Throne of Glass
In Throne of Glass, the King of Adarlan is a monster of the worst kind – a tyrannical ruler hell-bent on conquering every continent he can reach, and eliminating all those who oppose him. Endovier is one of two labor camps in Eriliea – a dreadful place where criminals and rebels against the throne are sent to work in the mines as payment for their offenses. Known as Adarlan's Assassin, Celaena was sentenced to die when she was sent to Endovier, but through sheer force of will and pure determination, she defeated the odds and is still alive when the Crown Prince, Dorian, comes to take her back to Adarlan and the capital city of Rifthold.
The King has determined he needs a Champion, but rather than appoint one himself, he has decided to make a game of it – by allowing different court nobles to appoint their own champions, who will then fight against each other to win and be named King's Champion. The 24 champions are tested over the course of several months, evaluating their strengths and punishing their weaknesses. And after spending a year in the salt mines, Celaena is dismayed to realize she is astonishingly out of shape. Teaming up with the Captain of the King's Guard, Chaol, Celaena trains mind, body and soul to prepare herself for the final duels at the end of the competition.
When she awoke every morning, she repeated the same words: I will not be afraid.
It's not all bad, though. Living in the palace has its perks, including unlimited access to the palace library, gorgeous gowns, personal servants to attend her, and the food! Oh, the food! If she's not training or reading, Celaena is usually sitting at the table enjoying some delicious food, often in the company of Chaol, Dorian, or her newest friend, Nehemia. The Princess of Eyllwe, though mysterious, intrigues Celaena and they quickly become inseparable as Celaena helps the Princess learn the common language and Nehemia provides Celaena with a kind of friendship she wasn't sure was even possible.
Underneath the palace drama and constant training of the champions, an unknown evil runs amok within the castle. Champions are being found murdered – brutally attacked and torn apart in a way that can't possibly be the work of an ordinary man, but there is no other reasonable explanation. Celaena, unable to resist, finds herself smack in the middle of the mystery surrounding the murders and becomes an unexpected champion of another sort – and with a patron she wishes she could forget. What began as a fight to win the honor of being the King's Champion has now turned into a fight for so much more - now Celaena fights for her life, her soul, her past, her secrets, and so much more.
With her debut novel, Sarah J. Maas has taken the high fantasy genre by storm, ushering in a marvelous beginning to an exciting series. Throne of Glass sets the bar for what's to come next, taking us on an adventure that is unlike any other. Celaena is the strong heroine we have come to expect from Maas – showing the world that it is possible to be tough and fierce – standing up to enemies and not backing down when the situation gets a little out of control – then turning around in the next scene and being immersed in beautiful fabrics, silk and lace gowns, delicate pearls and crystals in the hair, and delicious cakes and pastries. Celaena has gone through an extraordinary amount of hardships in her young life, and she somehow continues to remain upbeat and positive, not letting the darkness overwhelm her. And we know, we just know, there are more secrets to learned about Celaena's past. Maas has revealed just enough to get us hooked, but has left plenty of hidden secrets left to be discovered.
You could rattle the stars," she whispered. "You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you most."
The other characters are similarly well-developed: Dorian is protrayed as a womanizer, yet a lover of books and courageously stands up to his father; Chaol is a morally straight arrow, unwilling to bend his views for anyone or anything – until he spends more time with Celaena, who is morally ambiguous; and Nehemia, the Princess from another land, fighting for the rights of her people while maintaining the delicate political balance between her kingdom and Adarlan. Even more impressive than her primary character development, Maas' secondary characters are richly detailed and well thought out. Not always at the forefront of the story, characters such as the slimy Duke Perrington, the social manipulator Kaltain Rompier, and the sweet yet tough Phillipa, are nonetheless important and carefully cultivated to add depth and interest to the story.
As I read Throne of Glass, at times it was obvious this was a debut novel, the first to be published. The dialogue tends to be a bit superfluous, seeming to not quite fit the scene or how you would imagine the characters might respond to a particular situation. Maas is also a tad heavy on the scenic depictions, yet the way she explains the surroundings feels as though she is pointing out important themes or landmarks that will make a return appearance in the future. Be prepared for the overall momentum of the book to feel a bit on the slow side. Once I got past the almost painful dialogue in the first few chapters and waited for Maas to begin the more involved character development, I was beyond hooked. The very first read through feels soft and easy up through the first ¾ of the book, and then the story begins to build – you learn more secrets, feel more involved with the characters, and see the different relationships start to unfold. And once you reach that point, the book flies. It becomes fast paced and full of action, but doesn't feel rushed or cut off at any point. It's obvious a lot of care and attention went into this story and we are lucky enough to be able to live through it over and over. For her first novel, Maas absolutely deserves the positive reviews and massive fan following, knowing that we will trail along behind her like a pack of puppies – just waiting for the inevitable books scraps to be dropped for us!
No. I can survive well enough on my own— if given the proper reading material.
Click the book covers below to read the reviews for the other books in the series!