Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Throne of Glass
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Published: 2012 by Bloomsbury
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Synopsis: 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.

What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said? What can I say about this series that wasn't said in my review of The Assassin's Blade yesterday? Surprisingly a lot. Throne of Glass is the kind of thrilling and complex fantasy that are my favorites to read. It has likable and interesting characters, a unique and complex world, and a thrilling and mysterious plot.

In The Assassin's Blade I fell in love with Celaena. I found her to be a complex and likable character that is a giant ball of contradictions. She is a deadly assassin with a heart of gold, a prickly anti-social sassmouth who puts others before herself. She is equally comfortable in a ballgown and armor (well not really but you get the idea). In Throne of Glass she was no different, in fact she may have been more of a contradiction. She was equal parts determined and emboldened to fight for her freedom as she was giddy and excited about it's prospect. She almost had a childlike glee at times. One of the characters marveled that she wasn't hardened by her time in Endovier and I'm glad to say I agree. I love that Celaena isn't just a kickass warrior woman (even though she totally is). She's well-rounded and complex and I am totally Team Celaena!

But that is just the start of the interesting and complex characters. First the ladies... I quickly became a fan of Nehemia, the Princess of Ellwye. She, like Celaena, is more than meets the eye. She is a courtier sent to learn the customs of Adarlan but she is also full of secrets. If you are a Game of Thrones (ASOIAF) fan then think of Nehemia as the female Red Viper. She's fantastic! I loved how her and Celaena interacted and how their relationship developed. And now onto the guys. There are two equally swoonworthy men in this book and Sarah J. Maas could write a masterclass on how to make love triangles believable because seriously, I can't make up my mind. I have my leanings but I will never reveal them. Celaena has great banter with both of them. There is Chaol, the Captain of the Guard and Celaena's tutor. He and Celaena really seem to be so similar and he too is a warrior with a heart of gold. Then there is Dorian, the Prince of Adarlan. Dorian is like the stereotypical image of Prince Charming but it works oh so well. He has the same giddy effervescence as Celaena and with him, it was contagious. And then there is the bad guys. A host of creepy and malicious fighters Celaena is competing against, and the nefarious members of the court including the king! Every character in this book was well-rounded and interesting making to easy to be invested in their story.

The interesting thing about Throne of Glass is how the world of the series took a very different turn. For me The Assassin's Blade was a character-driven story, it was the Celaena Sardothian origin story. Throne of Glass is the Throne of Glass series' origin story. I know that sounds obvious to say but reading the novellas first you notice a real shift in tone. This book set the stage to where the series will develop. It introduced our suspected villain, or hero, and our mentor. This book fit more of the fantasy tropes then the novellas. It also had more magic, which caught me a little off guard (in a good way). The magic in this world was really creative. I'm still not entirely sure what is happening but that is part of what makes the magic of this world so good.

But another great thing about this book was the plot. I have already said that it fits into some fantasy tropes. It had definite "sword and sorcery" vibes. The magic combined with action and adventure was a perfect escape into a compelling and fantastical world. But it also had a dose of political intrigue. The odious king who is oppressing and conquering nations, including that of our heroine's homeland and a secret network of rebels that we only just begin to lean about. There was even a splash of mystery thrown in. One mystery was specific to this book, which wasn't very complex but was still enjoyable. But more than one mystery and twist is just in the forming stages. I have so many theories but I am incredibly excited to see how everything develops.

My one criticism is the pacing. While it did follow the standard pattern of rising action leading up to a climax followed by some falling action, there were still some issues for me. Especially towards the beginning things felt a little slow and stagnant. It just took a little while for things to get interesting. Then things would get interesting and exciting would slow down again. There wasn't a steady and consistent rise in action to me. There were just moments of action peppered throughout the book to keep things interesting until the climax. And the narrative style was a little odd at times. It's told in third-person but it bounces between characters so often. It's nice to get varying perspectives but sometimes it's confusing to remember whose head your inside of. Plus it leads to a fair amount of dramatic irony which I don't always love.

I give Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas 9.5 out of 10

It was an interesting and compelling first book in a YA Fantasy series I can't wait to see develop. From the compelling and interesting characters, a unique world, and a thrilling plot.

Have you read Throne of Glass? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts and HAPPY READING!


  1. Haha, I love your comparison of Nehemia and the Red Viper. Too true. I actually didn't become sold on this series until Crown of Midnight (which I almost didn't even read!) So glad I did end up reading it, because now I'm a big fan. For me the pacing issues you mention were solved in the second book, for what it's worth.

  2. Yay! I am so glad that you read it and enjoyed it! I haven't read the novellas yet, but I plan on reading them soon, so I can then binge read Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire. I am so excited!
    And I definitely agree with you the world is so unique and I really love the characters!
    Great review! :D

  3. Eeek I am glad you liked this one so much!

    It is interesting that you read The Assassins Blade first. I still need to read that one! In terms of plot and characters, just wait until you get to the other books! Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire are brilliant!

    Thanks for sharing lovely & great review! :) xxx

    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries

  4. I finished reading this book earlier and oh it was soo good! I have always thought of Celeana as a cold-hearted, bad-ass assassin so I was surprised when she's into dresses and gowns. Didn't know she has her inner girly side! But, overall it was a fantastic read. Can't wait to read the next book.

    I enjoyed your thorough review of Throne of Glass! Good points are well said :)