Reviews

A War of Swallowed Stars by Sangu Mandanna

niccith's review

Go to review page

adventurous challenging dark emotional hopeful mysterious reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

A stunning conclusion to an intense, complicated, war story between members of the Rey royal family. Twins, Esmae, and Alexi, the princess and the prince, are filled with such moral dilemmas of revenge, hate, loyalty, curses, and the interference of the gods. It isn't easy to take sides. Each one thinks they have the right to the Crown of Kali. Neither one is willing to thinkAs you read with abated breath, you will be glued to your seat of the consequences of their actions as they continue their war battles across the galaxy that will affect family, friends, and the people of their kingdoms.
 
You will be glued to your seat as you read with abated breath as character growth expands, learning more details that drive the story. You will become devastated at unexpected deaths, realizing the characters' hearts are filling up with revenge.  And you may experience the desire to jump into the story to set everyone straight about the truth because no one seems to get it. They are so caught up in their own beliefs.
 
All of this is written in the fantastical world of outstanding world settings.

Highly recommended 

danzibooks's review against another edition

Go to review page

4.0

3.5 stars

If I'm being honest, I didn't find the writing to be that great. But the story had me hooked. Overall, a tidy end to the trilogy.

ashleysimon's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous dark emotional sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

aleighshareads13's review against another edition

Go to review page

5.0

i love this series so much! I adore Esmae.❤️
I'm so sad it's over, but it had such a great ending! I can't wait to read everything else this author puts out!

thissimoneb's review against another edition

Go to review page

4.0

A very satisfying and dramatic conclusion!

dinibharadwaj's review against another edition

Go to review page

challenging dark emotional fast-paced

5.0

Fitting finale for a wonderful series that has all my heart! (P. S. Sangu, I see what you did there with the Kodava reference.)

thebookishraven's review against another edition

Go to review page

5.0

I cried at every book in this trilogy, 10/10

hopeglow's review

Go to review page

4.0

4.5

ejpass's review against another edition

Go to review page

5.0

5/5 stars
Recommended for people who like:
multiple POVs, sci-fi, space operas, morally gray characters, mythology, LGBTQ+ characters, trilogies

Note: there will be spoilers for previous Celestial Trilogy books in this review.

TW: ableism

I was so nervous coming into this one because 1) we still hadn't seen all of the curses come to fruition yet, and 2) I was expecting at least one character to die in the book. While both of these were valid things to be nervous about, I'm actually pleased with how both played out and Mandanna even managed to surprise me with 1) (okay, and admittedly in some areas of 2) as well).

I feel in some ways this book was darker than the other two, which is saying something because House, especially at the end, was pretty dark. However, in this one our favorite cast of characters is facing problems from multiple sources, not least of which include Alexi and Sorsha. On top of that, Esmae, Amba, and Titania have to deal with the shit that went down at the end of House, so the three of them in particular are in some rough spaces in the book.

This is a bit of a tangent, but the 'bowstring thumb' thing confused me a lot until I got about 1/2-2/3 way through the book. I've done archery before, but I've only learned Western techniques and so am not super familiar with the way other cultures do it. I assumed Esmae and co. were knocking their arrows using their index and middle fingers and drawing using those (or those + ring finger)...which would mean the thumb plays no part in knocking, drawing, or shooting. It wasn't until someone showed Esmae how to shoot the way I described above where it clicked that they were using
a totally different method (and then I looked up traditional Indian archery techniques and.....uh.....yeah, you need a thumb for that). I was glad that got an additional explanation in this book, though, because I think I might've remained lost (or eventually remembered the internet exists and looked it up).

Esmae and Alexi got to talk a bit more in this one than they did in the last one, which I think was good, though admittedly it could've been better. Esmae really gets a chance to let loose on some of the things she thinks about him, particularly his desire to be seen as the 'golden boy' as well as his seeming inability to contradict/think outside of their mother. Frankly, she's right and I don't think Alexi ever really gets it (which is kind of funny considering both Leila Saka and Kyra said something similar to him). I thought their dynamic was interesting in this one and it kind of came full-circle in a way. Esmae still wants Alexi destroyed, but she also still wants peace (or at least doesn't want Kali and its people hurt/destroyed), whereas Alexi still isn't willing to settle for a compr0mise. I will say, this might be one of the few books where I think the author actually could've written more and the book would not have suffered. The way things are resolved in the end re: the crown, Kali, and Esmae and Alexi could have, I think, used a bit more page time to explore. There is an epilogue-esque kind of ending that takes place months later, but it doesn't really focus on those things and I do wish we'd gotten to see more of that. Perhaps another short story at some point in the future?

Onto individual character analyses, Esmae is, as mentioned, not really in a great place when the book opens (and I don't just mean physically). She does initially rebound fairly quickly, but everything that's been happening over the past three books does collapse back on her and we get to see the psychological toll that it's taken. Also as mentioned, she still wants to destroy Alexi, but she also takes a moment to reassess things and is willing to try something other than all-out war if possible. Esmae also has to struggle with having lose her 'bowstring thumb' and re-learning how to do certain things with a prosthetic. The process frustrates her and we do get a sense of her loss, but she's also willing to train and work to get to a place where she can still fight, whether it's with her left hand or a different way of using her right. Esmae develops as a character throughout each book and that development is really seen here as she starts to grow away from the solely revenge-driven person she had been in House.

Titania gets a POV again in this book and also gets more chapters from her POV. As a ship it's hard to remember how young she is, but she really is just a child still and has seen so much. She yearns to be human, but also knows she's useful as a ship and wants to be able to help Esmae and Max and everyone with the coming war. Despite not being happy with what happened at Arcadia at the end of the last book, Titania seemed to have used Esmae's disappearance as a way to distract herself/rebound and for most of the book she's the same bubbly Titania we've always known. Things do change, as they must, but Titania remains a big part of the story.

Radha also gets a POV, which was somewhat surprising as I'd been expecting Sybilla to be a POV character. However, Radha is able to give insight into events and people that the other characters cannot. For instance, at the end of the last book, Radha went back to Wychstar, and so we get to see what's going on there as well as some of the other political events that she's privvy to but that other characters either aren't or don't bother with. I liked seeing inside her head because she is a nice person and she is loyal to Esmae and her new friends on Kali, but also has moments when she doubts herself. Her interactions with Sybilla are fun to read since they have very different dispositions and Radha knows exactly how to tongue-tie Sybilla.

Sybilla, while still thorny, lets herself show more emotion in this one. She and Esmae's friendship is perfect and Sybilla offers a good amount of gentleness and hard truths. I feel like we see less of her in this book, though, and I would have liked to see more. I enjoyed reading as she became more open to other people and expressed that softer side of herself.

Max underwent some development as well, and while he still prefers peace, we do get to see him in battle a little. Like with Sybilla, I wish we saw more of him in this book, but at least the parts that we do see are rich in content and characterization. I've always appreciated his general demeanor when it comes to Esmae and continue to do so in this book. War is, obviously, not what he wanted, but he's still willing to support whatever she decides. It's also fun to see him and Amba interact more since she's always around now.

Alexi is, understandably, frustrating. I mentioned above that he very much cares what others think and that he listens a little too much to Kyra. He's also generally unwilling to listen to anyone else. He does do some good things in the book, don't get me wrong, but he does a lot in this book and misunderstands a lot. I suppose we could say the same of Esmae, but, obviously, we're getting things from Emsae and her friends' POVs, so Esmae's faults seem/feel different than Alexi's.

Bear is still pretty much the same he's been in the last two books. He's tied between loyalty to Alexi and loyalty to Esmae. He loves them both and doesn't want either of them fighting and, I think, could himself make a pretty good negotiator/peacemaker given the time and page space. He matters a lot to Alexi and Esmae, which is another reason I think he could've mended things, but he has even less page time here than in House so that isn't his role. Also, while he is stuck in the middle of the two sides, he does consistently chose Alexi, even if he does help Esmae at times. Thus, while he is caught between the two and perhaps could have helped stopped the war, he is also too strongly on Alexi's side for much of his Alexi-Esmae-get-along desires to work out.

Sorsha can't really be discussed without spoilery things being revealed. I did like the idea of a space dragon who eats stars, so that was pretty cool.

Overall, I did like the book and thought that it was a nice, fitting conclusion to the trilogy. I do wish it had been a bit longer so that we could get more page time with some of the characters, have a bit longer build up to the climax, and then see how things played out a little more after things got (mostly) resolved.

sangloup's review

Go to review page

5.0

I loved loved loved this book. Did it make me laugh? Some Yes. Did it make me cry? Some Yes. Did it make me angry? Yes... But this Trilogy couldn't have had a better ending. The author did an amazing job in my opinion. I am just so very glad that all three books were already published when I picked up the first one!!

I very much enjoyed the blending of Indian Mythology with Science and Space. I am now hearing references to Indian Mythology that I never would have put together before. Again... Sangu did a great job! Brava!!