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A Spoiler-Free Crash Course to Sarah J. Maas's Crescent City Series

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • January 21, 2024

Coming out on January 30, House of Flame and Shadow is the newest book in the Crescent City series by BookTok star, Sarah J. Maas. Set in a modern, urban world with a complex history and hierarchy, this series (aimed at adults) may require a bit of an adjustment for longtime fans of her YA hit series, Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses. To help, we've put together a spoiler-free crash course.

The magical world of Midgard

The story takes place in Midgard, which means "middle earth" in Norse. This world was once populated only by humans and non-magical animals. Fifteen thousand years before the events of the series, rifts opened at the poles of the planet that allowed entry to a variety of magical creatures, including shape shifters, Fae, angels, vampires, witches, and more. The magical beings, referred to collectively as Vanir, quickly conquered the humans and a senate government was established to rule over the world.

Government and hierarchy

Midgard is broken up into ten territories. Each of these is ostensibly under the command of the most powerful of the angels, called archangels, aka The Governors. But the real power is in the shadowy Asteri, ancient invaders who hold the "power of the stars." Humans are at the bottom of the hierarchy in this world.

Two hundred years before the events of the books, an archangel named Shahar attempted to lead an uprising against the Asteri, but her rebellion was crushed and she was killed by her twin sister in battle. Surviving rebels were forced into slavery and marked by a tattoo with the letters SPQM. These slave angels are known as the Fallen.

Crescent City

The story takes place in an old city that was based around a temple to the goddess Luna and originally called Lunathion, but it has since been rebranded and modernized and is now called Crescent City. It is the main city in the territory of Valbara, which is governed by an archangel named Micah. Micah has formed a personal army of angels, mostly fallen. The Triarii, the most elite unit of these forces, is made up of Isaiah (commander) Naomi (captain), Viktoria, Justinian, and Hunt.

A few key characters

Bryce: Half-Fae and half-human who works for Griffin Antiquities, selling barely legal magical artifacts

Hunt: An infamous fallen angel who works for the Archangels as a personal assassin

Danika: Bryce's best friend and the leader of the Pack of Devils, Valbaran Wolf Shifters

Jesiba: A notorious sorceress and the owner of Griffin Antiquities

Ruhn: Bryce's half brother, the Crown Prince of the Valbaran Fae

Book #1: House of Earth and Blood

Bryce had the perfect life—until a demon murdered her closest friends. Hunt is a notorious Fallen angel, enslaved by the government he once tried to overthrow. Now, with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he's offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

Book #2: House of Breath and Sky

Bryce and Hunt are trying to relax and recover after all the upheaval of recent events. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri's power, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what's right. And they've never been very good at staying silent.

Book #3: House of Flame and Shadow (Jan. 30)

Stranded in a strange new world, Bryce wants only to get back to her loved ones in Midgard. Hunt is desperate to help her, but, imprisoned in the Asteri dungeons, his hands are, quite literally, tied.

Hopefully this helps the uninitiated get excited about this sexy, action-packed fantasy series. If you're already a fan and just want more like Crescent City, here are some recommendations for you:

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Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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