Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ARC Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Publisher:  BloomsburyUSA
Publication Date: August 7th, 2012

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 king's 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.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

With each debut I've read this year, I believe more firmly, that 2012 is THE year of the debut, and this book has been one of my favorites.  Throne of Glass is absolutely PHENOMENAL!!  I really enjoy a good High Fantasy from time to time, with GOOD being the operative word.  Over the past few years, most of the HF novels I've read have fallen really short for me.  Of course, that is partly Kristin Cashore's fault for writing her brilliant Seven Kingdoms Trilogy (Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue), setting the bar so high, but honestly, the stuff that has come out in the genre just hasn't done much for me.  That changed this year.  First there was Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo (read my review HERE), and now this gem, Throne of Glass.  Where to start when reviewing near perfection?

The central character is Celaena Sardothien, otherwise known as Adarlan's Assassin.  Celaena had been toiling away in the prison mines of Endovier, a horrible place where most don't survive a week, for over a year, when she was plucked out by the Crown Prince of Erilea, Dorian, and his loyal Captain of the Guard, Westfall.  Prince Dorian proposes an agreement- Celaena competes in a challenge to become the king's Champion.  If she wins, she will serve as the king's assassin for three years and then be free, if she loses, she will be returned to the mines until she inevitably dies there.  She accepts the challenge, with every expectation of winning.  She is, after all, the most skilled and notorious assassin that anyone has ever seen.  What she doesn't expect is what comes to pass over the course of her training and the challenge period...

Celaena is totally kick-ass.  I have always said that Katsa from Graceling is hands-down, my favorite kick-ass female heroine, and I have to say, Celaena gives Katsa a serious run for her money.  Celaena wasn't born with her abilities like Katsa was, she trained hard and learned everything she knew.  She is smart, witty, cunning, and forward-thinking.  She is beautiful, fit, amazingly strong for her small stature, and tough as nails. She is also very human and extremely emotionally damaged.  Each and every part of her person plays a part in shaping her experience at the king's palace, and I found myself repeatedly surprised at her combination of tenacity, ferocity, and vulnerability; it was a constant subtle reminder that in the end, she was just a young girl with extraordinary abilities.  

Celaena did not carry this story by herself, though.   Captain Westfall really intrigued me with his mysterious, stoic nature.  From time to time, he would slip, and let some of his humanity show, but for much of the book, I was as unsure of what to make of him as Celaena was.  Although, I have some inclinations now that this book is over, I still have a great many questions pertaining to WHO he really is, and those questions are really what have me most looking forward to the next installment in this series.  Another character I really liked, and from the other reviews I've read, I know I'm in the minority here, was Prince Dorian.  At first, I felt the same as Celaena did about him- I thought he was the pompous, over-privileged,  philandering, pawn of his viciously cruel father.  What both I and Celaena learned over the course of the story was that his only true fault was that he didn't have enough of a spine to stand up to his father, but that he had a very kind heart, one not cut out for what was expected of him.  I also really loved Princess Nehemia, and I truly hope we see much, much more of her in subsequent books.  As for the other champions, a few played important roles in the story, but none really had the lasting impact on me like the aforementioned characters; not did the other sponsors.  Even the antagonists, Cain, as revolting as he turned out to be, or Perrington and his girl Kaltain and their evil plots, didn't stay with with me, which is fine.  I prefer to dwell on the others in my mind, as I anticipate future stories taking place in this vividly breathtaking and horrible world.

As far as the story is concerned, I can't go into it much without spoilers, but I will say this... I went into this expecting a standard High Fantasy, and it very much started out that way.  What I didn't expect was the paranormal elements, the tumultuous romance, or the heart-pounding mystery that it evolved into.  Those elements are what set it apart from some of the other High Fantasies I've read, and made it absolutely riveting.  I loved the way the ended too.  Everything about it was unexpected, but at the same time, it didn't feel like a cliffhanger.  I think there is SO much more to this story, and I eagerly await more, but at the same time, I feel content, much like I do after a delectable dessert.  I will definitely jump at the chance to have that dessert again, but I don't feel the need to dive into a vat of it right now, but rather, just settle in and enjoy digesting it.

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Grade Level Recommendation:  There are a handful of hot make-out sessions, but no sex.  There is definitely violence.  That said, it is relatively tame compared to much that is out there.  I would say this is appropriate for 5th grade+ (ages 10 and up).

P.S.  Sarah Maas will be at the Decatur Book Festival, and I am super-excited!  Given my great LOVE for this book, I'm thinking of doing a giveaway of a signed finished copy.  What do ya'll think?


  1. I just got my own copy of this, I read it before as a Galley, and was totally blown away! I'm glad you liked it too! :)There was so much more awesome than I expected to come from this book.

  2. I really Planned to read this one! But you make it sound so good. And I keep hearing so much about it. I think I'll have to give this one a try. Thanks for the review.

  3. OMG! This sounds brilliant. I have been planning on getting this! I can't wait to read this! Once I have finished all of my college books I will be sure to start this one! Awesome Review!

    New Follower, I would love a follow back if you are interested: My Blog

  4. Love, Love, Love this book!! I fell in love with Chaol. That scene when he puts his hand up next to the chalk line... *sigh* GREAT review, new follower. :)

    You can check out my review of Throne of Glass here:

    Christine x
    Rainy Day Reads

  5. I like the sound of this book. The characters sound intriguing.


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