Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
PROS:engrossing fantasy elements, murder mystery excitement, heroine hall of famer
CONS:mildly confusing plot leapfrogging
Throne of Glass is an entertaining read for lovers of strong heroines, beautiful fantasy, and understated, satisfying romance.
Celaena Sardothien, aka her country Adarlan’s greatest assassin, is given a glimmer of hope when Prince Dorian plucks her from the salt mine slavery that has been her life for the past year. He gives her the opportunity to represent him in a competition against 23 other murderers and criminals to become the King’s Champion.
While she may not like the idea of fighting for the amusement of the cold-hearted conquerer who sentenced her, or the “prize” of working for him for four years before she’s set free, Celaena is smart enough to take whatever chance at freedom she can get.
Once Celaena arrives at the glass castle in Rifthold, we are sucked into an exciting tale of action, romance, and magic. Throne of Glass is getting a lot of hype, so I was a bit wary while reading it (almost DARING it to be overrated). I have to say, it is absolutely deserving of the buzz.
Here are a few reasons this is such an enjoyable read:
Heroine Hall of Famer: Celaena, the Tough Assassin Chick
Celaena is the kind of heroine a fantasy/action/adventure junkie wants to read about—strong, beautiful, deadly, witty—and not afraid to show it. She absolutely deserves to stand alongside my favorite YA ladies of high badassery—Alanna, Katsa, Ismae and Rose Hathaway (to name a few). She relishes costume changes and fashion—if Throne of Glass ever became a TV show, she’d have as colorful and varied a wardrobe week to week as Sydney Bristow did in Alias. Best of all, she is a complete bookworm! And she has no shame in her reading tastes—from dry historical tomes to adventure stories to bodice rippers.
Unfortunately, because Celaena’s name and reputation precedes her in the competition, her trainer, Captain Chaol Westfall, and sponsor, Prince Dorian, force her to take on a fake name and downplay her abilities to avoid suspicion. But you can’t hold a master assassin down for long. While I do wish we’d seen a bit more of her assassin skills in action outside of the confines of the competition, the few times she does fight at full capacity are thrilling.
Love Triangle (& It’s Not Annoying)
I don’t think I’m spoiling much that hasn’t been hinted at in the synopsis—yes there’s a love triangle. And no, it’s not annoying. The guys don’t just fall in love with Celaena for no good reason, and she doesn’t string them both along. She’s forced to live in the castle with them, and train with one of them. We see her through their eyes frequently, and there is slow-burning friendship and admiration that develops between both guys and Celaena before any googly eyed mooning begins. I will say that one side of the triangle feels more genuine and natural than the other (I’ll leave the subjective LT team declarations to your personal taste buds though).
Supporting Scene Stealers
While Celaena was a wonderful protagonist, my favorite character by far was Nehemia, the visiting Eyllwe princess who takes a liking to Celaena. She’s rebellious and sassy and tough and imperious, and she plays her cards very close to her chest. I won’t say more to avoid spoilers except OH MY GOODNESS IT’S FRIEND LOVE.
Someone is killing the competitors off in a most gruesome fashion. Since they’re criminals and miscreants, these murders are not enough to stop the competition. Given that Celaena IS one of these competitors, she is pretty motivated to get to the bottom of the murders, and it’s great fun to try to solve the mystery with her.
Maas takes wide-ranging familiar fantasy elements (the Fae, parallel universes, demons) and weaves them into something unique—a world that is dark and dangerous and fantastical. I can’t wait to read more about this world and Celaena’s role in it all.
Overall, Throne of Glass is an entertaining read for lovers of strong heroines, beautiful fantasy, and understated, satisfying romance.
My only real complaint about the book is a total nitpick: toward the middle we do a few plot jumps past competitor murders and tests and it left me a teensy bit confused about what happened, who was left, and where all the characters were in the story. It is quickly forgotten when the plot picks up and delivers much welcome action-packed excitement.
References to Celaena’s difficult past left me wanting to know more, and I suspect the history that is hinted at but left unexplained unfolds in the prequels. By the end of the story, I was definitely invested and hooked on Celaena’s story, so I’m totally ready to tackle them. Luckily there are FOUR ready for download.
Check out the US trailer: