My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Tower of Dawn is a slow-burn side-novel following Chaol Westfall’s journey to Antica in order to rally an army for Aelin’s war, and for healing of his spinal injury.
(If you haven’t already, I recommend you read the prequel Assassin’s Blade series of novellas – before this book if you can.)
Let me just start us off with a confession: I have never been a huge fan of Chaol (the MC of this book) and his character in Tower of Dawn did nothing to change that.
I don’t know how or why it happened, but somewhere in the beginning (back in Throne of Glass), I started picturing Chaol as this… weathered, 40-year-old man with leathery, aged skin and a slight pot belly – which, try as I might, is an image I was never able to shake, despite the constant contradictions in-text. You can imagine the toll this might take on his romance building (vom!)
That alone set us off on the wrong foot; reading his character here just… well, I’m not a fan.
I did not adore this book the way I have all (except one) of S. J. Maas’ previous works. We started off with two characters I personally didn’t really much care about: Chaol and Nesryn, which were joined front-and-center by Yrene and, to a lesser degree, Sartaq. Yrene quickly became my favourite character in the book, and… well Sartaq felt kind of boring, imho.
I didn’t even realise I was bored, and not overly inclined to pick the book up every chance I got until we hit roughly the half-way point and we finally got a high-risk action scene. From there, I was keenly aware of my hunger for action and really struggled until… roughly the last 5-10. chapters, where it kind of felt like “oh no, we should probably make something actually happen in this book so the entire thing isn’t some whiney love-fest”.
Because that’s what it felt like to me. About 70% of this book is romance building, and 10% is a Chaol Pity Fest. I appreciate what S.J.M. was going for, I can see the story of healing for a broken soul, but… it wasn’t my kind of story, nor is he my kind of character.
The story did, however wrap up quite nicely, I definitely enjoyed the end, the plot twist – even if it felt a little too nicely wrapped up in the last two chapters, plus some pretty convenient coincidences. It thankfully left me hungry for the next book in the series, and I can’t wait to get back to Aelin and the rest of the cast.
Ultimately, this is an important book in the series to read – I wasn’t sure if it would be kind of like Assassin’s Blade, which isn’t really important for following the rest of the series, but fills in some nice details and background.