I received this book for free from Bloomsbury Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Written by Sarah J. Maas
Published January, 2012 by Bloomsbury
Provided by: Bloomsbury Australia
Genres: Fantasy, Medieval
Purchase: The Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia
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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.
Sarah J. Maas has effectively hooked me on her world of court life, outlawed magic and assassination. The cast of characters is entertaining, the plot and world-building are sound and the romance is there, but doesn’t take centre stage. What more could you ask for? I enjoyed Throne of Glass immensely and devoured it in one sitting.
“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.”
I’m not sure why I put off reading Throne of Glass for as long as I did (I mean, I added it to my CAN’T WAIT TO READ shelf in the year of its debut – 2012!) but I’m so, so, so glad I finally got around to it. The story that was within Throne of Glass was completely different to the one that I was expecting before I read the first page. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what was within was way better than what I could have imagined.
We first meet Celaena Sardothien as a prisoner; she’s been worked to the bone for over a year in the salt mines of her country – the punishment for being caught trying to kill someone. Not just kill – assassinate. This eighteen year old girl is more than she seems. She’s Adarlan’s greatest and most notorious assassin – ‘Adarlan’s Assassin’.
What I liked most about Celaena was her unwavering charm and determination. Despite everything she’d been through – rigorous training, childhood horrors and endless torture in the salt mines – she hasn’t given up just yet. She’s strong, intelligent and is willing to risk everything to live.
I wasn’t expecting a tournament. I’m not sure why since it’s pretty obvious when you read the blurb, but Throne of Glass is sort of a high fantasy ‘Hunger Games’ in that aspect. The competitors aren’t thrown together in a controlled world to battle it out, but they do face weekly (if not more frequent) tasks that pose them against one another. The prize? A contract with the King of Adarlan to be his personal ‘champion’ (read: killing machine) and the promise of absolute freedom after the contract ends.
Although Celaena hates the ruthless and greedy ruler of Adarlan (he was the one who sent her to the salt mines in the first place) she’s willing to do his bidding if it means her freedom. Knowing she has no other choice, and that she cannot last another year in slavery, she agrees to the Crown Prince Dorian’s proposal of being his champion for his father’s tournament.
“My name is Celaena Sardothien. But it makes no difference if my name’s Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I’d still beat you, no matter what you call me.”
Celaena adjusts quickly to ‘court life’ as it were, and even finds herself discovering that there’s in fact more to the Crown Prince than she initially thought. Dorian is not like his father, and the two strike up an easy friendship and attraction for one another. While Celaena’s affection for Dorian moves faster than that of her trainer, and Captain of the Guard, Chaol, her fondness for Chaol runs deeper and promises to possibly be more of a slow burn.
I guess you could say that there is a love triangle in Throne of Glass. You’ll either find yourself rooting for Dorian or Chaol. This, however, is not the focus of the book and is instead a nice side plot. While I liked both boys, I’m not sure who I’m backing just yet. I want to see Celaena with an equal – not just someone who is besotted by her fierceness and beauty. Celaena isn’t stupid enough to pursue a relationship while dangerous stuff is going down, though. Kudos to her.
“I name you Elentiya.” She kissed the assassin’s brow. “I give you this name to use with honour, to use when other names grow too heavy. I name you Elentiya, ‘Spirit That Could Not Be Broken.”
Another relationship I quite enjoyed is the one between Celaena and Princess Nehemia. I always love it when an author pens a non-bitchy and healthy relationship between two girls. It’s great to watch how their friendship grows throughout the book. Both girls have their secrets and learn to totally trust each other – even with their lives.
Oh, and I should mention that this book has a MAP. Yes, A MAP. I LOVE MAPS. I’m not sure about you, but whenever I open up a novel and see a lovely illustrated map of the kingdom, I know I’m in for some awesome world building. Sarah J Maas delivers when it comes to sketching out the Kingdom of Adarlan. While I had to keep flicking back to the map everytime a town or area was mentioned, it really put things into perspective.
I would have liked to learn more about the different cultures, however, and a bit more about the citizens of Adarlan outside of the glass castle in Rifthold. I realise this is a six-book series (still yet to be finished) but I can’t help but want more when it comes to world-building. If I had to talk about one downside to this book, it would be that. A lot was mentioned in passing, but we rarely got to SEE it in Throne of Glass.
Celaena’s past is also murky to the reader. She keeps mentioning things that happened, not telling us the whole story, and it confused me a little. As a reader, I like to learn about my protagonist straight up in the first book, but I feel as if I only know a portion of Celaena at this point. I understand we’ll learn more about her, and that there’s more to learn in the novellas, but I would have liked it to be a bit more straightforward than that.
“Apparently, a woman can only go so long without a sword between her hands.”
For Adarlan’s most notorious assassin, Celaena doesn’t do any killing. Not only did all her opponents in the tournament survive, the only thing she managed to kill was a demonic creature. I want the blood, I want the badassery… I was expecting her to be more impressive than what we saw when it came to the fight scenes.
Other than that, this book was simply amazing. I could not put it down. I am so intrigued by the history of Adarlan, and how that history is probably coming back to haunt the King. There’s an element of magic here that is done so well, too. I am beyond intrigued to see how Celaena plays into the Queen Elena’s plot and how the fae magic may become a more integral part of the story.
There are so many intricate characters, too. Besides the main characters of Celaena, Chaol, Dorian and Nehemia, I fell in love with fellow-thief Nox and Celaena’s all-too-adorable pup, Fleetfoot. The ‘baddies’ are also interesting to read about and I can’t wait to see how their evil schemes unfold.
Celaena’s story is one that begs to be told – both her past and her future. I am more than prepared to meet whatever she may face in the next few books, as well as learn about all that she has endured in her eighteen years. I just hope there’s more ruthless killing and more candy eating.
If you’re not a huge fan of high fantasy, but want to read something of the genre, I feel that Throne of Glass may be a good one to start with. Although I was worried a bit about the ‘hype’ surrounding this novel, I shouldn’t have been. Books like this get the hype for a reason!