Kingdom of Ash is the final book in the epic Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Mass, a masterful high fantasy beset with powerful fae warriors, magic, dark magic from another realm, little people, witches, humans, and monsters of every kind. The first book began as almost a typical (but truly addictive) young adult trope with a beautiful, strong female lead and gorgeous guys vying for her attention. But it didn’t stay that way for long. Over the course of seven novels and a few companion novels, the series morphed into a highly detailed, multi-plot masterpiece with a heavy Lord of the Rings influence. And it was beautiful.
Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) Review
Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) Review
Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) Review
Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) Review
Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) Review
Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) Review
To summarize this massive saga, Aelin Ashryver Galathynius is a young, highly skilled assassin with a hidden past. Throughout the books, her past is revealed as well as her lineage – she is the true heir to the fae kingdom and the rightful queen. She is both human and fae, and she is the most powerful faerie of them all. But there are dark powers who not only stand in her way from claiming that birthright – these same powers seek dominion of the world and complete control over all of its human and fae populations through slavery, control of magic, death, and demons. Aelin and her companions need to unite all of the broken kingdoms by proving her worth and showing the true nature of certain ‘people’ in power to overcome a giant battle for the right to live.
When you begin the series, the last comparison you would imagine is Lord of the Rings, but the influence becomes more apparent as the books progress. In my reviews for Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn, I highlighted many of the basic similarities: the rings to control men, the dark towers, the warning beacons, those who come to fulfill their oaths once more, the similarities between orcs and the ‘valg’, and so much more. There are even more connections to be made but this time, in Kingdom of Ash, one of the most epic – one of the best scenes from a movie and book – is recreated. If you’re familiar with Lord of the Rings, it’s the scene where King Theoden and Aragorn ride out to meet the orc army on the final morning for the Battle of the Keep.
In Kingdom of Ash, the final battle rages for most of the book. And toward the end, Aelin’s cousin Aedion and his beloved shapeshifter Lysandra decide to give it their last and run out into the fray. It is this scene – and it will give you goosebumps. I was incredibly happy about this because it’s my favorite battle moment in Lord of the Rings, one that has repeatedly brought tears to my eyes. The battle is also very similar with the siege towers, ladders, massive battering rams, and battlements.
The story isn’t all about Aelin. There is a large cast of characters with rich and complex backgrounds, many with their own separate quest lines. What Lord of the Rings doesn’t have is witches, and the Throne of Glass series is filled with them. My favorite character, since her introduction, is Manon. This witchling runs her group of thirteen as tight as any military unit, and they never lose a battle. Manon is a heartless, vicious, coldblooded killer, except when it comes to her own and her wyvern (the dragons they ride). With them, she espouses honor and valor. I’ve watched her change and warm through the books and she still remains my favorite. In Kindgom of Ash, she works to unite the warring factions of witches and run to the aid of those who would save the world – the ultimate antihero. She suffers the most in the end, and it gutted me as much as her iron talons would.
While I’ve classified this book as young adult, it isn’t. I’ve stuck with the genre simply because that’s how it began. But as sagas grow and characters become more complex, they can often jump right out of their age group. Harry Potter is a great example. The second half of this series jumps from young adult to highly sophisticated adult fantasy.
I had a few issues with the final book. It was too long (this is a 1000-pager tome, guys), too much inner drama is repeated over and over, and there is the worst decision ever made by a group of battle-worn heroes. There are two choices toward the end. One would ensure success, the other was “iffy” at best. They went for the latter and that just about boiled my insides. After all that work!
Enough of my nitpicking. I went through a box of tissues reading this finale. Not all of our beloved will survive the battle of the millennia. And after seven books of growing attachments, this can wreck a reader. But the emotional toll makes it memorable. There are hundreds of books that I’ve read where I can’t recall more than the basic premise. But with Throne of Glass – I’ll remember the characters, the plots, the love affairs, the beauty, the horror – I’ll remember them all for a lifetime.
You just can’t beat that.
Kingdom of Ash
by Sarah J. Maas