Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Posted February 17, 2014 by Stormy in Books / 25 Comments

Throne of Glass

by Sarah J Maas

Throne of Glass

Original publication date: January 2012
Length: 404 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s

Obtained Via: Won a copy
Format Read In: Paperback
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the story morning glory

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.

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Growing up, high fantasy was my favorite genre. As I grew older, though, and read more and more, all the stories started to seem too similar to each other, with names no one would ever come up with and inconceivable plots. But I had heard such good things about Throne of Glass that I wanted to give it a chance, and I’m rather glad I did. I think Throne of Glass struck the perfect balance of feeling like a familiar story while also offering up something new. While not perfect, Throne of Glass made me excited to read the next story installment, Crown of Midnight.

It took me about seventy-five pages to really feel invested in the story, but once I did, I read the rest of Throne of Glass all in one sitting. I refused to move until I learned what happened to Dorian, Celeana, and Chaol. I was worried for the safety of the characters I grew to love in a very short amount of time, especially since this book is part murder mystery. I think this really added a needed additional element to Throne of Glass. The idea of a tournament to determine who will be the King’s Champion is fine, but not entirely original. However, the added mystery really cemented the suspense and also introduced a magical element to the story that I found fascinating.

I thought the main characters in Throne of Glass were each wonderful. There is a love triangle, but it didn’t bother me in this book at all. I liked both Dorian, the Prince, and Chaol, the Captain of the Guard, for different reasons. Dorian could be a trifle immature, concentrating on things that didn’t really matter, but meant well. Chaol was gruff and seemed stoic at first, but had such a hidden depth. While I am definitely a fan of Chaol more than Dorian, I actually enjoyed the love triangle in this book, seeing Celaena’s interactions with both of them.

And then we come to the main character, Celaena herself. For the most part, I enjoyed Celaena as the narrator. When I was on the fence about starting this series, I read some reviews that were annoyed with Celaena for being interested in things like dresses and frivolities. While I understand that annoyance, I thought it was refreshing to have this main character, a female assassin, who is completely capable of taking out a threat one minute and then going to a ball in a beautiful gown the next.

The only thing that bothered me about Celaena was her lack of awareness. She says she can take care of herself, but I really find it hard to believe someone as oblivious as Celaena would have survived so long in a rough environment. She’s obviously capable with weapons and stealth, but I think an assassin should really know how to pay better attention to her surroundings and tread with more caution. There’s one scene where Celaena wakes up to find she’s been sent candy and doesn’t know who it’s from. So she proceeds to eat it. I don’t think any assassin would just eat something random without knowing who it was from, ESPECIALLY when you know someone is killing your fellow competitors!

Still, while that annoyance was more than minor for me–I mean really, HOW has Celeana survived this long if she can’t be bothered to look around her?–for the most part I truly enjoyed Throne of Glass. I’ve heard the sequel is even better, and I can’t wait to see where Maas takes the story next.

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It took me about a fourth of the book to get really invested in the story, but once I did, I was hooked onΒ Throne of Glass.Β It felt like such a refreshing fantasy with a love triangle I actually liked, a (mostly) capable female lead, and a compelling, but not overwhelming, plot.Β  4/5 cupcakes.

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4 Stars

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25 responses to “Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

  1. Zoe

    I just finished this book today, and I totally agree that it’s great, but I’m glad someone else noticed how oblivious Celaena is! I’ve been reading other reviews for a while, whilst waiting for the sequel to arrive, and not one person mentioned it!

  2. Oh good! I’m actually really happy to hear that it took you a while to get invested hahaha. I started it forever ago and didn’t make it too far, had to return it to the library and never picked it back up. I own a copy now so I’ll start back from the beginning but it’s good to know that it’ll take just a bit to get going because I remember that too!

    • Stormy

      It really did take awhile! I put it down & came back several times(at least 3, probably more). For reference, I first tried to read this book in August. Didn’t make it anywhere until January! It was definitely worth and I’m glad I continued on but the beginning was REALLY rough for me.

  3. I had the same thing with the beginning. It took me a long while to get into Throne of Glass, but when I did I was hooked. I really can’t stand most love triangles, but I definitely enjoyed this one and I have a huge preference for Chaol. He’s mine πŸ˜‰

    • Stormy

      Yup, after that slow beginning, I was definitely interested! After reading Crown of Midnight, I really love Chaol and want him and Caelana to be together, but I also think that Dorian is underrated. Guy has some seriously bad luck!

  4. This is the second review of this book that I’ve seen this week. It must be a sign, haha! I’m glad you liked it too, and your review makes me want to read this book even more. πŸ™‚

    I agree that an assassin would probably be more mindful of their surroundings and be careful of things like eating candy that some mystery person sent. Maybe she let go of some of her training when she was in the salt mines? Who knows. Haha!

    • Stormy

      Hah, a sign you should pick this book up immediately!
      Yeah, I had trouble buying Caelana as the BEST. ASSASSIN. EVER. because of that. It made me roll my eyes, even though I really enjoyed the book. I think if those things had been fixed, though, it could have really made me LOVE this one instead of just really like.

  5. booksofamber

    Yay! I wasn’t actually a fan of this book but then I was forced to read the sequel, and it was so much better. I really like the love triangle in this book, and while I do lean towards Celaena/Dorian (and Chaol/Dorian if we’re talking crack!shipping, because I doubt Maas will go there) I am loving the OT3!

    • Stormy

      I read Crown of Midnight yesterday, actually(when this review went live!), and I liked it too(though I thought it was a slight improvement over Throne of Glass, and still not BEST EVER. But I do really like it).

      I think you might be the first person I’ve heard who likes Celaena/Dorian! I prefer her with Chaol, but I do think Dorian as a character is vastly underrated. I want good things for him!

  6. I keep hearing such good things about this series. I need to find the time to read it. Maybe once I finish a couple of other high fantasy series that are high on my list. πŸ™‚

    • Stormy

      It’s really good! It’s not the best high fantasy, but I think for such a long series the first two installments are pretty strong.

  7. I really should read this book. I actually didn’t read a lot of fantasy when I was younger, but I’ve gotten a lot more into over the last ten years. That said, I tend to prefer the lower fantasy stories – novels with magic or whatnot but set in our world – to higher fantasy stories set in a different world. Which is why I haven’t gotten around to read Throne of Glass yet. I will, I’m sure.

    I haven’t read the book, obviously, but I think I would really like that Celaena is not only interested in this assassin tournament but dresses and looking nice. Why do successful assassins have to be not girly. I mean, people are complicated, and someone who loves something really tough and kick-ass, can also love softer things, right?

    Anyway, great review! I’ll need to move this up my TBR list.

    • Stormy

      Exactly!
      I’m sorta the same way about fantasy. . . I like speculative fiction in general, but I feel high fantasy sometimes gets bogged down in the details. I will say I think this is an exceptionally accessible high fantasy. There’s a lot of worldbuilding, sure, but it starts as character-driven first. The plot and the world come a little later on, which might turn some people off but I’d personally rather get acclimated to the characters before I get thrown into a whole new world.

  8. The lack of awareness was one of my main problems with Calaena’s characterization. She’s lethal for sure, but she doesn’t seem to expect someone to actually try and attack HER. There’s a scene (can’t remember which book it is in this series but it’s not a spoiler) when she really should have inspected her room, and she doesn’t, and surprise surprise turns out there is something in there. I won’t say more than that, but it bothered me. It seems to me she would have been killed off long ago by her own cluelessness.

    That said, I’m glad you liked it. I was pretty “meh” on ToG – not because of the pretty dresses, but because Calaena just irritates me. Crown of Midnight really addressed some of the issues I had with her characterization and was also just a stellar book all around. I hope you get to read it soon!

    • Stormy

      Ugh, I remember that scene. It bothered me too! I mean, she’s an ASSASSIN, and I’ve been taught, as a police officer’s daughter in the 21st century, to be more observant than SHE is. That shouldn’t happen!
      I’m actually reading Crown of Midnight right now! I’m about halfway through. It’s good & all, but it hasn’t blown me away yet(I suspect that’s coming from what I’ve been told, though).

  9. Annie J.

    I think I am the only person who liked Dorian better than Chaol πŸ™‚

    But I totally agree with you – I didn’t mind Celaena’s fascination with ball gowns and pretty things. I thought it created a nice balance where she could be both an assassin and tough but still really girlie. It’s like – those aren’t traits you often see together in a character so that was fun.

    • Stormy

      I do LIKE Dorian. . . but I LOVE Chaol. I do feel like Dorian often gets the short end of the stick, though! He’s pretty cool in his own right.
      Yeah, Celaena was fun! I do wish she had been more observant, but I’m halfway through Crown of Midnight right now and she’s growing on me.

  10. I’ve been wary over this book series like you have; I’ve been hearing and seeing such good things about it yet have never taken the lunge to try it, however, I’m slowly considering it more and more lately and your review really helps, it’s so good and informative πŸ™‚
    I’m glad you liked it!

    • Stormy

      Thank you! I will say it’s not the BEST fantasy book ever, but it’s pretty good, and I’ve heard Crown of Midnight is better(which I’m reading right now). I know it’s been sold as a six-book series, so there’s quite a lot of room for the world to grow.

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