And then came the words she had been dreading for ten years.
"Hello, Aelin Galathynius."'
'That girl, that princess, had died in a river a decade ago. Celaena was no more Aelin Galathynius than she was any other person.'
Although Chaol Westfall may be reeling from the shock of discovering that Celaena is Terrasen's rightful queen, Celaena has no true feelings on the matter.
Her past - and who she used to be - are buried deep inside her. And she plans on keeping it that way.
Too much has happened for her to ever consider taking up a crown. Wendlyn offers nothing more than a chance to drink herself into oblivion, as she tries fruitlessly to forget what sent her there in the first place.
Nehemia. Chaol. And a tyrant on a throne that is not his own.
'Celaena was Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, heir to the throne and rightful Queen of Terrasen. It made her his mortal enemy. It made her Dorian's enemy. The future he'd once dreamed of was irrevocably gone.'
Back at the palace, Chaol struggles to deal with the truth behind Celaena's parting words. And they're made no easier to handle by the appearance of a person who looks all too familiar.
Aedion Ashryver, the King of Adarlan's General of the North.
And Celaena's - Aelin's - cousin.
Chaol has a heavy choice to make. Can he trust anyone with Celaena's secret...even someone who shares the same blood as her?
'She'd been running for so long that she didn't know what it was to stand and fight.'
Although the humans of Wendlyn may not know a queen is in their midst, some powers certainly do. Especially Maeve, Queen of the Fae and Celaena's aunt.
Coming face-to-face with the woman her mother, when alive, had kept her hidden from is not a wise move to make. But Celaena needs answers. Answers that could change the fate of the kingdom and that could allow her to return to Adarlan at last.
But everything has a price. And Maeve isn't going to give those answers to her for free.
'I wish you to become who you were born to be. To become queen.'
Celaena is to reside at Mistward, under the experienced eye of Prince Rowan, nephew of Maeve and bound to the fae queen's service. There, he will test her until she has proven worthy of gaining the answers she desperately seeks.
But these tests, unlike the ones that made her King's Champion, are not concentrated on mere mundane methods of combat and killing.
They require Celaena to use her magic.
Which is easier said than done. No matter how hard she tries, she cannot seem to summon up even a spark - something that infuriates Rowan to no end.
The light inside her is barely flickering. For what does she have live for? For what purpose does her existence serve? Such questions Celaena must answer for herself.
'She has no hope, Prince. She has no hope left in her heart. Help her. If not for her sake, then at least for what she represents - what she could offer all of us, you included. (...) A better world.'
Rowan Whitethorn has better things to do than babysit a spoiled princess who refuses to tap into her own magic. He may not know much about Celaena, but what he does know doesn't exactly inspire him to aid her.
Yet the more time he spends with Celaena, the more he comes to realise that the girl before him is only one side she shows the world. Every now and then he gets glimpses of a fiery, passionate woman who would do anything for those she holds dear.
And he can't help but think that maybe, just maybe, she has the potential to be the queen she was meant to be - if only she'd find the strength to face her fears head-on.
'You do not have a heart, Manon. We are not born with them, and we are glad of it.'
Over in the Western Wastes, Manon Blackbeak - the heir of the Blackbeak Witch Clan - has only one goal.
To win the War Games, so she can one day become Queen of the Waste.
She is a killer, but the skills that got her that title won't help her in the Games. To do that, she will have to train Abraxos, her chosen wyvern, and get it to make the Crossing successfully.
But time is against her, as is the stubborn Abraxos. But Manon has never backed down from a challenge before and she'll be damned if she will this time, when it really counts.
Will Celaena accept her past and find a way to start a court that will change the world? What secrets will lie in Maeve's much sought-after answers? And what tricks does the evil king on his stolen throne have up his sleeve?
Only time will tell.
'She was Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, heir of two mighty bloodlines, protector of a once-glorious people, and Queen of Terrasen.
She was Aelin Ashryver Galathynius - and she would not be afraid.'
**A big thank you to Netgalley for the ARC of this book and to Sarah J Maas for writing it!**