Gotta have some competition, or my review of Throne of Glass

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Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) 

by Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

Publication Date: May 7th, 2013

Format Read: Kindle E-Book


 

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“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.

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5 star rating

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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.

 

Comments · 15

  1. My friend Alex recommended the book to me and I couldn’t put the book down for several hours. I absolutely love Celaena. Her personality was very refreshing among the heroines of the young adult genre. The latter books are just as wonderful as the first and I love the world that Sarah J. Maas has created. I’m currently reading the fourth book now and cannot wait to read how it all ends.

    1. Hey, Ellen, great to hear that you like the series as well! You’ll have to tell us how the fourth book ranks…I haven’t yet had a chance to read/review it, but I am really looking forward to doing so soon. I might be able to steal it from Em over Christmas…

      1. Hey Rosi, I was trudging through the fourth book but stopped because Marrissa Meyer’s book “Winter” came out so I wanted to read that first and finish the Lunar Chronicles. My thoughts on the fourth book so far are mixed. I love the writing and I love the characters but there is a romance between two characters that I don’t like so I have mixed feelings at the moment.

        1. Hey Ellen! Unless you have amazing advanced-reader mojo, I think you actually are referring to the fourth book…to the best of my knowledge, that’s the latest one. I have a strong feeling I’m not going to be a fan of the romance (I wasn’t in the third one), but I’ll wait to judge until after I’ve read it!

          Of course, the Lunar Chronicles are also amazing. I think we need to have a Series Week dedicated to them…

  2. I did really enjoy this book, in particular the story. I did think the writing could be a bit more polished and flowing. For example, I thought the writing in The Hunger Game was excellent.

    1. You know, I have always liked the writing in the Hunger Games, especially in Mockingjay (you can almost feel Katniss’ mental state declining through the writing). I agree that the Throne of Glass books aren’t terribly polished, but to me the storyline is what grabs me. I do, however, really appreciate good writing when I see it!

  3. I have to admit I enjoyed the first book and was pulled into the story but I frustrated about how the story unfolded in the second book and was very disappointed. I have to admit I have the third book sitting on my night stand and I barely got to chapter four. I can’t wait to see if you find the books more captivating than I do.

    1. Hey, Arlinda! Em is in the same position you are–she didn’t finish the second one–but I’ve made it through the third one so far. It was a bit of a push, because there was a lot of new information and Celaena was a brat for ¾ of the book (review to come eventually), but there was a lot of stuff that happened which I think set up the fourth book very well. I just have to get my hands on the fourth book, and review it!

      Long story short, I guess it just depends on you. I thought it was worth it to push through book 3, Emily doesn’t think the same.

  4. Thanks for the fantastic review! I’ve been eyeballing this book for a while now but wasn’t sure that I wanted to invest any time into it. I think I’ll give it a shot after reading your review. You have me intrigued by your description of Celaena. Thanks again!

    1. Thanks, Fee! Em and I have differing views on this series, but we both agree that the first one is pretty great. I’d recommend checking them out.

  5. Thanks for the review! I’ve had my eye on this book for a while because I’ve been looking for another YA series to dive into, and it sounds like I would enjoy it. I’m glad to hear that the love triangle isn’t annoying because it kills me when authors drag out a love triangle, making everyone involved unlikeable in the process.

    1. Got to agree with you there, Julie! There’s nothing worse than a really bad love triangle. One thing that is annoying, however, is that so far there’s been a new love interest per book. By the time I slogged through the 3rd there were a few exes just hanging around doing nothing except taking up POV time, or so it felt…but according to YALLfest gossip, the person Celaena is with in the 4th book is who she stays with…course, I haven’t read that one yet, so I can’t approve or disapprove.

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