Magic, painful truths and dangerous military escalations characterize this series continuation.
Celaena Sardothien’s in Wendlyn, ordered by the villainous king of Adarlan to assassinate Wendlyn’s royals, or he’ll execute her ex and the family of her dead best friend, Nehemia. Celaena—the presumed-dead rightful queen of the conquered Terrasen—plans on finding a way to destroy the king of Adarlan’s sources of power, in fulfillment of a vow made on Nehemia’s grave. Celaena seeks out the Fae Queen Maeve for information; cunning Maeve refuses until Celaena proves herself (with the help of a prickly, elite warrior Fae trainer) by embracing her hated demi-Fae heritage and magic. Celaena, grieving, goes through dark emotional times and must confront her scarred psyche in order to return to the unapologetically awesome heroine readers know and love. Meanwhile, there’s a lot going on: A witch deals with clan politics (Adarlan’s king makes them his wyvern-riding airborne cavalry), Chaol attempts to protect Dorian from his own magic, a healer falls for Dorian and more. The jumps from narrative to narrative initially detract from the story’s momentum, but multiple perspectives on Adarlan’s grotesque schemes and tactics eventually pay off. Despite the slow beginning, tension snowballs into devastating twists and an absolutely riveting ending. Maas’ usual hallmarks—an epic fantasy setting and the little-exploited truth that platonic relationships can be more intense and compelling than romantic—are present in force.
Will leave readers ravenous for more. (Fantasy. 14 & up)