A shot of Sarah Moss during an interview, imposed over a row of her book covers.

From Maas-ive Highs to Lows, All SJM Books Ranked

With sixteen books under her belt, we decided to rank every single work from the queen of romantasy herself.

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Spanning three seasons, three worlds, and one interconnected universe to rival the MCU, Sarah J. Maas has created a rich world packed full of heart-pounding adventure, inspiring romances, and well-thought-out magic systems that hold up well even under the scrutiny of hundreds of thousands of readers around the world.

We’ve already broken down the top ten books from Maas but now is the time to rank every single one of them, all in one place. Naturally, spoilers for all of them ahead.

House of Flame and Shadow

Favorite quote: “The world seemed to hold its breath as the elegant doe walked up to Ruhn and gently, lovingly, nuzzled his neck.”

House of Flame and Shadow, the most recent addition to the Crescent City franchise, arguably suffers because of the incredible hype sparked by the cliffhanger of House of Sky and Breath. However, that’s not the only issue with it. Abandoned plotlines, too much time spent with secondary characters with repetitive decisions like Ithan, and some confusing character choices for Hunt and Bryce left me, and many others, feeling underwhelmed.

A Court of Frost and Starlight

Favorite quote: “She had always been drawn to the untamed, wild things of the world.”

Truly, there’s nothing wrong with A Court of Frost and Starlight but it is the literary equivalent of a Hallmark holiday special. It follows the characters of ACOTAR during the winter holidays and is a nice palette cleanser but doesn’t have the same level of substance as other books on this list.

Tower of Dawn

Favorite quote: “A gift. A gift from a queen who had seen another woman in hell and thought to reach back a hand. With no thought of it ever being returned. A moment of kindness, a tug on a thread.”

Sorry to those who love Chaol but Tower of Dawn just doesn’t do it for me. How can we go from ‘where is my wife?’, and then be expected to care about a storyline at the other end of the world. The Southern Continent, Chaol’s heading, meeting Yrene Towers, and the criminally underrated love story between Nesryn and Sartaq simply comes at the wrong time for fans to embrace it.

Throne of Glass

Favorite quote: “You could rattle the stars,” she whispered. “You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you most.”

The very first book in Throne of Glass that gave the series its unofficial name will always hold a nostalgic place in fans’ hearts. However, the need for a self-contained story means that it doesn’t have the same high stakes or heart-pounding romances that we know Ms Maas for, ranking it lower on this list than you might expect.

The Assassin’s Blade

Favorite quote: “My name is Sam Cortland… and I will not be afraid.”

Considering that this collection of what were originally short stories was never meant to be a full book, it does very well to rank this high. That’s a testament to how much more rewarding it makes Empire of Storms and the extra pathos added to the story of Sam and Celaena. The Assassin’s Blade delivers a surprising amount of plot and depth to the characters in a short space of pages but just can’t quite compete with some of the full books from the series and others.

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Favorite quote: “Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”

The common refrain for those wanting to start with A Court of Thorns and Roses as a series is ‘just get through the first one’—and that’s sadly accurate. ACOTAR as a book doesn’t break the mould that many will know from adult fantasy, but it does lay some groundwork for one of the most popular fantasy series of recent years. It’s definitely worth a read—but don’t expect the same level of intrigue as some later books.

Crown of Midnight

Favorite quote: “Celaena Sardothien wasn’t in league with Aelin Ashryver Galathynius. Celaena Sardothien was Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, heir to the throne and rightful Queen of Terrasen.”

This second book from Throne of Glass is where it really starts to hit its stride. Celaena is in full assassin mode (somehow to Chaol’s surprise) and readers can start to get to know the wider world of Adarlan and some of the growing threats. The foundations for the richness of the series are being built, along with the first real mentions of the fire-breathing bitch queen herself: Aelin Galathynius.

Heir of Fire

Favorite quote: “You would probably have been more useful to the world if you’d actually died ten years ago.”

Just kidding! “You cannot pick and choose what parts of her to love.”

Enter: Rowan Whitethorn. This is where Ms Maas set the standard for book boyfriends (even if he’s not as his finest in this book). Watching Aelin and Rowan journeying their way out of darkness together is a heartwarming display of mental illness recovery, but you also get to spend time with new characters, Aedion Ashryver, Manon Blackbeak, and Elide Lochan, expanding the world of Throne of Glass still further.

House of Sky and Breath

Favorite quote: “We don’t let them decide who we get to be. We’ll carve our own paths.”

House of Sky and Breath is a commendable second entry in Crescent City. While its length means the pacing is a bit off, the earth-shattering revelations at the end and the inter-series crossover that introduced Bryce Quinlan to Rhys and Feyre propelled this book into a whole new world of theories and speculation. Its the Maas-iverse at its finest.

Kingdom of Ash

Favorite quote: “‘There are no gods left to watch, I’m afraid. And there are no gods left to help you now, Aelin Galathynius.’ Aelin smiled, and Goldryn burned brighter. ‘I am a god.’”

It’s always hard to bring a lengthy series to a close but Kingdom of Ash manages to do so with grace and style. There might be a few open-ends that bring it down slightly (ahem, Vaughn) but seeing some characters finally get their HEA, while others get tragic endings that punch you in the gut like only a good fantasy book was a satisfying conclusion for the beloved Throne of Glass series.

Empire of Storms

Favorite quote: “The sunlight gilded the balcony as Asterin whispered, so softly that only Manon could hear, ‘Bring my body back to the cabin.’ Something in Manon’s chest broke—broke so violently that she wondered if it was possible for no one to have heard it.”

As the quote might give away, Empire of Storms is truly Manon Blackbeak’s book. Thanks to her journey and growth, the book is a gripping adventure that tells the story of someone stepping away from even the darkest of upbringings. Pair that with Aelin stepping fully into the role of queen, gathering her allies, and using her powers in ways that we’ve not yet seen and, safe to say, it’s a doozy.

A Court of Wings and Ruin

Favorite quote: “Only you can decide what breaks you, Cursebreaker. Only you.”

The climax of Rhys and Feyre’s trilogy, A Court of Wings and Ruin is a triumph in concluding the series. It leaves just enough open to leave a door for future books but resolves enough that we can say goodbye to Feyre’s POV contently. Writing war scenes is a tricky ask but Maas manages to find the balance of communicating scale, while staying close to our well-loved main characters. Bravo!

Queen of Shadows

Favorite quote: “Ten years of shadows, but no longer. Light up the darkness, Majesty.”

Queen of Shadows is the top-ranking book on this list from the Throne of Glass series. It has it all: badass fights, secret plans, romance, and heartache. As a story, it takes place before we get to the truly heart-breaking moments of later books but the stakes are high enough that it’s incredibly tense, whether that’s during Aedion’s rescue, below the city with Aedion and Rowan, or facing down the king with Aelin, Chaol, and Dorian. All in all: top tier.

House of Earth and Blood

Favorite quote: “Then let the world know that my first act of freedom was to help my friends.”

It’s a testament to how good House of Earth and Blood is that I almost think it would have worked best as a standalone book. Fantasy meets crime in this ‘who dunnit’ mystery novel, set in a city where fantastical creatures live in a melting pot of different cultures, complete with recreational drugs and smartphones. What’s not to love?

A Court of Silver Flames

Favorite quote: “Keep reaching out your hand.”

While it’s the spiciest of Ms Maas’ books in the ACOTAR series, A Court of Silver Flames is really centered around female friendships. The realistic description of a woman finding herself in the woman she surrounds herself with, of carving out and defending a space for them in a hard world, is the heart and soul of this book—and it pays off.

A Court of Mist and Fury

Favorite quote: “When you spend so long trapped in darkness, Lucien, you find that the darkness begins to stare back.”

I could have picked the obvious quote but, for me, the true beauty of A Court of Mist and Fury and why it’s earned the top spot is the authentic story of clawing your way back from the depths of depression. Feyre’s strength and fight to find joy in life is truly inspiring and it’s that, more than her relationship with Rhys (although that’s great too) that truly grabbed fans and kept people reading and re-reading the second book in the series.

(featured image: Bloomsbury Publishing/NBC)

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