Author: Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Number of Pages: 416
Source of Book: ARC from publisher at IRA
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.THRONE OF GLASS was a thrilling, exciting epic fantasy book with magic, action, intrigue, secrets, lies, manipulations, romance, friendships, assassins and some unexpected elements. Sarah J. Maas has written an enthralling book, which, while dense, was a page-turner. I was happily surprised by some of the twists and turns that I didn't see coming, which made it even more interesting as I discovered truths along with the characters. It's an interesting mix of magic within a medieval fantasy type of story. The magic is alluded to at the beginning, but doesn't come in again until a bit later. There is a fully realized fantasy world within these pages-both with the elements of the king and his endeavors to take over the kingdom and the magical elements of the Wyrd and forests beyond. *Note: As this was an ARC, there was no artwork, but I imagine the final book may have a map of some sort that would enhance understanding of this world.
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 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.
From the very start, 18 year-old Celaena is endearing and inspiring as a strong, determined, kick-butt heroine even after being locked up for slave labor for the past year. She's so smart...and lethal within seconds. Her ability to be the renowned assassin she is at such a young age, along with her determined nature drew me into this story even more. Yet, her vulnerability and desire for acceptance in the midst of her strength and intelligence is perhaps what drew me to her the most. She is constantly thinking and analyzing escape routes, but is a teen girl who just wants to have a friend at the same time. There seems to be a little something extra to Celaena that we have yet to discover. Interestingly, the book is written in third person; although, it mostly felt as if we got to know what Celaena was thinking more than any other character, so it did at times seem as if she was narrating. As we see her struggles to regain strength and figure out how to earn her way to freedom, we also see her ability to fight any man (or beast) and win along with her cunning mind that led to her becoming the kingdom's most feared assassin by the age of 17. Beyond just her journey, we're also given insight into the struggles that Prince Dorian is having with his father's style of being king, and Chaol's struggles to remain impassive as the Captain of the Guard against his blooming trust of Celaena as he gets to know her more. These two, along with other secondary characters, add an element of humanity to this story beyond just the magic and champion's competition. And, yes, it's another YA book with a love triangle-ish storyline, but for some reason, it didn't bother me in this book. Although, I was definitely pulling for one of the guys to edge the other one out in the end.
Even with the element of romance and a female main character, I think there's enough action, fighting, political intrigue, and gruesomeness to hand this one off to guys as well (don't let the cover deceive you). I can see the Game of Thrones for the YA set comparisons - especially with the strength of the elements of the political maneuvering with the king along with the hidden magical elements. It was a thoroughly enjoyable book, but it wasn't necessarily a quick-read. I did feel that it was a little densely written (just requiring more attention and thinking-not a bad thing) and the unfamiliar names caused me a little trouble in the beginning until I could get comfortable with a pronunciation in my own head. *And, of course, as I was writing this post, I found this pronunciation guide on the author's website. Overall, a definite should read for me to recommend to others and I can't wait to see what's coming next for these characters and this world!
While you're waiting for THRONE OF GLASS to release on August 7th, you can read the four novellas that tell the backstory of Celaena Sardotheien: The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Desert, The Assassin and the Underworld, The Assassin and the Empire. I enjoyed reading them even after I read the whole book. They give a greater depth and insight into Celaena's character and what has made her who she is.