Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.
His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.
But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.
*Spoilers for the Throne of Glass series ahead*
As a fiercely open advocate for Rowan Whitethorn and Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, I have no issues admitting that I was never really a member of the Chaol Westfall fan club. Enter: Sarah J. Maas, who snaps OTPs in half like they’re KitKats. You never know who you’ll end up loving or hating at the end of one of her books, and with Tower of Dawn, the novella-turned-sixth installment of the wildly popular Throne of Glass saga, she might just have changed my mind. Again.
Tower of Dawn is Chaol’s story, following the former Captain of the Guard of Adarlan as he and Nesryn travel to Antica, the ancient capital city of the Southern Continent. The land is ruled over by the Great Khagan and his children, each of whom are vying to become his chosen heir. In order to have a hope in hell of beating Erawan, Aelin and Dorian need the arms, money and might of the Great Khagan and his empire. In order to seek aid for the coming war and potentially a cure for Chaol’s spinal injury, which has left him paralysed from the waist down, Chaol and Nesryn must play the cunning games of the royal court, dodging enemies at every turn.
I was curious about this book from the off, mainly because I wondered how on earth SJM had managed to write a 700 page book about Chaol. I was expecting a lot of whining and a lot of filler, but I was pleasantly surprised because there isn’t much of either. Instead, what I got was a tightly plotted story and intriguing new characters, many of whom I can’t wait to meet again in the next book.
The story flits between Chaol and Nesryn’s narration, and Maas has mastered the annoyingly addictive art of making each chapter more compelling than the last. When Nesryn’s story got juicy, the narration moved back to Chaol and vice versa, which made it a damn hard book to put down for any length of time. Devious.
As always, Maas’ world building is extraordinary in its detail, and I could almost smell the spices of the markets and feel the sunkissed breeze flowing through the open palace. ToG has been dominated by dingy taverns, unforgiving rugged landscapes and stormy oceans thus far, so it was dreamy to discover another side to Erilea. From the snowy mountain ridges home to the famed Ruk Riders, to the spiralling Torre Cesme where healers hone their gifts, I loved all of the sumptuous new locations.
People (myself included) might have scoffed at this seemingly unecessary novella, but there is lots to like here. New characters like Prince Sartaq are introduced, and familiar faces like respected healer Yrene (who will be familiar if you’ve read the ToG prequel novellas) return. I loved the new dynamics, although the sheer amount of new characters in this story made it a little difficult to keep track of at times. It’s also worth mentioning that this is probably the most inclusive of Maas’ books thus far, featuring a lesbian couple and new PoC characters, as well as the obvious disability rep. It’s great to see that she’s taking fan feedback about the lack of diversity of her books on board.
As someone who really couldn’t give two hoots about Chaol, I came out of this book feeling surprisingly affectionate towards him and eager to see how his journey would continue. His development in this book is incredibly well judged, and I felt like we were finally getting to know him in a way we never did in previous ToG books. His journey to come to terms with his disability is handled very frankly but sensitively and overall, is really moving.
Although this is predominantly Chaol’s story, there are numerous nuggets of information which have massive repercussions for the wider Throne of Glass plot. Although this book was sold as a novella, its actually a pretty important instalment in its own right; with Chaol’s story running parallel to Aelin and Co’s. If you’re a ToG fan, then I suggest you get your hands on this 699 page monster immediately.