The third book in the Crescent City series, House of Flame and Shadow, will come out at the end of January 2024. It’s been almost four years since the first book came out, so now is the perfect time to refresh your memory with a House of Earth and Blood summary.
The books are chunky at more than 800 pages, so reading both in anticipation of the latest release might not fit in with your New Year’s plans. Rest assured, this House of Earth and Blood summary.
will summarize the book by hitting on the most important parts. If you want to dive even deeper into the book, you can check out our House of Earth and Blood book review too.
House of Earth and Blood Summary
It should go without saying, but we’ll say it just to be very clear:
Everything on this page is going to be a massive spoiler.
Keep reading only if you’ve already read the books, or don’t mind spoilers.
In order to give you a proper House of Earth and Blood summary we’ll be diving into the character’s actions, motivations, and betrayals throughout this epic slow-burn fantasy.
We’ve split our recap of the book into smaller sections by particular plot moments or revelations. The book consists of four parts and an epilogue. But since the book is so large, this helps compress the chapters in a more manageable way for a recap.
You’ve had your chance to turn back or read our House of Earth and Blood book review instead… So, now let’s get straight to the spoiler-filled House of Earth and Blood summary.
Chapters 1 – 2: The Beginning
As with any epic fantasy book, the first chapters build up this world and its characters.
In the first few scenes readers meet five important characters. The first is Bryce Quinlan who is a half-Fae 23-year-old. While her mother is human, her biological father is the Autumn King. Through him she has a half-brother, Ruhn Danaan, who is a full-Fae.
The other characters introduced include Bryce’s boss, a witch and the owner of Griffin Antiquities, Jesiba Roga; a tiny fire sprite Lehaba; and the chimera Syrinx. Finally, but by no means least, is Bryce’s best friend, Danika. She is also the granddaughter of the Werewolf Prime and Alpha to her pack.
Maas also explains the different districts that make up Crescent City and who rules them. The only district that is not led by a ruler is Asphodel Meadows because it is the human district.
The other districts are the Bone Quarter, ruled by the Under-King; Five Roses, which is more commonly referred to as FiRo and ruled by the Fae Autumn King; the Meat Market, ruled by the Viper Queen; Moonwood, which is ruled by the Werewolf Prime; Old Square, ruled by the Oracle; and then Underneath the Istros River, ruled by the river Queen.
Each district has a Gate with ley lines running between them. A long time ago these Gates were communication devices. But now the Gates are the conduit for smaller pranks and tourist entertainment. In order to use the devices, the user sacrifices a small amount of their own magic to it.
Maas also explains that in this world there is such a thing as a Drop into near-immortality. However, neither Bryce or Danika have made the Drop yet. There is also brief chatter about Luna’s Horn for the first time.
There is a brief exchange regarding the tattoo Bryce got while drunk one night that will be important later.
Chapters 3 – 7: Danika’s Murder
On the night of Danika’s murder, Bryce had briefly gone out on a date with her boyfriend, Reid, before breaking it off. Reid is the owner of Redner Industries.
She then had texted Connor, another member of the pack and Danika’s second, finally agreeing to go out with him. Bryce then went clubbing with a few friends and stumbles home to her and Danika’s shared apartment to a scene of carnage.
Danika and the pack have been slaughtered. Seeing a demon escaping, Bryce pursues after it and ends up saving the angel it was attacking. However, she’s put into a holding cell, which is when we first meet Hunt Athalar and Isaiah Tiberian.
They must watch over her on Micah’s orders. Both of them were part of the angel rebellion 200 years ago, which is when Maas does a bit more world-building for us.
There were originally six Asteri who ruled over Midgard. During the rebellion Hunt and Isaiah, led by the Archangel Shahar and accompanied by many others, fought against their regime.
However, the rebellion was a failure. The angels who opposed the Asteri were declared Fallen and their magic was limited with a type of halo. All opposing the Asteri became slaves.
As Bryce is in her holding cell under their careful watch, Ruhn shows up and negotiates her release. He does not admit to being her brother, but says they are distant relatives.
Part One then wraps up with the arrest of Briggs. Danika had complained to Micah about his recent release, so Briggs is charged with summoning the demon that killed her and the Pack.
The surviving members ostracize Bryce, blaming her and telling her that she cannot attend Danika’s funeral.
Chapters 8 – 13: After Danika’s Murder
Between Part One and Part Two there is a time jump of 22 months. Maas begins by explaining that Bryce has gone back to work and is currently on a job for Jesiba.
She is selling an antique to a vampyr, Maximus Tertian, at the White Raven. However, she later gets a visit from Hunt and Isaiah who tell her that Maximus was murdered shortly after their meeting in a similar fashion as Danika.
Since Bryce has a connection to both murders, Micah asks for her help in catching the killer. Micah is an Archangel and the Governor of Crescent City, and he wants the case to be over soon.
That’s because Archangel Sandriel, who is the Governor of Pangera to the northwest, is visiting next month to coincide with the Summit. The Summit only takes place once every decade as all the leading powers of Valbara meet to discuss policy.
Hunt has a long and sordid history with Sandriel. Her twin was Shahar, who Hunt loved and followed throughout the rebellion. After the rebellion, Sandriel tried to break Hunt and failed.
Micah purchased Hunt on the condition that he would become Micah’s personal assassin. For every person that Hunt was responsible for having killed during the rebellion — 2,217 — he must kill one person for Micah. So far Hunt has assassinated 82 people.
But Micah declares that Hunt and Bryce must work together to track down the murderer.
Chapters 14 – 36: Bryce and Hunt Investigate
The description “Bryce and Hunt Investigate” could really describe most of our House of Earth and Blood summary. But this is the point when they team up and really begin their investigation.
Initially Bryce suspects the Viper Queen from the Meat Market district of the killings, but she has an alibi. Then Ruhn provides more insight into Luna’s Horn, which his father has tasked him to find after its theft.
The Horn used to be Pelias’s, who was the first Starborn Prince. Pelias used the Horn to fight in the First War against the demon hordes. To fight against the weapon, the Star Eater used Pelias’s blood to forge a new demon: The Kristallos.
Pelias sealed the northern rift and banished the demons to Hel before he was killed, but it broke the Horn.
However, Ruhn believes that the Horn has an intrinsic connection to the murders. Bryce also recognizes the Kristallos from the night of Danika’s murder.
Then they find the body of another victim outside Luna’s Temple, which prompts Hunt to tell Bryce that the angel she saved the night of Danika’s death was Micah. He also admits that he suspected her at one point, which angers Bryce and she leaves him.
She arrives at the White Raven just in time to watch it explode. The explosion is the catalyst for Hunt to move in with Bryce so that he can protect her more closely.
Ruhn is still researching the Horn and discovers that Pelias’s wife and daughter were also Starborn and it was Starborn Light that made the Horn work. From his friend Declan, Ruhn also finds out that Danika was at Luna’s Temple the night the Horn was stolen, but he later tells him that the camera footage from that night was swapped.
Chapters 37 – 49: The Suspect List Narrows
After another murder at the Temple, they realize that the deaths are occurring near ley lines and they suspect Danika’s mother, Sabine. This is what leads us into Part Three which features more planning, plotting, and probing.
It begins with the realization that the demon has been in the Five Roses district recently. Viktoria, a wraith in Micah’s Triarii, is the one who discovers this. It helps Bryce and Hunt realize that the demon has been traversing the city through the sewers.
So they visit the district Underneath the Istros River to speak to the River Queen’s Captain of Intelligence, Tharion. He happens to be a friend of Hunt’s and they ask him to keep his eye out for any evidence of the demon using the waterways.
The pack is still treating Bryce horribly because they blame her for Danika’s death and “cheating” on Connor. Sabine also denies Danika was at Luna’s Temple during the theft of the Horn.
After they leave, the demon in FiRo then attacks Bryce and Hunt. The Kristallos managed to negate Hunt’s magic by biting him, but thankfully the pair still manage to kill it.
However, after they get home and are just about to have their first kiss, Sabine interrupts them to say she lied earlier. Sabine says that Danika did steal the Horn, but she was trying to save face earlier.
Chapters 50 – 59: Synth
It’s following the rude interruption that Ruhn tells them about a new synthetic healing drug: Synth.
Synth is a drug which can give a burst of super strength and give magical powers to humans.
Then Tharion reaches out having discovered what he believes to be are victims of the Kristallos. However, strangely, their wounds are different from Danika’s.
In shock and confused, Bryce summons her friend Aidas for help from the 5th level of Hel. He warns her that the Asteri aren’t telling the whole truth and that the more important demons have no interest in Midgard.
Following Sabine saying that her daughter stole the Horn, Viktoria tests the clothing Danika was wearing that night. She discovers that synth is all over the clothing and the drug also contains obsidian salt — which can summon demons.
According to Tharion, Danika was dealing synth before her death.
Chapters 60 – 67: Danika’s Birthday and the Fallout
This all ushers in the second anniversary of the deaths of Danika and the Pack members. Bryce, obviously grieving strongly, is trying to get through a difficult day as best she can when Amelie insults her. Furious, Hunt threatens Amelie for insulting her.
The next day is when Bryce agrees to let the medwitch heal her leg. After that Micah summons them for a meeting with Sabine. She insists that Hunt face consequences for confronting Amelie and threatens retaliation.
So, Micah cuts off Hunt’s wings.
At the meeting Bryce also admits to the barter she made with the Under-King in order to assure Danika’s safe passage. Bryce traded her eternal resting place in the Bone Quarter to ensure Danika’s passage.
After the meeting is when Bryce and Hunt realize that humans injected with synth must have been the ones who killed the pack based on video footage of how humans react with doses with the drug.
Bryce thinks she leaves Hunt sleeping when she sneaks out. Except then she gets a call from Tharion that there is a deal going down on the river. Once she arrives she sees Hunt and the Viper Queen, and then Micah shows up with his henchmen.
Hunt admits that Danika stole the formula for synth before her death and sold it. But her and Maximus were addicted to the drug and it was likely Danika who attacked her pack and then herself. The summoning of the Kristallos was an accident and its kills had nothing to do with Danika’s death.
When Hunt saw the video of humans being injected with synth he changed his mind about supplying the drug to rebels. But Bryce says she never wants to see him again. Hunt is thrown into jail, and so concludes the end of Part Three.
Chapters 68 – 72: Bryce Makes a Decision
Next in our House of Earth and Blood summary is the beginning of Part Four. It opens with Bryce making the decision that she cannot abandon Hunt. He has been taken by Sandriel and is being tortured by her.
Bryce shows up and offers to buy Hunt for 97 million gold marks and her Archesian amulet. The physical money is a loan from Jesiba, but Sandriel refuses and destroys Bryce’s amulet.
That’s when Bryce offers to take Hunt’s place instead, which gives Sandriel pause. The Archangel muses out loud that as the Autumn King’s illegitimate daughter it could be a fair trade. This is the first time that Hunt learns about Bryce’s biological father.
However, Ruhn — in a very brotherly move — interrupts the negotiation to render it invalid and takes Bryce away.
Chapters 73 – 76: The Summit
At this point, Maas hits the gas pedal. She then doesn’t let up for the rest of the book.
Throughout the book a medwitch had been helping Ruhn. She healed Bryce’s leg, extracted the Kristallos venom, and from that created a synth antidote for Bryce. As the Summit begins, her true identity is revealed as Queen Hypaxia.
Ruhn, in attendance at the Summit, telepathically communicates with Hunt, who is also in attendance as Sandriel’s slave, to commiserate. This is also a grand reveal since his telepathy wasn’t known beforehand.
Jesiba is also attending the Summit, but Bryce is in her archives when Micah arrives. Bryce texts Jesiba, who connects the camera feed from her archives to the conference screens. Then the room can do nothing but watch as Micah and Bryce go head-to-head.
Chapters 76 – 79: The Confrontation and Bryce is the Horn
After which there are a whole lot of revelations that take place between Bryce and Micah. The first of which is that Jesiba’s archives is actually the Library of Parthos. The books pre-date the Asteri on Midgard and challenge their control, which makes owning them a crime.
Then Micah tells Bryce that she is the Horn via her back tattoo. After Danika stole the horn she had it ground into powder and mixed with witch ink, which is what was used for Bryce’s tattoo.
It is also revealed that Micah knew all about Redner Industries and their experiments with synth. Danika was employed by the company and recruited test subjects, but then she too became concerned by the experiments.
Micah knew that if synth got out onto the street Danika would try to prevent its circulation, so he dealt some and then he purposefully caught her with it. He then blackmailed her into stealing the Horn or being arrested.
He wants to use the Horn to destroy the rebel human army and thinks its power will even ascend him to the Asteri. When Danika refused to tell him where the Horn was, he dosed her with synth, knowing it would incite the slaughter of her pack.
He’s been looking for the Horn for the past two years and his plan is to inject Bryce with synth and activate the Horn through his power. He was carefully manipulating the sequence of events to involve the right players throughout the entirety of Bryce and Hunt’s investigation.
However, when Micah injects Bryce with synth it ends up healing her and she escapes momentarily. The fight ends with Bryce rescuing Syrinx and Lehabah, sacrificing herself to let them escape.
Chapters 80 – 90: The Starborn Fae
After Bryce has murdered and destroyed Micah with the Godslayer Rifle, she leaves the archives to find utter chaos. All seven of the city’s gates have opened a portal to Hel and demons are swarming everywhere.
Bryce heads to the human district to help the most vulnerable. Ithan and the others leave Moonwood to help Bryce against Sabine’s orders. But Bryce forces them into a protective shelter before the doors lock shut.
She is alone in the maelstrom of demons as those at the Summit struggle to try and leave. The Asteri have ordered them all to remain.
Then Bryce declares herself heir to the Starborn Fae to the city Gate. With her Light, she uses the Horn to close the Gate’s portal. While it works on the one Gate, the others are still open.
The Asteri see Bryce as a threat, but Hypaxia manages to free Hunt while Sandriel isn’t paying attention and he kills her. Hunt and the rest of the gang at the Summit then manage to escape and head for Bryce’s side in the city. Just as a bomb falls, Hunt arrives in time to embrace Bryce and shield her body with his.
When Bryce wakes, she finds Hunt near death and through the Gates she begs anyone to be her Anchor as she makes the Drop. An Anchor is necessary during a Drop to bring the soul back to life. Bryce hopes the power a Drop produces will be enough to close the remaining portals.
But no one responds to her pleading.
Chapters 91 – 97: The Drop
Then Bryce hears Danika’s voice from the Bone Quarter Gate, offering to be her Anchor. A dead person has never been able to act as an Anchor, but Bryce Drops anyway.
Sensing her sacrifice, the Gate gives Bryce all the power it has collected through time. This allows her to close the portals. Firstlight ignites the ley lines connecting the Gates and the City is repaired as the injured are healed.
There was a tiny piece of Danika’s soul remaining, which she uses to propel Bryce back to life and save her body. Hunt had been healed along with the rest of the city and its inhabitants, so he was keeping her body alive through CPR when she returns.
After the pair return home one of the Asteri calls them: Rigelus. He tells them that Hunt is now free from his enslavement and that the Asteri will overlook the murders of Micah and Sandriel.
All of this comes with the stipulation that Bryce and Hunt cannot reveal what really happened. They also receive a warning that they cannot use the Horn.
Finally in our House of Earth and Blood summary is the epilogue. This is where Maas’s final twists come to light as Jesiba and Aidas meet in Oracle’s Park. It turns out, Aidas knew all along about Bryce.
Aidas reveals that Theia’s Light lives on in her and also that Jesiba knew Hunt’s father well. It ends with Jesiba warning Aidas not to screw them over again and that she has moved the Library. To which Aidas promises that he won’t since things are getting interesting.
So, there we have our House of Earth and Blood summary if you don’t have time for a full reread before House of Flame and Shadow comes out. Both books in the series won Best Fantasy in the Goodreads Choice Awards voted by fans, so HoFaS is sure to be another amazing installment with even more books on the horizon.
Next, read our House of Sky and Breath summary.