3 out of 5 stars
You know when you love a series? But the writing is quicksand into which you’ve been slowly sinking for eternity? Then, in a panic, you realize you’re going to suffocate and die soon? That’s me, reading Sarah J. Maas.
179 hours, 17 minutes.
SEVEN WHOLE DAYS (and change).
This is the total duration of nine Sara J. Maas audiobooks – the first three installments of A Court of Thorns and Roses, and six volumes of Throne of Glass. (I haven’t read A Court of Frost and Starlight or the TOG novellas, yet.)
SJM’s stories are epic. World building? Incredible. Characters? Action? Layers? Detailed, exciting, and deep. But the writing that I originally categorized as “slight ugh” for it’s romance novel-esque pulp and extreme overuse of choice words/phrases has become torture. Every time an injury “barks”, or a gaze “marks”, or anyone is “utterly” anything, I want to scream. (Sometimes I do.) Forget every character’s tanned skin and sculpted muscles. If the narrator has to read the word “incarnate” one more time, I’m going to drive off the damned road.
And WHY DOES SHE SAY EVERY CHARACTER’S LAST NAME EVERY TIME!? I f*&%ing know who Aelin Ashryver Galathynius is! And everyone else! I have been here for an entire week!
Woooooooooo. That felt good.
Despite being systematically pelted with limited vocabulary, Tower of Dawn is pretty good. The best thing about it: it’s not about Aelin. I listened to the first five TOG novels all in a row, and we needed a break from each other. As I mentioned in my Empire of Storms review, the Aelin fatigue is real, but other characters are saving me.
So I was happy when Tower of Dawn followed Chaol and Nesryn to distant Antica, seeking military alliance and magical healing. The story takes a while to get going, and even longer to reveal how it will play into the larger plot. (Don’t make me spend 22 hours, 39 minutes on a tangent, SJM! Only George RR Martin gets to do that.) But once it starts to roll, TOD keeps a decent pace.
SJM quickly brings her 2nd Commandment to bear (the 1st is vocabulary beating): everyone will end up with someone, romantically. ALWAYS. This, too, is dull in its predictability. But Chaol’s internal struggle with honor, duty and high expectations keeps this love story fresh(er). Yrene, the magical healer who assumes she hates him but is forced to help him so she can of course fall in love with him (trope trope trooooooooooooooooope!) is actually quite charming. They’re cute together. Nesryn finds someone else in like 30 seconds, so no worries! SJMatch.com is here for you, dear readers.
Oh, SJMatch.com is so what I’m calling her from now on. She even goes so far as to practically announce which characters from this book will get with which people from other books, and they haven’t even met! Laaaaaaaaaaaa!
Back to Chaol, our resident Captain America-type (no wonder I like him): he needs to walk again and secure an army, not necessarily in that order. Nesryn has way more fun: she gets a high-flying prince boyfriend and rides off to adventure – and big spiders. Blech. When finally Chaol and Nesryn reunite, new friends in tow, they have actually accomplished something to take back to Aelin (what’s her last name again?) and the war against Morath. Will they win? We’ll all find out… in another 97 hours of listening time.