Book Reviews, Reviews

Review: Throne of Glass (Sarah J. Maas)

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Summary (From
er 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.

Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Length: 404 Pages
Source: Borrowed a copy from the library
Series: Yes – #1 of Throne of Glass

Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Readability: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★

My opinion:
Celaena Sardothien, formerly the most feared assassin in all of Adarlan, has just completed a year in the infamous Endovier salt mines, where most survive only a few months. Despite the hard labour and the dreadful conditions, 18-year-old Celaena has managed to hang on. When she is called in front of the Crown Prince, Dorian Havilliard, Celaena isn’t sure what to expect, but when he offers her a route out of Endovier, she jumps at the chance.  A to-the-death competition hosted by the King aims to find his new ‘champion’ – a loyal assassin to dispose of the king’s enemies. Each council member has the opportunity to put forth a competitor, and Prince Dorian wants Celaena to be his. If she wins, she’ll serve four years as champion before being granted her freedom. If she loses…well, it’s a contest to the death, but at least she won’t have to go back to Endovier.  Exhilarated by the challenge and the escape from Endovier, things are looking up for Celaena until other contestants start showing up dead. Suddenly drawn into a larger puzzle, Celaena must find out who is killing the other competitors and avoid being next, all whilst competing in the King’s increasingly difficult contest.

Throne of Glass was an utterly absorbing read.  As a clue to how much I loved it: as soon as I finished Throne of Glass I ordered myself a copy and pre-ordered Crown of Midnight! From the first page I was hooked, and as clues mounted up about the mysterious deaths, I only grew more intrigued.  I might have enjoyed a little more detail regarding the competition tests each week, but at 400 pages, I can understand why more lengthy descriptions might not have been ideal.  Once the true plot of the murders came to the forefront, I was quite content to get engrossed in that rather than the competition!

Whilst epic fantasy novels can get overwhelmed with description and world-building, Sarah J. Maas manages to keep the pace fast whilst still giving just enough detail.  There’s more focus on the history of the kingdom, as well as the current political structure and relationships between kingdoms, than the geographical details. This is something which I personally loved; the map gives you plenty of geographical knowledge, and by not spelling those details out repeatedly Throne of Glass felt light but still detailed.

Celaena is a fantastic character. Fiery, witty and determined, even in the bleak Endovier mines, it’s very difficult not to like her. She’s a complicated, well-developed character, simultaneously kick-ass and yet sympathetic.  Despite her past as an assassin, Celaena is an 18-year-old at heart, caring just as much about books, shopping and sweets, as she does about the jobs she has to take.  She is by no means perfect, and her biggest flaw is that she sometimes came off as arrogant or vain. Her arrogance is a perfectly believable character trait though – she is good at what she does, and she’s had to show that off to get to where she is now.

There is a love triangle in Throne of Glass, which is something I didn’t particularly love, but I liked both characters so it didn’t bother me anywhere near as much as it could have. Dorian, the Crown Prince, is drawn to Celaena’s unexpectedly girlish nature, her beauty and her softer side. Dorian is a likeable, traditional love interest; flirtatious, funny and charming. Chaol Westfall, the Captain of the Guard, sees Celaena as a threat, a danger, and fairly often, a pain in his ass.  Despite his somewhat serious nature, I couldn’t help but like Chaol, and he reminded me in many ways of Valek in Poison Study (who I loved!).

There are some books that you continue only for the sake of the plot, because you’re dying to know what happens next, even if the characters do your head in. Some you continue for the characters you’ve grown attached to, even when the plot is predictable or disappointing. Throne of Glass is neither of those books – it has great characters and a plot that kept me hooked until the last page.

In a nutshell: A fantastic debut, and by far one of the best books I’ve read this year.

9 thoughts on “Review: Throne of Glass (Sarah J. Maas)

  1. Thanks for this review. This is officially next on my TBR list, and you’re review definitely encouraged me to pick it up soon.

    One slight problem though. I bought this last week at the same time as Shadow and Bone. After more or less tossing a coin to choose between them, I decided to read the latter first and absolutely loved it, to the extent that I’d pretty much class as my book of the year.

    I don’t know about you, but I find it really hard to read another book (or indeed watch another film) immediately after one I’ve really, really adored. And I’m particularly wary of launching straight into another YA fantasy with a kick-ass teenage film and a bit of a love triangle, as they sound very similar and I’m worried that my enjoyment of this one will suffer in comparison.

    So I was just wondering if you’d read Shadow and Bone, and if so, how similar it is to Throne of Glass and which of them you preferred.

    Cheers, Georgiana.

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