Tower of Dawn is the sixth book in Sarah J Maas’s young adult fantasy series Throne of Glass. Originally intended to be a companion novella to the series, this book follows former Captain of Adarlan’s Guard, now Hand to the King, Chaol Westfall, as he and the new Captain of the Guard, Nesryn Faliq, journey to the Southern Continent in the hopes of gaining the alliance of the Southern Continent – and of healing Chaol’s injury to his spine.
I found this book to be enjoyable, and as with all Sarah J Maas books, I couldn’t put it down and sped through it. Her books are such easy, fun reads!
Having said that, it wasn’t my favourite.
As usual, the romantic subplots abound, and as usual, I both loved it and hated it at the same time. On one hand, Maas does write some great, satisfying chemistry, so the romances are fun to read and easy to root for. On the other hand, it is weirdly convenient how almost every single character gets neatly paired up, and everybody’s falling madly in love and having happily-ever-afters with the most attractive people on the planet all at the same time, and I just find it vaguely unrealistic. Of course, it’s not a crime for fiction to not mirror reality, but it does annoy me a bit.
My other main complaints concern the storyline. The first half of the book was a little slow, and with so many new characters being introduced in a short space of time, it got a little confusing. As for the second half, I personally felt that the climax wasn’t very hard-hitting. It felt like the characters were putting in far more effort than they could possibly have put in; the battle pushed them so hard and so far beyond their limits that I simply couldn’t believe that they even managed to keep struggling on at all. The result was that I just found it a little unrealistic (even for a fantasy book involving magic) and unbelievable.
On the other hand, the climax did include a plot twist I didn’t see coming, and the story included plenty of interesting additions to the overarching plot of the Throne of Glass series. So if you’re invested in the series, this book is as much of a must-read as those that follow Aelin.
I also really enjoyed the reintroduction of Yrene Towers, a character from The Assassin’s Blade, the book of Throne Of Glass prequel novellas. It was fun to see what had happened to her since meeting Celaena in the novella, how her character had developed, and whether she would have a future in the series.
The worldbuilding in this book was also good. As mentioned earlier, this book takes place on a different continent to the previous Throne of Glass books, so the people, culture, and geography are all different. It was really cool to be introduced to this new setting and culture within the Throne of Glass world. I’d actually say it seems like more effort went into building this part of the world than the part of the world where the majority of the series takes place. And it shows: it was really interesting to learn about the people and the ways of Southern Continent, while most of the worldbuilding in the previous books has been very much in the background and implied to be a relatively generic western fantasy world.
The final aspect of the book I’d like to discuss is the plot following the healing of Chaol’s spinal injury. This had the potential to either be great disability representation, or to be horribly ableist. It seemed to me that there were some good aspects and some not so good aspects. For example, (mild spoiler here) at the beginning of the book Chaol is very negative about his disability, thinking that it makes him “lesser”, and this implication of worth would obviously be offensive for someone with a disability, but later in the book, the message becomes a positive one of self-acceptance.
Then there’s the magical cure trope, in which magic is used to “cure” a disability. This implies that disabilities are wrong and abnormal, which they are not, and that they should be cured, which they cannot be, and so perpetuates a negative, harmful mindset towards disability. This is too complex an issue to discuss with regard to Tower Of Dawn in this review, and would include spoilers, so I won’t comment any further, especially considering that I am able-bodied and therefore not in any position to judge this.
You can read other reviews which discuss the topic of disability representation in Tower of Dawn a little more here, here, here, here, and here. I have tried to find reviews with a variety of views, and some written by people with disabilities. The general consensus of reviewers with disabilities seems to be that the topic was mostly treated well, however I couldn’t find a verdict on the magical cure trope. These reviews also bring up some other issues which I haven’t discussed here, such as sexuality and race representation, and cultural appropriation, so I recommend reading them.
So, should you read this book?
Overall, I have mixed feelings about Tower Of Dawn. On one hand, it was, for the most part, a fun read, and I enjoyed the romances, but on the other hand, it was slow, and there were plot problems, and as I said in my review of A Court of Wings And Ruin, I am not the biggest fan of Maas’s writing style. And that’s all assuming that we ignore any representation issues.
So while I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it, I wouldn’t go out of my way to tell people not to read it. If you’re planning on continuing with the Throne Of Glass series, then you should definitely read it. Otherwise, I’m sure you can make up your own mind.