September 14, 2014

Review by Alex: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: August 7th, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Page Count: 404
Source: Purchased
First Reaction: You'll have to ask Alex, my guest reviewer for the day!
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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 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.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]


I've already reviewed this book, but my friend Alex doesn't blog and loves THRONE OF GLASS very, very much and when she asked me if she could review said book on my blog I said, "Hey! Why don't we make this a THING. Why don't you review all of the books and even write a THRONE OF GLASS themed Top Ten Tuesday this week?" And so we are. I hope you all adore Alex as much as I do!


 It’s been two years since I personally met Celaena Sardothien. I’d heard about her before, since I found the then titled Queen of Glass on in 2008 and started following Sarah’s blog, waiting anxiously for this book’s release. Unfortunately, I did not find it before she removed it from fictionpress, and therefore had no clue what I was in store for. All I knew was that it started as a Cinderella retelling, where Cinderella was an assassin, and that everyone who read it loved it. That’s pretty much it.

Now, I can honestly say that Throne of Glass changed my life. I stand by my feeling that it was divine intervention that put that book in my hands on August 7th 2012. My life was in shreds… then in struts Celaena Sardothien with so much swagger and arrogance that I was shocked that I found a kindred spirit in her. But that’s the thing about Celaena. She is not your typical hardcore, sword wielding, heroine. Just as Throne of Glass is not your typical young adult fantasy series. I don’t know what I was expecting from a Cinderella assassin story, but it was not this. For one, Throne of Glass is NOT a retelling. It opens as Celaena Sardothien is pulled from the slave mines of Endovier after spending a year there for her assassin crimes. Crown Prince Dorian has a proposition for her – compete in his father’s competition to become the King’s Champion, aka private assassin, and after spending a few years doing that she will have earned her freedom. It’s an offer she can’t refuse. Upon arriving at the Glass Castle of Adarlan, Celaena finds herself in the midst of something far greater than the trials of court life and a King’s competition.

That was pretty much my reaction after just reading the words “glass castle.” You don’t want to see the unabashed fangirl dance that occurred when I finished reading.

The world of Adarlan’s Assassin swept me up immediately. Sarah writes about the places and people of Erilea with such vivacity and color. I felt like I was there while reading. Her descriptions are rich and full, but she didn’t bog down the narrative with them. Instead, Sarah shows us the world as Celaena sees it, as she experiences it, so it felt present instead of historic.

The narrative is full of twists and turns, some predictable, others not at all. It was predictable enough that I wasn't blown away by the revelation of who the bad guys were. But the depth of the evil was shocking! That is what kept my eyes wide and the pages turning faster and faster. Like all fantasy books, there is a constant struggle between good and evil, but Throne of Glass takes that concept a step further, exploring the good and evil in the world as well as within each character.

Celaena is an assassin and everything that implies. But she is so much more than that. She is the heart and soul of this book, and not because she’s the MAIN main character. It’s because without her being exactly who she is, this book would be nothing more than your average YA fantasy novel, no matter the world building and extremely attractive male cast. And you will either hate her or love her for it.

What made me fall in love with Celaena is her soul. She has this real duality about her that makes her relatable. She’s not all good and she’s not all kick-ass, darkness, and struggle. She relishes the strength of her weapons and the adrenaline of the fight, but she’s also compassionate and loves pretty dresses and candies and books. There is no one word to describe her, in any language, and that’s the way it should be! Celaena taught me, and continues to teach me now, to keep going when everything feels like it’s going to hell. GET UP and KEEP GOING.

Plus, if there’s ever a movie, Celaena will pretty much look like the female version of this.

Which can only be considered fabulous.

And Celaena isn’t the only fab, strong, female character. We also have…

Nehemia – Princess of Eyllwe, who asserted her strength so much when we first meet her that I was a little turned off by her. But first impressions are rarely ever correct, and we learn so much about her as she befriends Celaena.

Kaltain – the resident mean girl and starlet in Adarlan’s Court. You know this girl means social-ladder-climbing business, but there is another side to her that we see as the book unfolds. and Elena – who, if we’re thinking about the Cinderella motif, is sort of the fairy godmother of the story, except so much more awesome.

Okay, NOW we can talk about the extremely attractive male cast.

First we meet Chaol Westfall, the serious, brooding Captain of the Royal Guard, then Adarlan’s charming and handsome Prince Dorian Havilliard. I don’t want to repeat my first impressions spiel, but it’s true. Chaol is not just a brooding Captain and Dorian is not just a charming Prince. Celaena, Chaol, and Dorian can each stand on his/her own, but the three of them complement each other. Their relationships are the highlight of this book for me, especially between Celaena and Chaol. That one in particular felt… earthy to me, like it grew from deep within, slowly and surely.

Honestly, I was shipping them loyally from about chapter 4 (but I also shipped Matt/Sora from Digimon about 80 episodes before that came into fruition. Take from that what you may).

Do you remember how at the beginning of this review I said that Throne of Glass changed my life? It wasn’t just Celaena’s character that changed me. See, I used to be a YA snob, in that I thought it was beneath me (even though I wrote young adult unconsciously… Go young me). Throne of Glass made me realize just how incredible and valuable YA fiction is. This book sparked my love affair with YA fantasy, and I can proudly say that I am a YA fantasy writer. Through Sarah’s exquisite prose and world building and characters and plot weaving, I have been life-alteringly converted and inspired.

In conclusion...

Alexandra Ray is an aspiring Young Adult Fantasy writer. She is currently working on a high fantasy, very loose retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. She is a former poster on and the livejournal community The_Write_Away. She loves all things Disney, first gen Digimon, Pokemon, and crime shows that don’t take themselves too seriously and often finds herself daydreaming of pirates, mermaids, and faeries. You can follow Alex on her Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.