Book Review – Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)


TITLE:  Throne of Glass

SERIES:  Throne of Glass Series, book 1

AUTHOR:  Sarah J. Maas

FORMAT:  Epub via Google Play Books

PAGES/LOCATIONS:  362 pages

GOODREADS’ AVG. RATING:  4.22 out of 5 stars; 131,177 ratings

SYNOPSIS PROVIDED:

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.

DATES READ:  July 17th-27th, 2015

MY REVIEW:

You could rattle the stars.  You could do anything, if you only dared.  And deep down, you know it, too.  That’s what scares you most.~Elena, first Queen of Adarlan to Celaena Sardothien

Throne of Glass is the debut novel in the series of the same name from Sarah J. Maas featuring the sarcastic, bookworm, assassin known as Celaena Sardothien.  Having read The Assassin’s Blade collection of novellas prior to jumping into Throne of Glass, I had an idea of what to expect from Celaena and I definitely wasn’t disappointed.  Right from Celaena’s first encounter with Dorian Havillard, Crown Prince of Adarlan and Chaol Westfall, Captain of the Guard while still a prisoner in the salt mines of Endovier we find that her wit is still sharp and her tongue sharper.  While we as readers have come to expect nothing less from Celaena, this surprises Dorian and Chaol who I imagine were expecting to find her somewhat broken from the hard life of forced labor.  I greatly appreciate that Celaena is constantly challenging what others expect of her, that she is forcing them to see who she is as a person and not just stereotype her based upon her famed reputation as an assassin.  Chaol, specifically, holds a great deal of deep seeded resentment towards Celaena because of her assassin roots going so far as to belittle her achievements by saying, “Crime isn’t an accomplishment, Sardothien.”  Yet through his time spent training with Celaena over the course of the competition, Chaol eventually realizes that there is more to her, he realizes that she isn’t just an assassin!

One of the most powerful quotes from Celaena in this novel is, “We each survive in our own way,” and I think it does very well to defend her actions to Chaol while she was acting as an assassin under the orders of Arobynn Hammel.  Celaena’s perception of her past actions as an assassin all stem from her inherent need to survive, her desire to live and she can’t be faulted for her reasoning.  Celaena doesn’t reflect much on her past actions nor does she express guilt over them.  It was fascinating to witness Chaol’s character develop towards not just trusting her, but eventually into respecting her and later saving her life.  It is only after Chaol kills Cain to protect Celaena that he is forced to face the hard truths that come with taking a life and it appeared to shatter a layer of his moral superiority.  It is only then that Chaol begins to question, “Did she fret as he did? Did she constantly think about her blood-covered hands? But for all of her swaggering, for all of her gloating and parading about with hands on her hips…There was still something soft in her face. It gave him hope—hope that he had not lost his soul in the act of killing, hope that humanity could still be found, and honor could be regained…” and understand that who you are as a person isn’t lost by the act of killing alone.  There are too many variables in play to dictate killing as strictly right or wrong and I think that this is what Chaol is beginning to realize about not only Celaena and her position as an assassin, but for himself in his position as Captain of the Guard as well.

Celaena’s relationships felt as if they developed in a natural feeling manner.  Her relationship with Dorian and Chaol started out forced, then the two men became a means of attaining her ultimate goal of true freedom, then feelings of mutual admiration and even respect developed, then friendship, then ultimately there was mutual attraction.  Even though Celaena felt attraction towards both Dorian and Chaol, she was attracted to different things about each of them and her reasoning never felt wishy washy or forced.  I admit, Dorian immediately won over my heart because he gave Celaena books to read and anyone who is willing to lend me books they read because they want to talk with me about them is an instant win in my book!  I love their mutual love of books, I envy their sharing of books and talking about them for hours at a time.  I hope they are able to maintain some semblance of a friendship in future novels.  I also hope that Dorian will grow into the man, the prince, the king, he sees himself as when in Celaena’s presence – he needs to learn to be that man without her before attempting any sort of relationship with her.  Based on the end of Throne of Glass, I am curious as to how the relationship between Celaena and Chaol will continue and develop.  There is a bond formed between two people when one saves the life of the other, so I can only imagine how this will develop over time.  I am really looking forward to this!

I loved the relationship between Celaena and Nehemia!  Here are two incredibly strong willed women, both from lands conquered at the hand of the King of Adarlan, and struggling to survive and thrive.  There is a sort of camaraderie between the two because of that fact, Celaena also knows Ellywe which is Nehemiah’s native tongue bringing them even closer because of their ability to speak to each other rather openly and honestly without fear of eavesdropping.  Learning of Nehemiah and her ability with the wyrdmarks wasn’t all that surprising, however upon the reveal it left me wishing that Celaena had felt able to fully trust her from the beginning rather than doubting her.  When Celaena began to believe Nehemiah behind the champion murders, I felt incredibly disappointed in her.  I felt that Celaena was searching for the easy answer rather than properly investigating why the murders were happening.  Her past and connection to magic has been hinted at and I am curious how this story line will develop and what are Elena’s goals for her and whether or not they will actually line up with Celaena’s own hopes.  I am really looking forward to further understanding magic, the wyrdmarks, and what they have to do with Celaena and Nehemia.

One of the story lines that I enjoyed was Kaltain’s story line.  The majority of court women are portrayed within a very specific set of guidelines usually including a pleasing appearance, good family lines usually with money, somewhat skillful in the art of manipulation, and a desire for power.  What I found so pleasing in regards to Kaltain was how her entire character was ultimately used against her by Duke Perrington and the King through magical manipulation.  They used Kaltain’s desire for power, her desire to be queen to Dorian’s king against her and ultimately abandoned her to take the fall for their crimes and further wrongdoing.  I believe that had Kaltain not been under the magical power of Perrington and the King that she wouldn’t have brought harm to Celaena, she surely would continue to disapprove of her but wouldn’t have attacked her outright.  Kaltain likely would have brought harm to Celaena in a more roundabout manner, such as raising questions of her legitimacy as a court lady or some other such thing – it would be something more intimate and embarrassing rather than physically harmful.  This story line between Duke Perrington, the King, and Kaltain is interesting in that it raises more questions than were answered in this book.  I can’t imagine that utilizing their magic to help Cain win the contest to become the King’s Champion was their ultimate goal, so what comes next?  I can’t wait to find out when I start reading Crown of Midnight!

TL;DR REVIEW:  4.75 out of 5 stars.  All in all, this book was a solid first/opening novel for a series and left me with a desire to continue reading about Celaena and her continuing adventures as the King’s Champion and what her new position will mean for her friendships.  Will Celaena ultimately be forced to somehow betray Nehemia?  Will Dorian grow into the man, the prince that he wants to be and his people need?  Will Chaol come to terms with the aftermath of taking a life?  Tune in next time for my upcoming read through and review of Crown of Midnight!

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