[Insert some tired quip about how I’m reluctant to read the books everyone else is raving about because more often than not I’m left feeling disappointed]
But then Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas happened, and I’m sad that I didn’t read it sooner. Sad that I didn’t get to anticipate the release of the next books in the series with everyone else. Sad that I wasn’t swept up in Celaena-mania. Why do I have to be so stubborn? This was such a good book! (Oh, PS. SPOILERS)
I wasn’t immediately smitten with this book
I don’t know if I was too distracted while reading or if I was approaching Throne of Glass with an excessively critical eye, but for the first 100 pages or so, I wasn’t certain if I was going to make it to the end or not. It seemed like an awful long time passed before anything truly excited me (ie. when the first test happened). Plus, there were a couple of chapters right at the very beginning where Celaena and Co. had to travel from the mines of Endovier to Adarlan, and travel scenes never fare well with me.
But then I realized, Celaena is the character I dream of being
I admit this seems silly, especially since I am 27, but sometimes I day-dream that I’m a person capable of heroic feats. A CIA sleeper agent? That’s me. The leader of a group surviving a zombie apocalypse? That’s me. An assassin fighting her way out of the mines of Endovier and against competitors to become the kings champion? That’s me.
Celaena is just the powerhouse that I want to embody. She’s smart and witty. She’s stunning in a formal gown but terrifying in her assassin’s garb assuming you could even catch a glimpse of her as she slinks through the shadows. She’s so aware of everything that is going on around her, socially and politically. I’m expecting revolution in later books, and I’m expecting her to play a leading role in that.
Finally, there is a love triangle that makes sense
I find myself, for once, drawn to both of Celaena’s potential love interests. First, there is Dorian, prince of Adarlan. I was reluctant to like him at first because I suspected he would act like a spoiled brat, but I was surprised to find he has so much more substance than that. He has enough wit to keep up with Celaena, and he has a passion for books over leading armies and manipulating political powers. I find myself intrigued by him. But then there is Chaol, a member of the king’s guard. He acts stoic, but sometimes when he is around Celaena, the stony exterior crumbles, and he is warm and compassionate. He supports Celaena, he trains with her so she has a better chance of becoming the king’s champion so she doesn’t get sent back to the mines in Endovier, and I think he genuinely believes in her abilities.
But best of all, after the fight, Celaena is finally given the opportunity to pursue one of the love interests, but she chooses not to. She has important matters to attend to, one the will require her undivided attention, and a relationship would distract her. I was impressed by this because it’s not something I often read about in young adult literature.
Of course, there are villainous villains
First, there is Cain, one of the competitors, who defies nature and calls upon the supernatural for support and strength. It’s easy to hate him because he is blatantly vicious and a cheater. But, there is also a subtle type of villainy brewing among the king and his court– one of strategic manipulation not unlike the happenings in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series. It’s vile. But I love it.
The world is complex, and for the most part I love it
The tides of war are lapping at the shores of Erilea, and I cannot wait to see what unfolds. Adarlan has launched a surprise attack on Eyllwe; this has created tension in the king’s court. Celaena, who already believes the king to be a tyrant, wants to foil his future plans. But, what of Nehemia Ytger, the princess of Eyllwe and perhaps the most intriguing character in the story so far, who is visiting Adarlan. Will she infiltrate the regime to vindicate her people?!
We were also introduced to the existence of magic in Throne of Glass. Or perhaps the banishment of magic is more appropriate. Why does the king hate it so? What are wyrdmarks, and why has one branded itself onto Celaena? Who are the fae and how are they involved in all of this? I need to know!
Where the world building lost my interest though was the holidays that closely resembled the ones that exist in our own world. Samhuinn is clearly Halloween(esque) and Yulemas is clearly Christmas. I was momentarily transported back to reality during these scenes.
Overall though, I was impressed with Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. But, like the Lightning Thief, I’m left feeling disappointed that it too me so long to start reading this series. My reluctance to read popular series has once again left me feeling like I’ve already missed out on all exciting milestones associated with this series and fandom. I suppose, on the bright side, I do get to potentially anticipate the television series along with everyone else though. In the meantime, I have to read of the series to devour still.
If you read Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, did you think it lived up to all of the hype?
Released: August 2012
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Synopsis: 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 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 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.