“Once upon a time, in a land long since burned to ash, there lived a young princess who loved her kingdom …”
And once upon a time there was a reviewer that loved this story and its characters so damn much that it broke her when it ended. Yes, believe me, it did. I was so thoroughly heartbroken that it took me TWO years to write this review. Two entire years! This isn’t only a testimonial to how destroyed I was after finishing this series but also to how strongly I felt about it. For a while I didn’t even know if I wanted to write a review, but the more time passed and the longer I thought about it, the more I realized that I just had to get it out of my system. My heart and mind persisted that I write it down and who am I to deny my souls biggest desire?
So here I am, finally facing this review and no longer denying those words that craved to spill out of my fingers for such a long time. And the first thing I have to say is that “Kingdom of Ash” was a masterpiece that will probably never find its equal! Sarah outdid herself with this one and the conclusion to this series was incredibly breath-taking! I loved how all those loose ends were tied together, how she managed to give each and every single character not only the time to shine but also the necessary space to develop, to grow.
This is how the ending of a series should be done! This is how you write a stunning and harmonious ending! This is how you make your fans so happy they cry tears of joy! THIS IS IT! Period! I’ve never read such a brilliant ending to a series and I think I never will read anything like it ever again. Nothing will be able to be a match for it. I’m convinced of that. So before I continue to praise “Kingom of Ash” even more I’ll just jump right into my characters section and write it off my chest. I have so many thoughts and feelings… This is going to be a long, long review. *lol*
I’ve had A LOT of time to think about those characters so people buckle up and get ready for the freaky ride! This is going to be another one of my long-ass reviews, probably the longest one you’ll ever read from me. (It might be book length, no kidding! *lol*) So you can either leave it at that or join me on this super long and spoilery journey! It’s up to you! 😉 Here goes nothing!
”You do not yield.”
I DIED at the beginning of this book!! I just died! To see Aelin so throughly broken and weak! I just couldn’t take it! I suffered with her and I just wanted Cairn to die! He was a monster and he deserved every bit of pain he got from Rowan! Every single bit! My poor Aelin! She didn’t deserve this… no one deserves this! >_< I hated Maeve for what she did to her and I was praying for Rowan to arrive at the camp. I really thought Aelin would be broken after this but even though she was, she somehow found the strength to move on. It was such a heart-breaking journey and I believed every single bit of it. Sarah made it so palpable and real. I could see Aelin fight through it. She struggled, she fell, she got back up again, fell again, dragged herself with the mere strength of her hands. It was so painful to watch. T_T But in the end she succeeded, she faked it until it became reality. Until the parts of her that had been broken were able to mend. ❤ Aelin is my heroine! <333
”She’d fight for it, claw her way back to it, who she’d been before. Remember to swagger and grin and wink. She’d fight against that lingering stain on her soul, fight to ignore it. Would use this journey into the dark to piece herself back together – just enough to make it convincing.”
”I wanted to die by the end, before she ever threatened me with the collar. And even now, I feel like someone has ripped me from myself. Like I’m at the bottom of the sea, and who I am, who I was, is far up at the surface, and I will never get back there again.”
”Every horizon he’d gazed toward, unable and unwilling to rest during those centuries, every mountain and ocean he’d seen and wondered what lay beyond… It had been her. It had been Aelin, the silent call of the mating bond driving him, even when he could not feel it.”
And here is another character that killed me… slowly. Rowan’s search for Aelin was so gut-wrenching. I wanted him to find her so badly and I could feel all his anger, despair and the little bit of hope he held on to. He craved to find her, to save her from her fate at the hands of Maeve and Cairn and the longer his search for her continued the less I could take it. It hurt so much to read his POV. T_T When he finally found her I cried tears of joy and I prayed that he would be able to mend what had been broken. His compassion and his faith in her were one of the best things about this book and I’m so glad he was there for Aelin when she needed him the most. ❤ Also: He had no pity to spare for Cairn and I was fine with that. Rowan was every bit the relentless and strong fae warrrior I wanted him to be and I’m glad he was an individual in this book too. =)
”Dorian’s sapphire eyes churned, the hand on his sword tightening. Manon tensed at that contemplative, cold stare. The hint of the calculating predator beneath the king’s handsome face.”
YESH!!! Dorian didn’t die and became a force to be reckoned with instead! And I was so HERE. FOR. IT.!! I absolutely LOVED to see him so strong and uncompromising!! THAT’S MY BOY!!! What Sarah did with him here was everything I ever wanted and I was so damn happy with his character arc! He finally became what I always knew him to be: A strong and powerful king who used his abilities and skills in order to save the people he loved and cared about! <333 YES! I absolutely adore this precious cinnamon roll and I’m so glad he was able to hold on to his playful and gentle side. Dorian turning into a witch was definitely among my highlights of this book. *lol* PLUS the way he dealt with Maeve? Perfection! Utter perfection! All the scheming and plotting ahead. I AM IN AWE!!! The deal he made with Maeve and then the betrayal when she thought she had won! Ahhh! I swear Dorian betraying Maeve by trapping her in his mind and crumbling Morath almost as an afterthought is my new aesthetic!!! Like seriously! That’s so kickass! I can’t even! <333 #TeamDorianForeverAndForAlways
Dorian gave the witch one of those charming smiles and sketched a bow. “Dorian Havilliard, at your service.”
“The king,” one of the Crochans murmured from near the wyverns.
Dorian winked. “That I am, too.”
”This is war,” he said simply. We’re past that sort of thing.”
And it wouldn’t matter, would it, when his eternal soul would be the asking price to staunch so much of the slaughter? He’d already had it wrecked enough. If crossing line after line would spare any others from harm, he’d do it. He didn’t know what manner of king that made him.
”A sword of truth, yes, but also a reminder of what Adarlan had once been. What it might become again. If he did not falter. Did not doubt himself. For whatever time he had left.
He could make it right. All of it. He could make it right.”
”Who do you wish to be?
A king worthy of his crown. A king who would rebuild what had been shattered, both within himself and in his lands.”
”I care,” she hissed. “I care if we lose this war. I care if I fail to rally the Crochans. I care if you go into Morath and do not return, not as something worth living.”
It’s been two years I finished this book and I’m still weeping whenever I think about Manon’s character arc! It was so beautifully done and I loved to see her fall in love with her people and with Dorian. ❤ Boy, did it break my heart though! I ladored that she finally admitted that she cares about her people and friends and her relationship with Abraxos will always be perfect! Manon realizing that she has feelings and even pretty strong ones at that made me so damn happy! It came at a high price for her though. That scene when she fell on her knees in the ashes of the Thirteen. I still get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes whenever I think about it. T_T My heart aches so much for her. So many lives … her Thirteen that stood by her until the end. Ahhh I’m weeping again. *sobs* I’ll never forget that scene… and all the people with their white flowers. T_T *cries uncontrollably* Two freaking years and it still feels like I read it just yesterday. <333 My heart is in pieces… >_<
”There is a better world out there,” she said again. “And I will fight for it.” She turned Abraxos away, toward the plunge behind them. “Will you?”
”She would beg, she would crawl, if it bought him the chance to live.
Her warrior-hearted mount. Who had saved her far more than she had ever saved him. Who had saved her in the ways that counted most.”
”Not a trace of the Thirteen, or their brave, noble wyverns.
Manon fell to her knees.
Ashes rose, fluttering, soft as snow as they clung to the tears on her face.
Abraxos lay beside her, his tail curling around her while she bowed over her knees and wept.”
”I don’t make bargains with bastards,” Chaol said, smiling again as he entered the hall beyond. “I’m certainly not going to start with you.”
Now that’s the Chaol I love and I’m so glad he found back to himself in “Tower of Dawn”. He’s become so much stronger than he ever was and he’s finally the person he should have always been. I loved that his father wasn’t able to get to him anymore and that he was so at peace with himself. Nothing could shake him and he was a firm and formidable force in the final war. ❤ We all know how much he suffered in ToD, but boy was it worth it! I love this new Chaol and I hope he’ll be happy with Yrene! =)
“Your son spent the last several months forging an alliance with the khaganate, and now all of the khagan’s armies sail to this continent to save your people. So while you sit here in your miserable keep, tossing insults at him, know that he has done what no other could do, and if your city survives, it will be because of him, not you.”
Ahhh I loved how the story of her became full circle in here! It all started with Yrene and Aelin meeting at an inn years ago and it turned into so much more than that! It shows how a little kindness can change the entire course of someone’s life and I lived and breathed for the moment those two met again! <333 I suppose in some way Aelin is the reason why Chaol is happy now because she helped Yrene find her way so many years ago. XD And this is just beautiful! ❤ Yrene has come such a long way from the young girl she was (truth be told, Aelin did too) and I adore the strong woman she has become. The way she put Chaol’s father in his place was marvellous and I’m sure she’ll be a great mom! =)
”I went to the Torre,” Yrene said, her voice cracking. “I took the money you gave me, and went to the Torre. And I became the heir apparent to the Healer on High. And now I have come back, to do what I can. I taught every healer I could the lessons you showed me that night, about self-defense. I didn’t waste it – not a coin you gave me, or a moment of the time, the life you bought me.” Tears were rolling and rolling down Yrene’s face. “I didn’t waste any of it.”
Yrene folded the queen’s fingers around the paper. “It is yours, as it always was. A piece of your bravery that helped me find my own.”
Aelin shook her head, as if to dismiss the claim.
But Yrene squeezed Aelin’s closed hand. “It gave me courage, the words you wrote. Every mile I travelled, every long hour I studied and worked, it gave me courage. I thank you for that, too.”
“I was once forced to crawl before men. And gods above, I nearly crawled for you these months. And yet it takes me nearly dying for you to realize that you’ve been an ass? It takes me nearly dying for you to see me as human again?”
I’m still besotted with Lysandra! That woman is amazing! ❤ AND I’m glad she stood her ground and didn’t give into Aedion’s stupid bullying! Like seriously! What was he even thinking!? Lysandra risked so much for Aelin and her court and my heart broke for her when Aedion pushed her away. She really didn’t have it easy in this book and the mere fact she came out of it alive tells us everything we need to know. Lysandra is such a strong woman and she endured so much, yet she never broke! XD She’s my role model and I just love her! ❤ I was so glad that Falkan Ennar and her met at the end of the book and that she finally has an uncle that loves her as much as she deserves to be loved! The scene of their reunion was so heart-warming! =)))
”Whatever you wish,” Falkan said. “You shall never want for anything again.”
Lysandra was crying, and it was pure joy on her face as she flung her arms around Falkan and embraced him tightly.
”He’d said such horrible things to her that day she’d taken down the ilken. Where are our allies? he’d demanded. He was still trying to forgive himself for it. For any of it. All that he had was this one chance to make it right, to do as she’d asked and save their kingdom.”
AEDION YOU STUPID EEJIT!!!! I just couldn’t with Aedion in this! LIKE ARGH!!! That man made me so damn angry I can’t even!!! I get that he was worried and angry about Aelin that he was desperate to save his country and to survive, but none of it can justify how he behaved towards Lysandra! I mean he forced her to leave his tent when she was wounded and weak and she had to CRAWL in the snow to get out of it! CRAWL! In front of their men! WTF!? He humiliated her because she did what she had to do and that’s not okay! There is no excuse for his behaviour and if I would have been Lysandra I would have kicked him in his balls and served them for dinner! I really loved Aedion in the former books but in this one I hated him and if you ask me his redemption arc should have been more pronounced. I can’t forgive him for what he did… actually I’m surprised Lysandra could. >_<
”You agreed to let Aelin go to her death, and leave us here to be slashed to bloody ribbons. You two told no one of this plan, told none of us who might have explained the realities of this war, and that we would need a gods-damned Fire-Bringer and not an untrained, useless shape-shifter against Morath.”
”Let it kill him, wreck him. He would not serve. Not another heartbeat. He would not obey.
He would not obey.
And slowly, Fenrys got to his feet.”
MY PRECIOUS BABY!!!! <333 I love Fenry’s to bits and pieces! He deserves so much better than he got and what he had to go through in here was so horrible! Maeve didn’t just take his brother away from him, she also did it permanently by killing him and she even made him watch! Which was so wrong and cruel on so many different levels. T_T Fenry’s was at least as broken as Aelin but he continued to fight and against Maeve’s power over him. The pull to follow her and Cairn’s orders must have been so strong but he didn’t cave and I just about died when he got to his feet! Fenrys is precious he needs to be protected at all costs. ❤ With or without scars he’s my baby! Period!
Fenrys just nodded. “I haven’t been able to stomach it since then. I – I’m not even certain I can use it again,” he said, and repeated, “I’m sorry.”
Aelin & Rowan:
”He prayed that fire, that rage, had not broken. He knew how many days it had been, knew who Maeve had promised would oversee the torture. Knew the odds were stacked against her.”
Those two broke my heart! T_T Aelin prayed Rowan would find her and he was looking for her all over the world. I hate Maeve so much for taking Aelin from Rowan and for hurting both of them in such a cruel way! Aelin’s torture was awful and atrocious and just like her I wanted it to end. I hated that she was so broken by what Cairn did to her and I knew there was no way she would get out of something like this without having physical as well as mental scars. When Rowan finally found her and she wanted him to take off that mask I was crying along with her. It broke my heart! T_T To be in his presence eased some of her pain though and even though she barely spoke a word after what happened to her it was so good to see that slowly but deliberately she came back to him. Rowan was so damn gentle with her… and I was so glad he was there for her. ❤ Those two had a really amazing relationship and I hope they can finally be happy now. They deserve it! After everything they had to go through they deserve a peaceful life in Terassen! The more I think about it the more I’m sure Sarah only gave us that corny relationship in EoS so that we could hold on to something when bad things happened to Aelin in this book. XD They are together now though and I hope their HEA will last! ❤
Aelin sobbed, her body shuddering with the force of it. “Take it off.”
Rowan’s eyes flickered, panic and heartbreak and longing shining there. “I will. But you have to be still, Fireheart. Just for a few moments.”
“Take it off.” The sobs ebbed, tricking into something broken and raw. Rowan ran his thumbs over her wrists, over those iron shackles. As if it were nothing but her skin. Slowly, her shaking eased.
She didn’t bother arguing. Not as she admitted, “I want it to be over.”
He went wholly still, but granted her the space to think, to speak.
“I want it to be over and done with,” she said hoarsely. “This war, the gods and the Wyrdgate and the Lock. All of it.“ She rubbed her temples, pushing past the weight, the lingering stain that no fire might cleanse. “I want to go to Terrasen, to fight, and then I want it to be over.”
Dorian & Manon:
”Only with her did he not need to explain. Only with her did he not need to be a king, or anything but what he was. Only with her would there be no judgement for what he’d done, who he’d failed, what he might still have to do.”
Ohh those two had to work through a lot in this book! They both had scars from the former books in this series and it was really great to see them work through their issues. Especially because they tried to do it together. They didn’t give each other an inch and both of them didn’t shy away from pointing out the truth. I think their dynamic was good for both of them and being the stubborn people that they are they probably needed each other more than they were willing to admit. Still, when push came to shove they could always count on each other. I loved their relationship so much, like seriously! So, so damn much! Their respect and the fact that they are each other’s equal, that they knew exactly what the other thought and felt and that they didn’t want to turn the other into something he couldn’t be. Just amazing! They’ll always be my OTP! My sexy and playful power couple! <333 I will go down with this ship!!! Enough said! <3333
”I care about more than I should. I even care about you.”
Another wrong thing to say.
Manon stood – as high as the tent would allow. “Then you’re a fool.” She shoved on her boots and stomped into the frigid night.
Dorian leaned in close, tipping his head back to stare into her eyes as he purred, “Because while you might be older, might be deadly in a thousand different ways, deep down, you’re afraid. You don’t know how to ask me to stay, because you’re afraid of admitting to yourself that you want it. You’re afraid. Of yourself more than anyone else in the world. You’re afraid.”
He could have sworn fear entered her eyes. Yet she didn’t rage at him, roar at him – didn’t so much as snarl. She only asked, “You’re not afraid to go alone?”
“Of course I’m afraid. Anyone in their right mind would be. But my task is more important than fear, I think.”
”Dorian twined a wave of her silver hair around his finger. For a heartbeat, he allowed himself to drink her in. She would be his wife, his queen. She was already his equal, his match, his mirror in so many ways. And with their union, the world would know it.
But he could see the bars of the cage that would creep closer, tighter, every day. And either break her wholly, or turn her into something neither of them wished her to ever be.”
Chaol & Yrene:
”Yrene is the finest healer of her generation,” Chaol said with deadly quiet. “Her worth is greater than any crown.” And in this war, it might very well be.
“You don’t need to bother proving my value to him,” Yrene said, her icy eyes pinned on his father. “I know precisely how talented I am. I don’t require his blessing.”
She meant every damn word.
It was so beautiful to see their relationship thrive! To see how content they were around each other and how bravely they tackled every challenge that was thrown their way. It made me kind of sad to realize that they didn’t get all too much page time in KoA but I guess after they got an entire book for their relationship to develop and grow Sarah figured she could let them be happy with the way they are. She certainly wasn’t wrong with that because the little moments we got were all precious and I adored seeing them on page. XD Also Yrene is pregnant with Chaol’s child!!!! YESH!! Finally a ToG baby! *lol* They’ll have one hell of a fierce and stubborn child! <333
Chaol turned to where Dorian sat with Elide atop the shifter, the love on her husband’s face hardening to something fierce and determined.
“Keep her safe,” was all Chaol said. Perhaps the only order, Yrene realized, he would ever give his king. Their king.
It was why she loved him. Why she knew that the child in her womb would never spend a single moment wondering if it was loved.
Lysandra & Aedion:
”She had lied to him. Deceived him so thoroughly that any moment between them, any conversation… he didn’t know what had been real. Didn’t want to know. Didn’t want to know if she’d meant any of it, when he’d so stupidly left everything laid out before her.”
My heart was bleeding on the pages whenever I read about them. I swear, every word from Aedion’s lips was poison, every accusation thrown at Lysandra another twist with the knife that seemed to be stuck in my chest. I felt so bitter about my second favourite ship drowning or… well, tbh it rather crashed and burned without the sexy parts. T_T I never got my sexy scene, all I got was heartbreak and pain and I hated Aedion for it! I still can’t believe Sarah wrecked my ship so thoroughly. I know she tried to redeem him in the end but it was too little too late and I can’t really ship them anymore. At 60% of the book I would have been totally fine with – little kids, please don’t read this – Lysandra ripping out his balls and eating them for breakfast! How could he hurt her so much when he knew how she felt about him??!! And it wasn’t even like he wouldn’t have had her in the end. Sure she would have looked like Aelin but she still would have been Lysandra underneath. So if he wanted to blame anyone he should have blamed Aelin or Maeve or stupid Cairn. But certainly not Lysandra! She was ready to give up her life for his country and that’s how he repaid her for it? Not okay! I’m happy Lysandra is happy now but I don’t think I can truly ship them again. >_<
”After Wesley, after all of it, I wanted it to be you. What Aelin asked me to do had no bearing on that. What she asked me to do never felt like a burden, because I wanted it to be you in the end anyway.” She didn’t wipe away the tears that slipped down her cheeks. “And you threw me into the snow.”
Aedion’s grin turned predatory. “May I ask something of you, then?”
“I don’t think you’re in a position to make requests, but fine.”
That wolfish grin remained as he whispered in her ear, “If I don’t die tomorrow, may I kiss you when the day is done?”
Elide & Lorcan:
”I didn’t crawl after Maeve.”
She halted, hair swaying. Slowly, she glanced over her shoulder. Imperious and cold as the stars overhead.
“I crawled…” His throat bobbed. “I crawled after Aelin.”
I think we can all agree that those two had one of the most epic scenes in the entire book! I mean OMG! Them outrunning the flood was so damn suspenseful!!! Farasha was carrying them both and I was quite literally holding my breath for all of those pages!!! I had to know how it ended!!! XD And thankfully it ended good! I’m so glad they managed to sort things out and yes, Lorcan had to go through a lot to make up for his actions but in their case I could forgive him and Elide for being stupid for a little while. *lol* Their love story was such a nice slow burn and Elide riding like the wind in order to rescue her fae warrior will always be one of my favourite parts of this book! I can’t help but laugh about his title though. Lord Lorcan Lochan! *LOL* It’s epic! XD Ahh my heart feels all warm and fuzzy just thinking about them. ❤
”I love you,” he whispered in Elide’s ear. “I have loved you form the moment you picked up that axe to slay the ilken.” Her tears flowed past him in the wind. “And I will be with you…” His voice broke, but he made himself say the words, the truth in his heart. “I will be with you always.”
”I will marry you, Elide Lochan. And proudly call myself Lord Lorcan Lochan, even when the whole kingdom laughs to hear it.” He kissed her, gently and lovingly. “And when we are wed,” he whispered, “I will bind my life to yours. So we will never know a day apart. Never be alone, ever again.”
Elide covered her face with her hands and sobbed, at the heart he offered, at the immortality he was willing to part with for her. For them.
Aelin & Fenrys:
”Beyond words, unsure her throat would even work, Aelin blinked three times. Are you all right?
Two blinks answered. No.”
Their friendship was so pure and deep it almost broke me! <333 Even though they were in the clutches of Maeve and Cairn they still had each other and I loved Fenry’s for being there for Aelin and for Aelin trying to give him at least a little bit of comfort. They went through so much… through so, so, so, so damn much together and it forged a bond that will never be broken. The moment when Fenrys broke his oath to save Aelin I was crying. He gave his life for her and she sobbed his name until they finally got him out of Cairn’s camp and brought him to her! I was so relieved when he took the blood oath and she commanded him back to life because I probably would have died if he wouldn’t have come out of it alive! The moment he hugged her… ahh my heart!!! <333 I love them and their friendship. Such a deep and meaningful bond.
”A small sigh broke from Fenrys before he folded Aelin into his arms, a shudder rippling through him. Rowan couldn’t see her face, perhaps he didn’t need to, as her hands gripped Fenrys’s jacket, so tightly they were white-knuckled.
A good sign – a small miracle, that either of them wished, could be touched.”
Aelin, Chaol & Dorian:
”But Aelin was only staring at him. Staring and staring at him.
No one spoke as tears began sliding down her face.
Not at his being here, Chaol realized as he took up his cane and limped towards Aelin.
But at him. Standing. Walking.
The young queen let out a broken laugh of joy and flung her arms around his neck.”
Okay, I admit it I’m still a weeping and crying mess!! Those THREE! THOSE THREE!!! AHHH! I cried an ocean when they met again and I cried even more when they had to part at the end of the book! Their friendship was everything and even more and it was so good to see them all together again. After everything they went through, after everything they survived, after everything that happened, their friendship is still going strong. <333 They’re the original trio that started it all and to see them together on one page reduced me to being an emotional and babbling mess! I’ll never get over the love those three feel for each other and I’ll love them forever! <333 And now excuse me while I weep some more! T_T
”But Dorian stared at the rider before him. At the posture of the body, the commanding seat he possessed.
And as Chaol Westfall dismounted and ran the last few feet toward Dorian, the King of Adarlan wept.”
Aelin looked at Chaol and Dorian and sobbed. Opened her arms to them, and wept as they held each other.
“I love you both,” she whispered. “And no matter what may happen, no matter how far we may be, that will never change.”
“We will see you again,” Chaol said, but even his voice was thick with tears.
“Together,” Dorian breathed, shaking. “We’ll rebuild this world together.”
Nesryn & Sartaq:
”We’ve a battle to launch tomorrow. Again.”
“And a day of death has made me want to hold you,” the prince said, giving her that disarming grin she had no defenses against. Especially as he added, “And do other things with you.”
Nesryn and Sartaq is another couple I would have loved to see more of but unfortunately they were just side-characters in this one. As I already said with Yrene and Chaol I understand Sarah’s decision to let them be in the background though. Still, I love Sartaq! ❤ He’s still his disarming flirty self and Nestryn and he got at least a few moments together. So I’ll count my blessings and be happy that this super, super slow burn finally turned into a solid and good relationship! *lol* I can’t picture Nesryn as an Empress but I know she’ll be a great one. Just like Sartaq will be an awesome Khagan! XD
Sartaq’s dark eyes glittered. “We won the war, Nesryn Faliq.” He tugged her close. “And now we shall go home.” She’d never heard such beautiful words.
Just in case those last 5.598 words didn’t already make it abundantly clear: I LOVED “Kingdom of Ash”!! It’s one of the best endings of a series I ever read and I’m in awe of Sarah’s genius! She managed to do something not many authors are capable of doing and actually tied up all her loose ends. Her impeccable writing style leaves noting to be desired and after two years I can still say: This is a masterpiece! <333 So read it, enjoy it, cry over it, laugh and weep with your favourite characters and know they’ll always have a special place in your heart – even if you close the final page of this book! <333