After the death of her best friend, Celaena fell apart. She knows what Nehemia would want her to do, but Celaena is finding it difficult to care about much of anything. To have a chance at stopping the king, Celaena must see Maeve, a fae queen and her aunt. But Maeve is dangerous, and Celaena needs much better control of her powers before Maeve will even consider helping her. Back in Adarlan, Chaol is working to help in the fight against the king. Meanwhile, the king is forging an alliance with the Ironteeth witches in secret.
My three favorite characters of the series were all introduced in this book. Their presence is why I enjoyed this book as much as I did. When they weren't present, I found my interest waning several times. I was frustrated with Chaol and Dorian and how their lack of communication was causing such a rift between them. Celaena's depression should have held my interest because I tend to love characters who have their souls crushed, but struggle on anyways. And yet, her chapters dragged for me. It was when she was around Rowan, the nephew of Maeve who is training Celaena, that her chapters picked up the pace.
My favorite chapters were Manon's, an Ironteeth witch. The Ironteeth witches are raised to be ruthless and believe themselves incapable of love. They want to kill all the other witches and take back their homeland, which is why they've allied themselves with the king. They get wyverns from the king to ride into battle, as long as they do battle for the king first. There is a lot of worldbuilding with the Ironteeth covens and their culture in Manon's chapters, and it was beautiful. Manon and her fellow coven members are killers and proud of it. They're dark and vicious, yet fiercely protective of one another as well. Manon's journey is the one I'm looking forward to seeing the most.
Chaol's chapters improved for me with the presence of Aedion, the cousin and childhood friend of Aelin (Celaena's true identity). Unlike many of the main characters, Aedion has been working for years against the king in secret. He's actually been doing stuff to combat the problem instead of being blissfully unaware or ignoring it.
I am hoping the later books get Celaena interacting with more female characters, although I'm not holding my breath on that. The only named female she interacted with was Maeve for two short scenes. Manon's chapters were filled with women, which I loved, but Chaol and Dorian's chapters only had Sorscha(show spoiler)
It was basically the introduction of Manon, Rowan, and Aedion that made this book as enjoyable as it was for me, with Manon's chapters being the best of the book. I don't dislike the characters I liked in the first two books. They just weren't as engaging of characters this time around. I'm hoping that changes with the next book.