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 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.
From the first moment I read the synopsis for Throne of Glass, I just knew this book would be amazing. I am so glad to say that I was right! (Man, that never gets old.) If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you’ll now that I look for characters with whom I can really connect and relate. Even if there are other issues within the book, as long as the characters are engaging, I am willing to overlook other flaws.
Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s Assassin, is one such character. Seriously, this girl was kick-ass, and not just because she’s purported to have killed men with her bare hands. She’s snarky, calculating, and confident, yet vulnerable, caring, and sensitive. A perfectly flawed character. It’s clear that Celaena has seen and experienced her share of heart-break, but instead of caving in on herself, she used her grief and anger to survive. She certainly didn’t set out to be an assassin, but when you have nothing left to lose, you take the chances you’re given.
So when cocky “pretty-boy”, Crown Prince Dorian, offers Celaena redemption from the salt mines of Endovier to be his champion in his father’s competition, she accepts without question. As she is escorted to the massive glass castle in Eirlea, she is able to size up her two main companions, Prince Dorian and Chaol Westfall, the gruff Captain of the Guard.
At first glance, Prince Dorian seems to be your typical arrogant, entitled princeling. His father is a brutal leader, having ravaged the country with war, banished magic, and destroyed whole cultures and groups of people. It is easy for Celaena to apply the father’s sins to the son, but it’s not easy to ignore the flashes of goodness that shine through Dorian’s gilded facade. He doesn’t agree with his father’s politics and so badly wants to be bold and brave and different. Dorian has a lot to overcome in the next installment, and I can’t wait to see how he handles things.
Then there’s Captain Westfall… Insert a dreamy sigh here, ladies. Chaol is the typical strong, silent type. He is incredibly wary of Celaena and is not quick to forget that, though she’s pretty and intelligent, she’s still a heartless, dangerous murderer. He is constantly at war with himself over his feelings for and trust in Celaena. Even when Chaol allows himself a smidgen of happiness, it’s clear that something happened in his past to affect the way he deals with life. I just wanted to hug him and never let go!
Now, there is an element of a love triangle in Throne of Glass, and it’s fairly easy to spot early on – but – it’s so well-written and the two men are truly charming in their own ways, I didn’t mind at all. Some people have mentioned the dreaded “Insta-love!” in their reviews, but I did not find that to be so. Celaena is attracted to Prince Dorian off the bat, but really struggles to put aside his familial connections when she considers her feelings for him. In Chaol, she finds a brutally honest confidante and, eventually, a tentative friend. The banter between the three of them is simply genius!
Towards the end of the book, however, dynamics change a bit, which left me breathless and dying to read the next installment! There were a few moments within the book that had me either giggling like a silly school girl or dabbing tears away from the corners of my eyes. I’m positive I looked like a lunatic while reading, but it’s all in the name of love!
There are other stories at play within the pages, namely that of Princess Nehemia, whose country has fallen under the terror of the King. I am curious to hear more about her in the future installments of this series. I applaud Sarah Maas for creating secondary characters that you can give a damn about. It is not as easy as it looks! At the end of the day, however, this is mostly Celaena’s story, and I can’t wait to see how all of the other characters will benefit or harm her on her journey.
I know at this point in the review, you’re probably questioning if this book is indeed high fantasy. I can assure you that while there is plenty to keep the romantics happy, this is not necessarily a warm-and-fuzzy read. While Celaena trains to compete in the final show-down, her fellow competitiors are viciously eliminated, one-by-one, by a mysterious creature. Complete with stone-faced gargoyles, dark passageways, ancient glyphs, other-worldly portals, and encounters with the Fae, Throne of Glass will keep you frantically turning pages as you race along with Celaena to find out who -or what- is behind the dark, smothering evil that cloaks the glass palace.
It took me four days to finish reading Throne of Glass, and it’s not because it’s spectacularly long or because my interest waned. It was so good that I didn’t want to finish reading. There’s not a painful cliff-hanger (thank you, Sarah!), but the book ends on a note that leaves you eager to know what happens next for Celaena, her friends, and her enemies. This experience has earmarked Throne of Glass as a new favorite for me, and I cannot recommend it enough to any and all of my friends and acquaintances.
Was the book absolutely perfect? No. However, everything that matters, everything that can’t really be articulated in this review, is there. Throne of Glass has that rather unique quality of being “something special” that will keep you thinking about the book long after you’ve turned the last page.
Please, dear reader, read this book!