Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas ★★★★★

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Publication Date: August 7, 2012
ISBN: 978-1599906959
Page Count: 384
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Copy: ARC

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 exhilarating. 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.


Engaging from the first page. Absolutely wonderful YA (or adult) fantasy fiction with a heroine worth championing.

This little gem of a book is the first of hopefully many more chronicling the life of Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan's most notorious assassin. It's set in a fantasy world that's similar to our own in many ways, in a time of swords, sorcery, castles, princes, evil overlords, forgotten magic, oppression, slavery, deception and treachery.

I was a gone, gone, goner from page one. This is so far up my street. It's that kind of fantastical, historical setting with a strong female protagonist that gets me every time. Reminiscent of the kind of worlds built by Maria V. Snyder (try her Healer series), and R L. LaFevers (try her His Fair Assassin series) only I think this might just be my favourite of all of them.

The book begins with Celaena in residence at a Death Camp, the Salt Mines of Endovier, where she has slaved in the dark for around a year. Which already is quite an achievement in and of itself since the average life-expectancy there is less than half that. It's not all down to a strong will to survive, however. The guards there were under instruction not to end her life prematurely, to make sure she served out every last day of her punishment. She's Adarlan's assassin, after all. It's no more than she deserves. That, however, was their only instruction towards leniency, and sometimes death is preferable. So she's in very poor physical condition when she's met one night after her day's work is over by a hooded figure who escorts her under guard into the building of the countries officials. It's the first time she's breathed such fresh air for too many months to remember, but that doesn't mean she's not paying attention. So when the hooded figure tries to confuse her bearings on the walk, taking her around in circles and therefore curtailing any potential escape attempt she might make (or so he thinks), she can only grin at his naivete. She may have been betrayed and caught, but some training is too ingrained to be forgotten.

I basically fell in love with Celaena right from this first scene. Her smug satisfaction, that she managed to keep to herself, endeared her to me instantly, and it only grew as the story progressed. She's clearly been through hell but her character, her tenacity, is not so easily diminished. She's a strong-willed, witty, teasing, aggravating, exasperating little tinker who doesn't know when to stop talking. And I LOVED her! She's deliciously spiteful, deliberately annoying. I mean, what else can they do to her? It's not like they can sentence her to life as a slave twice.

But that's not what they have in mind for her at all as it turns out, and as the back cover suggests, they come bearing an offer she can't refuse: Compete against the best of the worst that Erilea has to offer to become the King's champion and earn her freedom, or die in the Mines.

Um.... Option one?

I loved the developing relationship between Celaena and the prince, Dorian, who couldn't be less like his pig of a father. And also with her guard/trainer Chaol, who's aloof but not uncaring. There's the budding beginnings of a love triangle situation, kind of, but it's not ridiculous teen angst and silliness. Celaena is far too developed for that. It's more of a complication of more than one interested party, and a girl who's mind is on freedom, not frivolity. If I were in Celeana's shoes I would have a hard time deciding between both men. Both characters have some wonderful qualities as well as some realistic flaws, and the repartee between each potential paring is fantastic to watch. I loved Mass' dialogue. It flowed wonderfully and was snappy and often funny. I'm keen to find out where it all leads in the end.

Celeana also developed well as a character in her own right. Although strong of mind right from the word go, she was physically a wreck, quite understandably, but works hard, above and beyond what's asked of her, to regain her strength with the help of Chaol. It also becomes apparent to all that underneath all that grime and stink, Celaena was once a beauty, and with a little more meat on her bones, would be again. She's a contradiction to all that meet her. How can this young, smart-arsed woman with such beguiling features, be such a notorious killer? Well, we only got snippets of exactly how it came about, but I know there's so much more to come. And even though I finished the book with still lots of questions burning, I was totally satisfied and will gladly wait for further instalments to get the rest of her backstory. Because that means more books!

The fighting and training scenes were well done and easy to visualise. Celaena is a smarty pants at times but it was never crossing that line over into unnecessarily snarky or bitchy. She was arrogant, but she backed up every drop of it with action. I thought the balance was perfect.

I feel like there's so much more to come from this story and this world. This was just the tip of the iceberg. Maas said in her acknowledgements that this book was a decade in the making. I can believe that. But seriously hope the next one doesn't take so long and maintains this incredibly high standard. I'm so excited to get to it. It can't come soon enough.

5 Phenomenal Fantasy Fiction Stars and a Big Fat Favourite Heart  ★★★★★ ♥

Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

Alternative cover:

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