Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Publication Date: Aug 7, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
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 kings 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.
I’m all for an epic fantasy novel, but I can really only read a few of them a year. For one thing, they require a lot more concentration than I normally can/want to give. The worlds are so intricate, the cast of characters is usually fairly long, and fantasies require more mental power than a simple romance novel. I chase a 2yr old around all day folks. I’m pretty much comatose most nights after she goes to bed. Anyway, it’s been awhile since my last epic fantasy adventure, so when Throne of Glass popped up on Netgalley I decided it was time to step up my game. I put my daughter to bed early one night last week, settled into my favorite spot on the couch and prayed I could keep up.
Calaena’s (I pronounced it “Selena” in my head, but I have no idea if that’s right or not) usual days in slavery consist of waking up before the sun rises, doing back breaking work all day long hacking salt out of the mountains, then returning to her hovel long after the sun has set. After a year of this schedule, Calaena is suddenly plucked out of the mines by a man wearing what suspiciously looks like the royal crest, and is dragged in front of the Crowned Prince – chains, dirt and all. Dorian (the Prince) has informed her that she has an opportunity to win back her freedom as the king’s Champion, but must fight a slew of other male assassin’s/mercenaries/thieves/soldiers in a competition for the honor. The smart girl that Calaena is, she decides that fighting for the man that imprisoned her in the wretched salt mines in the first place, is a much better deal than holding on to her principles and staying where she’s at.
Calaena, Dorian and Chaol (“Kale?”), the captain of the guard, travel to the Glass City where Calaena immediately faces her first challenge despite her poor physical condition. Back breaking work without proper nutrition will do that to a girl, y’all. As Calaena grows stronger and the competition becomes more intense, the combatants soon realize that they aren’t each others only enemy. A dark force is attacking the champion contenders, killing them one by one as the tournament gets farther along. A dead queen appears to Calaena from the grave and insists that she is the only one that can stop the evil invading the castle. Calaena can’t tell friend from foe, but she’s determined to protect the people that have come to mean more to her than anything.
First, I completely fell in love with fantasy world that Maas created. I’ve read some fantasy novels in the past that were so confusing that for the first half of the book I had no idea what was going on. That wasn’t the case here. The whole story took place is mostly one place, and it was easy to visualize the story in my head. Although I got a bit lost sometimes with the names of people and things, I attribute that mostly to the fact that I’m a novice fantasy reader. Each genre has their own style, and since I don’t read a lot of these, I’m not used to it’s particular jargon. Anyway, the world was fascinating, and it added just the right touch but wasn’t strong enough to overpower the plot or characters.
I really, really liked Chaol. He was so young, but so serious and completely devoted to his job and his kingdom. He and Calaena trained together during the competition, and while Calaena was the best at what she does, he could still beat her and I thoroughly enjoyed their spouts. I was ambivalent about Dorian. He was essential to the story, but he still has some growing up to do. He and Chaol are the same age, but you’d never guess it by the way Dorian acts. He has a little too much “spoiled prince” in him for my taste, but I hope to see him grow out of that in later books.
Calaena and I had a few… issues. Yes, she was the biggest, baddest little assassin there ever was. But she knew it, she told everyone about it and her arrogance made me want to beat her over the head with a club. A predictable little love triangle occurred, and I was really disappointed in who she chose. But I think she rectified that in the end, thankfully. I thought Maas did a great job of making a Calaena’s talent believable. I never once doubted that she could actually do what she said she could (except in training with Chaol), and I admired her sheer grit and determination. She just needed a bit more humility about it.
I also had a few minor issues with the writing. At times the dialogue was a little cheesy, especially when the characters were trying to be humorous. I had to roll my eyes at a few spots. The characters (except Chaol, ’cause he rocks) had an underlying immaturity that surprised me, especially in Calaena who had been through so much. Again, I hope to see that go away in the future. Speaking of Calaena again, it also bothered me how the emotional impact from her horrible experiences were almost an after thought. She’d be joking around with the guys, talking about how good she is and then suddenly remember that she was a slave for a year and she should probably feel bad about it. Her parents also died when she was a child, and her assassin training couldn’t have been easy for a young girl (she describes her master making her break her right arm because she was too weak using her left), and I wish she would have had a bit more emotional depth. I don’t want Calaena to dwell on her experiences, but I thought that the emotional scars could have been handled a bit more seriously.
My Summary: If you’ve made it this far through this EPIC review, you’re a freakin’ rock star. Seriously. Throne of Glass was highly entertaining and addictive enough that I can’t wait for the next book. I can take more of Calaena’s arrogance, but I really hope that she and Dorian mature a little in the next book. And that they properly learn how to tell jokes and flirt. I highly recommend, and Maas makes it easy to slip into Calaena’s world with ease. If I can follow along, you can too.
My Rating: A