers can claim.  Exciting and intricately plotted, it will suck you in and leave you gasping for more.   

the basics
I'm a little late for the book birthday.  I'd like to say I was letting the review simmer, but really I've just been in academic hell.  Thankfully, I have incomparably amazing books like this to drag me out once in a while.  If you've read the first two, HoF is all the excitement and danger with none of CoM's love triangle nonsense (okay, I have strong feelings).  If you haven't read the first two, what are you doing reading this!?  Go read them!  Hem.  

Heir of Fire picks up shortly after Crown of Midnight with Celaena struggling to live through the aftermath of the terrible events of books past.  Now that we know her secret, the stakes are higher and you can feel it from the first page.  Celaena joins forces with a prickly Fae who can help her win the war--if she masters her power, and that means mastering herself.  It's part amazing battle awesomeness, part poignant journey of self-discovery and painstaking self-forgiveness.  Back at the castle, there are plots brewing, with Chaol and Dorian caught in the mix and painfully estranged from each other.  Chaol battles his loyalty to the crown with a strange new partnership.  I found Dorian's thread more haphazard and sparse, but I still ached with him as he learned to control his newfound abilities.  Then there's Manon.  Gods.  She brought the knife-edge to the plot, bloody and ruthless and exhilarating from her first wicked appearance through her trials to prove her mettle among a clan of deadly witches.  She's new to HoF, and if you don't love her by her second chapter, you're as heartless as she is.  (Or is she?)  Despite a few hitches, HoF was a breathtaking read that blows mid-series lag out of the water.  

plot . 4/5
Did I mention this book was exciting?  Holy crap.  There are few really long books that feel short.  HoF easily makes the list.  For one, you're constantly jumping between plotlines, in a way that's interesting instead of confusing.  It's like having a cliffhanger every chapter.  Then, the plots themselves are wicked tight.  Most of all, what I loved is that everyone is facing the consequences of their decisions in CoM.  Remember when I complained about Celaena playing with people?  Well, Maas doesn't let her (or other involved parties) off the hook.  In HoF, Celaena's ready to draw battle lines, only to realize that she's at war within herself.  Not to mention, her life is now fraught with Fae politics, dangerous otherworldly enemies, and the quickly-unraveling secrets of a too-near past.  Talk about epic.  I also deeply enjoyed Manon's plot.  She's on the other side of the war: a pawn in the king's army, trading temporary servitude for the promise of renewed glory.  It was exciting to see her battle the other witches and grow close to her wyvern, even knowing that she and Celaena may someday come head to head.  

The girls won my heart, but the boys were up to some excitement too.  Chaol is finally forced to take a position and stop waffling in the way that so irritated me in the past.  He's also forced to face painful truths about his relationships with Celaena and Dorian.  Self-discovery for everyone!  Chaol's dealings with the new-returned general were incredibly tense, which only made me want more.  Then there's Dorian.  On one hand, I loved that he was given more importance than in CoM, where he was largely mopey and sad.  On the other hand, his parts still felt too few and too thrown-in.  There's also a romance that occurs in the book that felt, to me, out of nowhere and not entirely believable.  So I didn't feel terribly emotional over where it led.  These two bits were probably the most disappointing for me.  However, the rest of the book's end?  I screamed inside.  The ending is devastating, life-changing, fraught with questions and untied threads.  It was the perfect wrap-up for a mid-series book and hard proof that Maas knows just where to twist the knife.    

concept . 5/5
Throne of Glass was brilliant but very much about the contest and spectacle.  Crown of Midnight raised the stakes but suffered from love-triangle-of-doom.  Heir of Fire takes the best of its predecessors and raises them to epic scope.  Suddenly, we're talking about nations and worlds, not just individuals and contenders.  There are matters of politics, far-flung places and people drawn into the conflict, secrets that will define a generation.  It's all very fairy tale and high fantasy without losing sight of the strong characters that made the series lovable in the first place.  Few other books leave me with such a strong urge to write.  

characters . 5/5
Maas has hit her stride with emotion and depth of character, proving that this isn't just a book about cool battles and  assassin-ly antics.  I mean, it is.  But it's also about people struggling with unimaginable situations.  Maas lets us into Celaena's shell more completely in this book.  Her rage and self-hatred and ambivalence seep into every word, layering her actions with strife and meaning.  Manon is a certified badass.  She's also more emotionally complex than her ruthlessness would lead you (or her) to believe.  But not in a sappy "I'm bad turned good" kind of way.  She'll still murder you.  Chaol and Dorian have both obviously matured, beyond simple angst to a more profound suffering--and hope.  Their interactions are painful to watch, in the best way.  There are also a slew of less prominent but just as well-drawn characters.  Aedion is the perfect mix of debonair and distraught, while Rowan is a little samey as far as traumatized-guff-warriors go, but still lovable.  There's a new girl.  I can't remember her name, which is good indication that she was my least favorite.  Her plot felt the thinnest to me, and so did her character.  I couldn't care about her like I needed to.  

style . 5/5
Maas is the master of epic and accessible.  Her words verge on the poetic without becoming opaque or flowery.  Her dialogue never sounds flat.  Her descriptions are rarely too long and are mostly gorgeous and intricate.  She also uses language in a way that I can only hope to.  She can make the simplest words sound melodic.  HoF is just the logical maturation of a skill she already possessed, now finely honed and getting better with every book.  

mechanics . 5/5
Juggling five or so points of view is no easy task.  A lesser writer would produce something cacophonous.  Instead, Heir of Fire is a finely woven tapestry.  Every scene feels carefully juxtaposed with the next.  You're rarely too long away from a character before they come back into view.  The scenes end at the most cliff-hangery parts (without feeling cheap).  My only complaint, as I've already said, is the comparably thin treatment of Dorian and new-girl-whose-name-I-forget.  Their threads could have used more pages.  

Note: I received this copy in exchange for a review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


  1. Ok so, I LOVED reading your review! It brought back all the feels I got reading the book myself - and subsequently writing my review which brought back some feels too LOL Anyway, I'm a fan of how you broke everything down because that's where you really see Maas' genius, how she built up the world in this one, added magic, added lore, new characters, different POV's. She juggled it all like a pro and what's more is that she raised the emotional stakes so.freaking.high! I was shattered at multiple points throughout this story and at the end? I just wanted to bask in my book hangover for EVER. Oh the wait for book 4 is going to be torture xD Awesome review ^^ glad you loved this one as much as I did!!

  2. Thank you! I just read yours and now I'M feeling feels, feels all around! So much agreement on the emotional stakes. Everything comes to a precipice. Shattered, what a great word for it. Especially at the end. I'm still dying a little. I MUST know what happens, now! Until book 4, I guess we'll have to continue gushing about 1-3. (:

  3. Amazing review! I'm so super psyched to read it now! (even more than before and I didn't think that was possible!) I like how you don't go into detail on some of the new characters, it makes me so much more excited to read about them myself. I can just sense all the feels involved. Must get a copy NOW!

    1. Yay, thanks! I always try to avoid spoilery stuff in my reviews, because I hate when all the surprises are spoiled for me. I think you'll really love it. (: