Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)
by Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: May 7th, 2013
Format Read: Kindle E-Book
“Nothing is a coincidence. Everything has a purpose. You were meant to come to this castle, just as you were meant to be an assassin.”
When magic has gone from the world, and a vicious king rules from his throne of glass, an assassin comes to the castle. She does not come to kill, but to win her freedom. If she can defeat twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition to find the greatest assassin in the land, she will become the King’s Champion and be released from prison.
Her name is Celaena Sardothien.
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her.
And a princess from a foreign land will become the one thing Celaena never thought she’d have again: a friend.
But something evil dwells in the castle—and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying, horribly, one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival—and a desperate quest to root out the source of the evil before it destroys her world.
For me, this book comes pretty close to what I would consider the pinnacle of YA lit. You have a badass assassin, cute prince, cute other guy, evil King who’s trying to take over the entire world, sadistic competitions, demons fluttering around, a supposedly long-dead queen, a foreign princess…I can just go on and on.
Let’s start with Celaena Sardothien, badass assassin. She’s been trained to kill since the age of eight, and at age seventeen she was known as ‘Adarlans Assassin’, meaning she was the most elite killer in the land. Of course, that changed a bit when she finally fell victim to the law and was sent off to work as a slave in the mines up north. Endovier is where Crown Prince Dorian finally finds her, and offers her a rather bizarre deal: if she will be his contestant in the trials to determine the next Kings Champion, she will be free. If she doesn’t win, she’ll be…well, dead.
This book is the object of some disagreement between Emily and I, mostly because I could sniff out the signs that it would eventually become some high-fantasy, fairy-involved series all the way in this seemingly magicless book. There are a few hints here and there for the discerning fantasy lover…and it’s better to go into the series expecting it to be fantastical. But this first book, at least, is less fantasy and more YA fiction.
The thing that drew me in from the get-go was Celaena herself. She’s a hilarious, strange and uncouth mix of so many things. You see her jump off of a wall in one scene, play the piano in another, have a literary discussion in yet another, and practice sword fighting in yet another. The author stops just shy of making her a Mary-Sue, mostly because all of her sophisticated, awesome talents can’t quite hide the fact that Celaena’s basic attitude is to flick off the entire world.
I also really, surprisingly, liked the love triangle, mostly because it stops short of being a love triangle. The Prince who recruited her to the Champions Competition and his best friend, the Captain of the Guard who’s training her for it, are both fond of/attracted to her. And you get the impression that she’s attracted to them both, even though she messes around with one. But where it stops short of being a love triangle is that she doesn’t have one or both on a string. When she realizes something isn’t going to work out, she gets out of it (this rationale continues in the next book, more or less). Celaena also doesn’t hang out with people who are bad for her–she knows what she needs, and she gets it. Also, and what really endears me to her, is that she puts her female friend above her male love interest(s). There are several times in the book where she is arguably closer with Nehemiah than either of the guys.
Oh, and let’s not forget the competition. During all of this messing around with friends and love interests, she’s also fighting for her life on a regular basis. The competition doesn’t loom too large, but the underlying tensions of it do define a lot of Celaena’s internal struggles–namely, the prospect of serving a tyrannical King, when she is a citizen of a conquered land her own self. And then there’s the fact that someone happens to be targeting and brutally murdering her competitors…
This first book offers a somewhat limited view of the world that Maas has created, mostly because it is still tied to the competition and the court. But I suspect that there will be surprises of the fantastical variety in subsequent books…and of course, Celaena herself will always be a treat to read about.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.