Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: August 2nd, 2012 (Bloomsbury USA Children’s)
Synopsis: In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.
Full disclosure, I’m reviewing this book after a re-read, so I will try my best to avoid spoilers for the later books in the series and keep my opinions confined to this book only. With that said, on with the review!
“You could rattle the stars,” she whispered. “You could do
anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too.
That’s what scares you most.”
The infamous Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s Assassin, has spent the last year imprisoned in the salt mines of Endovier, when one day, Crown Prince Dorian Havilliard offers her her freedom – if she will act as his champion in a forthcoming contest that will decide who will become the King’s Champion.
Now premise aside, the main plot felt a little lacklustre to me initially, and it was the characters that were the main drawing point of the story for atleast the first half. Dorian initially appears to be the typical privileged princeling, but quickly shows himself to be far more as he and Celaena strike up a close friendship. Chaol, Captain of the Guard and Dorian’s best friend, is all about duty first and disapproves of letting a criminal run loose, but as he trains Celaena for the competition, his view of her changes, though he remains wary.
Celaena’s interactions and easy banter with both Dorian and Chaol constitute the more lighthearted components of the book, something that is definitely needed as we descend deeper into her tragic past and the hardships she has had to overcome. It was really at this point that I sat up and started paying attention as more and more layers were added to the story: the mysterious disappearance of magic ten years ago, the horrific deaths of champions, Celaena’s quest from the spirit of a queen long gone, mythical monsters, and perhaps the biggest question mark of all, Celaena’s past.
With all of this information overload, there were times when it felt like the story was straying from the main plot, but it always gets back on track as a new mystery crops up with each one solved. Throne of Glass, while an adventure in its own right, is, in the larger scheme of things, setting the stage for a far grander adventure.
I absolutely love the fact that both Celaena and Dorian are avid readers (I never realized just how uncommon that is until this book). Nehemia and Celaena’s friendship – swift, but firm, was another aspect I really liked – especially that learning Celaena’s identity made no difference to it at all. I will refrain from commenting on the developing love triangle at this point (mainly because I have no idea how to go into that without spoilers), but at this stage when I first read the book, I was rather enjoying the dynamic between the three, one of the few times a love triangle did not irritate me beyond belief – probably because it took a backseat to the plot.
Celaena’s assassin side is not really explored in this first book, so it may seem like exaggeration to some, but her hardcore side is portrayed very well in the novella series, The Assassin’s Blade, which should really be read before this. I read it after I was well into the main books, but the impact was lost, as many of Celaena’s adventures are mentioned throughout the series (basically, spoilers).
This series gets better with every re-read! Coming back to book one after having read the entire series is quite a different experience, especially since I can now pick up on and understand the hints scattered throughout. Throne of Glass is a must-read for those who love epic fantasy!
Other reviews in this series: