Release Date: August 7, 2012
Source: BookExpo America
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.
This book was HIGHLY preached. With an epic comparison (The Hunger Games meets Game of Thrones!) I had high expectations. The world was striking and absorbing. There was the perfect amount of tension, cleverness, and enough plot twists to keep the stakes extremely high.
There were many familiar elements in Throne of Glass that really contributed to my overall impression of the book. What I loved was how Sarah J. Maas took traditional themes and elements (like the masked ball! the competition!) and made them completely unique. Her multiple-perspective writing style didn’t evaporate any tension but contributed to it and she really did a great job slipping easily into other characters’ POVs. I was intoxicated by this rich and intense book. There were sword fights and instances where we saw just how clever Caelaena was.
The first fifty pages are rather slow, but if you push yourself past those, it immediately grips you and doesn’t let you go. It’s the type of book that I honestly debated my ability to review, lest I fill it completely with “wow”s and “I don’t know how to describe this. Just wow”s. If I hadn’t already posted about my mid-year favorites, this definitely would have made the lists.
I picked it up at BEA and thought it looked really good, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as special as it was. It was really something else. The feel of it – the mood and everything else – left me speechless. I’ve been looking for a book like this and I could not have higher praises than this because I’m in love with this book.
Caelaena was an intriguing character to say the least. Caeleana is an assassin, captured the year before and put in a camp filled with slaves and overseers who weren’t afraid to beat them mercilessly. Endovier is called a death camp. When she’s about to give up, someone arrives for her. The crown prince has come to take her back to the castle and fight for her rightful place as Ardalan’s Assassin. For four years, she will work for the king, killing for him, until she will finally be freed. If she fails, she will die or be sent back to Endovier, a fate worse than death.
There’s a catch: her competitors will not know that she is Caelaena, the famous assassin. Few people in the castle even know that a competition is going on. Her competitors – a range of soldiers, assassins, and thieves, each sponsored by a duke or member of the court – will know her as a lowly jewel thief, and she will be forced to endure their snickering and bantering. Lady Lillian.
Caelaena focuses on her winning, and molding her body back into shape. She vows to train harder than ever before. She runs every morning until she vomits and works herself for hours on end, watched over by the Chief of the Guard, Chaol, the best friend of the prince.
But something worse is happening in the castle, and soon, Caelaena may have more to worry about than just getting herself back into shape. Magic – a practice that the king outlawed – is happening, and champions are found with their entrails ripped out in the hallways. The way that they died remains a mystery. Magic is stirring, and before long, they may have more than the championship to worry about.
I really adored the action in the book. I can basically apply the description “I adore” to anything in this book because I fell in love with almost everything. Head over heels in love. I adored the descriptions, how the scenes were made up, the characters, the supporting characters, the action, the backstory, the tension, the romantic tension…ah! I loved it all!
I feel like Caelaena as a character really developed and we learned more about her as the story went on, but I wished that we had a more intimate scope of her thoughts. When it was from her POV, she was a more calculating personality, and we were shown first-hand just how strong and clever she was! This was great and I loved it, but I was waiting for the moment when I REALLY connected with her on a deeper emotional level. I did adore her as a character and she was really badass. Her backstory wasn’t really explained and while I understand that that may be because of several previously-released novellas discussing her history, I was waiting to feel the extent of her grief with Sam, the explanation of her history with Arobynn. I really would have liked to know more about Sam. About Caelaena, I actually wrote a post on what I call “The Katniss Phenomenon” about physically strong characters versus quietly strong characters citing Caelaena as an example.
This book had big shoes to fill. Blurbed as a mix between Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games, Throne of Glass will mostly be pursued by hungry readers of both series looking for more. I haven’t read Game of Thrones but my brother adores the series and I believe that he would really enjoy Throne of Glass. I know that I will definitely be recommending it to my old Language Arts teacher (a woman who fell in love with The Hunger Games series) and anybody else looking for something that makes them feel the same way.
The competition itself was run in a really efficient way. The pacing was perfect for the competition and for the book itself. It wasn’t used as just another gimmick or plot device – it was honestly the best way to set up the book and the storyline. I felt like it wasn’t copied off anything else, but was written in a highly original and captivating way that left me aching for more.
The pacing! The pacing also blew me away. After a somewhat slow beginning (push yourself through! I promise it has action!), it left me flipping the pages with urgency because I wanted, no, NEEDED to know what happened next. It had the perfect mixture of action scenes, tenses scenes, romantic scenes, and more. Sarah J. Maas had this instinct of when to switch POVs that worked SO WELL and conveyed such a fantastic scope of opinions about each character. For example, I found myself marveling over how well the ball scene was done from different POVs. That takes skill.
By the way, I also LOVED Nehemia. She was clever, complex, and passionate about her country and what she could do for it. I adored her spirit and fight.
I have seen many opposing views on this book, but me? I Loved it. With a capital L. It was lush and fulfilling and I only have a few negative things to point out. Part of the hesitation about this book could be due to that the first fifty pages or so are pretty slow – it takes a bit to where everything is amped up. I promise you, it’s worth it! While the synopsis may come off a bit like just another book that’s a mixture of other books, it’s really not even though there are many excellent comparisons that I could make. At one point, Caelaena reminded me of, and I quote you this, “a badass Cinderella who can fight”. The only negative that I really had was the romance.
It wasn’t really love or romance, but it was desire. Both the guys wanted Caelanna but it seemed like they liked the idea of her. In the beginning, they thought of her as a mystery and it didn’t seem like they had any intimacy throughout the book. I’m sure they knew each other well, but I personally couldn’t imagine being in a relationship where I didn’t know the dreams of the other character, what they loved. I just want them to be the one person who I can really talk to about anything, and I don’t think that Dorian and Chaol really knew her that well. They commented on her skill as an assassin, her beauty, how she seemed lonely, but it seemed like they made an effort to be around her, not to get to know her. That’s just the impression that I received and it kind of confused me. Not to mention that the romance was kind of whoever-was-there-at-the-time. It was supposed to be a love triangle, I believe, and it was just one of convenience for Caelaena it seemed.
The second thing WAS a negative for me but I ended up understanding why it happened towards the end of the book. I think that in a later book, I can learn exactly what role it has to play. My complaint had been that the storyline about the magic wasn’t deeply explored until the end of the book, when it turned out to be a key point in the plot. However, at the end, I understood why it was set up that way. It just caused a moment of annoyance when reading it when it was first introduced. I did enjoy the magic storyline and thought it offered the perfect touch to the story. It was also really fresh, which is really hard to do when there are similar plots out there.
The writing was gorgeous. There were some lines scattered in there, some things that were said, that just blew me away. I wished I had thought of them first! Sarah J. Maas has such a fantastic grip of language. She pulled out the right words at the right time and I was stunned. Her description is unparalleled and there were some moments so evocative that I could have sworn that I was in the world, feeling exactly what Caeleana did.
She did such a great job with tension! There was that passion hidden in there, that spark that I look for when reading a book. It was the spark that grabbed me when I first read Twilight and Fallen. That intensity I felt when I first read Hush Hush. In her Interrobang YA video, Kristi discussed “gateway books” and I do believe that Throne of Glass gave me that feeling that she describes. Even when hopping heads, she managed to not reveal anything more than what left me yearning for the next page. This is the quality that kept me up until 3 A.M. reading.
The world building was phenomenal. Even though we’re only introduced to life inside the castle and the structure of life there, it’s effortlessly built and really well written. I hope we’ll see more of outside its walls when the next book comes! There are several ebook only novellas also accompanying the series that I may have to read. I can’t wait to see more of this world! The kingdom is slowly taking over other lands and the king is ruthless. His soldiers kill innocent people and Caelaena possesses such a hatred for him because he killed her family. I would love to see more of the devious king and I’m sure we will!
Overall, Throne of Glass was a book that I really loved and do highly recommend for anybody looking for something to fill the void of The Hunger Games or Game of Thrones. Fans of fantasies such as Eragon or Lord of the Rings (yes, I made that reference!) may enjoy the feel of the world that Sarah J. Maas creates and the excellent worldbuilding. There are so many things that make Throne of Glass appeal to people who love those series and the average reader while there are also a billion things that make it wholly original. Beautiful writing, magnificent pacing, and a special mood to Throne of Glass make it a standout for me.
Recommended for anybody who loves: Game of Thrones; The Hunger Games; Lord of the Rings; Eragon; Cinderella; Venom; Harry Potter; Dragon Slippers; Rift; Grave Mercy; high fantasy; strong characters; vivid worldbuilding, etc,.
Possible book club questions:
Discuss the similarities found in Throne of Glass to other bestselling series. How did Sarah J. Maas make them her own?
Read this post. How does Caelaena’s physical strength make her strong?
How does the romance compare to other romances in series?