Friday, September 27, 2019

Review - Kingdom of Ash

Original Title: Kingdom of Ash
Series: Throne of Glass, #7
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Published: October 23rd, 2018

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

*THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*

I’m sobbing. I’m completely destroyed. My heart is torn apart. I’m a mess of tears, happiness, and admiration (for what I can discern).

I solemnly get up, and applaud. I loudly applaud as I try to ignore the pain. I’m not exaggerating. It took me forever to finish this series, but it was one hundred percent worthy. Every page of it. Every little word.

To whatever end”, Rowan and Aelin say to each other. And I say it with them, because that’s how I came to this book. To whatever possible end, I would follow their story, their journey, their world. Sarah J. Maas proved over and over again the amazing author she is, deserving all the fame and hype her books have, and with this review, I’ll try to do justice to this amazing story (spoiler alert: I won’t).

Needless to say, this will contain spoilers, so if you stay and get the story ruined for you, don’t blame me. I warned you.

After the maddening cliffhanger in Empire of Storm left me hurting, I thought things couldn’t get any worse. But guess what? They could, and they did. Aelin spends months chained up and locked in the iron box, suffering torture over her body and mind, but not yielding, and always trying to fight back. But a good thing is that the whole book is not about rescuing her from Maeve’s clutches; that only takes less than the first half. And she’s not the only one in trouble, which is one of the best things in this book, because, while Aelin may be a prisoner, the war in the rest of the world doesn’t stop. And it’s incredible. Incredible how Sarah J. Maas wrote the price it has to both realms and kingdoms, and to each individual person, with their own depth, their daily struggles, their happiness and sadness, their feelings, their loyalties and, well… every possible thing. I mean, even when war rages all across the land and the Valg wreak havoc at every turn, each character has their own fronts to battle in, in their own personal lives, with the people around them, their friends, their lovers, soldiers, kings, queens, lords… Everyone. It’s just… amazingly done.

I love Aelin. I absolutely love and respect her. She’s so alive in the pages, and she’s such a strong woman! But even when she’s Fae, her heart remains human and her feelings are the ones of a normal person in her situation. I mean, being Fae doesn’t make her unbreakable.

So she would not yield to this. What had been done. What remained.
    For the companions around her, to lift their despair, their fear, she wouldn’t yield.
    She’d fight for it, claw her way back to it, who she’d been before. Remember to swagger and grin and wink. She’d fight against that lingering stain on her soul, fight to ignore it. Would use this journey into the dark to piece herself back together—just enough to make it convincing.

She’s always been stronger than many, because of the difficult life she had, but not to the point of never breaking. She’s not indestructible, and although she is sarcastic, and has that swaggering attitude in general, she has her weaknesses. The breaking Maeve had in mind was not only about extracting information on the Wyrdkeys’ whereabout, but also about snuffing out her hope, and breaking her spirit, her will to keep fighting for her land and the people she loves, and she almost did it.

I wanted to die by the end, before she ever threatened me with the collar. And even now, I feel like someone has ripped me from myself. Like I’m at the bottom of the sea, and who I am, who I was, is far up at the surface, and I will never get back there again.

This struck me hard. Aelin, exhausted and cracking up from everything they did to her, told me that strength is not a question of being unbreakable. It means that, no matter what, she will keep fighting to the very end. And I love her for it. Making her a strong warrior doesn’t mean depriving her from feelings, or seeing her standing stoic in the face of pain and torture. I love that we get to see her softer side, her raw honesty, and the power to admit “I’m tired, I can’t do this anymore. I’m broken”, and yet, recognizing that she simply needs to keep going. Even people like Aelin need a hug from time to time, but she is definitely different from any other character I’ve read about, both strong and resilient, and selfless and loving (in her own way, of course). I love the way she talks, the phrases she uses, and how she teases others. No other character in the whole series speaks like her. If you see dialogue, but no names, you would be able to tell where Aelin is, just for the way she talks.

Enjoy your evening, we’ll see you on the battlements tomorrow, and please do rot in hell.” – I absolutely LOVE Aelin for stuff like this, she cracks me up (and it’s nothing Chaol’s father didn’t deserve).

And when she appeared in her coronation, and swore to serve her people like that, bringing peace back to Terrasen, I just wanted to stand up, and cheer with them.

Hail, Aelin! Queen of Terrasen!” Long may she reign.

I love Aelin and Rowan’s relationship. I’m not a big fan of their sex scenes, but at least we can say that they do it for love, not simple lust. I loved when both of them shared a crown of fire, and took up every single challenge together. Always together. Because they are one, and they both love and respect each other, through thick and thin. They laugh and cry together, and at one point it says “she would always be home, if Rowan was with her”. I love it. It’s wonderful to see how much Rowan loves her, that he didn’t let anything stop him from getting her back after they took her from him, and took his time to make Cairn slowly pay for what he did to Aelin. But I insist. Rowan loves Aelin and respects her, and that is something we should see more often in fiction. He doesn’t force her to do anything, and waits for her to be ready, set the pace and take the lead. His strength is for her, he shares his power, and last but not least, they are happy together. It’s a healthy relationship.

The other relationships in this story do not fall back. They all have their baggage, and they don’t love each other simply because the author said so. There was a slow burn chemistry between them before they admitted their feelings, and it’s wonderful how they become each other’s lifeline and reason to fight and stay alive. And one of the best examples are Elide and Lorcan, the couple I never thought I would root for. But they won me over, with Elide getting past her anger after what happened in Empire of Storms, Lorcan having changed so deeply and completely, ending up unrecognizable from the person he was when he first appeared. And I have to say, I like him better like this. In love with Elide and trying to be his best version for her, doing everything he does because he wants to be near her, being attentive to her needs, protecting her, but never forcing her to do anything. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is love. It transformed him. He wanted her best even when there was no certainty that she would accept him, and I think that is one of best parts of their relationships. Lorcan was not possessive, he didn’t adopt this attitude of “she has to be mine” or “she will be mine, or won’t belong to anyone else.” And that’s a good thing. I just wish Elide had allowed him a couple of moments alone with Vernon, to make the bastard pay. We all knew he wanted to.

And Elide is just one of the many heroines that make this story what it is. Every woman here is her own self. They don’t need anyone to stand firm and be strong, and make their lives count. They are all warriors in their own, unique way, and there can be bonds of friendship between them, without rivalry (something a lot of authors have to learn from). Take, for example, Yrene, Aelin and Nesryn. They were able to form a strong bond, without any cat fights, nor jealousy, nor love triangles. Only genuine friendship and respect towards one another (even when, funnily enough, the three of them slept with Chaol at one point of their lives). When Aelin embraced Nesryn in Anielle, at first it came as a shock. They weren’t in those terms when they parted ways, but they both went through so much since then, that is believable, and nice to read about. And a bonus point is that they never fought over Chaol, because neither Aelin nor Nesryn are the kind of woman who fight over a man’s attention. They don’t need it. They are both above that, and have their pride and dignity, that are enough to make them stand on their own.

And at the end, I cried, and smiled. As the people cheered on them, I wanted to cheer too, and be there, applauding them.

And when they all balked, Aelin walked forward. Took Yrene Westfall by the hand to guide her to the front. Then Manon Blackbeak. Elide Lochan. Lysandra. Evangeline. Nesryn Faliq. Borte and Hasar and Ansel of Briarcliff. […] All the women who had fought by her side, or from afar. Who had bled and sacrificed and never given up hope that this day might come.

Women in this book are strong and powerful, and even though their lives are far from easy, they find a way to keep going, clinging to whatever is that keeps them alive and gives them a reason to fight, each of them being unique. And I love how none of them is their past, the consequences of the decisions made by others, because their lives and fates are theirs to shape. Aelin was a broken princess, an assassin, a slave, and now, she’s the Queen. Lysandra was a whore, a courtesan, and now is a warrior, with a huge heart, strong, brave, ready to die for those she loves and –I adore this–, shivering at the simple promise of a kiss from Aedion. Nesryn, was a soldier, and now is a rukhin, and the Empress of Antica. Still a warrior, but in a different way. Elide and Yrene were both dismissed, lost in the crowd, overlooked, used, and ignored, but when the world hung from a thread, they saved it the only way they could. With their talents and wit.

And I also loved that Sarah J. Maas didn’t forget about Evangeline, making her valuable to the world, and more than just that little girl saved from becoming a courtesan like Lysandra. She came to this book as a hope bearer.

As soon as Aelin freed Lysandra, and offered to let us join her court, Terrasen has always meant home. A place where… where the sort of people who hurt us don’t get to live. Where anyone, regardless of who they are and where they came from and what their rank is can dwell in peace. Where we can have a garden in the spring, and swim in the rivers in the summer […]”

This, so simple and straightforward, from the heart of a little girl who wants nothing but a home and a family, is the reason why the fight, why they don’t give up in the siege, and keep battling the hordes from Morath. The reason to have a better world. And it’s more worth than anything.

I just wish they had mentioned Nehemia, too. She didn’t survive, but she was the spark that ignited Aelin’s fire, after all. But I loved that both Marion Lochan and Yrene’s mother were mentioned and honoured, because they gave up their lives to save two helpless little girls, and that sacrifice, out of love, was what in the end defined the destiny of the world. It gives me shivers, and I applaud even more.

A thread in a tapestry. That’s what it had felt like the night she’d left the gold for Yrene in Innish. Like pulling a thread in a tapestry, and seeing just how far and wide it went.

This is what I call an intricate, delicate plot. It’s not something easily disrupted. Everything is carefully planned and written to mean something. You can’t take it out of the book, and hope for it to stay the same. Everything is necessary, and it’s impeccably interwoven together.

As for Yrene and Chaol’s relationship, I absolutely love it. Their bond makes sense, it’s deep, and beautiful. She gives him a genuine reason to fight, and to be a good man. With her, he smiles and laughs, and is happy. She truly healed him, and keeps making him better, and that is the kind of relationship I like to read about. And I like how they show the way the war is a high-stakes game for everyone, not just for royals, and kings and queens. They have more than thrones, crowns, and legacies in mind when it comes to the conflict, and the effort they have to make to attain victory.

…even the damned war, was secondary to the woman at his side.

They need to win the war for simply staying alive, building a house, and having their family in a safe world. And although the ending left me wanting to know if they would have either a boy or a girl, I had no doubt they had happiness in their future, and a full, rebuilt family.

As for Lysandra and Aedion, I really suffered through their ups and downs, their fear, and how they became each other’s reason to survive. It was beautiful how, in the middle of the battle, the blood, and the death surrounding them, they could understand that they needed each other. He once promised she would be his wife, and although their path wasn’t easy, they earned their happiness, both as individuals, and as a couple. But again, their characters are deeper than their love story, and that is why I love Sarah J. Maas’s writing. Every character is there for a reason, they are unique, and their emotions are raw and amazingly written, portrayed in a realistic way. They are essentially human, and probably, the best part on Aedion’s side of the story, was that, when he was stripped from his title and the sword of Orynth because of a reason that, truth be told, shouldn’t have been considered in their situation, the men still answered to him. They remained loyal beyond formalities, and that is what proves that a leader is worth following.

And Manon! Oh, my God, what a character. I didn’t know I loved the witches so much before this book. She definitely grew, and left behind the person she was when she was under her grandmother’s thumb. The scene in which she fought and killed the Yellowlegs matron, snatching the crown from her and placing it in her head, gave me goosebumps. It was pure epicness, and my respect for Manon grew even more. She evolved as a character, and I think that the defining moment came when she and the Thirteen decided to bury the dead in Eyllwe with their bare hands. Manon trained the witches that caused that massacre, and she feels the weight of that guilt. But when she digs the grave, she also buries the person she was along with them. She’s no longer a weapon trained for destruction. She’s a Queen, and she will bridge the gap, uniting the covens and bringing her people home, to a new life, once more.

I can’t explain my feelings, the goosebumps, my eyes welling up in tears, and every messed up emotion that came with this book, with every scene and wonderful thing happening, but one of the best parts that did that was when the witches from every corner of the world came out from hiding at the summon from their Queen, ready to follow her into battle, to win or die. *sobs* I smiled broadly when the battle turned, when Petrah Blueblood appeared with her followers and knocked Iskra out of the way, stating her loyalty to the Queen. But nothing compares to how the tears went down my cheeks as I read the Thirteen’s Yielding. Nothing prepared me for that. I felt Manon’s despair as it were mine, I wanted to get into the book and stop them, and I couldn’t believe it when they did it, erupting into light, instead of threads of darkness. Because they are not monsters. They are made into them. They are not heartless, but capable of loyalty, and love. It was utterly heartbreaking, and when Manon walked to the place where Asterin’s Yielding took place, seeing there was nothing, absolutely nothing left… I sobbed. I loudly sobbed and wiped my tears away.

As for Dorian, he looks nothing like the flirty boy that started the series. It’s amazing how he evolved, how things changed for him, in every possible way. He’s now cold and serious, he barely smiles, and is haunted by the things that were done to him because of the Valg. But him acquiring the ability to shape-shift was something I never saw coming, and it was brilliantly done. What struck me the most was this:

It was the magic’s sole command: let go. Let go of who and what he’d become since that collar and emerge into something new, something different.

Shape-shifting and magic aside, I think this is essential for life. If you want to change, in any way, you need to let go. But in Dorian’s case, it isn’t exactly easy. His experience with the Valg let him with this kind of stench in him, that he can’t shake no matter what he does. Sorscha’s death is a heavy burden, the mark in his neck a permanent reminder of the things he did not do, and the people he couldn’t save. And his relationship with his father, that never was what it could have been, doesn’t give him a minute of peace, but I was glad that he could at least give some sort of closure to that part of himself. But the way Dorian darkened over the series… Oh, my God. His magic is mostly ice, but his personality went cold too.

He had not been a true prince—not in spirit, not in deeds. He’d tried to be, but too late. He had acted too late. He doubted he was doing much better as king. Certainly not when he’d dismissed Adarlan out of his own guilt and anger, questioned whether it should be saved.

When he killed the Stygian spider, that had offered to help them find the Crochans, was when I saw how deeply he transformed. At one point it says he wants to kill Erawan to show him that he didn’t break him, but actually, I think he did. He broke him and that is why he is the way he is now. He knows he doesn’t have forever to convince the Crochans of an allegiance, and past Dorian may have found another way, perhaps more diplomatic, but right now, he has to act. And so, he does what he has to do, there’s no time to think things over. Cyrene was a spy and a threat, and he eliminated her. End of the story.

As for Manon and Dorian’s relationship, I have to say it, it was never a favourite of mine, and here it wasn’t different. But no one can deny that there’s raw honesty between them. They don’t beat around the bush. They go straight to the point, and can read each other very easily. He wanted to marry her, and make her his Queen. They are equals in every way, but Manon is not that kind of person. She had her duty to their people, and wouldn’t neglect it for anything in the world. And that includes Dorian. Plus, let’s be honest, there was no promise of love between them. Just a burning bright desire and attraction. They never said the word “love”, so it’s ok they didn’t end up together. They are both too committed to duty to be that selfish, and put their thrones and their people in the background, just because of something –let’s be honest– that not even they know what it is. It’s not like they couldn’t live without each other, anyway, so I’m ok with the way they ended.

Oh, and when you think Sarah J. Maas can’t surprise you anymore, Kaltain Rompier shows up again. In ghost form, but still. I insist that, hadn’t she died, she would have made one hell of a character.

And yet here she stood, the woman who had taken out a third of Morath, who had devoured a Valg prince from sheer will alone.

Don’t tell me she didn’t have potential to do great things, had Sarah J. Maas kept her alive (same as Nehemia). But she did a great job in the sense that Kaltain, at first, was meant to be this ambitious, spoilt girl who wanted nothing more than catching the prince, and getting a crown in the process; but Sarah J. Maas took her away from that. And smoothly. She made her abusers pay for what they did to her, taking half of Morath down with her, before Dorian did the rest. At least there was closure on her character, after how violent her end was.

As for the king’s name, I had previously noticed that it was never mentioned, but I never give it a second thought. He was just “the king”, the evil presence that was there acting as Adarlan’s puppeteer, and that I hated for four books straight. What I definitely never thought is that I would think of him as a hero, capable of one last act of kindness and selflessness, paying part of Aelin’s price to seal the gate, and helping her in her way to the throne, in a scene that was absolutely amazing. He did love his son, and he did his best to fight the demon inside him, but as a mere human, he couldn’t win. But he was capable of one last act of rebellion, even after his death, and was redeemed.

As for Elena, I felt really bad for her, because there was no other way around it, she ended up paying the price for her mistakes, dissolving into nothingness, without the chance to see Brannon or her children again. And I liked how, even when she lost her wildfire, Aelin still made the gods pay, and proved that she was more than her magic. The world indeed would be better without the gods, because they never deigned to fulfil their end of the bargain, and with that, they had no right to be in the future they would create with their victory. So there was justice in their banishing (although perhaps Silba and Mala could have stayed, they did a lot after all).

As for Maeve, my feelings towards her swayed like the tide. Honestly. They came and went all the time. Because at first, I hated her with all my heart for what she did to Aelin, but after I got to understand why she wanted to leave her dark world behind, along with her husband and his brothers, I thought “who could blame her?”. But nothing could justify what she did to this world, to the healers and Doranelle, and her so called “sisters” (who really weren’t), playing with minds over the centuries, to convince the world of her existence and right to the throne… Yes, she deserved what she got. For Connall, Gavriel, and everyone that couldn’t survive the mess she made. To quote Aelin once again, please, do rot in hell, Maeve.

The only thing missing from the ending was a further look into the character’s future. I wouldn’t have mind some short scenes featuring Nesryn and Sartaq ruling Antica, Chaol and Yrene with their baby and the new Torre Cesme, Dorian’s coronation, or even Manon in her throne. But other than that, nothing to criticize. It was an amazing book in every sense of the word, and Sarah J. Maas has definitely earned my full respect.

After such epicness, I was left with this feeling of “I don’t want to read another fantasy series in my life”, because they will have to top this one, and I don’t think it will happen. I’m so glad I decided to read it, and I can’t believe it has finished. I’m going to miss these characters, and this world. I will miss Aelin’s swagger and sarcasm, Rowan’s strength, Lysandra’s bravery and loyalty, Elide’s wit, Yrene’s kindness… Everyone.

Needless to say, I will keep reading Sarah J. Maas’s work, as every world she writes about will be worth visiting. I hope they are as good, or better than this one!


Friday, July 26, 2019

Review - Tower of Dawn

Original Title: Tower of Dawn
Series: Throne of Glass, #6
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Published: September 5th, 2017

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
*THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*
This may be the fastest I’ve ever read a book in the Throne of Glass series. The reason it took me so long to get to it was that the whole book was about Chaol, and he has never been a favourite of mine. However, the promise to see Yrene Towers back, and to travel and visit other places created by Sarah J. Maas, ended up convincing me. And I could not give it less than the five stars it deserves. It was fantastic, in every sense of the word. 

The whole book was a breath of fresh air, after five instalments written to knock the air out of you, and give you shivers. It was very engaging, and definitely less intense than the previous books, with a smaller cast of characters, although equally captivating, and wonderful enough that I didn’t even miss Aelin, or Rowan, or Manon, or anyone who, at the same time, is in the other side of the world, engaged in the events that take place in Empire of Storms. Sarah J. Maas’ narration, as always, is more than great. She has an incredible style, it’s both strong and poetic, and her sentences are impactful, even when they are very simple, something that happened in all the previous books in the series. As for the representation, I’ve seen a lot of other readers making a huge deal about how, in the other books, there’s so little diversity in the cast of characters. I honestly don’t care about that, as long as the story is good and engaging, and the representation isn’t offensive. But here, Sarah J. Maas did her job, and I don’t think anyone can complain. There are strong female characters, people of colour, LGBT couples, and, of course, a hero with a disability. And the best part is that the author didn’t do this for the sake of it, or as fan service, because all these characters have their own personality, beyond those features that would make them, precisely, diverse. They are not there just because. The author makes sure that every single one has a purpose. 

The worldbuilding in Tower of Dawn is incredible, not only because of the details and the vivid descriptions, but because we get to visit a part of the map that, so far, has only been mentioned a couple of times. I was so invested in the story and the details of the world, that I couldn’t stop reading. Antica, with its court and sovereigns, made me think of Ancient Egypt and the pharaonic courts, and, truth be told, I liked a setting in which there’s no slavery or forced servitude, as servants, in the palace, get paid for their work, and the healers in the Torre Cesme both use their gifts for free, and take orders from no one. Not even the khagan has authority over them, and I loved that. As for the place they live in, the Torre itself, I found it fascinating, especially the library, and the Womb, with the pools, and the bells left by each healer who ever went there. But my favourite, of all places in this book, is the Eridun aerie, with the rukhin, and their lifestyle, so free and amazing, flying across mountains and going where the wind takes them… *sigh* I want to be there too, have my own ruk, and soar over the lands, going on adventures with Borte, Sartaq and Nesryn.

I thought that the whole recovery process Chaol had to go through would be boring to read, but, surprisingly, I ended up enjoying it. It’s so well done, and clearly, it entailed a lot of research for Sarah J. Maas. But she was able to take the real medical process from our own world to a fantasy setting, and she did it smoothly. Not only that, but Chaol’s feelings during the whole thing are so well depicted! The hopelessness, the depression that takes over him and how he feels, thinking that, as he needs help for nearly everything, is absorbing Nesryn’s life, and at the same time, he knows nothing of the people he loves and had to left behind, like Dorian, who is practically his brother. He still has pride, and although his bad mood is annoying at times, it’s perfectly understandable. It’s realistic.

I absolutely loved Yrene! I already liked her in the novella she appeared in, back in The Assassin’s Blade, and I was excited to see her again. She’s everything I love in a female character. She is strong, and determined, and although she’s not a warrior the same way Aelin or Nesryn are, she has her own personality and passion, and deserves this whole book for herself. Just as it happened with Elide in the previous books, Yrene’s strength isn’t exactly physical, but she proves that she doesn’t need to wield a blade to be a badass and that she’s as much a heroine as the rest of the characters. I love that she doesn’t let anything stop her from reaching her goals, and crossed mountains and seas to honour her unique talent and put it to good use, after the terrible fate her mother met at the hands of the king when she was a child. But besides that, healing is her passion and her life. She loves what she does, and she’s committed with life, because, although she could have made the choice of not healing a man from Adarlan, she understood that he needed her, and didn’t place the blame on him, deciding not to deny her help to those in need, and always remembering the chance to live given by the stranger that saved her and taught her self-defence back in Innish, that was none other than Aelin herself, back in her days as Celaena Sardothien. The only thing that I just have to mention, is that, if Yrene and Chaol could actually see each other’s memories and thoughts during the healing process, how is it that she didn’t recognize Aelin, as she was sitting with Rowan during that scene inside Chaol’s head?

I honestly didn’t think I’d like the romance between Chaol and Yrene, but I did! And very much. It made so much sense, and it’s so well written! And the best part is that they help and support each other, and they are better people when they are together. The healing goes both ways, because Chaol stops being so resentful and starts moving forward, physically and emotionally, finding hope and meaning once again, while she is able to make peace with her past and embrace her future. They both see each other at their worst. They learn not to judge one another on a first impression, past pain, and the things they know by hearsay. They peer into each other’s memories and feelings, and see both their strengths and weaknesses. They clash and disagree at first, of course. Anyone would in their situation. But they get to know each other, and their love is, for that, believable. To give you an idea of how much I loved this, in the previous books, if Chaol had died, I wouldn’t have cared. But when he almost died in this one, I was really scared for him, and heartbroken for Yrene. She loves him so much that she agreed to pay an unknown price to save him, tying is life to hers, and that took me back to Greek mythology, as it reminded me to myth of Philemon and Baucis, an old couple that loved each other so deeply that, upon helping the gods and them granting them whichever they asked for, they asked for them both to die at the same time, so they wouldn’t have to be separated. And that goes beyond mere romance. That is love, and there’s no other way around it. 

“Using the chair is not a punishment. It is not a prison,” he said. “It never was. And I am as much of a man in that chair, or with that cane, as I am standing on my feet.” He brushed away the tear that slipped down her cheek.
“I wanted to heal you,” she breathed.
“You did,” he said, smiling. “Yrene, in every way that truly matters … You did.”


*crying silent tears* Good that Chaol could understand that.

Back when I read Empire of Storms, I was annoyed by the so very graphic sex scenes, and although this book has them too (I knew they were coming the moment they said they were going to the oasis), they were better in the way that they were romantic, more focused on feelings than in physical sensations, and that made them more bearable. All the love stories in this book are beautiful, and lust has nothing to with it (well, partially). I mean, Chaol falls in love with Yrene, right? It happens after we are told how beautiful she is, with the inevitable mention of her body, her curves, her dresses, her hair, and every physical aspect she has in her favour. But when it comes to Nesryn and Sartaq’s story, it’s different. 

Before Tower of Dawn, I wasn’t a big fan of Nesryn. But I’m glad she got her own story, and we could get to know her through her own eyes, and not through Chaol’s perception. She’s deep and layered, and a warrior with all that it means. She’s brave, and strong, but also has this tender heart, with a profound love for her family, and for Antica and its people, that we barely get to see before this book. I personally never liked the idea of her and Chaol, simply because they didn’t fit together as more than just friends. There is not enough chemistry between them for that, and the proof is that, during the whole book, they spend most of their time apart, with other people, and they don’t miss each other. Yes, they slept together several times, but it never led to love, and I’m glad it didn’t. Nesryn can stand on her own, and doesn’t deserve to be anyone’s consolation prize. Chaol briefly saw a chance with her after he lost Aelin, but Nesryn is not there for that. She won’t be anyone’s second choice. And I love her for that. 

I loved her relationship with Sartaq, and I was happy when she was able to find not only someone to love, but her own identity. I loved their flights together, and the openness, and how much they came to love each other through going where no one could judge them (and also, that she got her own ruk at the end). I loved everything about the rukhin, the Eridun aerie, and the family he has outside the palace, where he is more comfortable and at ease. I absolutely loved the scene in which Nesryn sings, it’s incredibly beautiful. And that is exactly what I mean. The potential Nesryn has that make her so much more than just a warrior. She’s strong and sharp as a blade, fast as the arrows she fires. But she also has this side that makes her sing the old songs from the land of her parents with such deep, raw emotion, and that makes Sartaq fall deeper in love with her. In this scene, there’s no lust. Not a mention of her body, of her breasts, or anything about her physical appearance, because it’s not what matters in their relationship. Sartaq admired Nesryn long before he met her face to face, and their bond is deep because they share so much more than the physical pull to each other that is the mark of other love stories in the series. 

I almost die when the stygian spiders took Sartaq, the whole thing was heart-stopping. I couldn’t stop reading. I needed to keep turning the pages. It was amazing, and Falkan’s intervention as a wolf, and later as a spider itself, was great. If you paid attention in The Assassin’s Blade, you will know that Falkan is there, in the souk of Xandria, although he doesn’t mention his name, and tells Celaena about the price he paid for the Spidersilk. I like that Lysandra was mentioned as his only living relative, because, if Falkan had appeared out of nowhere in the next book and claimed to be Lysandra’s uncle, it would have felt forced, and out of place. But like this, it’s perfectly done. It fits, that is what matters.

Oh, and by the way, I really liked Borte, her attitude and her badassery, and how she is always there for her family. If it wasn’t for her, they would have died, but she’s not afraid, and I loved when set the webs on fire, like a statement that nobody messes with the rukhin without paying for it. She has a lot of potential to make a great character, and I hope there’s more about her in the next book.

And the plot twists. Oh, my God, the plot twists. I have to talk about them.

They were terrible slaps in the face, and I swear, I didn’t see any of them coming. Not one. I was so distracted by the other plot points that I did not stop to think twice about the hints, and clues. And the best part is that all of them make sense! You wouldn’t think I’d have to mention that, but, oh, dear God! I’ve read my share of books in which the supposed plot twist just fell flat, or didn’t make any sense, but with this book, I ended up staring at the page like dumbfounded, completely stunned. And I honestly love when that happens. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you write plot twists. 

Oh, my God, the Valg Queen! I did not see that coming and it was like being hit in the head with a hammer. It left me utterly and completely speechless. But that explains so much about Maeve, and how she did all the things she did. Sarah J. Maas did a great job adding all the details that would have been clues, had we paid attention to them, like Doranelle being so secretive and hidden, and the owl Maeve keeps at her side at all times. And the Valg being parasites! I honestly didn’t think they would appear in this book, but everything has new meaning now, especially the role of healers as warriors on their own account, without wielding swords, but being equally vital for the war effort. Maeve is definitely one of the best villains I’ve ever read, and she’s more powerful and terrible than it seemed. She’s literally a demon, and knowing it made me see Erawan and the king of Adarlan as mere infants, their actions as child’s play. The Valg are terrible not only because of what they do to the body and mind of the people they use as hosts, but also because they force them to make the most terrible decisions, in order to prevent something worse. Look at the king! He had to have the healers killed because they would be used as chess pieces in the demons’ game. I mean, how do you make such a decision? How can destroying lives and tearing apart families be the lesser of two evils? And yet, here we are. At war with an otherworldly force. This has gone beyond one kingdom against another, and now it is a war between realms. Between light and dark.

And Duva being possessed the whole time! Being Tumelun’s killer! I mean… I would have never guessed it. Sarah J. Maas did a masterful job distracting me from her, because I completely discarded her. A young princess, married off for convenience, pregnant, and with a sweet look on her face… I did not give her a second thought, just like everybody else did. I mean, even Renia –Hasar’s lover– would have been a more likely suspect! But no, it was Duva the whole time! An unparalleled surprise it was, and greatly done. My applause to Sarah J. Maas. 

Phew! This was such a great book! And I honestly smiled at the last scene, with the newlyweds, the chance for Yrene to learn who was the stranger that gave her the note she treasures, and with the whole army ready to go and fight, the ships loaded with soldiers, and the rukhin flying above… It promises epicness, and I can’t wait to see how this continues. I hope it’s more, or as amazing, as this book!


Thursday, July 4, 2019

Review - More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

Original Title: More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops
Series: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, #2
Author: Jen Campbell 
Published: April 18th, 2013

Publisher: Constable and Robinson
I really don't know what to say about all the stupid people recorded in this book, except that they made me laugh, and a A LOT. Because one thing is having a kid saying things like this:
When I grow up, I’m going to be a book ninja.
Mummy … have we gone back in time?! (upon entering a really old, antique bookstore)
- Suggesting the bookseller to protect the books in her basement with a trained dragon.

That's perfectly acceptable. Children are hilarious, and have the best, widest imagination.

But another, completely different thing, is having an adult saying stuff like:
I only like books that I can really believe happened, you know? Like Twilight.
Do you have audiobooks on sign language?
If I buy this book, can I transfer it onto my friend’s Kindle?
My son’s getting married next week. Do you have a book to help me make sure it doesn’t rain on his big day? Some incantations or something?
Where’s your true fiction section?

*face palm* People like this make me scared of asking "how much stupider can it get?", because they seem to be taking it as a challenge. 

But they made me laugh, and that's enough for me.


Review - Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

Original Title: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops
Series: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, #1
Author: Jen Campbell 
Published: April 5th, 2012

Publisher: Constable and Robinson

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." - Albert Einstein. 

And, oh my God, he was right.
This made me laugh out loud.

Never a book before led me to so many face palms! And all I could think of was that we don't even need to make up this kind of things, because people actually say stuff like that. Reality exceeds fiction, indeed.

***

Sorry for the long absence, guys. I'm in a reading slump and these two books are a nice way to break through it. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Review - The Crimes of Grindelwald

Ok, here we are… and what to say? 
Let’s start with the basics. Did I like this movie? Yes, I did. Was it what I was expecting? No, it wasn’t. The Crimes of Grindelwald is, by all aspects, a transition movie. I was kind of hoping it would be as the first one, so enchanting, engaging, and amazing, and in the end, well… it wasn’t. I couldn’t love it as I was expecting to. I repeat, I liked it, and I was able to see many aspects in which it’s been underrated. Although, I think we all know JK Rowling is better than this. 

The first thing I thought as I left the theatre is that the movie didn’t include as many fantastic beasts as I would have liked to see. There was barely a scene inside the suitcase! And the second was that I could have totally removed Newt from the story, and it would have made very little difference in the plot. And I don’t think I should ever be left thinking something like that. But still, there’s a lot of details and things I noticed, and I have A TON to say, so sit back, relax, and get ready for a million-year long review, in which, obviously, I will leave things unsaid. I can’t possible analyse every single thing, and it’s long enough as it is. So, thank you, in advance, to those that will stay that long, I really appreciate it. Oh, and this will be SPOILERY, so if you don’t want to know what happens, this is your chance to leave. BYE.

First of all, something small but worth noticing. There’s these little details scattered here and there I just couldn’t help seeing, that made me so incredibly happy, and that any Potterhead can recognize, like when, as Newt and Leta walk around in the Ministry of Magic, we can see owls flying around; Arthur Weasley explains this to Harry at one point, telling him that they used to have owls for internal communication, but ended up changing to memorandums because of the mess they made. Or later, when Newt and Jacob are about to use the portkey to go to France, and Jacob has no idea what will happen, but we see that thing that is nothing more than a dirty old bucket, and we already know. That is honestly so great. I feel both situations as a high-five from Rowling and the whole Potter team that fed our dreams for so long, and I just love them, because I feel even more a part of this amazing world. 

As for the movies to come, I’m excited with the chance to meet the wizarding communities from other parts of the world, other than the British and the American ones. Five movies, five continents, is my guess. Oh, and it may sound very simple, but I really appreciate that every single main character in this story is an adult, which gives way to a lot more possibilities than if they were kids or teenagers. Unlike with the Harry Potter series, we are not discovering this world, but fully living it. These people can use magic outside school, and have more experience than if they were still students, so there’s so much more of it ahead!


Ok, this guy.
Because it’s always nice to see Newt Artemis Fido Scamander popping out of his suitcase.

Nothing can make me love Newt any less than I do. Nothing. In any case, I’ll just love him more. He’s so unique, and interesting! He could totally get along with Hagrid and Charlie Weasley. He’s a genuine good man, and I love how everything around him is a reflection of his personality and his interests. The screenplay describes his apartment in London as “a spartan bachelor residence”, which is exactly what most things about him say. His worn clothes, his old suitcase, his barely combed hair… Everything. He’s not very concerned by his looks, nor cares a lot about what people may think of him, which is especially noticeable in the contrast with his brother, who has a certain image to maintain as an Auror for the Ministry. To really get to know Newt, you need to gain his trust, look past his physical look, and go to his basement, or inside his suitcase, because there is where his life is. Not in plain sight. Newt is a simple guy, fully devoted to what he loves the most, and is not afraid of the world’s judgement for it. He cares and loves his creatures like they are family, and I guess no one can blame Bunty, his assistant, for being hopelessly in love with him. She’s crazy about creatures, like him, and gets to see the real Newt, living his passion and being himself at all times. What’s not to love there?

By the way, I found especially funny that the Spellbound magazine mentioned Newt as a “beast tamer”, because that shows how little they care about his work. If they did, they would know that is not what he does, because that implies he uses force, which could never be true. It’s rather about caring to understand them, to get to know their true nature and find out what they are, in despite of society’s prejudice. Plus, let’s be honest, anyone who has seen the nifflers knows that there’s no possible taming there.

I really love how happy he is when he sees his friends again. He’s not close with a lot of people, showing emotion is not easy for him, and when he sees Jacob and Queenie in his living room, he even manages to hug Jacob, which is a huge breakthrough. But his face… Eddie Redmayne has very expressive eyes, and he can say a lot without a word, which is only the tip of the iceberg of what makes him one of greatest actors alive. Newt realizes one second later that, if Queenie and Jacob are there, Tina must be too, but his expression instantly drops when she’s not, and you can read disappointment all over his face, as he tries to act as if it’s no big deal. And later, when Queenie explains to him that Tina is seeing someone else after the article mislead her, he rapidly blinks and avoids eye contact, letting us see clearly what the screenplay describes as “the atmosphere tainted by Tina’s absence”. He loves his friends, but he can’t deny he wanted to see Tina. He missed her and had no idea she may be hurting for something he never meant to do. It makes me want to hug him, and the list that actors that had that effect on me at some point is very short. And later, when he reads the postcard Queenie left behind, his eyes widen at the sight of Tina’s name, and that is purely an acting choice. It’s not on the screenplay.

As for Tina
She now looks very different, in every sense of the word. Hair, clothes, posture… I love that trench coat, by the way, which, as I had the opportunity to read, it’s not black, but deep blue. My guess is that she would have looked like this in the first movie, had Newt met her when she was still an Auror. The screenplay says she is “more elegant and confident than in New York but carrying private sadness”, and, if I remember correctly, she has only one or two smiles in the entire movie. Her whole darkened aspect now fully says Auror, unlike everything she wore in the previous movie, and we can see better her true personality and courage. She has now the chance to prove who she really is, what she can do, the true reach of her strength (like if duelling Grindelwald wasn’t enough). She’s still a badass, and fiercely loyal to herself, and to MACUSA. I love when she slams Theseus into the chair and ties him up so they can keep going, because that’s the real Tina! Nobody messes with her.
 
It’s funny because they’ll all be family one day. But this is what I mean, this is the Tina I want to keep getting to know. The smart, brave, badass Auror that is also a selfless, sweet, lovable girl with a big heart. Because she can be all those things, and the balance is perfectly shown, when, more often than not, they seem to be like water and oil in fiction (at least with female characters). And now that she lost her sister, she will fight with all her strength and skills to save her. I can’t wait to see that. The only thing I missed about her was her being irritating, and nagging Newt like she did when she first met him. 

Newt and Tina’s relationship didn’t get very far in this movie, but I love them even more, if that’s possible. I have to tell you, guys, I love when Newt tries to find her in Paris, and upon Kama’s tentative description, he instinctively calls her beautiful.
 
It seems minor, but it is something I haven’t seen in so long! In my experience, the world has forgotten that calling someone beautiful instead of hot is also valid. We are women, not cups of coffee, for God’s sake! And in my perspective, the term has shifted into something so demanding that borders pain, that requires a lot of sacrifices, and apparently, has become synonymous with physical perfection, to the point that it has more value than the person you are. That is why I love this. Newt didn’t fall in love with Tina because of how she looks, but for the person she is. For the brave, caring woman she can be if given the opportunity to show it, and only after seeing that, he recognized she’s also beautiful on the outside. 

Tina doesn’t know that, of course. At first, it’s very noticeable how, as she thinks him engaged, she tries to distance herself from him, adopting this fully professional attitude and barely talking to him, calling him Mr. Scamander instead of Newt, and trying to pretend nothing ever happened between them. Which, in a certain way, is true. At most there was hope, and tender feelings. We know that they exchanged letters, but not what they said. The screenplay tells us that “each has thought of the other daily for a year”, but, clearly, he wasn’t there to give her his book in person, as he said he would, because they only meet again in Paris and she’s already read it.
Once he clarifies things, stating that he’s not the one getting married, things instantly change between them, as they both try to say what they’ve been meaning to since they were reunited. It’s impossibly sweet. The fact that he carries her picture in his pocket surprises and moves Tina, because when she thought he had forgotten her after playing with her heart, in fact he had been thinking of her the whole time. There’s acting choices in this scene too, and they’re perfect. For one, Tina is incredibly touched, and as Newt rambles on an on, she’s doesn’t stop looking at him in awe, and even bites her lip, like not believing such cuteness and awkwardness all together in one guy. And as for Newt, although the screenplay says nothing, we can see how he drops his wand as he tries to speak, gets all nervous and stutters… Like I have said before, Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston are both the perfect casting choice for these two.

Newt telling Tina she has eyes like a salamander is utterly priceless. It can’t get more authentic than that. That is Newt Scamander, ladies and gentlemen! Jacob had previously tried to dissuade him from using that as a compliment, and told him what to tell her: that he missed her, that he went to Paris because she was there… And all those things may be true –because they are–, but they are nothing but platitudes. Any other guy could say that. But this is Newt we are talking about. He’s unique. That compliment has his personal signature, as I can’t imagine anyone else saying something like that. Tina simply has to admit she will never, ever meet anyone like Newt!
The way they look at each other says it all. You don’t hear every day that your eyes are like light in darkness, magical, unforgettable. She understands what he means and finds it endearing, because she knows what his creatures mean to him, that they are his life, and he loves them more than anything. This is a couple worth rooting for, because what I see is this relationship helping them become their best version, which is more than I can say about most of the romances I know. They both are better people when they are together. And look how. Tina didn’t smile a lot before Newt, sunk by the weight of her mistakes, and her strong commitment with duty and justice, taking action even when it wasn’t her place to do so. She hung on the balance, on the verge of losing everything, and was almost forgotten by the world, until she met him, and things started to change. And Newt, although naturally caring, is shy, and not good in dealing with people, but he’s making the effort because there’s someone he cares enough as to at least try to. Breaking through his awkwardness to talk to people in general is never easy for him, but he’s doing his best when it comes to Tina. He is willing to do what makes him uncomfortable for her. And if that is not blooming love, then I don’t know what it is. In a film and literary world in which, apparently, romances can’t work without constant lust, or without unnecessary drama that overcomplicates everything, this is beautiful, and strongly meaningful, in its simplicity.

Alright, moving on. I’d like to briefly talk about Theseus Scamander, Newt’s older brother.
This is a character I never expected to see here. By the way, Eddie Redmayne and Callum Turner could totally be brothers in real life, as they are so physically similar. From my perspective, I see Theseus as everything Newt should do, or what everyone expected Newt to become. He’s like the conventional, respectable Scamander Newt will never be. I find funny that one of the brothers is named after an animal (or a scientist, if you go for Newton), and the other, after a mythical beast slayer. It shows how different they are, and moreover, it’s like practically expected from Theseus to be a hero. He is mentioned as a war hero in the first movie, and I really want to know more about that. Oh, and also, I’d love to know more about their parents! They are not mentioned at all, but the book says that their mother was a hippogriff breeder, and she was the one that made Newt interested in magical creatures in the first place. I also want to know more about Theseus and Leta’s relationship. What happened there that Leta ended up preferring Theseus and broke Newt’s heart? Because, upon seeing the Spellbound picture, it is clear why they would confuse Leta with his fiancĂ©e, in the way she leans on him, how proud she looks, how she smiles… No one would deduce she’s not going to marry him, but his brother. It’s an honest mistake. 

I need to talk about Leta Lestrange for a minute.
What a character. Wow. I only appreciated her complexity with a second look. She has JK Rowling’s trademark, as I came here ready to hate her, and in the end, I couldn’t. Everything about her already predisposes us for it, starting with her last name. Lestrange is not exactly any last name, as it is heavy with darkness, attached to character we can’t but hate. Also, seeing her in Slytherin robes, and cursing a Gryffindor girl, immediately creates a bad reputation. Plus, before that, we only knew Leta as the cause of Newt’s broken heart, and as Tina’s rival. But she’s overall deeper than that. In general, Leta’s character is presented as a beautiful, pureblood witch that’s about to honour that by marrying someone of her same status. She seems to have it all. But her external appearance is a sham. She glows like a jewel, but in reality, she’s weak as the flame in a candle, secretly fragile and guilt-ridden for the secrets she carries. 

I understood and loved her early friendship with Newt in school. Before him, we see her bullied and feared, with everybody thinking her weird and wicked without even considering her history, the tale she never told anyone, and that never let her be free. She had genuine reasons to be like that. Think about it! Since she was born, she never knew happiness. Her father never even wanted her, much less loved her, and her mother didn’t live long enough for it. But Newt –just as he always does with his creatures– decided to understand her before judging her. He talked to her when no one else did. He let her in his world without questioning her, sharing what made him happy. Just like that baby raven he was nursing when she found him in Hogwarts, Leta was hurting and couldn’t handle it on her own, and needed a friendly hand, a gesture that didn’t say hate but love. Something she never had. Newt didn’t ask questions, and genuinely cared for her, and wanted to be her friend even in her dark times, after an entire life in which she felt as nothing but a burden for everyone. No wonder she would love him. And all this is what makes me think that, when she said I love you, it was for Newt, because we can see why. We don’t know enough about her relationship with Theseus to think otherwise, to see why she ended up engaged to him instead of Newt. Reputation, perhaps? We don’t know for sure, and I don’t think we ever will now. But I liked the fact that she, even with everything that happened to her, could gather her strength for one last fight. Yes, she paid for her mistakes. But she died a hero, defending those she loved the most. 

As for the contrast between Leta and Tina, I’d like to briefly compare them to see how different they are. I once referred to Tina as someone who could easily get lost in a crowd, because of her clothes and her look in general. And although she still can, it’s not the same. She looks different and her mixing in the crowd is now a requirement of her job, not an inevitable consequence of her circumstances, like it used to be. And Leta, well… She always wears these detailed, elegant designs, with expensive, rich-coloured fabrics, and deep necklines, and it’s more like a striking, sexy look. This woman doesn’t go unnoticed in any possible way. If she’s is in the room, you will see her. She’s beautiful and elegant, attractive in an obvious kind of way, while Tina is more of a sweet, caring woman with a low profile, who took care of her family when she had to, and gives everything out for others. Sounds familiar?
Just like with Newt, to get to know Tina, you need to honestly care. Her beauty is less dazzling, but still worth noticing. But Leta, at least, had genuine reasons to be a taker. She never had anything, and when she could, she tried to have as much as possible. We should not see her as the villain because of that. 

Ok, let’s move on. 

In my previous review I said the Wizarding World was ahead of its time, and it is, in many ways. Except for that ridiculous rule they have in the American community. 
I agree with Newt. It’s absurd. Queenie wants to rebel against that, and tries to protect Jacob in the previous movie, standing before him, trying to shield him from Madame Picquery’s sight, so he wouldn’t have to be obliviated. She really loves him, and although it was wrong to take him to London under a spell, she did it because she knew he would never go on his own. Queenie is definitely different in this movie, and you can see it in her costumes already. The girl with the perfect hair, and in pink, silky dresses, was left behind, replaced by a stronger figure in tweed and overall darker tones. 
I was not expecting that twist in her character, but I guess her outfits were the first clue. She doesn’t even smile much, and everything about her says internal struggle. There’s not much to say about her and Jacob, as they are barely together in this one, although Jacob tries to find her in Paris during the whole story. He truly loves her, and doesn’t want to lose her, but neither wants anything bad happening to her because of him. I can’t wait to see the part Jacob will play in this whole mess. He’s not a wizard, after all, but he won’t stop until he gets Queenie back, and I’m excited to see what will happen. Plus, I love his friendship with Newt, and how he’s slowly warming up to the magic around him. It’s very funny to see him as he tries to help Newt with his people skills, especially when he fails in speaking to Tina as he should. He’s still the comic relief, but in a realistic kind of way, as the foreigner in this world of magic he’s just starting to know a little better, unlike Newt, whose funny parts come mostly from his personality traits. But Queenie… I’m afraid we lost her to the other side. At least for now. Which gives me the opportunity to talk about this guy we call Gellert Grindelwald.
I got to tell you, that final speech is captivating, in the way that he encourages his followers to violence without using it. He shows them who the real villains are, and how it is in their hands to put a stop to them, ending wars, and suffering, if they just take the power for themselves. Notice that not for himself alone, as Voldemort wants, but for the whole wizard kind. A power he thinks, is rightfully theirs. An attractive concept, isn’t it? However, he makes them prove their loyalty by literally walking through fire. You don’t just take his side. Only his true followers can walk through his flames and come out alive on the other side. If you doubt, you burn. That way, he ensures that there’s no double-cross, no second thoughts. Just pure loyalty. And I’ve never, ever seen something like that. He’s different from any other villain I’ve ever known, because his weapon is not fear. He’s like the human version of the Mirror of Erised!

As he masqueraded as Mr. Graves, he took some liberties that clearly hid something behind, that were not simply his job. The perfect example is sentencing Newt and Tina to death like that, without reliable evidence, after Newt’s creatures gave him the perfect scapegoat to state his claim that the damages in New York were caused by a beast. I personally think that, given how Newt and Tina are, he knew they would never take his side. There was no weakness there he could exploit. His motives come from the conviction that wizards should be the superior race, because of their power, and his claim gains him fanatics all over the world. One can see why this idea would tempt them, but Newt and Tina are not ambitious like that (besides that they could see right through his shady plan). Grindelwald’s followers are not like Voldemort’s Death Eaters, and he doesn’t gather them the same way. Look at the way he used to get Credence to cooperate, and how he snagged Queenie. He doesn’t use force, or threats. He appeals to their hearts, and uses promises as his weapon. Credence has magic, even if rotten and uncontrollable, and can be very strong. It’s useful for him to have him by his side. By giving him a wand and revealing his name (true or not), he is both answering his most pressing question, and granting his greatest wish. Don’t tell me that is not a smart move. But since that is not very detailed, I can’t say more. I just have one single question: is Credence really Aurelius Dumbledore, or that is just who Grindelwald needs him to be for his plans, for the time being? It wouldn’t be the first time he creates a bait like that, after all. If Albus finds out he has another sibling, he won’t let him end up like Ariana, her death being his lifelong torture. Grindelwald knows it. And like this, Credence works as the perfect shield, because as far as he is with him, Dumbledore won’t dare attack. It’s brilliant.

As for Queenie, well… if there’s something Grindelwald proved he’s good at, is at exploiting the pain of others, but smoothly enough as for them not to notice. My point is that, to gain her and Credence, Grindelwald attacked their vulnerability with honey-coated promises, making them act on their own free will. Queenie has a big heart, and her only wish is to be free to love whoever she wants. One would think that couldn’t be used for evil. But Grindelwald talks to Queenie’s feelings and purity, and actually gives her a choice. And this is what I mean. It’s like having the chance to step into the Mirror of Erised after seeing what you want the most. You have to be made of stone not to fall for that. 

What I don’t think Grindelwald knows so far is that Queenie is a Legilimens, and she should do as she has been so far, keeping that to herself. It can make her a huge difference in his game, and if he finds out, he won’t let her go so easy.

And finally, Nagini. Another thing I never saw coming.

She’s a Maledictus, which is like the dark version of being an animagus, because she doesn’t have control over her transformations. It’s a blood curse, and apparently, that makes her a circus freak, because she doesn’t have a wand, meaning that she will never be a part of the regular wizarding society (if she ever was). She can control it for now, but she will eventually find her transformations more difficult, finally ending her days as a snake, unable to transform back. And that is a wildly interesting concept that raises a lot of questions. It’s interesting to get to see this, since Voldemort, besides everything he did, was a collector of unique things, and that is why he picked the objects he did to be his Horcruxes. Not ordinary things, but things with an immense historical value, that were one of a kind: Slytherin’s locket, Hufflepuff’s cup, Ravenclaw’s diadem… Unrepeatable treasures, with a huge meaning. We already know where and how Nagini will eventually end, but in the Harry Potter series there’s not much about it, besides that it’s not a regular snake, and Voldemort needs it to survive until he can have his own body. We don’t know where he got her from, and in general, she poses a blank canvas, that Rowling can fill the way she thinks best, giving her a past and a personality, before the inevitable happens. It’s an opportunity that is there for the taking, and I hope it leads somewhere interesting. My theory is that she will ultimately turn into a snake, to never transform back, because of a broken heart, as she is in love with Credence, but we’ll see.

***

I think that’s it. Thank you so much for all those who stayed this long, I know this must have been exhausting. I appreciate it, from the bottom of my heart. Please leave your comments below, and again, thank you.

‘till next time!