|Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas|
August 7, 2012
Bloomsbury USA Children
Genre: Upper Young Adult Fantasy
(Note: The main characters are 18-22 years old, but there are no sexually explicit scenes)
Source: Personal purchase
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 king's 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.My Review:
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.
After reading the prequel novellas (find my review here), which are not mandatory reading, but for me really helped set-up Celeana's story and character, as well as the world, and I was very excited to start Throne of Glass. Sarah J. Maas pulled me in from the very first chapter of TOG right back into Celaena's life and I had a difficult time putting the book down.
Setting: Maas does a wonderful job of creating this fantasy world that I can completely imagine. The details and depths of what she created is magnificent. But fortunately she does not bog the reader down with info-dumping. Instead she provides more and more info as the book progresses about the different cities, people, history, giving us an increasingly larger picture without droning on with excessive and unnecessary details. Her world is amazing and I imagine Maas spent a tremendous amount of time developing it, and it shows. The map at the beginning of the book was really helpful to me as well.
Story: There are many, many layers to this story, which should be apparent considering the vastness of the world that Maas has created. Within this story we have the history of the wider world that Celaena lives in and how it got there, the king and his intentions, and the plight of the people throughout the land. And within that larger picture we have Celaena, newly released from the salt mines to compete to become the new royal assassin. Then within that competition, we have a killer on the loose. How do you find a killer among people competing to become an assassin? Then throw in some royal politics, mysterious magic, and the building of friendship perhaps love, and you've got an exciting story. I loved the complexity of the story and not only did I enjoy this novel, but I'm looking forward to all the directions that Maas may possibly take the next novels.
Characters: I loved the characters Maas created. The MCs have depths and dimension. Even the secondary characters are given a bit of history and made interesting and important to the story. But let's talk about the MCs:
Celaena: Prior to Celeana's imprisonment at the Endovier salt mines, she was arrogant, prickly, rude, snobbish, and immature in many ways. During the novellas we got to see the gradual ways that Celaena was humbled in her life and character. After a year in the salt mines, Celaena has been humbled by the hard labor, the beatings, the hopelessness, the death surrounding her, but she has also kept her strength and the things that make her so unique. She is not a character without faults and flaws, even after her humbling experiences, and I liked the balance between her positive and negative attributes that Maas presented. I also appreciated her inner and outer strength, and how she had to continually evolve when facing new situations.
Dorian and Chaol: Dorian is the Crown Prince and Chaol is his Captain of the Guard. They have also been friends - the best of friends - since childhood. Each is uniquely different from the other, yet each has their own appeal, and I really liked both of them. And how does Celaena come into their lives? Dorian needs a Champion for his father's competition, so he chooses the one person he knows will completely rub his father the wrong way. Chaol is in charge of her and has prejudged her by her history of living as an assassin and a murderer. Neither truly knows her, they just know of her. But then they get to know her. And each is drawn toward the same girl.
Love Triangle: Now I'm not normally a fan of love triangles. Oftentimes an author makes them seem forced and not realistic. This time, however, the growing, budding interests of these two gentlemen for this assassin girl felt very organic, very gently paced, and very realistic. There's no love-at-first-sight. There is the gradual building of relationships, the gradual break down of barriers. I really appreciated the gentleness of how these budding interests were handled, and not overly dramatized. Even though there were love interests about, the main storyline of Celaena's competition and the mysterious murders were not overshadowed. And I will not tell you what happened with this triangle, but I will say that I really liked how it was handled and I respect Celaena's integrity.
Bottomline: There are so many aspects of this book that I enjoyed - from the multi-dimensional characters, to the fierceness of the competition, to the mysteries of finding the killer as well as the kingdom politics, to the complexities of the world, and to the budding love stories. Maas really did a tremendous job, and I look forward to the rest of her novels, as well as more novellas, which are like little gems.