Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.
In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught.
Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?
Title: Throne of GlassAuthor: Sarah J. MaasPublisher: BloomsburySeries: Yes
Please give you a huge welcome to Arianne who will now be guest reviewing on the blog every two weeks!
Throne of Glass is one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read all year. It’s an electrifying, detailed and unputdownable read. It’s book I’ll never forget; I was hooked by the first page. Brimming with plot and simmering with secrets, it tells the story of Celaena Sardothien, feared assassin and ruthless killer. One fatal mistake landed her in the notorious slave mines of Endovier, where she’s spent the last year being slowly, excruciatingly worked to death. So when Prince Dorian and the captain of his guard Chaol approach her with a proposition that may lead to earning her freedom, it’s an offer she can’t refuse. And with such a fantastic premise, it’s no wonder that Sarah J. Maas is being hailed as a gifted new voice for high fantasy fiction: Throne of Glass exceeds all expectation in its brilliance and flair. I loved it.
Set in a magnificent world of vast, stunning landscapes and towering royal cities, Throne of Glass has all the makings of a classic high fantasy novel. Sarah J. Maas, however, refuses to rely on what we think we know about the genre and instead hints at the importance of themes and warring kingdoms yet to be explored. From the depths of Endovier to the poverty-stricken backstreets to the lavish suites of the palace, nothing is ever as it seems – least of our heroine.
Celaena is beautiful, resolute and absolutely lethal. She’s arrogant and she wants the world to know it. She’s defensive and fuelled by revenge. She flaunts her talents and she knows exactly what she wants. We’re so used to seeing female characters in YA apologise for being passionate, angry or talented but Celaena’s not afraid of anything, let alone showing her innate resilience or letting loose her formidable reputation. This book is more about winning her freedom than actual assassination, but then Throne of Glass is a surprisingly self-contained adventure. Think of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: a brilliant but relatively short and almost confined story which sets in motion far more epic and complex events, the scale of which we can hardly even begin to imagine.
The book’s extended cast are equally as vibrant. There are of course typical bad guys of the tournament in which Celaena must compete, brutish thugs and petty criminals who are definitely more brawn than brain. They are Celaena’s most obvious enemies, but it’s clear they’re just foot soldiers. There’s inevitable gore and violence here, but it’s the higher powers you really have to be wary of in Celaena’s world. She’s not even sure if she can trust Dorian and Chaol – and they don’t know if they can trust her, either. Educated and sophisticated though she may be, Celaena is still a trained killer - but Dorian and Chaol aren’t exactly lacking in talent either. Chaol is elusive, military and stoic. Dorian is more emotional, kind-hearted yet conflicted. The romance of Throne of Glass is neatly compartmentalised, a distinct flash of relief against a murky backdrop of intrigue and danger, and it’s not a love triangle in the traditional sense, so it really works. It enhances the story but rarely takes over. In all the best ways, it leaves you wanting more.
I didn’t like some of the secondary characters as much as I loved the leading trio – I particularly felt that Kaltain’s scheming could have been revealed in a way that was less intrusive on the real story of Celaena’s struggle – but I was so wrapped up in the whispers of history and magic that I let it slide. Maas cleverly raises more questions than answers when it comes to Celaena’s backstory and it’s clear that this is a novel built on series potential. Six books are planned – Crown of Midnight hit shelves last year and Heir of Fire releases in September – and I cannot wait to read every single one of them.
In short: Throne of Glass is a mesmerising new addition to the YA fantasy shelf. Defined by fearlessness, romance and an outstanding female lead, it's a story that takes no prisoners and keeps you hooked from the first page. One of my favourite reads of 2014 by far.
Don't forget to check out the review of Crown of Midnight!