Throne of Glass
by Sarah J Maas
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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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.
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.
It took me about a fourth of the book to get really invested in the story, but once I did, I was hooked on Throne of Glass. 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. 4/5 cupcakes.