Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: High/Epic Fantasy, YA, paranormal, AWESOME
Publication Date: August 7, 2012 (North America – Bloomsbury/Macmillan)
Source: NetGalley review copy/ARC from Publisher
Summary: 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.
☆: 4.5/5 stars – worth the wait – one of the most kick-ass YA heroines to enter the high fantasy realm in years!
Review: You guys, high/epic fantasy is having a hell of a year in YA. First “Shadow and Bone”, then “Seraphina”, then “Stormdancer” (more steampunk/alt history than epic/high fantasy, but you know what I mean), and now “Throne of Glass”! I don’t think I’ve seen such a great string of high/epic YA fantasy titles in one year released like this ever! “ToG” has been floating around online (through fictionpress) until Mass took it down in 2008, but I can see why it was so popular when it was a thing of the internets. Are you tired of your heroines being passive, self-loathing, and full of indecision? “Throne of Glass” is definitely something to cure what ails the weak heroine part of the YA market. While I admit that I am very, very sick of love triangles, the rest of the book more than made up for that bit of the plot. Girls, your assassin queen is here, and her name is Celaena.
What I loved most about this book? Celaena herself. While I still haven’t gotten to the four prequel novellas that prepare us for the main part of this book, I adore how cocky Celaena is. She’s awesome and she knows it. She’s beautiful and she’s not afraid to hide it. And she will take you down if you cross her. She knows she’s the best and isn’t afraid to show it. But at the same time, dealing with the horrors of Endovier and the things that are stalking her in the dark makes her vulnerable, and I like the way she handled that – with anger. She was strong, and she behaved, but only out of self-preservation (at least, at first, until she learned to trust certain people). Yet she gets her own story arc, so she does undergo character transformation by the end of the book – which is always important and sets up a lot left to be used for book 2.
I don’t know whether I want to date her or be her, to be honest.
The worldbuilding – I could have used more of it, but I guess I’ll have to read the prequels and the sequel to get the full flavor. I wish the prequels had been included in the main book as it might have given me a fuller sense of the world, but I did get one that was adequate enough to enjoy where and when I was – both externally (Endovier, the Palace, etc) and internally (the final battle against the Big Bad at the end of the book – a rare example of internal worldbuilding). The whodunnit mystery of the murders helped build the world up with the history of magic and the fae and humans and really just helped glue everything together. While I wish during the assassin trials things had been a little more geographically varied, I’m satisfied with what I got. It worked, and I’m hoping things can only get better from here.
The magic/fae element – LOVED this bit because it was so ambivalent until about halfway in. It all worked, especially with the internal worldbuilding and people from history coming into the picture. The final battle with the Big Bad was my favorite because we finally saw how much Celaena grew as a character throughout the book – she had allies, where she might have scorned them at the beginning of the book. Parts of that big fight definitely felt Whedonesque, I won’t lie about that, and it was awesome.
The love triangle: the one downside to the book. Celaena falling for the prince felt very out of character, no matter how charming he was because of her past grudges against the crown. Chaol felt much more natural, and I wish Maas had stuck with him only. If anything, it felt like the triangle just kind of impeded things. HOWEVER, I do see why it was used (in terms of Celaena’s character arc and her transformation by the end of the book). So I guess I can pardon this one. Plus all of the action, murder mystery, magic, and Celaena’s badassery makes up for it and makes it tolerable.
Final verdict? If you’re a high/epic fantasy fan or you just want a great, strong heroine, this book is definitely for you. “Throne of Glass” is a great new series, and I look forward to reading more of Celaena’s capers in the future. Its place on my best of 2012 so far list is very well deserved indeed. “Throne of Glass” drops August 7, 2012 from Bloomsbury Kids USA in North America, so be sure to check it out then! Highly recommended!