Tower of Dawn
After the explosive events of Queen of Shadows, Chaol has traveled to the southern continent to find two things: a cure for paralysis and an army. While Aelin and the rest of the beloved team untangle things in Erilea (Empire of Storms), Chaol and Nesryn do what they can to convince the capricious children of the southern ruler to fight in their northern war.
We arrive in the god-city of Antica where its peaceful and prosperous denizens are looked after by thirty-six gods, gathered from all the far flung reaches of the southern continent to live under one happy roof at the grace of the Kaghan. Healing is the name of the game in Antica primarily because of an enormous tower called the Torre Cesme where the best healers outside of the Fae-run Doranelle can be found training and practicing their unparalleled magic and medicine. Naturally, this is where Chaol will go and Nesryn, whose family conveniently hails from the southern continent and is currently enmeshed with Chaol, accompanies him.
Of course, immediately upon arrival, Chaol and Nesryn surge headlong into all sorts of trouble whether it be about their relationship with each other or their new relationships with a traumatized healer, a petulant admiral, and a winged prince, or the inevitable encounter with the nettlesome Valg. The most salient battle of this book, however, is the one inside Chaol. The Boy Scout of Erilea has been plunged into a universe that is far more gray than black or white and Tower of Dawn outlines how his choices have shaken out in a world that does not care about his moral code.
It was a risk for Maas to write five novels in a series and then suddenly take us out of that milieu and plunk us into a new, pseudo-middle eastern, more exploratory than action-filled sixth novel. It took a few chapters before I could get over that I was taken back into time and would not know what happened up north for a significant period (Autumn 2018 as the wind tells it). Despite this significant gamble, at the end I found I enjoyed it. The exploration was worth it for the sake of world building and the character development of who will undoubtedly be some of the key players in the seventh and final novel. Maas has changed a great deal since she began writing Throne of Glass and it shows in different ways in each book, and I believe Tower of Dawn is representative of her journey into writing more thoughtful, less aggressive prose (although there are still some sex scenes worthy of a Fabio cover, don’t worry).
In the end, this was a solid installment to the Throne of Glass series despite it missing nearly all the heretofore main characters of the series. I am looking forward to what I expect to be a truly spectacular concluding novel next fall.