Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas Book Review
Updated: Jan 25
Tower of Dawn
by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury
Book 6 in the Throne of Glass series
Chaol Westfall and Nesryn Faliq have arrived in the shining city of Antica to forge an alliance with the Khagan of the Southern Continent, whose vast armies are Erilea's last hope.
But they have also come to Antica for another purpose: to seek healing at the famed Torre Cesme for the wounds Chaol received in Rifthold.
After enduring unspeakable horrors as a child, Yrene Towers has no desire to help the young lord from Adarlan, let alone heal him. Yet she has sworn an oath to assist those in need—and will honor it. But Lord Westfall carries shadows from his own past, and Yrene soon comes to realize they could engulf them both.
In this sweeping parallel novel to the New York Times bestselling Empire of Storms, Chaol, Nesryn, and Yrene will have to draw on every scrap of their resilience if they wish to save their friends. But while they become entangled in the political webs of the khaganate, deep in the shadows of mighty mountains where warriors soar on legendary ruks, long-awaited answers slumber. Answers that might offer their world a chance at survival—or doom them all . . .
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Violent #Fantasy Thrilling
Steamy #NewAdult Emotional
Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas is the sixth book in her Throne of Glass series, and centers around three characters: Chaol Westfall, former Guard of the King, now Hand of King Dorian, Nesryn Faliq, former city guard in Rifthold, now Guard of King Dorian, and Yrene Towers, a gifted healer assumed to take over for the Healer on High at the famous Torre Cesme. While the events in Empire of Storms take place, we jump across the sea, to a new empire, where not only does Chaol seek healing from his paralysis from a very reluctant Yrene, but Nesryn and Chaol must immerse themselves into court politics, and try to convince that khaganate to fight with Aelin and Dorian. Add in the emotional turmoil from the trauma in the series to date, romantic entanglements, and new knowledge and answers that will help in the war, we get Tower of Dawn.
I was worried. Won't lie. To get the cliffhanger that we did in Empire of Storms, then to go back months in time, and write Chaol's, Nesryn's, and newcomer to the series, Yrene Towers' stories, parallel to Empire of Storms story was a risky move for Sarah J Maas, but an important one. I feel it worked out, honestly. I personally enjoy Chaol's character and his potential, and it didn't bother me to focus on his story for a bit. To focus on healing, and trying to find allies within the Khaganate, which is proving to be more than difficult. I was worried also because I never really felt a connection to Nesryn, and the idea of reading too much from her perspective filled me with boredom. Tower of Dawn's ultimate theme is healing, and turns out, Nesryn needed to heal herself, to feel freedom from a kingdom that hasn't treated her and her family kindly, to show us who she is as a person. Turns out, she is enjoyable once she finds that piece of herself. And I am always wary of newcomers, especially this far into the series. But it worked. While the story continued on another continent, the stories flowed well within one another (we get a perspective of the timeline with reports of Aelin and her doings come in). The Valg, the war, is still a heavy weight on our characters shoulders, even in what seems like a utopia, so while a large part of the book revolves around Chaol's healing, it all is connected, and the answers to long mysteries become startlingly clear. Tower of Dawn could have been boring. It could have been a filler to make the wait for the finale longer. It wasn't though.
It is essential to the series.
I know some people give Chaol's character flack, and that has always bothered me. No one is perfect. Chaol may have been guard to the King, but he wasn't doing it for the king, but for the future King, Dorian. While he knew of some of the horrible things his King did, he was left unaware of most of it. Chaol is a person of honor, and it's been obvious since the second book, that he has been deeply troubled. Broken. Felt his honor was ripped to shreds. Felt unworthy and worthless. In simple terms, Chaol has been depressed for a long time, and it was obvious from the time Celaena/Aelin tried to kill him in a fit of grief and despair. Add on top of that his injuries, being confined to a chair ... well, Chaol's journey is a dark one. This book very much goes into how mental health affects your physical health. Enter Yrene. A very gifted healer who suffers from her own trauma from the King. Very reluctant to heal Chaol, she goes through with it, as a final test from the Healer on High, and learns she herself, needs to heal from the trauma she endured. Spoiler ahead--------> I loved Yrene's and Chaol's arc, going from reluctant patient/healer, to friends, to lovers .... then married. Their chemistry was great, not forced, and I loved the journey they went on together. Not just the romance, but the healing within. I can't wait to see what the future holds for them. <--------.
Nesryn was a pleasant surprise to read, especially with her interactions with Prince Sartaq, who seems more at home with rukhin and the people who ride them, with his northern army, than he does at the palace with his blood family. Nesryn's personal journey in finding herself, embracing what makes her happy, flowed nicely with the story as a whole, so it didn't feel like we were stepping away from the focus, which is the war. --------> I also loved the romance between Nesryn and Sartaq. They seem like a perfect fit, especially after the forced chemistry between Nesryn and Chaol. Those two make better friends, and they knew it long before they found their true partners. The fact that Sartaq essentially proposes to Nesryn before they even kiss, says a lot about their love. Who knew that the strong and controlled city guard would become future empress? Seems fitting that two people who love their home so much would be chosen to lead the empire, and end the brutal traditions of rivalry between siblings. <-----------.
Tower of Dawn was a risky move for Sarah J Maas, to deviate so far from where she left Empire of Storms. This risky move worked out for her. We have answers to mysteries, more information to be decoded, and a massive army to aid in the war. And now that Chaol and Nesryn are coming home, with that army, and futures to look forward to, it brings a happy outlook to the next book, which I am sure will be treading in darker waters. With that, let's head to the final book shall we?
Where to Buy
Paperback (Amazon Canada)
Hardcover (Amazon Canada)
Throne of Glass Boxed Set (Chapters/Indigo)
"For wherever you need to go - and then some. The world needs more healers."
Yrene: "Are you capable of using your manhood?"
He tried not to flinch. Even Nesryn blinked at the frank questions.
he said tightly, fighting the heat rising in his cheeks.
She looked between them, assessing.
Yrene: "Have you used it to completion?"
He clenched his jaw
Chaol: "How is that relevant?"
And how had she gleaned what was between them?
Yrene only wrote something down.
Chaol: "What are you writing?"
Yrene: "I'm writing a giant no."
Which she then underlined.
Yrene: "Shall you remove your boots or shall I?"
Chaol: "I'll do it. Pants, too?"
Chaol knew he should be kind, should beseech her to help him, and yet -
Yrene: "After a drink or two, I think."
Then looked over her shoulder to a bemused Nesryn.
Chaol: "Why are you apologizing to her?"
Yrene: "I assume she has the misfortune of sharing your bed these days."
Chaol stared up at the arched, painted ceiling as Yrene poked and prodded his pectorals, the muscles of his abdomen, those along his ribs. She reached the vee of muscles leading beneath his pants, kept moving lower
Yrene shot him an incredulous look
Yrene: "Is there something you're particularly embarrassed for me to see?"
Oh, she certainly had some fight in her, this Yrene Towers from Fenharrow
Yrene: "What happened?"
Chaol: "We met someone. Who set us all down a path I fought against until is cost me and others much. Too much. So you may look at me with resentment, Yrene Towers, and I will not blame you for it. But believe me when I say there is no one in Erilea who loathes me more than I do myself."
Yrene: "For the path you found yourself forced down?"
Chaol: "For fighting that path to begin with - for the mistakes I made in doing so."
Hasar: "Ghastly beast."
Sartaq: "Hasar is still sore that Kadara tried to eat her when they first met."
Hasar rolled her eyes
Kashin: "You could hear her screeching from the harbor."
Nesryn: "The princess or the ruk?"
Sartaq laughed, a startled, bright sounds, his cool eyes lighting.
Kashin grinned at Nesryn
Yrene: "The girls are deeply shaken. There hasn't been an intruder in the Torre for a great while. I think it would go a long way if you were to join me tomorrow - to teach what you know."
For a long moment, he stared at her. Blinked.
Chaol: "You realize I'm in this chair."
Yrene: "And? Your mouth still works."
He blinked again.
Chaol: "They may not find me the most reassuring instructor -"
Yrene: "No, they'll likely be swooning and sighing over you so much they'll forget to be afraid."
Yrene: "I once lived in fear of other people. I let other people walk all over me just because I was too afraid of the consequences for refusing. I did not know how to refuse. The day I reached these shores, I cast aside that girl. And I will be damned if I let her reemerge. Or let someone tell me what to do with my life, my choices again."
Nesryn: "She and Dorian both possess considerable magic. But I would say it is their intelligence that is the stronger weapon. Brute power is useless without it."
Sartaq: "It's dangerous without it."
Sartaq: "There is beauty in my father's lands, but there is much lurking beneath the surface, too."
Chaol: "So, that's the line. You can stomach helping me, but I can't return the favor. Or can't do anything that steps beyond your idea of what - who I am."
Aelin would likely have laughed to see him now. The man who had stumbled out of her room after she'd declared that her cycle had arrived. Now sitting in this fine room, mostly naked and not giving a shit about it.
Yrene: "You're as stubborn as an ass."
Chaol: "I've been called worst."
There had been a moment, when he had hurled his sword into the Avery. When he had been unable to bear it's weight at his side, in his hand, and had chucked it and everything the Captain of the Guard had been, had meant, into the dark, eddying waters.
He'd been sinking and drowning since. Long before his spine.
He wasn't even certain if he'd even tried to swim. Not since that sword had gone into the river.
Yrene: "The Torre is a place of learning and people with your injury do not come often - not when we usually have to go to them. I was showing the acolytes things that might help with untold numbers of patients in the future."
Chaol: "Yes, your prized, shattered horse. Look how well broken I am to you. How docile."
Yrene: "I did not mean that, and you know it."
He ripped off his shirt, nearly tearing it at the seam as he hauled it over his head.
Chaol: "Was it some sort of punishment? For serving the king? For being from Adarlan?"
Yrene: "No. It was precisely what I just said: I wanted to show them."
Chaol: "I didn't want you to show them."
Chaol: "I didn't want you to parade me around. To let them handle me. Do you have any idea what it is like? To go from that -"
He waved a hand toward her, her body, her legs, her spine -
Chaol: " - to this?"
Yrene had the sense of the ground sliding from beneath her.
Yrene: "I know it is hard -"
Chaol: "It is. But you made it harder today. You make me sit here mostly naked in this room, and yet I have never felt more bare than I did this morning."
Yrene: "I - I'm sorry."
His throat bobbed
Chaol: "Everything I thought, everything I had planned and wanted ... it's gone. All I have left if my king, and this ridiculous, slim scrap of hope that we survive this war and I can find a way to make something of it."
Yrene: "Of what?"
Chaol: "Of everything that crumbled in my hands. Everything."
Chaol: "She wakes."
Yrene: "You rode here?"
Chaol: "All by myself."
She only arched a brow at the white mare beside his
Yrene: "And you brought the other horse?"
Chaol: "A gentleman through and through."
Yrene: "Don't mistake my kindness for stupidity. If you have had any progress, or regressions, I will find them out."
Chaol: "If this is your kindness, then I'd hate to see your bad side."
Chaol: "I hadn't realized that I was a firm no."
She glared at him, hauling herself onto her mare.
Yrene: "I don't share a bed with patients. And you're with Captain Faliq. And you're-"
Chaol: "Not in fit form to pleasure a woman?"
Yrene: "No. Certainly not that. But you're ... you."
Chaol: "I'm trying not to be insulted."
Yrene: "She will make life very difficult if I do not appear to get you to warm to me."
Chaol: "I would think you'd already done that, Yrene Towers."
Sartaq: "Kadara is my family. The rukhin, they are my family. My bloodline, though ... It's hard to love one another, when we will one day contend with each other. Love cannot exist without trust. I trust Kadara with my life. I would die for her, and she for me. Can I say the same of my siblings? My own parents?"
Nesryn: "It's a shame."
Sartaq: "At least I have her. And my riders. Pity my siblings, who have none of those blessings."
Sartaq: I was praying to the Eternal Sky and all thirty-sex gods that you'd say yes."
She smiled, even if he couldn't see it
Nesryn: "So was I."
Yrene: "We'd better be quick. I'm sure the volume I need for your chronic toe fungus is down here somewhere, and I'm growing hungry."
Chaol gave her an incredulous look. She offered him an apologetic wince in return.
But laughter danced in his eyes as he began pulling books into his lap.
Chaol: "Don't you waste one heartbeat being afraid of a coward who hunts women in the darkness."
The thing on the other side of the door growled. The doorknob rattled.
Chaol only held her stare
Chaol: "your fear grants it power over you."
He approached her, lowering his dagger and sword into his lap. Yrene flinched, about to warn him not to lower his weapons. But Chaol stopped before her. Too her face in his hands, his back wholly to the door now. Even though she knew he monitored every sound and movement behind it.
Chaol: "I am not afraid. And neither should you ne."
The thing snapped on the other side of the door, slamming into it.
She cringed away, but Chaol held her face tightly. Did not break her gaze.
Chaol: "We will face this. Together."
Yrene: "I'm sorry Nesryn left."
Chaol: "I promised her an adventure. She deserved to go on one."
Yrene: "What about you? What do you deserve?"
Chaol: "Nothing. I deserve nothing."
Yrene studied him
Yrene: "I don't agree at all."
Nesryn: "But how could they have known I was coming?"
His answering grin was the portrait or princely arrogance
Sartaq: "Because I sent word a day before before that you were likely to join me."
Nesryn gaped at him, unable to maintain that mask of calm.
Sartaq: "I told you that I was praying you'd join me, Nesryn Faliq. If I'd shown up empty-handed, Borte would have never let me hear the end of it."
Borte: "She'll be tired. Don't pester her too much."
Sartaq: "You think I want to get smacked with a spoon again?"
Sartaq: "You're a good teacher."
Nesryn: "Thank you."
Sartaq: "And I'm relieved to see that the reality lives up to the legend."
Nesryn: "You had doubts?"
Sartaq: "The reports left out some key information. It made me doubt their accuracy."
It was the sly gleam in his eye that made Nesryn angle her head.
Nesryn: "What, exactly did they fail to mention?"
Sartaq: "They didn't mention that you're beautiful."
Chaol: "Do you keep records? Of all this?"
He gestured between them
Yrene's face heated
Yrene: "Parts of it. Not when you're acting like a stubborn ass."
Yrene: "To living, Lord Chaol."
Chaol: "To being Chaol and Yrene - even just for a night."
he realized he'd been staring.
Chaol: "Thank you for tonight."
Chaol said stifling what tried to leap off his tongue: I can't take my eyes off you.
Arghun: "If she is not a fool, then her advisors are."
Chaol: "They are well-trained warriors, who have seen more war and battle than you ever will."
Chaol: "Lock-picking isn't a skill I'd expect a prince to possess."
Kashin: "Learned more for sneaking in and out of ladies' bedrooms than stealing, I'm afraid."
Chaol: "I thought your court was a bit more open in regard to that sort of thing than my own."
Kashin: "Perhaps, but cranky old husbands remain the same on either continent."
Chaol: "Do you wish to join this war?"
Kashin: "This will be the great war of our time. When we are dead, when even our grandchildren's grandchildren are dead, they will still be talking about this war. They will whisper of it around fires, sing of it in the great halls. Who lived and died, who fought and who cowered. My sulde blows northward - day and night, the horsehairs blow north. So perhaps I will find my destiny on the plains of Fenharrow. Or before the white walls of Orynth. But it is northward that I shall go - if my father will order me."
Chaol: "I want to be able to fight alongside my men again. To die beside them."
Yrene: "You can do that from a horse."
Chaol: "I want to do it shoulder-to-shoulder. I want to fight in the mud, on a killing field."
Yrene: "So you'd heal here only so you can go die somewhere else?"
Yrene: "Then get up. Get up."
Yrene: "Get. Up. You want to die in this war so badly, then get up."
Chaol: "Why did you look so relieved when I said Nesryn would be delayed a few more weeks?"
Yrene: "I didn't want it to distract you from our progress."
But she was heading for the door. And if she left ...
He had let them all go. Had walked out himself, too, but with Aelin, with Dorian, with Nesryn, he had let them go, and he had no gone after them.
But that woman backing toward the door, trying to keep the tears from falling - tears from the hurt he'd caused her, tears of the anger he so rightfully deserved -
She reached the handle. Fumbled blindly for it.
And if she left, if he let her walk out ...
Yrene pushed down on the handle.
And Chaol took a step toward her.
Yrene: "What do we do now?"
Chaol: "We don't look back. We can only go on."
Yrene: "It's my birthday in three days."
Chaol: "Your birthday?"
Yrene: "You know, the celebration of the day of your birth -"
Chaol: "I had no idea she-devils actually had them."
She stuck out her tongue
Yrene: "Yes, even my kind has them."
Chaol: "I'll race you."
Yrene's eyes sparkled.
Yrene: "The prize?"
Chaol: "A kiss. When and where of my choosing."
Yrene: "What do you mean where."
Chaol only grinned.
Chaol: "As interesting as it would be to see Aelin Galathynius deal with all of you ... Marriage is not an option for her."
Hasar's brows lifted.
Hasar: "To a man?"
Renia gave her a sharp look that Hasar ignored
Chaol: "To anyone. Beyond her beloved."
Arghun: "King Dorian. I'm surprised she can stomach him."
Chaol stiffened, but shook his head.
Chaol: "No. Another prince - foreign-born and powerful."
All the royals stilled. Even Kashin looked their way.
Hasar: "Who, pray tell, is that?"
Chaol: "Prince Rowan Whitethorn, of Doranelle. Former commander to Queen Maeve, and a member of her royal household."
Yrene could have sworn the blood drained wholly from Arghun's face.
Arghun: "Aelin Galathynius is to wed Rowan Whitethorn?"
Chaol: "They are carrnam, and he swore the blood oath to her."
Arghun: "He swore that oath to Maeve."
Chaol: "He did. And Aelin got Maeve to free him from it so he could swear it to her. Right in Maeve's face."
Arghun and Hasar swapped glances
Chaol: "Through the same way Aelin achieves all her ends. She encircled Maeve's city in fire. And when Maeve told her that Doranelle was made of stone, Aelin simply replied that her people were not."
Chaol: "Good luck to anyone who tries to go after Rowan Whitethorn."
Hasar: "Because Aelin will burn them to ask?"
Kashin: "Because Rowan Whitethorn will always be the person who walks away from that encounter. Not the assailant."
Yrene: "How can you be so amused?"
Chaol: "Oh, I'm not."
His lips indeed curved.
Chaol: "But it's certainly entertaining to see that temper of yours turned on someone other than me."
Yrene: "I don't have a temper."
Chaol: "I have known a fair number of people with tempers, and yours, Yrene Towers, ranks among the finest of them."
Chaol: "We made our peace, before we parted ways months ago. And they left together. As it should be. They are ... If you ever meet them, you'll get it. Like Hasar, she isn't an easy person to be with, to understand. Aelin frightens everyone."
Chaol: "But not him. I think that's why she fell in love with him, against her best intentions. Rowan beheld all Aelin was and is, and he was not afraid."
Yrene: "Mountains. And seas."
Chaol: "So you never forget that you climbed them and crossed them. That you - only you - got yourself here."
Chaol: "It's nothing as fine as a party in the desert -"
Yrene: "No one has given me a gift since I was eleven. A birthday gift, I mean. I ... Thank you."
He shrugged, unable to come up with a response.
Yrene walked over, and he braced himself, readied himself, as her handed cupped his face. As she stared into his eyes.
Yrene: "I am glad, that you do not love that queen. Or Nesryn."
Yrene rose onto her toes and pressed a kiss, light as a caress, to his mouth. Never breaking his stare.
He read the unspoken words there. He wondered if she read the ones not voiced by him, either.
Yrene: "I will cherish it always. No matter what may befall the world."
Another featherlight kiss
Yrene: "No matter oceans, or mountains, or forests in the way."
Chaol: "I am glad that I do not love them, either, Yrene Towers."
Then he removed that dress of hers, leaving it in scraps on the floor beside the bed.
Until Yrene only wore that locket. Until Chaol surveyed every inch of her and found himself unable to breathe.
Chaol: "I will cherish it always."
Chaol whispered as he slid into her, slow and deep. Pleasure rippled down his spine.
Chaol: "No matter what may befall the world."
Yrene kissed his neck, his shoulder, his jaw.
Chaol: "No matter the oceans, or mountains, or forests in the way."
Chaol held Yrene's stare as he still, letting her adjust. Letting himself adjust to the sensation that the entire axis of the world had shifted. Looking into those eyes of hers, swimming with brightness, he wondered if she felt it, too.
But Yrene kissed him again, in answer and silent demand. And as Chaol began to move in her, he realized that here, amongst the dunes and stars ... Here, in the heart of a foreign land ... Here, with her, he was home.
Sartaq: "I heard the spies' stories of you. The fearless Balruhni woman in Adarlan's empire. Neith's Arrow. And I knew ..."
Nesryn sobbed, tugging and tugging.
Sartaq smiled at her - gently. Sweetly. In a way she had not yet seen.
Sartaq: "I loved you before I ever set eyes on you."
Sartaq's hand tightened on hers.
Sartaq: "I wish we'd had time."
Yrene: "Do not think about attempting to lift me off this horse, or carry me, or anything."
He gave her a wry look, but obeyed
She turned a beautiful shade of scarlet as she slid off the mare, passing the reins to the waiting stable hand.
Yrene: "Yes, anything. It's likely because of anything that you're limping worse than before."
Chaol winked at her.
Chaol: "Then you'd better heal me, Yrene Towers, because I plan to do a great deal of anything with you tonight."
Yrene: "I'm going in, and I'm ending this. Today. Right now."
Chaol: "And what if I can't?" Face it, endure it?
Yrene: "That's not my question to answer."
Yrene: "The darkness belongs to you. To shape as you will. To give it power or render it harmless."
Chaol: "Was it ever the Valg's to being with?"
Yrene: "Yes. But it is yours to keep now. This place, this final kernel of it."
Chaol: "Will it grow again?"
Yrene: "Only if you let it. Only if you do not fill it with better things. Only if you love yourself ... If you love yourself as much as I love you."
Chaol: "Will it hurt? The way back - the way out?"
The path back to life, to himself
Yrene: "Yes. But just this one last time. The darkness does not want to lose you."
Chaol: "I'm afraid I can't say the same."
Chaol: "You said something - down in that pit."
Chaol: "You said that you love me."
Yrene: "Don't feel obligated to -"
Chaol: "Is it true?"
The corners of his mouth tugged upward.
Chaol: "Then it is a good thing, Yrene Towers, that I love you as well."
Chaol: "The choice is yours, Yrene. When you leave. How you leave. If you truly want to leave at all. But if you'll have me ... there will be a place for you on my ship. At my side."
She let out a dainty hum and traced a circle around his nipple
Yrene: "What sort of place?
Chaol stretched out like a cat, tucking his arms behind his head
Chaol: "The usual options: scullery main, cook, dishwasher -"
She poked his ribs and he laughed. But his brown eyes softened as he cupped her face.
Chaol: "What place would you like, Yrene?"
Yrene: "Whichever one gives me the right to yell at you if you push yourself too hard."
A corner of Chaol's mouth kicked up, and he hauled her over him.
Chaol: "I think I know of just the position."
Sartaq: "You saved me."
Nesryn: "It seemed a sorry end for the tales of the Winged Prince."
Falkan: "Everything hurts. Remind me never to do anything heroic again."
Chaol: "It is no burden, Yrene. To be given this. It is no burden at all."
Yrene: "But I -"
Chaol: "Using the chair is not a punishment. It is not a prison. It never was. And I am as much of a man in that chair, or with that cane, as I am standing on my feet."
He brushed away the tear that slipped down her cheek
Yrene: "I wanted to heal you."
Chaol: "You did. Yrene, in every way that truly matters ... You did."
Whether he stood or limped or sat ... it did not change him. Who he was. She had fallen in love with him well before he'd ever stood. She would love him no matter how he moved through the world.