Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: 08/07/12
Synopsis from goodreads.com:
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.
My thoughts on the book:
Throne of Glass is a fantastic thrill ride with wonderfully complex characters and a captivating plot. I was sucked in by the end of the first page, and I could not put this book down until the very end. Be prepared to stay up all night reading with this one. Maas has created an intriguing and unique world that you won't want to leave. This book isn't even out yet, and I already want the sequel.
Celaena is one of the most complicated and strong female leads I've ever read. She looks out for herself first, and she doesn't become stupid and weak when she sees an attractive man. That alone made me like her more than 99% of the female characters that I've read. Also, while she is an assassin, she still has a conscience. I know that sounds strange, but it's true. She's kind to animals, and she doesn't enjoy seeing others suffer. That's more than I can say about a lot of people who aren't killers, so in my book, she's okay. Also, she's had a horrible life, but she doesn't complain. She does what she has to do to survive, and while she's aware of her feelings, she doesn't let them interfere with logic. Additionally, her character also grows immensely over the course of the novel.
Chaol (Captain Westfall) and Dorian are both wonderful. Yes, there is a love triangle, but it's not done as a plot device. It seemed to occur naturally over the course of the novel. There is no insta-love, and the two men are best friends. Obviously that complicates matters. Celaena doesn't seem to feel torn, though. She's more concerned with taking care of herself than whether or not she has a boyfriend. I honestly like both Chaol and Dorian equally, and I can't decide who I think is a better match for Celaena. On the one hand, Dorian seems to soften her some, but he's so emotionally weak sometimes. He's a bit of a baby. I think that's because he's been so spoiled. He is growing, however, and he may end up growing a set yet. Chaol is more like Celaena in temperament. He can definitely hold his own, and he understands her. However, he seems to make her personality a bit harsher at times, and he really upsets her with some of the aloof things he says. Neither choice is perfect, but that just makes them realistic.
The plot is intense and action-packed. At first, we just hear about how wonderful Celaena is, and her arrogance got to be a bit annoying. Finally, we were shown how good she is. That made things more believable. Also, her work ethic is impressive. She's not just unnaturally talented or gifted, she works her butt off to be her best. That's a nice change because so many books have characters who have everything pretty much handed to them. Oh, they're naturally fast or naturally good fighters. Celaena may have supernatural advantages (that was hinted at, but not discussed in detail yet), but she still works constantly to achieve her goals. Her willpower alone is something to be respected.
Because the plot revolves around murders and the Champion contest, we see a lot of fighting and action on that front. Aside from the fighting, there is also a mystery going on. I honestly had no idea who was guilty of the murders. Every time I thought I had it figured out, Maas threw in a twist and I didn't know what to think. Needless to say, by the time the big reveal came, the guilty party was one of my many suspects.
The climax of the story had me white-knuckling my Kindle and sitting on the edge of my seat. I could not hit the "next page" button fast enough. I really had no idea what was going to happen and if Celaena would live to see the next day or not. Maas takes you on such an emotional roller coaster that you aren't sure if the main character will even live or not. This is uncommon in novels. Usually, I have a sense that everything will be okay in the end... at least I feel like the main character can't be killed off. However, in Throne of Glass, I just didn't know. It took all of my willpower not to flip to the end to see if Celaena lived or not.
The writing is top-notch, and the POV is third person limited. It switches between almost all of the characters, and I kind of enjoyed that. It's a unique way to tell a story. Usually the POV switches between two or three characters at most, or just follows the main character. I liked getting to see other characters' motives and true feelings. I wish I could have seen more of Chaol's POV, though. Maybe in the following books. The pacing is perfect, in my opinion. Nothing moved too quickly or too slowly. There was just enough description to paint a wonderfully rich and three dimensional world without having so much description that it weighted down the plot.
Overall, I'd recommend Throne of Glass to anyone. It's a fantasy book, but I couldn't decide if it was Adult or YA (which is why I listed it as both in my labels). The main character is 18, which could be considered either. Some of the violent scenes and murder scenes were a bit graphic for younger readers, but nothing was so graphic that I'd put this in the adult only category. Anyway, labels aren't important. This book is amazing, and once Throne of Glass is released Maas will become a powerful voice in fantasy literature.
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