Having cast off her Celaena identity, Aelin returns to Adarlan to reclaim her crown.
Leaving Rowan behind after Heir of Fire (2014), Aelin arrives determined to stop the king’s deadly demons, the Valg. She seeks out her former master from her assassin days, the charismatic and devious Arobynn, and also finds Chaol, but there’s no happy reunion between the two. (Chaol fans shouldn’t worry—while he and Aelin may not see eye to eye, he has prominent storylines and character growth.) Aelin’s most pressing priority is the rescue of her cousin Aedion, slated for execution at Prince Dorian’s birthday as an obvious trap for her. As for Dorian, he’s imprisoned in his own body by the Valg controlling him—Chaol holds hope that he can be saved; Aelin knows how unlikely that is. Meanwhile, Wing Leader Manon, head of Adarlan’s wyvern-riding witch army, finds growing dissent at the commands she is given, leading to tough choices. At times believability is stretched (fugitives travel around the city freely, one or two heroes defeat large groups of enemies), but character motivations and interactions—friendships, romances, and others—are always nuanced and on point, especially as Aelin’s growing maturity offers her new perspectives on old acquaintances. The ending leaves readers poised for the next installment.
Impossible to put down. (Fantasy. 14 & up)