Pages: 562 pages
Consumed by guilt and rage, Celaena can't bring herself to spill blood for the King of Adarlan. She must fight back...
The Immortal Queen will help her destroy the king - for a price. But as Celaena battles with her darkest memories and her heart breaks for a love that could never last, can she fulfil the bargain and head the almighty court of Terrasen? And who will stand with her?
Continuing with my series re-read before the (EVER APPPROACHING) release of "Kingdom of Ash" (LESS THAN A MONTH GUYS) I went into "Heir of Fire" for my very first re-read since it was released.
My feelings about this book were complicated the first time around. I was still under the impression that the series would only be a trilogy (so glad that was incorrect) and it meant that I was permanently frustrated whilst reading at the lack of story movement and all the threads that were tantalising me and refusing to be tied up neatly. It just felt wrong, and once I discovered that there were more books to come that was completely fine, but it did mar the initial reading for me.
So this was a fresh start of sorts. My expectations for it being the end of the series having lifted, I was able to go into this book with very little recollection of what happens (it's been four years...) ready to fall in love with it. So many people have said that this book was where they truly fell for this series, when all of their feelings exploded into full blown adoration for the books. And when I recommend this series I do give a warning that people should push through to book 3 before deciding whether they like the series or not. They usually fall in love before that.
I think the combination this time was just right. Lack of expectations, barely any recollection of the storyline for this instalment, and being a few years older and having had different life experiences created the perfect blend for me to truly fall in love. I relished this story, experiencing it as though for the first time, as I wept and raged with Celaena and watched her break down and rebuild herself back up again. It was a truly extraordinary thing to read, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I got a bit teary and goosebumpy by the end.
This is the first time that we really see the story diverge into multiple different threads, and whilst it's sad to be out of that bubble of Celaena's world in Rifthold, Maas handles the transition deftly and makes you care for every single person you follow. It's a sign of the growing world, the expanding layers that are being peeled back in the story. This is no longer the story of a girl assassin who was enslaved. This is an epic that crosses time and countries and wraps so many incredible characters up in its grasp.
And Celaena herself - oh how my heart broke for her. She is such an incredibly complex character, and the growth that we see from her in this book alone is staggering. It truly cements Maas as a writer to be watched. She has now shown in both her series' her ability to create stunningly real characters, and to show how broken they can become through their experiences. We do not get enough representation of depression, grief, anxiety, PTSD etc. in YA fiction, and I love that she isn't afraid to tackle that, and to do so sensitively and well. She shows that things can break you, but you can be reforged, you can rebuild yourself, and that is a truly incredible thing to see in fiction.
These books are important to so many people, myself included, and I think that that is a good portion of the reason for that.
Yes, the book is slower than some of the others in the series, but it makes sense. It allows you to take time to get to know Celaena and her traumas and her past. To truly unwrap this character and allow the reader to understand her. No longer is she a spoiled and whiny teenager, she is forged into something stronger, more enduring, and is utterly incredible to watch.
In short, I loved it. I'm so glad I'd given myself so much time before coming back to it, to allow myself to almost experience it for the first time again. It's the turning point in the series, the moment when you realise that Maas has been putting the pieces in place for a much bigger game than you realised, and that this series is going to be something truly remarkable.