Heir of Fire Chapter Summary
Chapter by chapter summary (and commentary) for Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas, written as I read along with my amazing book club!
Chapter by chapter summary (and commentary) for Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas, written as I read along with my amazing book club!
At the start of this book, Celaena/Aelin is in Wendlyn, having a pity party, living on the roofs and streets of the capitol. Basically just spending all her days drunk and worthless. The first step in her new plan was to seek out Queen Maeve of the Fae and get information on the wyrdkeys before returning to Rifthold to fight the king. But the more time she spent abroad, the less and less she cared about, and she slowly slipped into despondency. The onset of her apathy was witnessing Galan Ashryver en route to his mission of blockade running against Adarlan, the people cheering for him in the streets. Somehow seeing those people cheering him on makes her feel like her plans were so ineffectual, and her leadership pitiful in comparison to the likes of Nehemia and Galan.
Out of the shadows of an alley, a fae male emerges, mocking Celaena. Celaena is afraid of the fae, and realizes that the male is there to bring her to meet Maeve. Despite having abandoned her plan, it seems forces beyond her were ensuring she meets with the Queen of the Fae. So she goes along with him willingly, pretending not to be as intimidated by him as all the bystanders clearly were. Finally when the arrive back where he left his horses, she wheedles a name from him - Rowan (swoon).
Back in Rifthold, Chaol is dwelling on Celaena's true identity and basically being all up in his head about the bad people she had killed and projecting it onto Dorian. Because he's an idiot. Chaol is also still keeping Celaena's true identity from Dorian, and Dorian still doesn't forgive Chaol for getting Celaena out of Adarlan.
Aedion Ashryver, cousin to Aelin and general to the King of Adarlan, arrives at court. Chaol is taken aback to notice the physical similarities between Aedion and Aelin - the same turquoise eyes, coloring, hair. When the King orders Aedion to attend the counsel meeting, Chaol sees that he is wearing a black ring, the same as the King's and Perrington. Aedion sits with Dorian and Chaol for their meal, and Dorian is staring at Aedion's face, so similar to Celaena's. We also learn that Aedion bears the sword of Orynth, the symbol of the court of Terrasen. Aedion also teases the guys about their competing interest in the King's Champion. While Aedion needles them, Dorian is starting react with magic, and Chaol makes excuses to get them out of the hall.
Now we meet Manon Blackbeak of the Ironteeth witches. Her duty is to hunt down Crochan witches and kill them, and she wears the red cloak of her first victim to mark her as the mist vicious of the Ironteeth witches to her foes.
Rowan and Celaena are making their way to Doranelle in complete and utter silence. When they make camp, the little folk come and watch Celaena.
Dorian is summoned to the King's chambers and ordered to entertain Aedion while he is in Rifthold. Aedion requests a turn through the gardens where Aedion oogles the ladies there and trips Dorian and forces him into a thorny bush. Dorian goes to the healer's catacombs to have his bleeding hand checked out. The healer who attends to him, Sorscha, was the same one who helped Celaena, Fleetfoot, Chaol, and Dorian that fateful night that Celaena opened the portal. Sorscha had been observing the drama between Dorian, Chaol, and Celaena basically since the champion came to the castle, and she has been admiring Dorian from afar for just about as long.
Celaena and Rowan continue to make their way to Doranelle. As they pass through various cities, it seems the citizens are frightened of Rowan. Celaena just keeps ignoring Rowan and they continue to travel in silence for days. Finally they are traveling through forests and up mountains when they come upon a fortress with magical wards, where everyone seems to recognize Rowan. When Rowan takes her inside to an office, she finds Maeve, her several-times great Aunt who greets her by her true name.
In response, Celaena tells Maeve that Aelin Galathynius is dead, but Maeve rebuffs her. To say that Celaena was mildly intimidated is a bit of an understatement. Maeve says she had been waiting to meet Aelin for many years, after her mother failed to bring her daughter to meet the Fae Queen after her birth. Maeve asks her about her history as an assassin (to which Rowan scoffs) and asks about her magical abilities as well. Celaena responds that she hasn't had access to those powers since she grew up in Adarlan. Maeve asks her to demonstrate and attacks her by clawing into her mind. Celaena fends her off, and Maeve taunts her about how her mother tried to keep her away from the Queen, and how she tried to stifle Aelin's abilities. Finally, Maeve tells her that she knows the knowledge that Celaena seeks, but she must first earn the answers to her questions about the wyrdkeys. Maeve tells her she must stay at the fortress, called Mistward, training with Rowan until her gifts are deemed sufficient to enter Doranelle. She asks why Maeve wants her to develop her gifts, and she responds that she wants Aelin to become Queen.
Leaving the office, Rowan took her to a room where she will stay at Mistward, all the way down in the freaking dungeons apparently. Celaena needles Rowan about his babysitter duty, but it turns out he can jab as well as she can. Eventually, he literally hits her, although he stops himself from hitting her a second time. He invites her to take her best shot, and she completely misses and he knocks her back into a wall. When she tries again, he sends her sprawling on the floor, telling her she has a lot left to learn. When they reach her tiny, cold room, he takes her weapons from her and tells her she'll have KP at dawn the next day.
Manon has met up again with the Blackbeak clan, including their leader, her grandmother. Her grandmother is meeting with Duke Perrington, while the Thirteen, Manon's coven, protects the matriarch. As the witches depart, Mother Blackbeak tells Manon that they are traveling north to the Ferian Gap, and all the Ironteeth clans are to gather there.
Mother Blackbeak also reveals that Baba Yellowlegs is dead, killed in Rifthold, and that the King of Adarlan is the one who is inviting them to assemble in the Ferian Gap. The King has made the Ironteeth an offer to be his aerial cavalry as riders of the wyverns he has been breeding there. As the witches haven't been able to fly since magic disappeared, it's a very attractive offer to give the witches flight again.
Chaol is making rounds when he finds that there are two missing guards outside the Great Hall, having been invited to attend Aedion's party in the city. Chaol decides he needs to go hunt down the two derelict guards at the tavern where the party was hosted. Once he found the guards and sent them back, he tried to track down Aedion. But the general wasn't anywhere that anyone had seen him, and Chaol traced him around the party fruitlessly. By the end of the night, he decided he needed to go to the next of Aedion's parties to catch him and convince him to tone down the debauchery.
When Celaena awakens, she finds Rowan has left her a tin of salve, bath water, and clean clothes. In the kitchen, Rowan lets her introduce herself as she wishes, so she uses the name Nehemia gave her, Elentiya. We also meet Emrys and Luca who work in the kitchens. After the madness of breakfast service, she inhales a delicious breakfast herself and begins to get comfortable chatting with her workmates. After learning about their pasts and experience at Mistward, she asks about Rowan. Luca, who is very forthcoming on almost every topic, opines on what an asshole Rowan is and a sadist and a killer. He speculates that Rowan's tattoo is a list of all the people he's murdered. He and Emrys also tell Celaena about the five other warriors who form the core of Maeve's elite. Then Celaena decides she's had enough peopling for the day and just washes dishes for the rest of her shift.
The Ironteeth witches from three clans have all assembled at the Ferian Gap, leading to fights between the clans and sheer terror on the part of the men working there. Manon seeks out the matrons of the three clans during a gathering of all the witches assembled, as do the Yellowlegs heir, Iskra and the Bluebloods heir, Petrah. Once they all arrived, the matrons take the assembly to the roof of the fortress and are presented with the Wyverns. The overseer brings out a giant bull called Titus and Manon sets her heart on having him as her mount.
Following her kitchen chores, Celaena is exhausted, but naturally that's exactly when Rowan shows up to start her training. Rowan is probably the first person Celaena has ever encountered who isn't impressed or intimidated by her. He commands her to shift into her fae form, but she doesn't know how. When she fails, he attacks her. She's able to avoid the first two blows, but the third sends her to the ground where he pins her. He commands her to shift again, but she still can't do it. Then he calls her on being a spoiled child and a coward, and she's so furious and then suddenly nearly catatonic. Rowan pulls her up and calls her spineless and pathetic, and yet she still can't shift.
Rowan marches her miles into the forest to the Barrows, and presents her with the challenge - if she can pass the barrowights, Rowan will take her to Doranelle, no further training needed.
As Celaena crosses the Barrows, she comes across a wight who doesn't seem eager to leave his barrow. Then she spots another man, not a wight, who is wearing an onyx collar necklace, who has actually scared away the undead monster Celaena is there to fight. Suddenly she is engulfed in complete blackness and wrongness. She runs but the thing remains close enough for her to feel his breath behind her. Suddenly she is thrown into the memory of waking up in her parents' bed, drenched in their blood. She runs again, only to find herself back in Nehemia's bedchamber, looking at her murdered friend. The not-man catches her again and holds her around her waist as if she were his lover. She elbows behind herself, freeing herself, and runs once more. She finally comes back to where Rowan waits, retching, crying, and falling at his feet. Then at last, she begins to shift between her fae and human forms uncontrollably until she passes out. Rowan scolds her for not facing the wights, saying that she had failed and saying some pretty horrible things to her. She gets justifiably angry, but then Rowan tells her what she faced was not a wight. They have what is the first of their eloquent silent conversations, seeming to say, "That thing should not have been there," and "Well then what the hell was it you stupid bastard?" respectively. This will become a common method of communication for them, much to the dismay of literally everyone around them. Rowan admits that he doesn't know what the thing was, and asks her to tell him what happened after the darkness fell. She refused to tell him initially, but eventually told him that it dragged her through her worst memories. They returned back to Mistward and showed her where the warm baths were located so she wouldn't have to have yet another cold bath.
Chaol meets with his father to request more time on their agreement for Chaol to return with him to Anielle. He's just become too busy trying and failing to track Aedion, and doesn't want to leave before he finds a suitable replacement. He negotiates (uhhh...kinda) for two more months, and we are left hating Chaol's father more and more.
Sorscha is called to Dorian's tower to treat his hand and split lip from a sparring injury. He asks her about herself and she's reticent, but she's completely infatuated with. He asks her why she never told anyone about his and his friends' injuries, and she said he always seemed kind and the world needs more people like that. He asks about her village, and she tells him it's gone, having been sacked and destroyed by his father's forces. He apologizes and she somewhat impertinently tells him, he wasn't the one who killed her parents. When she leaves, she's ashamed and fearing for her position, and decides she needs to find ways to distance herself from the prince since she can't seem to keep her mouth shut around him. But the next day, she receives a note from Dorian asking for the name of her village so he could have it added to his personal map of the continent.
Back in the Ferian Gap, the clans are training in separate rotations to try to minimize conflicts. During meals, however, they all come together, making the mess hall one of the most dangerous places in the fortress. Iskra tries to pick a fight with Manon, but Manon manages to get the upper hand. And not even the Yellowlegs heir can get her down today, because her Thirteen are finally going to get to ride the wyverns. A great gathering comes to watch the Thirteen fly, and they have what the overseer calls the best crossing he'd seen to date. Manon's grandmother summons her to tell her that she expects Manon to become the wingleader, and failure will not be tolerated.
Awakening, freezing again the next day, Celaena is sore all over from her encounter and uncontrolled shifting the day before. When she arrives in the kitchen for her KP, she startles Emrys and Luca so much that they just stare. Near the end of service, Emrys' mate Malakai comes in and gently ribs her for her injuries and apparent lack of healing salve. Her cold response brings out the territorial fae bastard in Malakai, but Emrys just shrugs it off. They're all a little on edge about Rowan training her, and more than a little curious as to what merits that level of attention from such a feared and dangerous male.
During training, Rowan forces Celaena to just sit on the mountainside trying to shift. Even when a rainstorm rolls in, soaking them and causing Celaena to nearly freeze, he doesn't relent. Finally they return to the fortress and Rowan leaves her at the baths, with every indication that the next day would be worse. After her bath, she returns to the kitchens to try to find something to eat, and finds it packed with people and laid out with food. She fills a plate and plans to leave, but then Emrys begins to tell a story of the faeries. She becomes entranced, and stands in the shadow of the stairwell eating her food. After the story ends, she retreats, but before leaving she looks at the open door and notices that Rowan in hawk form, sitting and listening to the story. Before she was able to escape, Emrys asks her to share a story from her own lands. But she refuses and flees back to her room.
Dorian is free of his obligatory entertaining of Aedion, and has also grown more and more distant from Chaol. So instead he spends his time sparring with the guards, then seeking out Sorscha to heal his various small injuries from the training. In this most recent visit to the healer's catacombs, he is clearly just looking for excuses to be around her, and they end up talking about what happened when she came to Celaena's room to heal Fleetfoot, Chaol, and Dorian. As she deduces the severity of what happened, Dorian begins to lose control of his magic. Rather than turning him in, she takes the blame and the lashing from Amithy, the head healer. She also offers to help him learn how to control his magic.
Chaol is stalking Aedion, who had left his own party and started skulking around the low rent district. He met up with a well-armed man and then slipped into an anonymous warehouse that was well guarded, and Chaol realized this is very like the behavior of the rebels in Rifthold. As he was contemplating the implications, someone sneaks up behind him and holds him at knifepoint.
Now Chaol knows that he has been once again captured by rebels, having recognized many of them from his previous captivity. One of the men that Aedion is meeting with is the same that begged Celaena to stop slaughtering the rebels when she rescued Chaol. Chaol tells the rebels that are in danger from Aedion, and indicates his black ring, which makes Aedion re-evaluate the Captain's knowledge of the reality of the situation. He tells the story of the King presenting him with the ring and how he had a replica made to avoid whatever fell consequence that would come of wearing the ring. But Chaol revealed more about its nature than even Aedion knew, and the knowledge makes Aedion and the rebel take more interest in the Captain. However, Aedion decides that Chaol knows too much and he must die. Chaol realizes that he can trade information to protect Dorian, and he tells Aedion that Aelin Galathynius is alive, just as he is raising his sword to kill Chaol.
Aedion, Ren Allsbrook, and Mertaugh Allsbrook, all of Terrasen, are momentarily stunned by the news. Chaol insists he will only speak to Aedion about it, and he tells the entire story of Celaena, how she was raised to be Adarlan's Assassin, how she was imprisoned at Endovier then brought to Rifthold where she became the King's Champion, and eventually how Chaol sent her to Wendlyn to keep her safe. Aedion is stunned, and ashamed of how he has tried to survive these last ten years. He asks if Dorian knows and Chaol says that he does not; he asks if she's coming back, and he says he doesn't know. The two men continue to circle, trying to gain the upper hand, and Chaol eventually proposes a bargain with the Wolf of the North.
Celaena has passed several days avoiding everyone, doing the bare minimum when working in the kitchens and failing to shift during training with Rowan. Eventually, she requests to see Rowan shift, to see how it's done. She tries again, and in failing starts lashing out at him. He smacks her down like a little child, they scuffle and eventually Rowan pins her against a tree bites her. She's so outraged that she suddenly succeeds in shifting into her fae form.
Rowan is pleased with her, and Celaena is stunned by the changes in her perception and physical form. As her fire begins to come out, she shoves it down with fear. Rowan tells her to let it out but she's still cowering from it, so he sends out his ice magic to her, goading her into reacting with her wild fire. But Rowan blocks her by sucking out all the air and fuel for the fire, including the very air in her lungs. She realizes that Maeve chose Rowan as her instructor because his power is the perfect counter balance to her own. He gives her back her air, and she shifts back into human form. Rowan rather brashly asks if her lover knows what she is, the first time he's brought up the fact that he knows there is someone for her back home. She responds that he knows everything (more or less) and he says he won't be biting her anymore. Clearly there's something Celaena is missing here, but I think, dear reader, that we all know that Rowan totally has the hots for her and is trying to hold himself apart because he thinks there is someone else for her.
Finally she tells him that they aren't together anymore, that she had let him go for his own safety. Rowan says that it's wisest to do so, since the ones you love will be used against you (story there?) and it reminds Celaena of how Nehemia manipulated her own death to force Celaena to act. Then she realizes she's beginning to forget her friend, and she returns that apathetic depression that has consumed her since she left Rifthold. Rowan grabs her and tries to shake her out of her reverie and threatens to just beat her out of it. She snaps back that if he ever takes a whip to her, she will skin him alive. He backs off and tells her she'll be pulling double kitchen duty if she doesn't shift, and then he says some truly horrible things to her, saying that she's worthless and would have been more useful if she had actually died ten years ago. She storms off to pack her things, and as she's leaving, he asks if she always runs away when things get hard. They fight back and forth as she tries to leave, and he finally stands aside when she shouts that she is trying to save the world from the King of Adarlan to free her friend's kingdom, which she vowed to do because her friend is dead.
Having stormed off alone, she goes until night and sets up camp, building a fire and sleeping safely through the night. This goes on for a number of nights until one night, she's awakened by an unnatural and ominous quiet.
Her senses are attuned to some danger she can't see, and she realizes that the fire was a truly stupid indulgence, as it has brought the danger to her. She leaves her cave with the fire and goes into the woods, and she sees three silhouettes in front of the cave searching for her. She continues to flee as quietly as possible, and when she next looks the creatures are gone from the cave. As she runs through the forest, she is grabbed from behind. She is about to fight back but then realizes it's Rowan who grabbed her and pulled her into the safety of a hollow tree. He tells her she has to shift, or her mortal form will prevent her from escaping the skinwalkers. She manages the shift, and they run towards a river, Rowan slowing his pace to stay with her. They jump into the river and the skinwalkers follow, but Celaena turns and throws wildfire at them.
Sitting on the banks of the river after she incinerated the skinwalkers, Celaena asks Rowan if he can extinguish the fire in the forest that was a byproduct of her graceless defense. He says she could do it if she wanted to, but he suffocates the flames regardless. Then they start talking about her magic, and that she has to master her shift, not only to access her magic, but because it is so scary for her to do it that she can't control herself until she overcomes it. Then they talk about the well of power, and how to tunnel down into the well until you reach the bottom, to bank up strength. He also tells her about how she can burnout if she doesn't control it. Finally, he tells her she can't leave, and she almost does anyway just out of spite (because that's just how she is) but he gives her his cloak and jacket to warm her up, and when starts back for Mistward, she follows him.
The day to select the Wyverns for each witch has finally come. Each mount will be brought out to face a bait beast so they can judge its worth. Manon still wanted Titus, but she fully expected both Iskra and Petrah to vie for him as well. Conflicts were to be settled by drawing sticks, to prevent physical conflict. Petrah chooses a giant female, and Asterin chooses a stealth female. Knowing that Manon and Iskra both want Titus, Petrah takes Manon's side. When Titus comes out, Manon is enthralled. Without warning, Iskra shoves Manon into the pit with the wyvern. She manages to make a run for the door, but Titus catches her with his tail. Just as he is about to make a killing blow, the bait beast steps in to defend Manon. Manon retrieves her sword and frees the bait beast from his chains, and in the ensuing battle, the bait beast makes an impressive showing. Titus manages to get his jaws around the bait beast, but Manon attacks his tail with her sword. Releasing the bait beast, Titus exposes his throat and the bait beast tears it out. As the minders come out to "save" Manon, she claims the bait beast for her mount.
Manon names him Abraxos, and he is the bestest wittle wyvern ever. Actually, her unconventional choice causes quite a shit show. Mother Blackbeak orders Asterin be lashed by Iskra for allowing her clan leader to be attacked in plain sight. Also, Abraxos has never tried to fly before and the handlers aren't sure if he even can after his wings had been so badly shredded. The overseer tries to convince her to train with another wyvern while the trainers work with Abraxos for what could be days, weeks, months, or forever, but Manon won't hear of it.
Chaol bargained with the rebels for an exchange of information - more about Aelin and the black rings in exchange for information about the King's power that the rebels have been able to uncover. Chaol takes Aedion down to Elena and Gavin's tomb through Celaena's old rooms, and Chaol begins to share what he knows. He starts by sharing the Eye of Elena, that it was given to Aelin by Elena herself.
Unbeknownst to the General and the Captain, the Prince followed them down the secret tunnels and is eavesdropping on their conversation. It was the first time that Dorian had heard that Celaena was truly Aelin, and he is shocked into stillness. He hears the truth about his father and the wyrdkeys, that Celaena is searching for the answer to defeating him in Wendlyn, and he realizes that his friends had deliberately kept information from him. He wrongly assumes that Chaol knew Aelin's secret before she left and that was why he sent her away. Aedion comes out into the hall to find Dorian there, and Chaol follows him to stop the General from attacking. The confrontation that follows sends Dorian into a wild magic rage, despite Chaol trying to explain that he's working with Aedion to try to save Dorian. Aedion was able to figure out this obvious purpose of Chaol's bargain now, and the men keep using their loyalties and affections to inflict verbal barbs. Dorian accuses Chaol of seeking out Aedion because he hopes to become his king one day by marrying Aelin, and Aedion retorts that his queen would rather die heirless than marry someone from Adarlan. Dorian sees the obvious pain this causes Chaol, and he reflects on how their friendship had been left, with Aelin promising to come back for him. But to save him, or kill him?
Aedion left the castle by the sewer exit, and met up with Ren and Murtaugh Allsbrook. Aedion assures the men that they can trust Chaol, and that he isn't going share more information with them until they have more to offer in return. The Allsbrook men ask what they should tell the Terrasen court, if Aedion won't share any details, but Aedion isn't impressed by the implicit threat. He suspects those that are still around by the grace of the King of Adarlan are too comfortable in their chains to fight back against the tyranny. But his ultimate goal is to rally a court for Aelin for her return.
Back at Mistward, Celaena is working double duty in the kitchens and trying to master her shift. One afternoon, outside the ruins of the sun goddess's temple, Celaena and Rowan talk of the past, of Maab, and the genocide of the fae in Terrasen. One morning when heading out to training, Rowan tells her that the males of Mistward have been avoiding her because she puts out a stay-the-hell-away scent. Then they head out to investigate a dead body some distance away. The woman was a husk, as though she had the very life sucked out of her. Rowan doesn't know what did it, but when Celaena gave it a shot, she says she thinks it's the same thing that attacked her in the barrowfields. Rowan reveals that this is the fourth such body found, all close to the water but otherwise unconnected. Before returning back to the fortress, Celaena tells Rowan they must burn the corpse, rather than leaving her there in the stream to rot.
Chaol meets with Aedion at Celaena's apartment in Rifthold, where supposedly they should be safe and unobserved. Aedion finally shared the information he has about the disappearance of magic, a double wave that dozens of sources experienced on the same day, with wildlife fleeing in the same directions. Chaol is less than impressed with Aedion has to share, but Aedion says that Ren and Murtaugh will have more in three days. Aedion asks Chaol why he serves the king, and for Chaol it has been a gradual shift away from blind obedience, but his ultimate goal is protect Dorian at all costs.
Dorian, for his part, has be greatly enjoying his time with Sorscha, researching his magic and enjoying each other's company. Sorscha has the idea of feeding him treacle to increase the iron in his blood, and when they tested it and it worked, Dorian was so grateful that he kissed her. Underwhelmed by her reaction, he leaves awkwardly.
The witches are training with their wyverns, and Manon is training alone with Abraxos out of sight of the others. While the overseer and handlers are unable to get Abraxos saddled with their chains and whips, Manon approached him and is able to saddle him by simply talking to him. She tells him that she is going to build him iron spikes for his tail and fangs, like her own. She says after that is all done, she will take him out and they will learn to fly together. It takes 5 days to get him healthy and fitted with his augmentations, during which time Manon is missing her flying lessons. Manon gets an update on the Blackbeak covens, all of whom are preparing for the wargames that will determine the wing leader.
One day, Rowan takes Celaena to the commune of healers on the edge of the fae and mortal realms. The next day they are slated to take an overnight trip without Rowan disclosing the destination. After a bit of hiking, Rowan tells her to shift so they can run the 20 miles. There was another body discovered and he admits that he needs her help to speak to the villagers. Rowan directs her to use her anger to force her shift, since the constructed wall to prevent it was placed there by Arobynn's training and her grief. Once she successfully shifted, they playfully ran through the forest southwest towards their goal.
When they arrive in the village, no one will talk to them due to the fear and resentment towards the fae who come from Doranelle and just take what they want. Celaena decides to show them rather than tell them that their aims were not such, by shopping in the village stores. Eventually they warm up to their presence and while they don't learn much, the improved reception does mean that the villagers were willing to talk to them.
That night after Celaena drifts off, she dreams of her childhood and her parents. We learn that Aelin's powers were so strong as a child that the adults genuinely feared her. But Aelin's mother feared training her because Maeve wanted her in her coterie, and her father feared not training her because her untrained power was dangerous and kept her from making friends her own age. She awoke from her dream feeling disoriented. Rowan told her to light the fire to make their breakfast, as a way to control her magic. Unfortunately she was distracted by her dream, and totally incinerated the area around the fire pit.
One day Sorscha is bringing Dorian his daily iron tonic, disguised as a contraceptive tonic, to his tower room, and he tries to put the moves on her for real, but she flees before he can get very far. As she paused outside his door to regain her composure, he comes out and she lays a big ol kiss on him. Gah, finally.
Chaol finally meets with Ren and Murtaugh. While they are waiting, Chaol tells Aedioin about the bargain he made with his father, as the only way to get Celaena to Wendlyn. His time in Rifthold is running out, and he wants to do something productive for Dorian before he has to leave. Then Chaol asks Aedion about his father, and we learn that his mother, who was related to the royal family of Terrasen, never admitted who Aedion's father was. Suddenly Ren stumbles in with a stab wound to the abdomen. The Allsbrooks were followed and they split up to evade them; Murtaugh was able to get away but eight men followed Ren. Ren was able to kill two, but the remaining six were taken down by Aedion. The men who followed them wore the royal sigil of a Wyvern, but Chaol doesn't know any of the men nor the uniform. There are more out looking for them, so they decide to find a safe house to hole up until Ren can recover.
They find their way to an opium den, where the madam gave them disguises and after the guards searched the place, she helped treat Ren's wound. When asked where they can take Ren to stay to heal, Murtaugh reveals that they have been squatting in abandoned buildings and had no place to stay. Murtaugh shared his and Ren's story, and that they discovered that the waves Aedion described formed a rough triangle across Adarlan and they believe that a spell is the cause of the disappearance of magic. Chaol decides to offer Celaena's apartment for Ren to stay in.
Manon has noticed that the people and livestock kept in the mountain keep all have a foul rottenness to them. Abraxos refuses to eat the mutton she offers him and opts to smell the wildflowers. Because he is pretty pretty wyvern. In order to get Abraxos to eat, they have to hunt fresh meat. When it's time to return, Abraxos is clearly reluctant to go back to the fortress.
Mother Blackbeak demands that Manon and Abraxos be airborne the next day, or Manon shouldn't come back. The handlers suggest they practice on the gently sloping east side of the mountain. It takes a lot of cajoling, but she finally mounts. He begins to panic and he is trying buck her off, when he goes over the edge of the mountain.
Manon and Abraxos fall down the side of the mountain, all the while encouraging Abraxos to spread his wings and fly. At very nearly the last possible moment, Abraxos does open his wings, and they soar around the canyon. She plans to bring the thirteen into her private training with their mounts, and insists that all the mounts share their space in the aviary. They plan to practice together multiple times per day on the easier side until they are ready for the true crossing.
Now that Celaena can shift in demand, Rowan has her setting a candle alight. She obviously needs the help with finesse, since every time she tries she ends up singeing everything in sight. One night while cleaning up after dinner, Celaena asks Emrys for the oldest story he knows about Queen Maeve. He tells a story of three Queens - Maeve, Mora, and Mab. Mora and Mab both fell for humans and gave up their immortality to spend a human life span with their loves. Celaena asked if Mab ever mated and Emrys said that she hadn't, although she came close. Her love was killed in an ancient war, and the ring he had intended for her was lost. Since then, she had valued her warriors above anyone else in her court, and they repaid her favor by being superlative in defending her throne. Emrys continued to tell stories throughout the evening and Celaena committed the details to memory. Then she notices a giant mountain cat stalking its way towards the fortress and she realizes it's a fae male. Another of Maeve's warriors, Gavriel, was looking for Rowan, but she didn't know why. She decided to satisfy her curiosity under the pretense of bringing them food, and she finds Rowan giving Gavriel a tattoo. After her intrusion, she and Rowan fight, and she ends up walking away dejected.
Celaena has sunk into a deep depression, but she snaps when Malekai buys Emrys a knife from Eyllwe that reminded her of Nehemia. This is furthered when they call her Elentiya, the name that Nehemia gave her. She lashes out at Luca and Emrys and Malekai, then stalks out of the kitchen without doing her shift.
After finishing the tattoo for Gavriel with the names of his lost men, he sends his friend on his way and goes to the kitchen to seek out Celaena for training. He finds only Emrys, who berates him for causing the depression and anger in Celaena. Emrys reveals that he knows who Aelin is, because Evelyn Ashryver had worked at the fortress twenty years before, petitioning on behalf of the demi-fae for more rights to Queen Maeve. He entreats Rowan to work to build Celaena up, not tear her down, and to give her hope.
Celaena walked aimlessly until she reaches a lake and she sinks to the shore and sobs. She hears the voice of her mother asking her why she weeps. She says that she is lost and she doesn't know how to make her way back. Rowan joins her by the lakeside, and they sit in silence for awhile. Then Rowan tells her he was taking her somewhere, and they hike to a cave that gives Celaena the colly-wobbles. She finds Luca chained to the center of a frozen lake in the cave, and he tells her to go get him. Rowan's goal is to give her something external to focus on, to have as a goal to control her magic, so that she doesn't get all up in her own head and burn everything around her. Even as she is able to free him from the ice, she sees a giant red eye staring at her from under the ice.
Luca sees the monster swimming towards them as well, and Rowan is genuinely terrified to find the lake wasn't actually uninhabited. Rowan shifted his focus to ensure a bridge of solid ice was available for Luca and Celaena to run back to shore, and Rowan tosses her a sword to defend her retreat. As it slides towards her, she sees a ring that was jostled free, and she grabs it up and sticks it in her pocket. When they reach the shore, the three of them flee out of the cave and away from the beast that could clearly leave the lake if it chose. Fortunately it seems that the monster doesn't want to leave the shadows of the cave, and they are able to escape.
Once Luca leaves them to return to the fortress, Celaena swings at Rowan and actually is able to land a blow and then pin him to the earth. She tells him never to bring someone else into it, and he asks her to tell him why. She says she's so angry at Nehemia for orchestrating her own death to spur Aelin to action, as though Aelin was worth more than she, which Aelin clearly cannot believe. He asked about what happened to the men who caused her death, and when she told him, he simply said, "Good." Then she realized that when she was attacking him, she managed to burn him with her bare hands. When she apologizes, he says she shouldn't say sorry for defending people she cares about. They head back to Mistward, and Celaena says that's twice now that Rowan inadvertently put her in more danger than he intended in their training. He remarks that he's surprised it took her so long to point that out, and some of their friendliness returns.
They return through the kitchens where Emrys berates them while he feeds them. She realizes she never shifted back to her human form, and Emrys says it doesn't matter to him what her ears or her teeth look like, although he's glad to see that she was able to get in a few good licks herself this time. After they eat, Rowan stays to help Celaena wash up. He asks Emrys if he knows anything about the beast in the cave, and the storykeeper does know something about that cave. He told a story of a traveler who stayed over in the cave, who told of a monster from another realm who was cursed by mighty fae warrior to never leave the caverns beneath the mountain. When Rowan asks who the warrior was, Emrys said, they didn't know his name but he knew him by the ring he bore. Celaena remembers the ring she found on her retreat.
Celaena struggles to sleep that night, and eventually she grabs her tin of salve and goes to Rowan's room to help treat the burns she inflicted on him. He tells her that she could heal herself and even heal him too, and she tells him that it comes from the water affinity she got from her mother's lineage. She starts to leave and he tells her to stay and he tells her that when his mate Lyria died, it took him a very, very long time to come back from his grief. His tattoo tells the story how she died, and that the tattoos he gives to others describe the important people they have lost. When he mated her, Maeve opposed it, but he did it anyway and lost her favor. She offered him a chance to redeem himself by going on a campaign far away, and despite Lyria begging him not to go, he took the chance to earn back Maeve's good graces and left his mate behind in their mountain home. When he heard that the enemy was trying the borders to Doranelle in the mountains, he flew back home only to find that his wife, who had turned out to be pregnant, had been slaughtered and their home burned to the ground. For ten years after she died, he wandered the world apart and ungrounded, in and out of his fae and hawk form. Eventually Maeve found him and brought him back to serve as warrior and prince, and he took solace in the only thing he could and swore the blood oath to Maeve.
Celaena asks how he came back from such a loss, and he said he never did, but that maybe they could find the way back together.
Prior to a meeting with Chaol, Aedion visits with the Allsbrooks in Celaena's old apartment where Ren has been recovering. The men discuss the hard things they've done since Terrasen has fallen, and whether they will be worthy of the court that Aelin will restore. Ren asks Aedion if he wants to be king, and he says that if Aelin asked him, he wouldn't refuse. Chaol and Aedion meet in a tavern where several of Aedion's soldier admirers drink and toast to him. Aedion announces a contest for the man who traveled the furthest, and the winner drinks for free. They find a man who came from Noll, where a tower was built and a garrison stationed to defend it. The men stationed there had odd physical and mental symptoms, some even going so far as violently killing themselves. The soldier also mentions an outpost at Amaroth where another tower was located, and that there were often messengers sent between the two locations. Together with the tower in Rifthold, these towers make a triangle which forms the spell that eradicated magic across the continent.
Manon and the Thirteen have been doing extra training for two weeks and they have begun to venture outside the keep to hunt non-spoiled meat. Manon does even more training with Abraxos outside of the group training, and when the Thirteen get a couple of days off, Manon goes on an overnight trip to get Stygian spider silk to reinforce Abraxos' wings. Manon meets with a spider, who is gigantic and in the audiobook has a very pretty accent. She demands ten yards of woven silk to reinforce Abraxos' wings, and the spider tells her that men have given their lives for one yard. While waiting for the bolt of fabric to be brought, the spider tells Manon of a woman who rules in the wastes of the west, calling herself the Queen of the Wastes. She also tells of a shapeshifter who traded 20 years of his life for silk, and how some of his powers passed to the spider in the deal. When the bolt of fabric arrives, Manon tricks the spiders into letting her inspect the fabric, then Abraxos knocks them into the ravine while Manon absconds with the silk.
Manon gives the overseer the silk to graft to Abraxos' wings, plus a bit extra in payment, and hides the remaining fabric in her trunk. Finally the day comes for all to make the crossing, the first stage of the trials to determine the wing leader. But Abraxos balked at the flight and Manon couldn't change his mind. As Manon walks away, Iskra goads Manon, then takes a whip from one of the handlers and strikes Abraxos twice. Manon retaliates against Iskra and the Thirteen have to drag Manon off of Iskra, who was badly beaten. Afterwards, as Manon is down with Abraxos in his pen, Petrah comes down and makes an overture of friendship, of which Manon is very wary, but which seems genuine.
Rowan asks Celaena to help fill in the tattoo on his arms now that the burns she gave him had healed. She asks him questions about his history, how he learned to tattoo, about his family, and he responds in kind with questions about hers. She actually shares things about her past that she hasn't shared with anyone in ten years. He also calls her on her unwillingness to reclaim her throne in Terrasen, despite being willing to free Eyllwe. She says that she can free Eyllwe as Celaena and go on to do anything else she wants, but as Queen of Terrasen, her throne would just be another set of shackles. The turn of phrase doesn't evade Rowan's attention, and he looks at the scars on her wrists. But she won't tell him about her time in Endovier. Then they have a moment of sexual tension where they agree to give each other some space to figure out what is going on between them.
Dorian and Sorcha are in bed being cute, but the hiding and sneaking around is wearing on both of them. After she rushes out, Chaol shows up to talk. Dorian is cold and harsh towards Chaol, and tells him he doesn't get to pick and choose the parts of his friends to love. And Dorian says he's already made his mind up about Aelin, and he hopes Chaol reaches the same conclusion.
Chaol, Aedion, and Ren are waiting for Murtaugh to return from his trip to the south near Skull's Bay. When he comes back he asks Aedion if he knows who General Narrok is. He was on a mission in the south to the Dead Islands, which is pirate territory. Rolfe is the pirate lord of Skull's Bay, and his fleet was routed by Narrok's forces. They don't venture far from Skull's Bay now because of supposed monsters in the Eastern Dead Islands, and Narrok has taken his fleet and monsters to Wendlyn to attack after the royal family is assassinated by the King's Champion. Aedion calls Chaol on his blind loyalty and lack of personally held convictions, but Chaol sees it as honor and loyalty.
Rowan and Celaena's training falls into a comfortable pattern, and they talk about their lives and practice diving into the well of magic which seems to Celaena to have no bottom. Celaena hates Maeve more and more as Rowan tells her stories, and she requests legends about her from Emrys as well. Soon it is nearly Beltane, a bonfire night to celebrate the spring. Leading up to it, Celaena notices males paying her attention, but being frightened off by Rowan, and she is likewise feeling possessive of him. On the day of the celebration, Rowan takes Celaena to the site of the bonfires and tells her she has to control all the fires during the celebration that night. At a certain point, she is feeling overextended and Rowan tells her to push through a little bit longer. She thinks about eating and dancing after the he lets her quit, and Rowan notices that she loves the music. But the music engulfs her and she loses control of the fire and it is burning her from the inside out. Rowan has to suck the air out of her and the fires to stop her, but she is still burning up.
After consulting with the healers, Rowan carries her using his ice magic back to Mistward to get her into cold water. She immediately heats the water, and Rowan freezes it, but she boils it again. They go back and forth while Rowan councils her to let the heat out. Eventually she cools down enough and they take off her wet clothes, and Rowan continues to tend to her while the healers prepare a tonic for her pain. He tells her that she had reached burnout. He goes out to check on the tonic, and when he comes back he sees the scars on her back. He asks her about them angrily, and she finally tells him that she was in Endovier for a year. She notices that he had to be bandaged from being burned from carrying her. He says, "You were a slave," and she confirms it, and he leaves without another word.
While Celaena thinks that Rowan left her because he is disgusted and thinks she deserves her punishment, but truly he is so angry and hurt for her experiences, and ashamed of how he had treated her. He shifts into his hawk form and flies off his rage, and he is angry with Maeve for keeping the truth from him. He realizes that she didn't want to tell him about Endovier because she believed the worst of him, and that she likely believed the worst about why he left her, and so he turns around and flies back to Mistward.
Celaena returns to her room, and eventually Rowan comes to her room and scoops her up and takes her to his room and they sleep side by side in his bed. He tells her that from now on she will sleep in his room, in the warmth. That the bed is for that night and he would get her a cot for the following nights. He apologizes for not knowing about Endovier, and explains that Maeve chose to withhold that from him. He says he never would have treated her the way he did if he had know about her past, and that he thought her just a spoiled child who was being petulant and obstinate. She told him that at first, she was afraid he'd mock her for it, then she didn't want him to pity her, and also she didn't want him to think she was using it as an excuse. Eventually she tells him about how she ended up in Endovier and how she was freed, and how she won the King's Champion competition. She fell asleep talking to him of her past, and he held her hand and when she awoke, he was still holding her hand.
The next day, Rowan kept Celaena in bed and brought her food and generally fussed over her. She taunts him for being overprotective and overbearing. They talk more about burnout, and he tells her about the carranam bond in which two magic users can share magic and communicate without speaking, giving them a great advantage in battle. To lighten the mood, Celaena asks him about his cadre and which of the males would fancy her. He tells her that none of them would even know what to do with her.
Rowan asked her why she hasn't sought out a healer to erase her scars. She tells him about the pitch black isolation chambers they kept her in sometimes to break her, and that it took all she had to simply remember who she was. She keeps her scars as a reminder of what she experienced, and that there were still others there that she plans to free one day. He again pushes her on reclaiming her throne, saying that it would aid her in her goal of freeing all the slaves there. She refuses to tell Rowan about what happened the night her parents died, saying that she cannot let loose the monster that would rise if she were to be Aelin again. He says, he thinks she collects scars because she thinks she is atoning for all her sins, and he knows this because he's been doing the same thing for years. Eventually he comes to lay next to her in bed and strokes her hair until she falls asleep.
Rowan keeps Celaena on bedrest for a few days, fussing after her. Her nineteenth birthday comes and Rowan comes back after investigating another body, and having visited the village from before to buy her chocolates for her gift, and she repays him with a big ol kiss on the cheek. Eventually they go back to training, and Rowan begins to teach her how to shape her magic rather than just sending a blast of flame to fight. He tells her she can shape it into any form she wishes, and they would start with her defending herself with a fire shield while he throws ice daggers at her. He chides her for acting like she's on the edge of burnout, and when she retorts it had happened that quickly at Beltane, he said that burnout was not because she had reached the end of her power but because she had let the fire do whatever it wanted through her without controlling it. Finally she gets angry, and finally she creates a shield of fire. Rowan tells her they can be done, but she insists they continue. After a week of making fire shields, Celaena wakes up early, goes outside of the wards of the keep, and starts practicing on her own.
Things are progressing for Manon and the Thirteen as the wargames approach. Mother Blackbeak summons her and attacks and berates her because Abraxos still hasn't made the crossing and she won't be eligible for the wargames until he does. She gives them a deadline of the next day, and all the witches convene to watch Abraxos and Manon's crossing. While the onlookers, including Manon's grandmother, taunt Manon and Abraxos, the wyvern glares and growls a threat at the Blackbeak matron before the flight. The bait beasts pound out a beat down in the pit, which is picked up by the Thirteen. More and more evidence arises of the wyvern's sentience despite the belief of the handlers. Then Manon and Abraxos make the crossing and his enhanced wings withstand the brutal flight.
Rowan watches Celaena's independent practice from the keep's battlements. She uses the wards to throw the weapons back at her, so she can practice defending against her own attack. Impressed by her technique, he plans to tell Lorkin about her process to see if they can use it in training their own troops. Despite her independent practice, Rowan doesn't let up on her training, and she progresses at a prodigious pace. One day they go to investigate another corpse, and they realize that the monster is targeting demi-fae as though it knows it has their attention. Celaena speculates that there may be more than one them, and based on defensive wounds on this body, this male fought back unlike the previous victims. Celaena scrapes under the male's fingernails and finds a black substance similar to the blood of the fell creature that attacked her and Dorian in the dungeon beneath the library. She realizes that the made creature that was rejected and kept in that dungeon would not have been the only made creature let loose on the world. She tells Rowan about the wyrdkeys and the monster and how the king is using the power he had garnered. Since the made creatures use people parts to create, they posit that these demi-fae were target to be the hosts of the creatures, but when they were incompatible the monster just drained them dry instead.
Rowan tells Celaena that they are going to hunt these creatures, and so they camp in the woods without fire for light or warmth. During their downtime, Celaena keeps thinking about Chaol, missing him and feeling sad about their parting, and coming to terms with the fact that they would not be getting back together and feeling miserable about it. She asks Rowan about somethin he said about mates - that once you are mated you would sooner hurt yourself than you mate. She tells Rowan that she tried to kill Chaol and that if her friend hadn't stopped her, she would have done it. So he couldn't have been her mate. Rowan tells her that since she hadn't taken her fae form in over ten years, that could have affected the mate bond, but she says she thinks it's a pale hope to cling to. He asks her if she wants the truth, and she tells him she's not ready for it yet.
The next morning they return to the site of the last murder, and they pick up a trail that was eroded by the sea and wind. Finally they find a worn staircase in the cliff that leads down to a beach in a small cove for a small craft to make land safely. They deduce that ships from Adalan could have snuck in under cover of darkness and deployed smaller craft to land their soldiers and creatures, and hidden in the caves that dot the shoreline. He tells her they will explore and hunt under cover of darkness.
Shortly before nightfall, it begins to rain, giving them more cover. As they spy on the cove, they see a host of soldiers and the monsters from Adarlan. Rowan shifts and flies down over the beach to spy closer. He slips inside a cave to see closer, and he returns and they rendezvous in the woods. Rowan tells her that the soldiers are under the command of General Narrok and there are three creatures like the one that attacked her in the barrows. Just being near the creatures gave Rowan a nosebleed and they repulsed him and his magic. Celaena urges Rowan to warn Wendlyn, but Rowan convinces her Wendlyn isn't their target, but rather the demi-fae at Mistward. She wants to attack them, but it's not feasible for just her and Rowan to take them out. They want to use the demi-fae to create their monsters, and to remove the demi-fae from potentially joining Wendlyn's forces. They realize that they are going to have to fight them at Mistward, but the demi-fae would likely not be sufficient to defeat the large force. Then one of the demon creatures came to hunt them down and she and Rowan prepare to fight against it, but then it suddenly disappears.
The creature snuck up behind Celaena, and she attempted to fight it. It was shaped as a male, but wore a collar of black stone around its neck. It captured her in its thrall, but Rowan pulled her away. She was still entranced by the creature, but Rowan bit her on the neck to pull her out of it. They run from the creature into the mountains, determined not to lead it to Mistward. The creature continued to chase them, and Celaena has an idea. Rowan is leading the creature in circles with a shirt with Celaena's scent, and Celaena entices the skinwalkers to her location with a fire and noise. She runs from the skinwalkers to lead them towards the demon creature, and she meets up with Rowan, who shields her scent from them both while they hide up a tree.
When Rowan and Celaena tell Mistward what they discovered, they immediately dispatched messages to Wendlyn to ask for aid. They spend the next days planning their defense. Despite their preparations, they know they stand little chance of winning. Celaena questions why Rowan won't call in his cadre, and he says he things Maeve would call him back if he tried. He knows that it's not the right thing to do, but he is powerless if Maeve orders him to leave. Celaena says, all his preparations prove that Maeve does not deserve him.
The next day, Celaena knows something is wrong when she awakens. She goes down to the kitchen and Rowan tells her the news of a slave uprising at Calaculla. The King sent two legions to put down the rebellion, and all of the thousands of slaves there were killed. He also sent two more legions to complete wipe out all of the slaves at Endovier as well.
Chaol hasn't had contact with Aedion or the Allsbrooks in weeks, and is planning to finally depart to Annielle. In the Great Hall, one of these days, the King stands and makes a toast to the slaves being murdered at both slave camp. Dorian spoke up, appalled, and had to suppress his true feelings.
Dorian rushed to Sorscha, and in their mutual grief he insists that she leave the castle for her own safety. She asks him to go with her, but he says he has to stay to help the rebels. She says she will stay if he stays. And finally Dorian understands why Chaol sent Celaena away, selling himself to his father's plans for her safety.
That night at the symphony in Rifthold, the orchestra was wearing all mourning black, and played the national anthems of all the countries who had slaves in the camps. The next day, the symphony had been shut down and all the musicians killed.
Word arrived from Wendlyn, saying that aid would not come to Mistward. Rowan tries to convince Celaena to leave, and she refuses. She tells him that he has to stay to give them a fighting chance, and she will follow him to whatever end. Rowan finally returns her dagger to her, calling her "Fireheart."
After another strategy session, Rowan and Celaena return to their room. Rowan tells her that he sent for help from the cadre. Celaena claims him as her own, but Rowan knows that it doesn't matter, because even if they survive, Maeve won't let them keep each other.
They transport the sick and wounded to the healer's compound, and leave the residents of Mistward who won't be able to fight with them there to help tend to those who need it. That night, Rowan wakes her in the middle of the night.
Rowan tells Celaena that he suspects someone had betrayed them, as they are getting dressed and armed. He could tell that someone alerted them of the traps and defenses surrounding the fortress, and that their force would arrive within an hour.
When the demon creatures arrive, there are still three of them, proving that the skinwalkers did not destroy the one that confronted Celaena. Then Narrok arrived and attacked the wards with his murderous darkness. Celaena planned to go outside the wards and attack Narrok with fire, which seems to be its weakness. As she is readying to attack, a shout comes from within that the soldiers are being let in through the secret escape tunnel, proving that they had been betrayed. Rowan tried to convince Aelin to stay inside, but she knows she has to go out to save the others. Rowan finally capitulates, and gives her some final advice before she finally steps out.
When she steps out into the darkness, it attacks her and the wall of flame she threw up to reinforce the wards. She sends fire along her sword as well, and the three monsters recognize the sword and the power, but they are surprised to see both in her possession. When they speak to her, she realizes they are Valg, and they tell her they are princes of their realm.
She fights the princes and nears burnout again. As she is holding on, knowing that if she returns inside the wards they will fail, she notices several shapes forming in the forest. It is the cadre, coming to Rowan's aid. Celaena throws a bridge of her magic through the darkness to let the five inside to the fortress. She directs them inside to help Rowan, even as she is foundering.
Rowan is fending off the soldiers streaming in through the secret escape tunnel. His companions arrive and report on Aelin's status. Rowan rushes out to aid her, but is stopped by Gavriel. He watches as one of the prince's take Aelin's face in its hands, and the darkness consumes her.
Inside the darkness, Aelin is surrounded by those she had lost - Nehemia and her parents in their bloody deathbeds. Inside her own pain, the people she loved and lost line up to whip her, and she allows the punishment. The princes continue to delve into her horrible memories and she continues to feed them.
Deep in Aelin's memories, she is remembering the day that the King of Adarlan and the prince came to visit Terrasen. We get the story of the night prior to her parents' death, including an attack on Aelin's mind that caused her magic to lash out in her defense. Of course, all the adults in the room see is Aelin's outward show of fire, and her mother uses her water magic to douse her. The next night, after her parents are killed, we learn that Marion, Lady of Peranth, her mother's handmaiden and Aelin's caregiver, smuggled Aelin out of the castle and stayed behind to defend her escape. Knowing that she wouldn't survive, Lady Marion tells Aelin to pass along a message to her daughter Elide that her mother loves her very much. On the way to the river, someone is pursuing Aelin. She falls into the river, and knows that Lady Marion's sacrifice was all in vain.
Laying at the bottom the well of misery, Aelin sees the Princess she had once been, telling her to get up. Then there were dozens - Sam, her parents, Nehemia, Lady Marion - all telling her to get up. As she rediscovers her own internal motivation and drive, she finally arises and accepts the hand that the young Princess is offering her, and begins to fight back.
Rowan continues to fight against his friends to go to Aelin, but they are relentless. Suddenly, they see a bolt of flame shoot out of the darkness, and Rowan runs into the flame to her. But a true burnout is approaching, and Rowan rushes to her, having cut his palm. Aelin sees him coming and cuts her own palm, and when their hands join, the carranam bond allows her to use his power. She sends her fire into the valg, burning them to ash. All that remained was the collars on the ground.
Dorian goes to visit Sorscha and she is writing a letter, which she quickly throws away when Dorian catches her. The two of them work together in companionable silence until Chaol interrupts them. Chaol explains everything he's learned about the wyrdkeys and the towers that banned magic. Chaol asks Dorian to join him in an experiment. As the two men leave Sorscha, Chaol tells her that Adarlan could use a healer as its queen, but Sorscha just looks at him sadly. Chaol sets up three crystals and tells Dorian to send power between the three of them, to demonstrate how the towers contain magic. When Chaol takes out one crystal, the triangle fails, demonstrating that if they could take out one tower, the curse that blocks magic would fail. They also discuss the monsters that are being created in Morath, and what Narrok was creating in the south, which was taken to Wendlyn and to Celaena. They don't decide on a course of action, but both know what needs to be done to combat the King and return magic.
Celaena sleeps for two days to recover from the battle. The cadre had all left, except Gavriel, who was the only one of them who showed any inclination to help Aelin when they arrived. Aelin thanked Gavriel, and he told her how impressive he found her and her magic, for someone so young. Rowan tells her that news will spread that Aelin Galathynius fought against Adarlan and won. She thinks about how she will lose him and wishes she had some kind of token to give him. She remembers the Amulet of Orynth, and the wyrdmarks on the back. And then she realizes that the amulet contains the third wyrdkey, which had protected Terrasen for hundreds of years. It also saved her life when she fell into the river the night of her escape. She realized that Arobynn Hamel must have taken it from her, and that she must get it back. Rowan asked her to share what she learned, and she refuses to as long as he is bound to Maeve. Since she can't share her discovery, she offers him another truth. She tells him the story of Aelin the princess, and her tragedy.
After a night of celebration, it is time for Rowan and Aelin to go to Doranelle.
Aedion is readying to send Ren to go meet with a member of the old Terrasen court, to get them out of Rifthold. As they were readying to leave, Murtaugh rushed in to tell them the news that Aelin Galathynius defeated Narrok with magic as strong as that of Brannon. Chaol knows that this is a message that Aelin is ready to reclaim her birthright. Ren is to stay in Rifthold now, and Murtaugh will go to meet with the court, and spread the news and inspire those who wish to stand with Aelin against Adarlan.
After a week of hard travel, Rowan and Aelin finally reach Doranelle. They go before Maeve, and Rowan subjugates himself to her. Maeve demands a demonstration, but Aelin insists that Maeve tell her about the wyrdkeys first. Maeve says that the keys can't be destroyed, and she doesn't know how to put them back in the gate. Maeve tells her what the keys look like, but she doesn't know anything else about the keys. Aelin asks about the Valg princes, and Maeve is forced to tell her about how they infiltrate their hosts, and cannot exist in our realm outside of a host. She also mentions that Brannon was a nobody, a unclaimed, unwanted child, who was made important only by virtue of Mala loving him and his magic being able to defeat the Valg. The mark on he forehead is the same mark of Brannon, to represent the unclaimed. Aelin asks more about the keys and the King's plans for them, and Maeve says he could infest the dead with other Valg spirits and raise an almost invincible army.
As she descended in to despair, a warm, feminine voice calms her and tells her the terrible fate has not yet come to pass. Maeve wants Aelin to tell her where the third key is, and she compels Rowan to tell her what he knows. Aelin deliberately didn't tell him what she had discerned, and so Maeve forces the other members of the cadre to hold Rowan down while Lorcan and Gavriel whip him. Aelin watches the torture, a tactic from Maeve to coerce the information from Aelin. Aelin lets loose her fire, forcing the cadre to focus on putting up shields around themselves and Maeve.
Aelin confronts Maeve on her lies about the history with they keys. Maeve tried to steal the keys from Brannon, and he and Athril fought and defeated her. She retreated to Doranelle and built her city of stone to defend against Brannon's fire. Maeve was so interested in Aelin as a child because she feared what would come of the joining of Mab and Brannon's lines.
Maeve fights back against this release of information, summoning Rowan to her and demanding the sword Goldryn that Aelin found in the cave with the lake monster. Aelin gives her the vision the Valg prince gave her, of Aelin ruling over all. It unsettles Maeve, but she still taunts Aelin saying she owns Rowan. Aelin reveals that she has Athril's ring, the ring that Athril would have given to Maeve. Maeve clearly wants the ring, so Aelin offers to trade it for Rowan's freedom from the blood oath. Maeve agrees, and Rowan immediately turns around and swears a blood oath to Aelin.
They leave the palace and stay at an inn in Doranelle. She asks Rowan to give her tattoos like his along the three largest of her scars - one line for her parents, one line for Lady Marion, one line for her people. On her smaller scars, he inscribed the stories of Sam and Nehemia, to honor her beloved dead. During the process she prayed and sang the grieving songs of Terrasen to honor them all at last.
The wargames have finally arrived to determine who will be the Wingleader of the Ironteeth witch forces. It's basically capture the flag, but with giant eggs. During the battle, Iskra's mount attacked Petrah's Keelie, and when Iskra let go, Petrah and her wyvern fell from the sky. Abraxos dived after them, Keelie doing her best to give them a chance to save Petrah.
Manon climbed onto Keelie's back and freed an unconscious Petrah from her mount. Keelie fell to her death at the bottom of the canyon. The Blackbeaks won and Manon was crowned the Wingleader, but the Blackbeak matron punished and beat Manon for intervening to save Petrah. Both Petrah and Manon heard Iskra give the kill order, and Manon accedes the right to vengeance to the distraught and heartbroken Petrah. That night at the celebration in Manon's honor, her grandmother brings in a Crochan witch for Manon to kill and take her cloak. When Manon hesitates, the Crochan witch speaks to her. Manon doesn't know why she lets the witch speak, but what she says - her great secret - is that the Crochans pity the Ironteeth for being made to be hateful and heartless. That they aren't born that way, and Manon is being punished for showing pity to Petrah, just another example of how the Ironteeth are tortured into cruelty. The witch pleads with Manon to kill her in the end, and Manon takes her replacement cloak. She slips out of the celebration and goes to Abraxos to have a solo ride to reflect on what the Crochan told her. In the end, she regrets not knowing the Crochan's name or who she was.
Chaol and Aedion sit on the roof of Celaena's apartment, celebrating the news of Aelin's message. Chaol is planning to go to Annielle still, but planning to get Dorian and Sorscha out of the castle as well. He knows that once the King knows that Celaena and Aelin were one in the same, all of her friends are at risk. Chaol reflects that while Celaena might have always chosen him, that she was coming back as Aelin. And his heartache is something that he will have to bear alone.
Chaol had provided his suggestions for his replacements to the King, and was slated to leave the next day. But the King summoned him to his private chambers that night, and Aedion was already there.
Dorian hears that Chaol and Aedion were summoned to the King's chambers and he rushes to Sorscha to get her out right away. But Amithy comes in with a host of those secret guards who are not under Chaol's command, and they are both brought to the King's chambers as well.
In the King's chambers, he is goading Dorian about Sorscha, and Dorian lashes out at him. The guards seize Sorscha and force her to her knees, holding a sword at her neck. Dorian tries to placate his father to free Sorscha, offering to tell him anything. The first thing he asks, about Chaol and Aedion, Dorian doesn't know. He asks then about the spy in his castle, but Dorian still doesn't know anything. Aedion suddenly spoke up and admitted to being the spy, giving Chaol and Dorian cover by avoiding implicating either of them. Dorian demands that he let Sorscha go in exchange for the information Aedion gave. But the King reveals that Sorscha has been the one sending letters on the movements of the castle, and Dorian's surprise is genuine. Sorscha says she wasn't supposed to love him, but she did. He still tries to bargain for her life, on his knees in front of the throne, but the King says no and they beheaded her right there in front of him.
Chaol draws his sword and declares that Dorian is the true King of Adarlan, and speaks on behalf of Aelin as well. The King orders the guards to kill Chaol, and a crossbow bolt is fired at Chaol. Dorian uses his magic to stop the bolt, and to restrain the King. He tells Chaol to run and the two Havilliards battle with their magic. Aedion is on his way to the dungeons, lamenting that he won't be able to see Aelin again before he dies. Dorian is loosing his battle with his father, and he lies next to Sorscha's body in defeat. His father does not kill him, though, rather he puts one of the black wyrdstone collars around Dorian's neck.
Chaol rushes to the tomb with Fleetfoot, grabs Demaris and some gold, and told Mort where he was going in case Aelin came back looking for him. He goes to meet Ren at Celaena's apartment, and they decide they need to rescue Aedion right away. Ren reveals that he was Sorscha's rebel contact, and the two agree they need to rescue both Aedion and Dorian.
The Ironteeth legion is to be sent to Morath now that the wargames have concluded. Manon is rationalizing and denying what the Crochan witch told her, and trying desperately to harden herself against the emotions she's starting to feel.
Chaol goes out on a dock on the river, and throws the sword, the symbol of his captaincy and all he strove for in the before into the river, abandoning the man he used to be.
Rowan and Aelin are traveling back to Wendlyn, and Rowan is being very bossy about her plan to return back to Adarlan. Her plan is to retrieve the last wyrdkey from Arobynn, and to speak to Chaol and get some closure on their relationship. Rowan's pissy because she doesn't want him to come with, since he's not exactly inconspicuous in his fae form, and he would be stuck without magic if he shifted to his hawk form. She insists that she is going back as Celaena, to call in all her favors, and once she had gathered her forces she would head north to Terrasen and summon Rowan to her.
And finally, as she is sailing away from Wendlyn back to Rifthold, she finally accepts her true identity and birthright, as Aelin Ashryver Galathynius.