Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, # 1)
By: Sarah J Maas
Published: August 7th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Children's
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic
Source: Borrowed from Holly
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Goodreads description--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 four 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.
I remember seeing Throne of Glass all over the blogosphere when it first released, and I was intrigued but something held me back from jumping on it. As a matter fact, I pretty much told myself that I probably wouldn't read it...ever. But then Holly read it and enjoyed it. Since our tastes are usually pretty similar I thought "maybe I need to reconsider this one." Then my friend Lacy read it and also enjoyed it. The subsequent books in the series released and the hype seemed to grow with each release. So I decided to finally give it a go. Especially since now that the 5th book has released, I can marathon read these.
Throne of Glass is exactly the kind of book that I enjoy so I don't know why I ever decided to put it off. I had to read more slowly than I wanted, but that was simply because we had a lot going on in real life during the time that I decided to read it. Regardless, I was pretty invested from the beginning. In some ways, Throne of Glass reminded me of The Winner's Curse series. Probably because we start off with Celaena being in a salt mine prison camp which was essentially the same thing that happened to Kestrel at the end of The Winner's Crime. Both are intelligent and strong female lead characters.
Caleana is pulled from the mines with the opportunity of freedom before her. All she has to do is win a competition to become the king's Champion and then serve 4 years in his service. After that she's free. And Calaena's never really been free. After her parents' deaths when she was young, the King of Assassins took her in and trained her, but even then she wasn't really free. Ultimately she was captured (likely betrayed by someone close to her although we don't know who) and sentenced to Endovier for her crimes.
It was the Crown Prince Dorian who chose Calaena as his competitor for the King's Champion competition. He sponsored her, if you will. And Chaol, the Captain of the King's Guard, is the main one in charge of her training. All of the competitors are trained together by the Weapon's Master, but Calaena gets extra training from Chaol. A series of tests narrow the field of competitors week by week. I do have to say that I was a little disappointed that several of the tests were completely skipped over in terms of narration and description. I felt like this might be a missed opportunity, but as the book was already over 400 pages, I realize that describing each test on top of the other events of the book likely would have been too much.
These three (Calaena, Dorian, and Chaol) form a bit of a love triangle. I chose Chaol to root for from early on. He doesn't trust Calaena, but I felt like his reasons for liking her were more authentic and substantial than Dorian's. Chaol isn't a man of many words, and he doesn't have an easy time expressing his feelings. He seems to be more aware of propriety than either Dorian or Calaena. But his feelings are built steadily over his exposure to training with Calaena and what time they spend together outside of training. Yet he takes a step back when he realizes Dorian's interest in Calaena. Dorian is presented from early on as being a bit of a womanizer. I don't know that he treats women badly so much as he doesn't seem to find one that holds his interests for long. I realize that being Crown Prince means that every woman you meet might potentially be after your position rather than you, but I didn't get the impression that Dorian was worried about that. He was just bored and looking for someone to keep him entertained. That's not to say that he didn't develop true feelings for Calaena, but I didn't feel his connection with her was as durable as Chaol's. This triangle aspect really drove me crazy. I rarely feel this way, but I was SO close to hunting down some spoilers to see what the outcome of this triangle would be. I didn't, but I wanted to.
Throne of Glass also has a bit of the supernatural. There are realms of "in between" and demons and ghosts and magic. Fae are mentioned but don't really play a part. I felt like this part of the story was a bit disjointed. That's probably in large part because Calaena doesn't fully know what's going on, but there was much left unknown. I feel certain what is unknown will be explored in the remaining books of the series.
A couple of small things...I really loved Nehemia. She was essentially Calaena's only girl friend. I can tell that there will be more to come from her and I can't wait. Also, I can't decide if I liked or disliked the small part where Calaena's monthly cycle was discussed. Everyone's experience is different. Some people have extremely light and pain-free cycles, but that's not the case for all of us. Without going into too much detail, I can understand what Calaena experiences and I kind of appreciated this being mentioned as a struggle that she had to overcome. From personal experience, exercise, sparring, running...those are not things you look forward to doing during that time of the month. However, I don't know that including this bit was necessary or overall relevant to the story unless it will continue to come into play in some way in the future books. So I'm kind of torn on how I feel about that.
-He sometimes felt that she looked at him the way a cat regards a mouse. He just wondered how long it would take for her to pounce.
-"You could rattle the stars," she whispered. "You could do anything, if you only dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That's what scares you most."
Throne of Glass hooked me. This was one of the few books I've read where I wanted to look for spoilers because I was feeling so invested in my choice of who to root for that I wanted to know if I should be preparing myself to be disappointed or not. I managed to stop myself from doing so because I truly wanted to experience this story as it was meant to be experienced. It wasn't without faults, especially as I look back on the book and all of the pieces, but the pull I felt to keep reading and how invested I was in the outcome means that it deserves 4 Stars from me. Have you read Throne of Glass? What did you think? Let me know!
This review is part of my All Things Halloween event--a month of paranormal, supernatural, mystery/thriller, etc reviews and books.