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Book Review

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting [magazine] (https://store.focusonthefamily.com/goaa-thriving "magazine"). It is the third book in the “Throne of Glass” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien, the greatest assassin in Adarlan and the King’s Champion has a secret. She is really Aelin Galathynius, heir to the throne of Terrasen and part Fae. When she escaped her family’s assassination 10 years earlier, Celaena was taken in and trained by a master assassin. She hasn’t revealed her identity to anyone except Chaol, the man she loved and then gave up when he betrayed her.

Chaol knows that Celaena will be killed if anyone finds out she is Fae. He asks the evil king of Adarlan to send her to assassinate the royal family of Wendlyn, a nation at war with Adarlan. Wendlyn is the last stronghold of the Fae, and Chaol hopes Celaena will be safe there, abandoning her duties to the king and never return.

Chaol means well, but Celaena is anxious to find the Wyrdkeys, magical objects that wield tremendous power and can be used to open portals to other worlds. She reluctantly goes, but instead of going to assassinate others, she seeks out the immortal Queen Maeve of the Fae, her great-grand aunt, to get answers on how to destroy the Wyrdkeys.

When Celaena arrives in Wendlyn, she is despondent about the death of her best friend, Nehemia, and spends her days drinking, gambling and picking fights. As she staggers through the streets, she meets a Fae warrior, Rowan, who has been sent by Maeve to bring her to the Fae outpost of Mistward, just outside the city of Doranelle. Mistward is a haven for demi-Fae, most deemed not powerful enough to live in Doranelle. Celaena is wary of Maeve, but she needs answers about the Wyrdkeys, so she goes with Rowan.

Maeve promises to give Celaena what she seeks, but first the ancient queen wants to see what has become of Celaena’s Fae fire magic, which she hasn’t been able to use since the king obliterated magic in Adarlan. Maeve decides that Celaena will remain in Mistward until she trains with Rowan to master her gifts and control her magic.

In Adarlan, Prince Dorian seeks ways to hide his ice magic from everyone, especially his father. He accidentally loses control and uses his power in front of a beautiful royal healer, Sorcha, a young woman who has been secretly in love with Dorian for years. Sorcha vows to help Dorian and creates iron solutions for him to ingest, successfully dampening his magic. Sorcha and Dorian begin a romantic relationship.

Chaol, fresh with the knowledge of the king possessing a Wyrdkey and fearful for his best friend Dorian’s life, vows to discover how the king banned magic and discover how to free it. When Aedion, a general in the king’s army and cousin to Aelin Galathynius, comes to Adarlan, Chaol is disgusted that the man can serve the king who slaughtered his entire family.

Chaol quickly discovers that Aedion is secretly loyal to Terrasen and is working with the remnant of Terrasen’s nobles to free their country. Together, the group figures out that the king eliminated magic by using a triangular spell with three towers in distant parts of the land. They also discover that the king is breeding humanoid monsters on a remote island, with plans to launch a surprise attack on Wendlyn.

In the north, the king has recruited three rival witch clans to ride wyverns, dragon-like creatures, into battle for him. The clans are violent and competitive, barely holding themselves back from killing each other. Manon Blackbeak, heir to the Blackbeak clan and one of the fiercest witches, defies her grandmother and expectations by choosing Abraxos, a small but highly intelligent wyvern. While Manon has been trained to have no conscience, during a competition she saves the life of a rival, which earns the ire of her grandmother. Manon begins to question the ruthless hatred that she has been taught all her life.

In Mistward, Rowan is a cold and brutal teacher, using threats and violence to force Celaena to shift into her Fae form and bring forth her fire magic. At first, Celaena has no control but, eventually, she learns to shift between her human and Fae forms and summon her magic at will.

Celaena and Rowan become friends, and she helps him investigate strange murders of demi-Fae in the area. They discover that the Valg are committing these murders. The Valg are a race of demon creatures from another world that originally forged the Wyrdkeys. The Valg don’t have bodies so the king has been using demi-Fae as hosts to these creatures he summoned by using Wyrdkeys.

The Valg are the monsters that were being created on the island, and the king has snuck them and scores of soldiers into Wendlyn to attack and capture the demi-Fae for experimentation. The king’s army is headed directly toward Mistward.

With the threat of attack on their outposts, Rowan and Celaena prepare civilians for battle, but the attack comes sooner than they expect. While Celaena battles three Valg princes, Rowan defends the outpost from the rest of the army. Even in her Fae form and using the strongest display of her fire magic, Celaena is almost defeated until Rowan forms a blood bond with her that allows her to use his magic as well. Together they defeat the Valg. After the battle, they journey to Doranelle to get answers from Queen Maeve.

Maeve wants to see a display of Celaena’s power, but the girl demands answers first. Maeve tells her that the Wyrdkeys can’t be destroyed, only put back into the Wyrdgates, but no one knows how to do it. Maeve knows the king has at least one key and suspects that Celaena knows where another is. When Celaena refuses to admit that she thinks the third key lies in a family heirloom, the queen has Rowan brutally flogged.

Celaena uses a spectacular display of her fire magic to threaten Maeve, who stops the beating and orders Celaena to leave Doranelle without Rowan. Celaena reveals that she knows Maeve has wanted the Wyrdkeys for centuries and even killed the Fae warrior she loved, Athril, to try and get them.

Celaena holds the ring that Athril intended to give to Maeve before she killed him and uses it to bargain for Rowan. Maeve releases Rowan from his oath of service to her, and he immediately pledges an oath to serve Celaena. Rowan and Celaena leave Doranelle, and she makes plans to return to Adarlan to get the third Wyrdkey back.

News that Queen Aelin is alive and powerful enough to defeat of the king’s army in Wendlyn spreads rapidly. The rebels are filled with hope. The king is furious, and Chaol makes plans to quickly leave Adarlan, hoping to take Dorian and Sorcha with him, to keep them safe. Chaol thinks that destroying one of the towers will break the king’s spell, retuning magic to the land.

Before he tells anyone, he, Aedion, Dorian and Sorcha are summoned to the king’s chambers. They are questioned about a spy in the palace, and Aedion takes responsibility to save the others. He is shackled and taken to the dungeons to await execution, but Sorcha is the true spy, and the king knows it.

Dorian pleads for Sorcha’s life, but the king beheads her. Chaol draws his sword to fight, but Dorian, seeing the woman he loves dead and knowing his best friend is next, uses his powerful ice magic to freeze the room long enough for Chaol to escape. Dorian is captured. A Wyrdstone collar is put on his neck, causing him to be under his father’s control.

Celaena boards a ship bound for Adarlan. She wants closure in her relationship with Chaol and to find her former master, Arobynn. She believes Arobynn took an amulet from her neck, the amulet containing the third Wyrdkey, 10 years earlier, when he found her.

She insists that she must go alone. While Rowan isn’t happy about her decision, he concedes. Celaena plans on gathering her court and raising an army against the king so she can take back her throne in Terrasen. She will send for Rowan when the time is right.

Christian Beliefs

None

Other Belief Systems

Celaena’s great grandmother, the Fae queen Mab, gave up her immortality when she fell in love with a mortal man. She was crowned a goddess after her death. Sorcha believes in Silba, the goddess of healers, bringer of peace and gentle deaths. Dorian mentions praying to Deanna, the moon goddess. A demi-Fae prays to various gods after an encounter with a large beast. The witches worship the three-faced goddess. There are nine iron figurines of gods and goddesses in the hearth at Mistward.

Mala, a sun goddess, granted Celaena’s Fae ancestor, Brannon, fire magic. Celaena trains in the ruins of Mala’s temple and feels the goddess giving her warmth and power. Rowan prays to Mala, and she grants his requests.

Both Celaena and Rowan talk about going to the Afterworld when they die, or going to hell. Eventually, Celaena decides that she will use her powers to remake the world so when she meets her loved ones in the Afterworld, she will not be ashamed.

Authority Roles

Celaena’s parents were murdered when she was 8 years old. They were loving and supportive of her, and she deeply mourns their death. When she is at her lowest point, she hears her mother’s voice speaking comforting words to her. Maeve, Celeeana’s great-grandaunt, is calculating and manipulative.

Dorian is horrified by the evil his father does and works to hide his true self for fear that his father will have him killed. The king kills the woman Dorian loves, despite his son’s plea to save her, and uses a Wyrdstone collar to imprison him.

Manon has been told that she killed her mother during childbirth by tearing through her womb. Manon’s grandmother is cold and brutal, using threats and violence to control and discipline her granddaughter. When Manon disappoints her, she beats her and cuts her face and neck with her iron nails. A rival witch tells Manon that she wasn’t born depraved but was made this way by her grandmother. When Manon looks into her grandmother’s eyes, she sees that the old woman agrees.

Profanity/Violence

Profanity includes: sh--, a--, h--- and d--n. Name-calling includes the words b--ch, prick, whore and b--tard. Holy gods, by the gods, gods-d--ned and by the Wyrd are used as swear phrases.

When Celaena goes to Wendlyn, she gets into drunken brawls. Soon after arriving in Mistward, she insults Rowan, and he punches her in the mouth. He allows her to try and hit him back, but she fails and falls. Later, he tells her that she deserved it, and she agrees.

Rowan proceeds to verbally abuse Celaena, as well as bite, hit and throw ice daggers at her to get her to shift and use her fire magic. He sends her into a field where a Valg prince finds her and feeds off her most horrifying memories. Afterward, she vomits and pees on herself. Celaena eventually learns to summon her magic and accidentally burns Rowan in anger.

The Valg capture demi-Fae and drain the bodies to a dry husk. There is a fierce battle between Adarlan’s soldiers and demi-Fae, resulting in many deaths. Celaena uses magic to kill three Valg and a possessed general.

Manon and her clan hunt witches from a rival clan, and Manon remembers her first kill: a 16-year-old witch. Three men break into Manon’s house, intent on robbing and killing her. She uses her iron teeth and claws to eviscerate them, licking the blood off her hands. Manon’s grandmother beats and cuts her as punishment, and Manon is expected to punish witches in her coven in the same way.

Manon fights with a rival clan leader and must be stopped before she kills her. Manon’s grandmother makes her kill a rival witch by slicing her throat open. Wyverns kill and eat their handlers and fight each other to the death. One falls to its death.

The witches drink blood and eat the flesh of humans, animals and even other witches. Some clans care about the source of their blood and prefer virgins, young men and pretty girls, but others don’t care about the source.

Celaena gets word that the king has killed thousands of prisoners in a slave camp and people from Terrasen, Eyllwe and other conquered nations. Dorian and Aedion fight the king’s soldiers and kill some of them. The king has Sorcha beheaded in front of Dorian and Chaol.

The violence is described in detail, and blood and gore are depicted.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Even though Celaena feels that Chaol betrayed her, she still has romantic feelings for him. Chaol both fears and loves Celaena and has a dream where he sees her killing and then having sex with him, wearing an expression of ecstasy during both acts.

The Fae don’t marry, they mate: an unbreakable bond that goes deeper than marriage and lasts beyond death. Rowan mourns the death of his pregnant mate who died 200 years before. In Mistward, Celaena befriends an older male demi-Fae and his male mate.

Sorcha lost her virginity to a guard a few years before, an experience she remembers as being unpleasant. She has been secretly in love with Dorian for years, and while she is warned not to have a relationship with him, she wants to belong to someone who wants and cherishes her.

She disguises his iron solution as a contraceptive tonic. Despite sleeping in the same bed as him, she tells him she isn’t ready to have sex. Sorcha tells Dorian she loves him just before she is beheaded.

The witches have sex with and drink blood from the mortal men who train the wyverns.

Three Fae sisters, Mora, Mab and Maeve, had tremendous power until Mora and Mab fell in love with mortal men and yielded their immortality. Maeve was in love with Fae warrior Athril, but she killed him in her quest for the power of the Wyrdkeys.

Celaena is descended from Mab. Rowan is descended from Mora, which makes them distant cousins. While their relationship remains platonic, Celaena sleeps in the same bed as Rowan and wonders if having sex with him will help her to get over Chaol. She admires his shirtless body and gets very territorial when she sees other female Fae looking at him. When a male Fae warrior visits Rowan, Celaena wonders if they have an intimate relationship, but they don’t.

Aedion has a reputation for being a womanizer and frequently pays prostitutes, though they are a front, as he doesn’t use their services. When a prostitute offers herself to him, he tells her he doesn’t pay for what he can get for free. He and Aelin are cousins, but as children, they where expected to marry when they grew up. A rebel asks Aedion if he wants to rule with Aelin, and Aedion says that he would do anything she asks of him.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Several characters drink alcohol.

Drugs: Chaol and Aedion hide from soldiers in an opium den where several people are using the drug. The owner instructs them to smoke it if they need to take the edge off.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

13 and up

Genre

Fantasy

Author

Sarah J. Maas

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Released

On Video

Year Published

2014

Awards

Unknown

Reviewer

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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