Tower of Dawn Book Review

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas Book Review

Tower of Dawn is the sixth installment in the Throne of Glass series, an epic fantasy that began as young adult but has matured through its duration. An obvious homage to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the series has grown more complex and grand in scope, covering a vast world of different species and nations and tying together a number of segmented story lines. Tower of Dawn takes place at the same time as the last book in the series Empire of Storms, following Chaol Westfall, a main character who was completely absent in the last book.  Bloomsbury | September 2017 | Kindle Edition | 668 pp

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) Book Review
Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) Book Review
Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) Book Review
Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) Book Review
Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) Book Review

The Throne of Glass series has been about Aelin Ashryver Galathynius and her ascent from deadly assassin to the true Queen of the Fae. Her coming had been foretold, preceding a thousand year war set to occur against a dark lord and its minions. Throughout the series, she has freed magic that had been shackled across the land, taken down false kings, and gathered a court of highly skilled allies comprised of fae, shapeshifters, and gifted humans. Slowly, she’s been piecing together small armies to fight a dark presence that threatens the world. But in the beginning, there was Chaol Westfall, a romantic contender and the one who kept her grounded.

Chaol had been Captain of the Guard under the old king in Ardalan and he was the one who trained Aelin in the first book, a deed which tested his own loyalty to a terrible king. Chaol was strong and sure-footed, but he slipped and fell from his own throne in the following books. Aelin’s heart moved elsewhere, Chaol realized too late that she was royalty from a family of foes, he became an oathbreaker and battled against his own kingdom, he lost his men who were tortured and killed while Chaol ran, and in the end he was a broken man in more ways the one.

In the last book, Chaol is completely absent while Aelin and her armies battle Perrington and Maeve. Tower of Dawn is the story of Chaol and Nesryn, taking place at the same time as Empire of Storms.

When the glass castle shattered, Chaol had been severely injured. He has no movement of his legs. Now Hand of the King, he and Nesryn, the new Captain of the Guard under the new king, are tasked with going south to Antica for two reasons: find a healer from the great Healers of Torre in Antica to heal Chaol, and to rally an additional army to aid Aelin.

Chaol and Nesryn arrive to find a court in mourning. The youngest daughter of the great khagan was dead, supposedly by her own hand. It is not the best time to ask for assistance. Out of respect for their trade partners, the king and queen and their scheming adult children allow Chaol and Nesryn to stay, summoning a healer from the Torre to tend to Chaol. Yrene Towers, next in line for Healer on High, begrudgingly takes on the new patient although she blames him for her mother’s death since it was Ardalan which had sentenced all those with magical abilities to death so many years ago, and Chaol had worked for the king. She puts aside her anger and plays the part of strict healer – but it is a battle of wits.

For the first time ever, Nesryn is home. Antica is her family’s home. Although she grew up in Ardalan, she always felt different by the color of her skin, the color of her hair. She is taken by Sartaq, the second-eldest prince of the khagan who commands a legion of ruk riders in the mountains. The ruks are giant birds who could make a worthy match to the wyvern and witch armies of the dark lord. While Chaol enters a journey of pain in the healing process, Nesryn leaves with Sartaq to entertain a new army, gather information, and plead for an alliance.

Where do I start?

How about this: Chaol Westfall is back.

I wasn’t happy with the overall feeling that Chaol had been discarded, as if the author had suddenly decided while writing that Rowan was much more attractive so let’s go that way instead. Chaol went from being a major emotional and physical support to a royal pain. He withdrew, became angry and volatile, and was nothing like his old self. And suddenly Nesryn, another strong female but seemingly inserted as a consolation prize, was there by his side. It didn’t feel right. But during Tower of Dawn this is addressed and paths change. Thank you Sarah J. Maas!

Chaol’s state of mind is also addressed. He is haunted by what he perceives as horrors created by his own hand, by his disloyalty, his faults.

“The scar on his face – from the nails she gouged into it when she first struck him … It was that hateful wish he thought of when he looked in the mirror. The body on the bed and that cold room and that scream. The collar on a tan throat and a smile that did not belong to a beloved face. The heart he’d offered and had been left to drop on the wooden planks of the river docks. An assassin who had sailed away and a queen who had returned. A row of fine men hanging from the castle gates.”

He has a lot to overcome, but he does it. Yrene, the Torre healer, has a lot to do with this. She mends his mind, body, and spirit, but it is a long process. In short, I fell in love with Chaol Westfall all over again.

The Throne of Glass series has grown tremendously since the first book. What began as a single story line of a small but fierce girl in a dangerous competition to become the king’s assassin has morphed into several story lines of different armies, different nations, different foes – all coming together and setting up for one huge battle royale. The series has grown in complexity and maturity, no longer being suitable for the category of “young adult”. What it has become is a complete homage to Lord of the Rings.

I mentioned this in my review of the previous book Empire of Storms: the rings that control men, the dark lord and his towers, the army of oathbreakers Aelin summons – similar to the Dead Men of Dunharrow who Aragorn had summoned, the fae who are comparable in ability and dexterity to the elves in LOTR. Tower of Dawn continues the similarities. In one scene, Yrene faces a dark presence while trying to heal Chaol. That dark presence connects her to a vision of the dark tower:

“A fortress of dark stone jutted up amid ash-colored, barren mountains, its towers sharp as lances, its edges and parapets hard and slicing. Beyond it, coating the vales and plains amid the mountains, an army rippled away into the distance, more campfires than she could count. And she knew the name for this place, the assembled host. Heard the name thunder through her mind as if it were the beat of a hammer on an anvil. Morath.”

This is nearly cut-and-paste for what Peregrine Took (a hobbit) sees when he grasps the palantír, an all-seeing eye, in Lord of the Rings.

And then of course, there are the beacons!

“They built watchtowers along these mountains, erected warning beacons throughout the land.”

These watchtowers are another beautiful tribute to the Lord of the Rings and its ‘Warning Beacons of Gondor’. When the beacons are lit in LOTR, it brings about one of the most memorable scenes/lines from the movies.

As a huge Lord of the Rings fan of the books and movies, I am completely addicted to this series and eternally grateful that what began with a unique story line has evolved into this massive tribute to my favorite series. Although there are no hobbits or dwarfs, the recognition of wars waged every thousand years against a dark lord, men and elf (fae) fighting side by side, and the remnants of crumbling watch towers could indicate that this is, indeed, Middle-earth, possibly thousands of years later. But I doubt it – I’m reaching a bit far.

There are fantastic new elements in Tower of Dawn such as the Baast cats of Torre, the ruks and ruk riders, and new (better) romantic elements. There are also huge revelations made bare – ones that will make you scream in astonishment.

Tower of Dawn is an exquisitely drawn final piece to the complex puzzle of fantasy created by Sarah J. Maas. And it points to an explosive finale which is scheduled to be out this year, one last battle to bring all armies together for an epic showdown. I absolutely cannot wait.

This year, I will attempt to start with bookstagram. This is my first bookstagram image. Thoughts?

Tower of Dawn Bookstagram



Tower of Dawn
by Sarah J. Maas

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass, #6)




Rebecca Skane

Rebecca Skane is the editor-in-chief for the Portsmouth Review. She holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree from Lawrence University in Wisconsin and resides in Portsmouth, NH with her husband and two children. She is the founder of The Portsmouth Book Club which boasts over 1,000 members. She also doubles as a professional escapist. Her genres are scifi and fantasy, both adult and young adult - but she often reads outside of her preferred genres. You can follow her on GoodReads. Aside from her love of good books, she is a professional website developer, content editor, and SEO expert. You can visit her web design and development site at RebeccaSkane.com.


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