Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas (2012)
YA Fiction | FantasyBlurb:
“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 four 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.”
pooled ink Review:
BAM! Okay alright okay!
Let’s talk cover art (the least important aspect, I agree). I am not a fan (although I do really love her outfit). And while yes one should not judge a book by its cover I most certainly did (for whatever reason I’m not a fan of covers with people on them…I’m more of a simple, complicated, symbolic, metaphorical, literal, anything but people or at least anything but cartoon/computer rendered people type of cover art person) and that’s why it has taken me so long to finally suck it up and buy it. I read A Court of Thorns and Roses (which yes also has a person on it but the book was signed soooo) and found that I really clicked with Maas’ writing style so I decided to dive into her first series. This book literally emphasizes that old saying because it’s pretty grand.
Some people complained that the protagonist, Celaena Sardothien, wasn’t badass enough. Well they’re silly. She’s clearly a badass assassin that can kill you before you even realized you looked at her wrong. Does she develop a few romantic feelings for certain somebodies in this book? Yes. Because she is a human being, praise the heavens she has a functioning heart. Actually it says a lot about her because despite her profession and despite the insane hardships and cruelty that she has suffered through she has not allowed her heart to wither and die. This is not a weakness in Adarlan’s Assassin, it is a strength (I mean, okay it also could be used as a weakness by her enemies but she’s way too clever for that and having no heart is also actually a weakness so it’s really a Catch-22 here and since that’s the case I vote ‘functioning heart’). I will say that it’s not quite as dark and intense as Six of Crows was for me but still hardcore and awesome.
Oh but she loves dresses and being bathed and dancing! What a weak pansy! NO. What are you?? Trying to destroy the feminist movement that is already straining to shatter decades of stigmas?? GET OUT. Where in the world, pray tell, does it say that to be a strong, fierce, independent woman means that you must only like pants and dirt and sweat and “man-like qualities”??? Oh that’s right, NO WHERE. Gender equality means that a woman can be a woman and not a man to be equal to him. I mean I love wearing pants but don’t hate on dresses. To me it makes Celaena more dimensional and interesting to see that she can enjoy simple pleasures like pretty gowns and parties and also have the ability to care about people while also possessing this ability to block it all out, focus, and become the land’s most dangerous killer. She is a human being and a woman of many hats. Huzzah.
Relationship-wise I like Dorian but the romance between them just sorely needs to be short-lived. As fun as he is he is not for her. Chaol? I absolutely applaud Maas’ decision to keep their relationship slow, steady, realistic, and wary because while Dorian is taken by Celaena’s beauty, Chaol sees past it and becomes thoroughly aware of her strengths and mindset refusing to be swept off his feet so easily but accurately assesses her as a cat watching a mouse. He does not take her lightly nor she take him lightly. He seems a good balance for her. A fantasy this book may be but even in them assassins do not suddenly become Cinderellas, at least not for long. Their relationship is more of a dance as opposed to Dorian’s dreamy princely prance. Dorian is good for cutting tension though, he’s quite a fun character at times.
Maas clearly has a gift for writing high-fantasy stories as she manages to construct a layered fictional world and although she focuses on one part she supplies enough background information as well as snippets about the surrounding countries to make Adarlan rather real and to allow her the possibility of moving throughout this fictional realm (which, thanks to some light snooping on Goodreads, I know she will). The politics are interesting, the action is appropriate levels of intense, and the obstacles are captivating. The plot begins singular and slowly expands and branches off into an interwoven story of lives and goals, magic and blood. The Champion’s competition is the platform and triggering plot device for which the story begins and continually clings to but from it other subplots and motivations grow.
Is there a bit of a love-triangle? Sort of and from what I’ve accidentally gleaned on Goodreads things will change once more. And while I agree that the love-triangle device is quickly becoming overdone I will say that at least it doesn’t overwhelm the main point of the story (that is the part I am tired of). It’s also a more subtle competition with each man knowing full well that Celaena will do as she pleases for it is her choice…plus she’s an assassin so who knows if she’s just playing them from the start anyway? The Champion’s competition set forth by the King of Adarlan is the main motion of the plot but slowly magic, murder, mystery, betrayal, and alliance seep forth to keep things interesting. It’s a good idea because the competition will inevitably end but the series must keep going and these subplots of intrigue will keep the momentum of Celaena’s story going.
If Cinderella were an assassin…
Throne of Glass is a story about a girl who once lost everything and now stands in rags with only everything to gain. A young fearsome assassin in the kingdom of Adarlan, Celaena will fight for her freedom and her fate shall unfold. Demons, kingdoms, and one competition take her story on a brakeless ride with only perhaps a small space left for her heart to thrive. She stands so close to her freedom and yet perhaps the distance is teasingly far, an illusory finish line. Definitely a recommended read for any fan of YA fantasy.
Purchase here: Throne of Glass
Similar Recommended Reads: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, Lichgates by S.M. Boyce, The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan, Crooked Raven by Talis Jones, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, Rhapsodic by Laura Thalassa
Meet Sarah J. Maas!
Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.