Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: August 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Borrowed from Library, on To Buy list
Series: Throne of Glass (#1)
Summary (goodreads.com): 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.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. 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.
Throne of Glass focuses on Adarlan’s Assassin, Celaena Sardothien, after she is chosen by Adarlan’s Crown Prince Dorian to be his champion in his father’s completion to be the King’s official assassin. This is the first book in the series, but it also technically isn’t. There are five prequel novellas that were published together in a book 2 years later as The Assassin’s Blade. Personally, I didn’t find it necessary to read The Assassin’s Blade before Throne of Glass. However, I can see why one might want to. The Assassin’s Blade tells the background of Celaena’s years as Adarlan’s Assassin that are hinted at in Throne of Glass. (I have decided to read the prequel novellas after I read the other books in the series.)
Celaena is an extraordinary character. In her own way she is an inspiration, obviously I do not mean the assassin part, but she is quick-witted and intelligent, confidant and strong. I like how she isn't stereotypical. She is an assassin, which could be seen as a man's profession in this world but Celaena doesn't act more masculine because of it, nor is she plain or a tomboy. The author makes a point of repeatedly mentioning that Celaena is breathtakingly beautiful and that when people, men and women alike, realize she is Adarlan’s Assassin they are surprised. Throughout the book she uses that underestimation to her advantage! She also enjoys dresses and dancing and other "feminine" things, which for some reason surprised me and it should not have. I automatically assumed upon starting the novel that Celaena wouldn’t like those things because she is a contract killer. I love that Maas proved me wrong and has given readers a character that is badass in every way that matters. My only complaint is that these things, such as how pretty she is and her love of all things fancy, is mentioned repeatedly. Once, maybe twice would have been enough. In later books I hope Maas feels confident in her own writing of such an amazing protagonist that she doesn't feel the need to remind the audience in words. As for the other female characters I liked the addition of characters such as Princess Nehemia and Kaltain, two very different women who have very different ambitions but will do anything to achieve them. Especially, the Princess because, like Celaena, she is a very strong female character that should be admired for her strength and courage.
The banter between Celaena and Chaol is witty and amusing. I enjoyed that Celaena has the type of personality that despite being an infamous assassin it is hard to not to be drawn to her natural charm. Chaol is the Captain of the King’s guard as well as Prince Dorian’s best friend. It becomes his job to train Celaena for the competition. He tries so hard to resist Celaena’s charm for fear of her possibly betraying him and the King he serves and the Prince he has given his undying loyalty to as a best friend. And yet he bends and becomes grudgingly friends with Adarlan’s Assassin. I loved seeing Chaol's development toward Celaena. I love the conversations they have. Then there is the relationship between the dynamic duo as I have come to calling Chaol and Dorian in my head. They are fantastic characters; they foil each other in great ways and are both equally important to Celaena and the book as a whole. I like that even though Dorian is Chaol’s superior in class and position, they don’t act like it. In fact, Chaol is usually telling Dorian what to do not the other way around. They grew up together and it is obvious in the way they react towards each other.
As for the plot of Throne of Glass is original. The competition that brought Celeana to the Glass Castle is interesting and the mystery surrounding the death of the champions is not easily guessed. The world building was quite impressive and extensive. I look forward to learning more about the magical purge that Dorian’s father brought about in his quest for domination years before. Overall, this novel was well thought out and I highly recommend it.
(Also I chose to use the reissued cover for this review because I find the first cover ridiculous and sexist, you can see that cover here.)