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August 11, 2012

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas


Series: Throne of Glass 1
Format: ARC (NetGalley)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: August 7, 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 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.
Courage of the heart is very rare, let it guide you.
To protect the House of Havilliard's reputation and for her safety, Celaena was made to assume another identity throughout her training for the title of Royal Champion, she became Lillian Gordaina: a spoiled daughter of a rich merchant and jewel thief extraordinaire. In addition to assuming another identity, Celaena was ordered to play average on tests to avoid suspicion from other champions and their sponsors, after all her reputation precedes her and springing her from Endovier will certainly cause problems for Prince Dorian. Celaena struggled with this because she takes pride in being The Celaena Sardothien and it was challenging for her to pretend defeat and take the other champions' mockery. 

Reeling from the events in the prequels, especially the heartbreaking ending of The Assassin and the Empire, I started THRONE OF GLASS filled with sorrow and bloodlust in Celaena's behalf. Here we meet a very vulnerable but unbroken Celaena. Gone is the over confident girl we met in the prequels, she's still lethal but her edge has been tempered by her loss and horrible experience in the Endovier salt mines. Grieving and in denial that she and Sam was betrayed by someone close to them, Celaena  hardly resembles her former sharper self. 
Here's a lesson for you, Weapons Master. Give me real men to fight. Then maybe I'll bother trying.
Even if I'm craving for the Assassin, I still love the soulful Celaena. I like her character growth, the heart that she showed to balance her jagged edges, the grace she exhibited despite the difficulties. It's so easy for Celaena to spiral down, be vindictive and bitter but I love how she still found reasons to laugh and show gratefulness for what she have and not dwell on what she lost. It was these dark-to-light contrast that SJMaas did that made Celaena even more endearing to me. Dorian and Chaol also proved to be wonderful distractions to our fallen heroine, they gave her joy and hope plus Celaena finally found a friend and a powerful ally in Princess Nehemia Ytger of Eyllwe.
What's the point in having a mind if you don't use it to make judgments?What's the point in having a heart if you don't use it to spare others from the harsh judgments of your mind?
I like the brand of romance SJMaas used in THRONE OF GLASS, there's no insta-love and even if there's the staple love triangle, it was far from a tug-of-war rather it's a classic case of passive-agressiveness between Dorian, Celaena and Chaol. I can't help but get invested in this three-point entanglement especially when you add a scheming and ambitious courtesan like Lady Kaltain Rompier in the mix. Kaltain's character was well-written, she's evil and it's hard not to hate her especially when she's always looking for ways to get Dorian's attention at the expense of Celaena. 

THRONE OF GLASS was compared to Game of Thrones (Song of Fire and Ice) but to me it felt more like Lord of the Rings than the George R.R. Martin series with fae thrown in the mix. I'm certain that those of you who have read the novel first before the prequels will disagree with me but I love the main idea of the novellas with its straightforward Guild of Assassins and the Underground world filled with rivalries and politicking power players where trust is a commodity and respect is garnered through fear. I love magic but in this case, I rather it remained an urban legend than a reality.
"No matter what happens," she said quietly, "I want to thank you."
Chaol tilted his head to the side. "For what?"
Her eyes stung, but she blamed it on the fierce wind and blinked away the dampness. "For making my freedom mean something."
But despite my very subjective pondering, I truly, madly, deeply love this book! SJMaas created a well thought out plot designed to keep us invested in the characters. I felt extreme emotions throughout the stories from wrath, to hate, love, amusement and fear, rolling off together into this big snowball of zealousness for Celaena Sardothien's life I can't get enough of it. My thirst for vindication for Sam's death is still intense but I'm also happy to read Celaena's fate change and hopefully when she finally faces Arobynn, they'll be in equal footing.



10 comments:

  1. love your review, Brain!! This one arrived in my mail this week and I'm craving some fantasy. I think I will love Caelena's different facets: the assassin and the girly girl lol. I planned on reading Beautiful Creatures before this since u know, it comes out on the 14th, but ur review changed my mind completely

    Ning @ Reading by Kindle Fire

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    1. Thank you Ning, I promise you won't be disappointed if you read Throne of Glass first. It'll get you in the mood to read more fantasy books.

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  2. Oooohhh! This totally sounds like my kinda of YA book! I'll definitely be checking it out! I don't really read that much Fantasy, haven't really tried it, but would be willing to give this one a try. :)

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    1. Yes I'm sure you will love this book and don't skip the novellas too!

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  3. I've heard mixed things about this book! I should really pick it up soon, like well every other book on my shelf XD

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    1. Over a year too late!

      Lauren, please tell me you've started the series!

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  4. I'm reading this now, so can't look yet:D:D

    Love you loved it!

    Mich

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  5. What an awesome review! The details you included show just how much you loved this book. The story sounds intriguing. I have heard mixed reviews- but I think more people feel the way you do. Thanks for sharing.
    ~Jess

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  6. That's a LOT of novellas already for one book! I'm still not entirely sure if I want to read this series yet, though it does sound really good!

    Cleo Rogers (Bankruptcy Lawyer Chicago)

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    1. Hi Cleo!

      The novellas are great appetizers, it would help you decide if you want to read the series or not.

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