Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Date: August 2012
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After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
Once in a while you discover a new fantasy world that blows you away with its great characters and killer dialogue. Throne of Glass, the debut novel from Sarah J. Maas has that and more in spades and I was utterly engrossed by heroine Celaena Sardothien’s journey, as she weaved seamlessly through a world filled with swordfights and magic and beautiful ball gowns.
I’m a huge high fantasy fan and I wish this book was around for teenage me to read…oh wait, it was! Then called Queen of Glass on Fictionpress, it was one of the most popular stories on the site. I really wish I had discovered it then, as Maas does a great job world-building, giving you a sense of the landscape, political state, and hints of magic. The settings are memorable, particularly the grandeur of the glass castle built atop older ruins (I would love to see this brought to life!) and I can’t wait to be treated to more of the world as the series progresses.
The best thing about the book is the characters—each interesting in their own way with a great combination of wit and vulnerability. Celaena is a tough, skilled fighter, but she’s also arrogant, vain, and frivolously girly. She shows spite just as much as compassion. She’s not a character people immediately like, but it made her unique. Celaena’s various friendships definitely helped me warm to her, especially with Nehemia, who was a great character in her own right. There was a great mutual respect there, and even though they had reasons to be suspicious of each other, they found a way to enjoy each other’s company.
I also loved her relationships with the two main men in the book. Chaol Westfall is the strict and discreet Captain of the Guard who acts as Celaena’s
overqualified babysitter trainer throughout the competition. Their relationship was very well-developed; from frustration to mutual respect, friendship, and possibly attraction. With Chaol, it’s a quiet simmering affection, which suits his personality.
On the other hand, there was more flirtation than friendship with Prince Dorian Havilliard. Initially cold, they bond through their mutual love of books and puppies, and boy does it get steamy! Plus, Dorian is witty, charismatic and growing into his own conscience—he’s becoming the ruler the country needs. He reminds me of Arthur Pendragon from BBC’s Merlin and anyone who knows me knows that makes me Team Dorian all the way.
The book just falls short of perfect marks for me due to the assassin competition being given less prominence than expected. Some of the events were, but others were only mentioned in passing. I’m going to notch this one down to editing the book down to a reasonable length, but I for one was hooked with this premise in the synopsis and I would’ve loved to read each task in all its detailed glory. I’m also hoping there will be more assassinations as the series goes on!
If you’re a fan of high fantasy, freshened up like Graceling by Kristen Cashore, then Throne of Glass is a must read for you. I’m currently keeping myself occupied in this world a little longer with the four prequel novellas, starting with The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, but I absolutely can’t wait for the sequel!