Kingdom of Ash

Kingdom of Ash, the final book in Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series, was my most-anticipated book to read for 2019. In a nutshell, this fantasy series follows a female assassin out to save the world from an ancient evil creature who is building an army of vile creatures. There are also fae warriors, pirates, witches, wyverns, talking spiders, and shapeshifters, plus drama, romance, and plenty of epic battles. The previous six books, plus novellas, means that I had already devoted close to 4,000 pages to the series, and I was eager to see how SJM would pull everything together, defeat evil, and give us a satisfactory ending. While almost 1,000 pages on its own, Kingdom of Ash is a dense read – but absolutely worth it. I was first introduced to Maas when I read her A Court of Thorns and Roses series. I adored the series, so at first, I was hesitant to fall for Throne of Glass. How dare she write another fantastic series?! However, as I read novel after novel, there was no denying that I was hooked. I’m definitely a SJM fan.

Goodreads Blurb:

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

I’m so sad to see this series end because I really and truly enjoyed it. From start to finish, I was immersed in Sarah J. Maas’s world. I loved getting to know the characters, hearing about their struggles, and watching them grow into incredible heroes. The series may have started with our young Celaena, Dorian, and Chaol, but it grew into something bigger and better than I could have imagined.

Kingdom of Ash begins right where Empire of Storms left off. **Slight spoilers ahead if you haven’t read Empire of Storms** Aelin is being held captive in an iron box by Queen Maeve – tortured physically by Cairn and mentally by Maeve’s power of illusion. Rowan searches for her frantically, along with Elide, Lorcan, and Gavriel. Meanwhile, Aedion leads an army to fight against Morath. He’s joined by Ansel of Briarcliff, Prince Galan, Ilias of the Silent Assassins, Rowan’s fae cousins, and the Bane, among others. Lysandra uses her shapeshifting abilities to become Aelin as needed, but her lack of flame is quickly noted. Picking up from Tower of Dawn, Chaol and Yrene make their way to the continent along with Nesryn, Sartaq, and a host of well-trained soldiers from the southern continent. But before they can get to Terrasen, they decide to take on a faction of Morath’s army in Anielle – Chaol’s father’s city. Far from the fighting, Dorian and Manon hold the two wyrdkeys and search for the third. When their search proves fruitless, Manon changes course and works on rallying the crochan witches. Dorian continues to gain even more control of his magic and learns some incredible skills. He ultimately makes the decision to leave Manon and go in search of the last wyrdkey in the most dangerous place of all: Morath, where Erawan will surely be keeping watch over it. Outnumbered by the thousands, and with Erawan and Maeve as powerful enemies, does Terrasen stand a chance? Our characters are all in danger: who will survive?

The characters are fighting to keep their world safe from evil, and I felt like I was right there with them. I was invested in the characters and the outcome. Even though at points the book was slow and I wanted more to happen, it was balanced by moments of great intensity. Looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted to cut any of it out, even though I barely managed to finish the book before my 21 day loan was up. In fact, sometimes I felt like scenes weren’t long enough or that I didn’t get enough dialogue from certain characters (like Manon. She’s awesome). One of my favorite things about this book was how all of the pieces fit together. I love how characters pop up just when they’re most needed. I love how everyone is so on board to build a better world – humans, fae, witches, pirates – everyone works together. The ending becomes all about #girlpower, which felt a little bit forced, but I’m okay with because I’m a ‘90s girl! There are a lot of chapters at the end to wrap everything up. This is one book where all the loose ends are taken care of. It’s pretty clear where everyone and everything stands at the end. I adored the journey that Aelin and Maas took us on, and I don’t know what I’m going to read in the fantasy realm now that I’ve read all of the Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses books! 5 stars and beyond. One of my most favorite series to read, ever.

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My 5 Star Books of 2018

We’re already 18 days into 2019, but I still wanted to share some of the best books I read last year. I hope you’ll be inspired to add them to your TBR lists if you haven’t read them yet. Out of 59 books, I gave 13 books a 5 star rating on Goodreads. The chart below talks about 10 of these titles. While most of the titles are YA, I find it interesting that there are two graphic novels listed and a nonfiction book. Neither have appeared in my previous “Five Star” posts (check out my lists for 2015, 2016, and 2017). A tip: click on the infographic below so you can zoom in and actually read the text!

Honorable Mentions:

  • Becky Albertalli’s books:
    • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (and the adorable film adaptation, Love, Simon)
    • Leah on the Offbeat 
    • The Upside of Unrequited 
  • Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
  • One Dark Throne and Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake
  • The Thousandth Floor series by Katharine McGee
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
  • Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2) by Claudia Gray

Did any of the above books make it onto your favorites list? What were your favorite books of the year?