Throne of Glass Novellas by Sarah J. Maas

assassins-bladeAfter I finished reading Empire of Storms, I decided to go back and read the prequel novellas as many of the characters we meet in these stories make appearance and play a role in the final book to come out next year.  It’s very common for authors to publish novellas or short stories in connection with successful series.  Most of the time they have little consequence to the actual narrative of the series themselves.  They are just a fun story about the time before, or another character’s perspective.  The further I got into Empire of Storms and the big reveals starting to come out, I realized that I these novellas were more important then I originally thought.  The end was blending of Aelin’s present with Celaena’s past.  If Aelin is going to defeat Erawan and reclaim her crown in Terrasan she is going to have call in all of Celaena’s favors.  And so I went back and bought all the novellas. The five novella’s The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Healer, The Assassin and the Desert, The Assassin and the Underworld and The Assassin and the Empire tell the story of the months that lead her to be arrested and sent to Endovier where we meet her in the Throne of Glass that starts everything in motion.  All five novellas were collected together and later published under the named The Assassin’s Blade.

The novella’s we see  Celaena in her full Adarlan’s Assassin glory.  She is the most feared assassin in the land and she knows it.  As Arobynn Hamel’s protege she is at the top of her game, when she is sent to the Skull’s bay to meet with Captain Rolfe, the Pirate Lord.  When she finds out that her master is going into the Slave business, she defies him for the first time.  With the help of fellow assassin Sam Cortlandt she not only saves the slaves Arobynn was trading but all the slaves.  All good deeds don’t go unpunished.  She is severely punished and sent to the desert to learn from the Mute Master of the Silent Assassins. Here she meets Ansel of Briarcliff, her first real female friendship and new skills. Upon her return Arobynn gives her a mission that she can’t refuse but it ends up in even bigger betrayal that she pays off her and Sam’s debt’s and leaves Arobynn behind.  Celaena and  Sam have fallen in love and plan to Rithfold behind but not before they do one last job.  This leads to tragedy and ultimately what leads to the beginning of the series.  Caleana’s exploits are alluded too in the earlier books but didn’t really have much to do with the actual plot until our heroes make their way to Skull’s Bay to try to convince Captain Rolfe to join their cause.  Since the last time Aelin was there, she destroyed the docks and ended the very profitable slave trade for the Pirate King.  So, not the best impression to leave on the a possible ally. The Pirate Lord and Ansel have been mentioned before but in passing.  I used to think it was just a wink to not only Celaena’s past but also to all those readers who read the novellas but both Rolfe and Ansel play a pivotable role in Aelin’s plans to win the war. The stories gives us a sense about who Celaena was before the action of the series and how deep the scars run for her.  From the books, we know how complicated her relationship with Arobynn is but since it all happened before the action of the series we didn’t get see how toxic it truly was.  We also get to know Sam. His death is major part of Celaena’s story arc in the first two books.  It’s what haunts her and motivates her to seek out Arobynn for the truth. These are some of the rare series novellas that actually further the series plot and for that for fans of the Throne of Glass series, it’s worth reading all the novellas.

Quick Review: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

empire-of-storms **Spoilers**

First, can we talk about her badass jacket on the cover? I really want a jacket like that. Anyhoo, at the end of the last book.  The King of Adarlan is dead, killed by Dorian while he was under Erawan’s spell. He broke away from his power but not in time to save Chaol from terrible back injury that we still don’t know the extent of his injuries.  Will he be able to walk again? Is he even still alive? Aelin, has taken her former masters money and has one of the Wyrdkeys and now is heading home to Terrasan with Rowan, Aedion and Lysandra. Manon and her thirteen save Elide from Morath after Kaltain blows up half the mountain not before she gives Elide the second Wyrdkey.  Lorcan, has come to Erilea to get the keys for Maeve. So all the players are in play, well except for Chaol who is MIA and eventually they all meet up to find the lock that will once and for all rid the world of Erawan.  With a book with so many characters it would be easy to lose track of who is who and where they belong in the story but the story lines are woven so seamlessly together that it feels like one story.  Each character has their arc that we have seen true growth in.  Dorian was a sheltered and naive Prince when we first meet him but now he has hardened.  He has experience loss and has find strength in his power.  As he begins to understand his power, he starts to gave more confidence in himself.  They all have grown so much from the first book.  When I think about Throne of Glass it almost feels like a completely different series because they books have gone so far.  As Aelin, Dorian, Aedion and Manon have grown and mature so have the books. They are far more complicated as the characters themselves have become far more complicated.  The most complicated of them all is our former assassin turned Queen, Aelin. She has so much power that she doesn’t even know how powerful she is but one thing that has changed her ability to outsmart her opponents. She always had a plan in motion but I had no idea how long she had been planning her strategy.   Some go as far back as the first and second book.  It’s almost mind blowing about how the dots all are connecting and with one book to go the endgame is in sight.  The ending is pretty devastating but totally worth the pain.  Really looking forward to finding out how this will end.

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

court mist fury**Spoilers**

I think I know what I really didn’t like about the last half of A Court of Thorns and Roses. The first half I liked but I felt that that second half was like a whole other book that just dragged. After reading A Court of Mist and Fury I think what I really bothered me was that deep down, I knew Tamlin wasn’t worth Feyre going through all the trials and tortures.  He may have loved her but not truly and that was only more evident as he allowed her to fade away while he tried to rebuild his court.  I get wanting to let things settle but she was clearly unhappy.  Unable to sleep through the night and he did nothing but promise once things settle down things will be better.  And worst of all trapped her in his home after she was trapped Under the Mountain.  When you compare Tamlin to Rhys, you can see how truly unworthy Tamlin is.  Rhys is not just in love with Feyre.  He understands her.  He is her equal. Rhys would have been a worthy person for Feyre to go through the trials and torture.

I’ve talked about how YA novels have treats PTSD or getting over traumatic experiences.   It’s infuriating how often they ignore it or have or other characters don’t acknowledge that the hero or heroine is suffering by making them feel worst for not getting over it fast enough.  Here we have two different reactions to Feyre’s ordeal Under the Mountain.  Tamlin seems so consumed with his own pain of what happened to him that he doesn’t see Feyre is wasting away right in front of him.  He’s too afraid of losing her again that he keeps her locked up and it’s stifling her to a point that she can’t recover.from her own trauma.  Rhys gives Feyre time to heal.  He gives her space and pushes her only when he needs too.  He encourages her to learn to read and to test out her new powers.  He does have the benefit of being connected to her through their bargain but he also has the power to read people’s minds.  He introduces her to his friends and lets her in on his plans and decision making. It’s exactly what Feyre needs.  It gives her not only time to recover from what happened to her but understand that the relationship with Tamlin was flawed and in the end unhealthy.  Of course, it also gives her time to realize that she is not only well suited for Rhys but is in love with him.  So to go back to my original point.  Tamlin wasn’t worth the torture that Feyre went through but it was for her to get to know Rhys though.  I’m glad I decided to read this book after only being so-so with the last one.

 

Observations on Blue Lily Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

blue lilyAll the feels!  Re-reading this book just reaffirms how painful The Raven King is going to be.

  • What’s the deal with Henry Cheng?  I mean seriously?  Maggie has already said he is going to play a bigger part in the next book but what?  What was he doing out that late at night when Gansey and Blue run into him?
  • Speaking of, is there ever been a more romantic non-kiss.  It almost puts some actually literary kisses to shame!
  • I want to know more about Persephone’s backstory.  Actually I want a spin-off series that is just about Persephone, Maura and Calla.  Hey Maggie, can you make that happen?
  • Adam learned a very important lesson.  That it is okay to ask for help and even if you don’t ask, if a friend offers it’s not out of pity but out friendship.
  • Piper Greenmantle is not someone I would want to meet in a dark alley.  That woman is truly scary.
  • What is Gansey doing in the faculty lounge?  Does he already know he’s going to die and this is him making plans?
  • Why haven’t any written the Murder Squash song?
  • I love how all-in Ronan is to being Supernatural.  He’s owning is Greywareness!
  • Also how touching was his revelation about Matthew?  How he’s working on saving him.  With what happened in the cave, do you think he’s figured it out.
  • I like Blue and Ronan’s relationship. For all his guff, Ronan can’t help but care.  He saved her from falling twice, once in the beginning of the book and in the end and then stayed behind in the dark to make sure she got to the other side.  He’s a class act when he wants to be.
  • What kind of man buries their daughter, face down in a grave for robbers to find? Maybe Glendower isn’t worth it after all.
  • Jesse Dittley wasn’t kidding when he said his cave was cursed.  May he Rest In Peace
  • Never Scrying by yourself kids.

So, we are now two weeks away from the release of The Raven King and the anticipation is just killing me.  Will they find Glendower?  Will Blue and Gansey finally kiss and will it kill him?  Will Ronan and Adam kiss? Who is the third sleeper? Is it a huge spider because I am not okay with that! What has Neeve been doing all this time?  I have so many questions that I hope to get answered soon.  Dear readers, what are your questions for The Raven King?

Countdown to The Raven King!

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Guess what Guys?!  I just figured out we can do slideshows! This is so exciting to me!  Anyhoo, it’s April!  Finally!  Only 25 more days until the release of the The Raven King!  FINALLY!!!!  I can’t wait!  I’m excited but dreading it all the same time because you know that none of us are coming out of this unscathed.  Now that I think about it, keep Stacks in your thoughts in the last week of April, first week of May because it’s going to be a couple of brutal weeks for Kate and I between this and Captain America.  So here we go, to help everyone prepare for the final book in the The Raven Cycle, we are going to look back at past reviews and commentary about one of our favorite series.

First, Let’s start from the beginning with Kate’s review of The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves.  Somehow, I haven’t written a formal review for this series.  Strange.

Here are a few more posts about The Raven Cycle

Public Service Announcement

What I’m Thankful for

Books that Rocked My Face off, Part two

Dear Stackologist: Life is Full of Tough Choices

RE: Sexism, Twitter and Giant Insects

Highs and Lows of Fandoms by Cassandra Clare and Maggie Stiefvater

Cover Reveal: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Discussion Posts: Re-reading series before the new installment comes out

Fan Art

Books that Rocked My Face Off in 2015

What I Can’t Wait to Read in 2016

Currently Reading: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

And finally, First Listen of The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Later this week, we will start discussion posts about what we think is going to happen in The Raven King.

Review: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

stars above As you may have noticed.  Kate and I haven’t posted much lately.  I’ve been on vacation and had every intention of updating while I was gone but I was too busy enjoying doing nothing but hanging out with my parents and friends that blogging didn’t happen.  Oops.  Let’s try to make up.

Stars Above is a collection of short stories that takes place in the world of Lunar Chronicles.  Most of the them are prequels, giving readers more insight into who the characters were before the action the novels.  In the case of the first story, The Keeper, it fills in the story of how Cinder came to earth and how Michelle Benoit and Scarlett fit into her life before she became a cyborg.  Glitches follows Cinder as she meets her step family for the first time and how she went from the great hope to the just the mechanic.  In the Mechanic we get to read Kai’s first meeting with Cinder from his perspective and the final story, Something Old, Something New takes place a few years after the end of Winter where the whole gang comes back together for the wedding of two them.  I won’t say who because I don’t want to spoil it but you will be happy.  My favorite story was The Little Android. It’s the only story that doesn’t star anyone from the Lunar Chronicles but does feature a cameo by Cinder.  It’s about an Android like Iko that wants to be more then just an android.  She starts to have feelings with a human and buys an escort android body to pass herself as human to get closer to him.  The problem is that the man is in love with someone else.  We get a better view of what life is like for people living in New Beijing before Cinder’s revolution for androids, cyborgs and humans.  It’s a very bittersweet story but beautiful written.  This collection is worth it just for this story alone even if you are not a fan of the Lunar Chronicles.  For the fans, it’s a must read.

Review: The Iron Warrior by Julie Kagawa

the iron warrior*Spoilers*

I’m not sure if Julie Kagawa counts towards our Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives challenge since I would have read her books anyway.  This is the last book in the The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten series.  I knew I was going to read it as soon as I finished the last book, The Iron Traitor  and I’m going to read Soldier, the next book in her Talon series.   So counting her as my Asian American author doesn’t really go in the spirit of the challenge since we are trying read new authors,  However, I think it’s good to point out the diversity that is already in my reading list.  Yes, this is a little self serving, pat myself on the back type of thing but while I do mostly read white women, I’ve never been exclusively been just that and honestly until this past year I’m not sure I’ve noticed.  I’ve been reading Julie’s work for a couple of years now and it make me think.  I’m not sure where I’m going with this but you should read her work is all.

So The Iron Warrior is the last book in the The Iron Fey series’.  The first series followed Meghan as she transitions from normal teenage girl to Fairy Queen of the Iron Fey.  In Fairy mythology, iron has always been one their weaknesses and the human world has become more and more technologically advance the Nevernever has started to get poisoned, except for some of the Fairy who have adapted and created a new kingdom of Iron.  Call of the Forgotten is the continuation of the series but follows Meghan’s brother, Ethan and son , Kerrian.  Now, it’s been about a decade since Meghan has left and in that time Ethan has grown cursed with the sight and is constantly harassed by the Fey.  Then one day he finds himself back in the Nevernever with a new girl, Kenzie and his nephew, Kerrian, who is roughly the same age thanks to the fact that time moves differently in Faery.  Yeah, it’s weird.  It’s even weirder since Ethan didn’t even know that Kerrian even existed.  You see, their was a prophecy that one day Kerrian would kill Ethan and either destroy the courts or unite them.  So obviously everyone wants to keep them apart.  It didn’t work because the prophecy is set in motion when Kerrian does in fact stabbed Ethan and temporarily lifting the veil between faery and the human realms.  Now Kerrian is the champion for the Forgotten Queen who looks to lift the veil permanently and only Ethan can stop him.

Ethan is the type of hero I like.  He’s sarcastic and I do love sarcasm.  He’s also a fighter.  Not always the swiftest on the up take but he’s loyal.  He knows the stacks are high and despite being given outs several times throughout the book he never backs down.  Kerrian I’m not really digging.  He’s quite stubborn to the point of destroying the Nevernever.  Everything starts with Kerrian unwillingness to let go of his love. Since the story is from Ethan’s point of view, we don’t get to know the inner working of Kerrian’s mind and because of that I found him a little unsympathetic.  We all have people we love that we don’t want to lose but losing your soul for them.  Killing your uncle and friend.  No one would want that.  If he was able to keep his emotion’s in check all of this could have been avoided but then again we wouldn’t have a story.  Kenzie is my favorite.  She’s a normal human.  She’s not fairy or half fairy or related to.  She just happened to be with Ethan when he goes back and because she is curious and looks for adventure sticks around.  She is also sick so wants to live life to fullest.  That being said she is the smartest of them all.  She adapts quickly to the Nevernever.  She may not be a fighter but it’s often her quick thinking that saves them .  I would love a book just about her.

All and all this was a great series with a satisfying ending.  It’s not the usual fairy story and full of action and adventure.  If you like fairy books or fantasy, you can’t go wrong with the Iron Fey.

 

What I Can’t Wait to Read in 2016

It’s 2016!  Happy New Years!!  A new year means new books!  And we love new books even if they just add to our TBR pile.  So here a 10 books that I’m super excited to read in 2016!

  1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater- The final book in the Raven Cycle and I couldn’t be more excited and dreading at the same time.  It is well documented about how much I love the series and Maggie as an author.  I can’t wait to see what will happen to Blue and the Boys but at the same time not ready to say goodbye.
  2. The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan – The first book in Rick’s new series The Trials of Apollo is going to be good.  I just know it.  For one thing Percy is back!  That’s really all I need to know.  I also hope it means that Leo is also back and happy and in love with Calypso.  That would be the best.
  3. Untitled by Sarah J. Maas – So the next book in the Throne of Glass series doesn’t have a title but hasn’t dampened my excitement for it.  Aelin has all but declared her intentions and now heading for home.  The real fight for Erilea is abou to get real.
  4. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir –  An Ember in the Ashes was one of the books that I loved the most last year.  A mixture of historical fiction, dystopian and fantasy it was truly something refreshing.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.
  5. The Last Star by Rick Yancey – The final book in the 5th Wave series should be interesting.  The 5th Wave was full and real but the The Infinite Sea was a intriguing but not as entertaining.  Now that we know that who the aliens are and not things are really going to go down.  Not to mention the movie for the first book comes out soon and I’m quite interested to see how it transitions from page to screen.
  6. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard – The Red Queen was the other book by a new author in 2015 that I really loved.  The other was Ember in the Ashes.  It was quite a debut.  I can’t wait to see what Mare will do now.
  7. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – It’s been over a year since Cassandra’s last series ended. She has filled the void with her novella series Tales from Shadowhunter Academy it hasn’t been the same.  Now we are moving from New York City to LA with Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorne five years after the end of The Mortal Instruments so of course the world is once again in peril and it’s mostly the Clave’s fault.  I do hope it’s better then the last 3.
  8. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas – I’ll admit that I was only so so on the first book but I think this series has real potential and I’m willing to give it a go.
  9. The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan – Magnus and friends stopped Ragarnok from happening at least for now and now he’s going to have help from his cousin Annabeth.  (Annabeth is going to be very busy this year) We know from the last book that Thor lost his hammer and judging by the title that is going to be a major part of this book but he won’t be the only God as we also know that Loki has been pulling strings for a long time. Things should get interesting.
  10. The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon – Now I’m not sure if this book is really going to come out this year or not but according to Goodreads, it’s scheduled for 11/3 so *crosses fingers* Paige has taken over the syndicate only to be betrayed by her former boss.  It’s time to start a revolution against Scion but I have a feeling they won’t go down without a fight.

And so many more books I want to read and not to mention try to complete our reading challenges. It’s going to be a busy reading year.  How about you? What books are you looking forward to reading this year?