Review: Tower of Dawn
Initially, I was worried that this would be the first SJM book to not receive a five star rating from me, but as I sank deeper into the story it quickly became apparent that this book was, like the others before it, packed with such an emotional punch that you root for these characters with a kind of ferocity reserved for your own real life friends and family.
The book started a little slow for me, mostly because I was wary of jumping into a Chaol-centric narrative. For a dude who hates talking about his feelings he has a lot of them, many of which he uses to lash out. However, Maas shows us that the truest hearts deserve redemption, and serves readers a great reminder that just because there are hard days, and days where you make mistakes, doesn't mean that you can't also be a loyal, kind, and fierce protector.
I loved getting more or Yrene's story. Irene and Nesaryn have officially joined my growing list of badass heroines to which I can look to and shout "Yas, Queen!" whenever I need a mystical shade of feminism. SJM delivers when it comes multifaceted heroines! I liked the way SJM explored identity with these two characters, how lineage and where we live can be two separate and equally important aspects of who we are. Home can be a mercurial concept, and I loved the way these women got to explore and chose what that meant for them specifically.
Every reader brings their own heart to the experience of a reading a book. I hope that for example, that the revelations Chaol had about his body and his need for items to assist him was encouraging for readers who deal with unpacking how they think of themselves and their own body, especially when needing physical aides. That’s not part of my personal experience, but questions of identity is, which is why I would be extra interested in Nesaryn and Yrene’s story arc, as well as how many of the other characters form who they are from a myriad of backgrounds and families, all within one person.
I’ve spent some time in the past year or so contemplating what makes up my identity- how much of circumstance dictates who I am, and how much is choice. I happened to be born in New York State, but it’s a place I’ve chosen to live in because of how I love the seasons and the variety of the landscape from one corner of the state to another. I’ve lived in the United States my entire life, as did my parents, and terrible political climate aside, I’m proud to be of a country that wrote freedom speech into the tapestry of our lives. But when I hear a Scottish lilt I’m reminded of my Grandmother, and when I see pictures of girls in Latvia, half a world away, who look so similar to me, I am astounded by the way genetics work, and I wonder if because my father was not raised Jewish, and because our ancestors fled persecution, what kind of ownership I’m allowed to feel for those who are still persecuted today. I still don't have a lot of easy answers about what I can or should claim as what makes me, me.
For many people identity, especially when it comes to nationality or politics seems so cut and dried, but for others, it’s a more complicated thing. Or rather, we’re made to feel as though it’s complicated if you dare to allow compassion, love, and acceptance for too many things. I appreciate fiction that finds subtle ways to navigate the questions of who and what make us who we are.
What else can I say without risking too many more spoilers? Awesome settings (as always) incredible clothing and food descriptions, some wonderfully written moments of a spectrum of intimacy, and hope- that thing that we need more of in the fictional world and the one we live in every day.