Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: fantasy, adventure
Published: August 7th, 2012
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Source: I received a copy for review from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
"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 kings 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. - Goodreads.com"
As you may have noticed, I don't read a ton of fantasy. I prefer vampires and witches to trolls and fairies any day. However, I try to keep up with big upcoming releases and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas was getting so much buzz that I figured I should probably read it - best decision I've made in awhile. This book really blew me away. I was totally enveloped in Celaena's world and loved every minute of it. This book has everything that I love: fantastic world-building, epic battles, mystery, breathtaking romance and a kick-ass heroine! It was such a fun read while still being heartfelt. My emotions were all over the place from page one. Maas is a master storyteller! This is the first time in a long time that I've actually been craving a sequel to a fantasy novel.
Celaena: YA heroines often come in one of two varieties: quirky, but tough, tom boy, or beautiful, misunderstood damsel. Celaena is neither of theses. She is girly, beautiful and feminine...and she can kick your ass. I love love LOVE that Celaena doesn't have to give up her femininity to be formidable. She loves shiny weapons just as much as frilly dresses. I'm not saying that every girl has to love perfume and makeup and dolls but every girl that likes those things isn't a helpless airhead either. So 10,000 bonus points to Sarah for making Celaena a character that is believable wearing a beautiful dress with a makeshift knife hidden in the corset. Do not scuff this girls heals! I also love Celaena because she is a survivor. She does whatever is necessary to secure her freedom and won't stay down. She has had a miserable life, first being found as young child and raised by the Assasin King, she was subjected to horrifying training. Then she is caught and taken to a death camp where she works in the salt mines and is abused by her overseers until finally she is given her chance at freedom, but only after facing the toughest and deadliest men in the kingdom. She never gives up, never slows down and never, ever shows fear in the face of unbelievable adversity.
The love triangle: First of all let me say that, as a rule, I don't like love triangles. I think they are played out and over complicate the story. I always know exactly who the main character will end up with or at the very least who I want them to end up with. That is not the case with Throne of Glass . Celaena has two (very attractive) men in her life. And I love them both, completely equally. First, we have the spoiled Prince Dorian with saphire eyes and a charming wit. The relationship between the prince and Celaena changes so much through the book and is so much fun. I can't help loving him. Then there is the rugged and brave Captain of the Guard, Chaol. He is so quiet and internal. I just kept wanting to know more about him and their relationship is so intense that I couldn't get enough. There's the problem. I don't have a favorite. I love them both so much and no matter who she ends up with I'm going to be happy (and disappointed). Oh the agony!
World-building: The world that Maas creates for Throne of Glass is very well-formed. While it is similar to our world, there are marked differences (different religions, holidays and history) however it is close enough that I could still relate to it while getting wrapped up. Maas also alludes to different types of creatures (Fae, faeries etc) that have been either killed or have gone into hiding after Magic is banished from the kingdom. While these creatures do not play a huge part in this first book, the set up is great and left me yearning to find out more about the history of this world. The governmental structure was also very easy to grasp and lends sort of a dystopian vibe to the whole plot. Love it.
Depth of the story: Finally, I like that this is more than a love story. In fact, the love story is very much secondary to the main plot line. Throne of Glass mostly centers around human suffering and oppression, the lengths that some people will go to impose these on their subordinates and what others are willing to sacrifice to stop the oppressors. Maas' work takes a tried and true theme and makes it entirely believable and hard-hitting. One of the most powerful parts of the book is when Chaol is reflecting upon the fact that Celaena has spent the last year in a death camp, starving and being whipped to within an inch of her life and yet she can still smile and laugh. He marvels at her strength of character and the power of the human spirit and so does the reader.
The names are crazy: This may sound petty but the names and places in this book are sometimes next to impossible to pronounce. Sometimes I like to read out loud...to myself...in foreign accents. Don't judge me. Anyway that didn't happen with this book because I couldn't pronounce half of the names and locations.
Perspective changes: The only other thing that is a "dislike" for me with this one is that the perspective jumps from character to character very suddenly and then stays with that character only briefly before switching back to Celaena. This wasn't a huge problem though because I was happy that we got to see some different perspectives throughout the book.
Overall, I really liked this one and I can't wait to read more from Sarah. I would recommend Throne of Glass not only to fantasy lovers but also to those who don't necessarily gravitate toward that genre. It is a nice surprise and certainly worth all of the praise it has been getting.