"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R Martin

19 September 2012

Review: Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas


 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.

My review of Throne of Glass (5/5 stars):
 
Throne of Glass is an intricately detailed and wonderfully enthralling epic fantasy novel that had me utterly spellbound by the magically powerful tale. Beautifully narrated, Sarah J. Maas weaves a tale of mystery, romance, suspense, magic and intrigue that instantly held my attention and had me yearning to see what secrets the next page revealed. Maas gives us a story that harkens back to traditional epic fantasy and we even see the fairytale Cinderella intertwined, creating a majestic tale that is possibly one of my favourite books of the year.

The story had me hooked from the beginning and the first chapter instantly raised a hundred questions in my head and had me embroiled in the story, wanting more and more. The storyline was thoroughly compelling and captivating, with numerous different plots all intertwined. The tournament is obviously the central plotline of the story but there is also a darker, twisted storyline where a monstrous beast roams the castle brutally murdering individuals participating in the tournament. Wyrdmarks, prophecies and spirits also add another layer to the storyline of Throne of Glass creating a truly enchanting tale, with depth and complexity and a whole lot of fun and surprises along the way. This fantasy book did not disappoint and page after page the story and the characters shocked, amused and worried me as I was pulled deeper and deeper in the amazing novel that is Maas’ brilliant Throne of Glass.

We are introduced to Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s greatest assassin being dragged, weakened after a year of physical and mental torture, through an endless maze of corridors not knowing what her fate will be. Fiesty, confident and arrogant her spirit has not yet been broken in the salt mines of Endovier and there is fight still left in her. Right from the beginning I knew that I was going to both love and loath Celaena Sardothien.

Her arrogance frustrated me at times but then again her ruthless, murderous reputation as Adarlan’s Assassin, allows her to be cocky and arrogant. She is the best at what she does and she knows it and I did I admire her confidence in herself. Her love of literature, music and fancy clothing surprised me as this depiction of a gentle, educated girl completely contrasted with the ruthless and calculated role of an assassin. She is portrayed as a passionate young girl enjoying the simple pleasures in life whilst refusing to conform to the stereotypical role of a violent and callous assassin. I enjoyed the fact that she wasn’t some tomboy kick-ass heroine like many female protagonists in fantasy these days. She loves the feel of a weapon in her hand, the adrenaline that rushes through her body during a fight but she also enjoys the feel of silk on her skin, the smell of sweet perfume and the way the perfect dress looks on her silhouette. Her love of elegant, exquisite and beautiful things in my opinion shows Celaeanas humanity, her vulnerability and her eagerness for a simple life devoid of killing and torture. As the story unfolded I forgot that Celaena was known for killing as her willingness to help others, whilst risking her own life in moments of danger showed a softer, more caring side to her character. She was a character easy to empathise with and I enjoyed the evident evolution of her character as the story progressed. I enjoyed seeing each layer of Celaenas character being peeled back bit by bit, with each layer revealing another side to her complicated, compelling character.

Usually love triangles frustrate me as they can sometimes deter from the story itself and it can be such a clich√© but I actually enjoyed the blossoming relationships portrayed in the story between Celaena and Dorian Havilliard the flamboyant, flirtatious Crown Prince of Adarlan and the quiet, brooding Captain Westfall. Both characters saw different sides to Celaena’s character; her vulnerable side and her feisty side and I enjoyed their interactions with one another.

Dorian surprised me. Despite being spoiled, arrogant and cocky he is also caring, romantic and completely smitten with Celaena. At ease in her presence he sees Celaena for who she truly is and throughout the novel becomes dedicated to helping her secure a path towards freedom. What was most surprising about his character is how different he is to his brutal father, the King of Adarlan. The King on the other hand is a sadistic monster, hungry for dominance, a man who takes pleasure in crushing everything in his way. Maas created the perfect baddie, a scary and monstrous individual who sent a few shivers down my spine.

The third individual in the love triangle is possibly one of my favourite characters in the novel besides Celaena and Princess Nehemia. I believe that Chaol, Captain Westfall, is such a softie underneath all that tough, ‘I don’t care’ demeanour. A deeply quiet, brooding character he is highly prejudiced against Celaena and is not afraid of constantly letting her know that she is a trained killer worthy of distrust. Throughout the novel his emotions are guarded and he fights with his growing feelings for Celaena throwing him into emotional turmoil. It is as if he is caught between duty and love, unable to comprehend his growing affection for an assassin. I thought he was a sweet character, a quiet companion, a constant protector and there were numerous times throughout the story where his loveable, caring character just shone through his tough exterior. Also there were quite a few moments in the story that made me giggle and the growing tension between the pair paved the way for some amusing and touching moments.

The mysterious and exotic Princess Nehemia is definitely a contender for my favourite character as her powerful personality and loyalty to her people made her stand out. She’s tough, loyal and intelligent; a strong female character who instantly struck a bond with the fierce assassin. I hope to see more of Nehemia in future novels as her I enjoyed seeing her friendship with Celaena evolve throughout the novel and I can see her becoming an important figure if events enfold like I hope them to.  

This epic fantasy was truly an epic tale and I can’t wait for the second instalment in the series and I would definitely count Throne of Glass as one of my favourite fantasy books of the year. Throne of Glass is a beautiful tale filled with surprises and compelling characters. Celaena Sardothien the kick-ass heroine, who loves to relax in a frilly dress, book in hand was a treat to read about and I will definitely be joining her, Dorian, Chaol and co in Maas’ sequel. I would definitely, definitely recommend this book as it is a fascinating story with strong, complex characters that any fantasy lover would devour with pleasure.  
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