The End of an Era - Kingdom of Ash Review

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: October 23rd, 2018
Pages: 984 (!!!!!)
Song: Left Behinds by Paris Blohm
Rating: 4 stars

The final battle is here.

Aelin Galathynius has vowed 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. The knowledge that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, but her resolve is unraveling with each passing day...

With Aelin captured, friends and allies are scattered to different fates. Some bonds will grow even deeper, with others will be severed forever. As destinies weave together at last, all must fight if Erilea is to have any hope of salvation. 

I've been dreading this moment for 5 years. 
I was a little late to the ToG game. I picked up this series as Heir of Fire came out back in 2014. And I have Christine Riccio to thank (also known as PolandBananasBooks on Youtube) because her review was the sole reason I picked up Throne of Glass. How I even knew of it in the first place. I hadn't yet created this blog, so I was out of the book world loop.
I was hooked from the first page. 
I have a soft spot for vivacious, sarcastic heroines. Rose Hathaway from the Vampire Academy  series was my first dip into it, which will always be my number one series. Those books own my heart and soul. But the second I finished ToG, Celaena came smashing her way into my heart as well. The only difference between the two series' is that I was only invested in a few of the characters from VA; the ToG world? I was invested in everybody. For as many flaws that the series has, Maas really knows how to write empathetic characters. Even the assholes. 
I was a fanatic for this series. The wait between Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows was absolute death for me. The longest year of my life, and once I got my hands on QoS, nothing stopped me from devouring it. 
I'm going to start spoiling, so shoo if you haven't read this series. And shame on you, really. 
I'm not going to get into it, because I don't want this to be long winded. I've accepted QoS as what it truly was: the end of Celaena, and the beginning of Aelin. And it was never the same after. Aelin wasn't the same. At the end of HoF, I had zero qualms about the narrator. Yes, she had accepted herself and was now going by Aelin, cool. I was pumped.
But there was something off. Something I still can't even put my finger on, but Aelin came across different. And I was devastated. Absolutely, heart-crushingly hysterical. 
It wasn't the same. And, as most of you know, it only got worse as Empire of Storms came out and SJM apparently decided to ditch the YA category entirely and jump to NA. Or maybe even Adult, if you want to push it. 
Kingdom of Ash only ripped the bandaid off that wound and proceeded to shred into it. REPEATEDLY. I thought I had cried enough in Queen of Shadows but oooooh no. I've never, in my entire life, cried as consistently as I did will reading a book. Once Aelin caught up with Chaol and Yrene, it was over. I was done. I cried the entire rest of the way through the book. I was heartbroken all over again cause these characters were so vastly different from what I had wanted them to be, but I was also happy that they were all coming together to save Erilea. To save Terrasen. 
The biggest shock though? The Thirteen. 
I did not think their deaths would hit me as hard as it did. That, and the ending, was when I sobbed. Just outright threw the book on the floor and buried my head under my sheets. That was one of the most beautiful scenes written in this series, the way the Thirteen had used the Yielding to destroy the Witch Tower. 
I rated KoA four stars. I docked the one star for my inner naive little self still wailing over the characters, but this book was a feat. Truly a magnificent, bloody ending.  SJM's writing, as always, is phenomenal. While bleak and heartbreaking, that's just the way war is. Did it feel like Lysandra and Aedion had been fighting THE ENTIRE FUCKING BOOK? Yes. (Because they were.) But you couldn't really expect anything else from Erawan and Morath. They wanted to crush them. SJM had to convey that, which she did. Over and over and over again. 
I was definitely surprised it took Aelin so long to get to Terrasen. I expected her to be there well before the last quarter of the book, but I guess that's just the suspense of it all, to really ram in the effect of Aelin finally going home. Stepping through the walls into Orynth itself. 
There was much less death than I thought. But I need to talk about Gavriel. 
One word.
It seemed so random, so pointless, to make him fight that hard to get back to Aedion, to only sacrifice himself for really no reason. They could've barricaded the wall and been just fine. It felt like Maas threw that in there last minute to tug some heart strings, but really it came across as unnecessary 
Everyone got their happy ending obviously, which makes me happy. But nothing made me quite as happy as LORD LORCAN LOCHAN. I will NEVER get over that. Those two were pretty damn close to winning it all for me. I don't know why. Maybe cause he was this gigantic, brooding, death-is-literally-flowing-through-my-veins man and this smol little feisty bean took one look at him and brought him to his knees. 
I'm going to cap this here before I ramble on. I'm sad to see these characters go (and the sarcastic jabs because I lived for those) and I am hoping SJM might pull a ACOTAR and write little novellas at some point. We'll see!

Thank you for reading. See you next time <3

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