By Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Print Length: 406
Release Year: 2012
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.18
In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass—and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world. (Goodreads)
It has taken me too long to pick up Throne of Glass considering Maas is, without a doubt, one of my top five favourite authors. I adore A Court of Thorns and Roses, so entering into this extensive series is nowhere as daunting as it may be for some. I started this book fully aware of the sleepless nights that would follow as I binge the entire series.
Throne of Glass is Maas’s debut novel, and to be entirely honest it shows, but not in a bad way. Maas came into the genre of young adult fantasy with a strong entry; one ready to appeal to audiences ready to devour stories from the same vein as The Hunger Games. While ToG sets itself aside with a more fantastical setting it is strikingly similar to The Hunger Games when you get down to its bare bones. It’s the story of a young woman who must compete in a competition in which winning will grant her an entirely new life. The key differences setting this book apart from many others that came out during this era of YA literature and preventing it from being another Hunger Games-clone are in the characters and their circumstances. Unlike Katniss, our protagonist Celaena is a powerful assassin, locked away with a death sentence in a prison camp that rivals the depths of hell. She is chosen to fight as the crown prince’s champion, competing in a deadly competition with some not-so-savoury competitors. Her prize: freedom.
If you’ve ever read anything by Maas, by now you must know that her strong suit is making the reader fall in love with her characters, and this is even true for her earliest of works. It’s hard not to like her characters, even the ones we don’t get to see much of. Her only struggle in this entry is with the consistency in those characters. Celaena is described as this absolutely seasoned and clever assassin, who at times makes questionable decisions considering her background. While some of this I attribute as smart writing; after all Celaena is hard-headed and considerably full of herself; Maas does an amazing job presenting her as such. Many of the characters are young, and therefore act accordingly, so it wouldn’t be surprising for even the most seasoned assassin who just so happens to also be 18 would make some dumb mistakes. There is just a time where they seem a little… too… dumb. Like, seriously! If you’re in a competition where people are trying to kill you, and your competitors are mysteriously showing up dead one by one, would you eat a bag of chocolate that mysteriously appears on your bedside? I don’t think so.
Any shortcomings in character can easily be forgiven when you take into consideration the sheer talent Maas has always presented when it comes to world-building. I’ve yet to read a work of hers that doesn’t impress me with the depth and thought she puts into the worlds she creates and how masterfully she presents them. The land of Erilia does not disappoint. Having only read the first book in this series thus far (as well as the novellas), I already can say I have a considerably vivid image of her world in my mind. It goes without saying there is so much more to be discovered, but to have such a clear image so early on into a series about the vastness of their world is quite impressive.
I still have a ways to go with this series and I am very excited to continue on. Throne of Glass is one of those books that could have done well as a stand-alone, but from what I gather the series only gets better, which I’ve come to expect from Maas. I would recommend this book for those who are particularly interested in getting into longer form fantasy, as this YA series is a good entry point for many, especially younger, fantasy fans.