BOOK REVIEW: THRONE OF GLASS BY 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 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.





Spoiler-free.

There's no mention of Throne of Glass without an immediate exultation of Celaena's virtues. And there's no mention of Celaena Sardothien without an immediate segue into the magical, all-consuming world of the Throne of Glass. Let me, therefore, start with Celaena.

- Celaena, these men are here to escort you to the castle.
- "If I leap onto the left one's back and kick him in the spine, I could send him flying into the other one, and then all I have to do is overpower the one with the crossbow and I'm out of here."

- Celaena, look at this beautiful room you've been given.
- "The windows on the south side don't open, so I'll only use them as a last resort. But if I break open the big one kitty-corner from the bed, I could leap from the balcony onto the wall, shimmy down that statue and I'm out of here."

- Celaena, we are here to ride with you across the country.
- "My horse is slightly taller so it gives me an advantage. If I were to propel myself from it to my right, I could strangle that one guard with my chains, disarm the other one with the first one's spear, all the while striking the third one in the face. And then I'm out of here."

This is not an altogether unfaithful representation of Celaena Sardothien's state of mind. :D If ever there was a protagonist who was being set up to do the saving rather than waiting to be saved, it is Celaena. If ever there was a strong and capable protagonist who would carry the series and be worthy of the main character role, it is Celeana. And most importantly, if ever there was a protagonist whose decisions would be rational, practical and always easy for the reader to understand and agree with - it is Celaena. Gone are the days of the "protagonist makes a stupid decision, supporting characters rush to rescue them" formula. It's the Sarah J. Maas revolution, and for once loving a protagonist is effortless and natural. All the glowing reviews out there are proof enough. I'd wear Celaena on a shirt.

But that's not where Celaena's praise ends. Not even close. Because unlike some of the strong, capable, no-nonsense heroines that have been emerging in dystopian fiction, Celaena will do such startling, unexpected things as:
·         laugh
·         flirt
·         hope
·         admire her reflection in the mirror
·         be thoroughly in love with the pretty, pretty dresses in her pretty, pretty dresser.

Celaena, in other words, is a perfect blend of kickass and girl. Her focus might be singular, but her interests are diverse. For once, the author makes a clear distinction between the two. And while Celaena will likely never stop fighting for her freedom and the freedom of all the enslaved, she will do it with style. And if you're hauled up in a bedroom with guards stationed out front and with nothing much to do, why not take the time to smell the roses? At eighteen, Celaena is young, vibrant, beautiful and deadly. And that's a heady mix few can turn away from - characters or readers.

And the world of Throne of Glass is no less intriguing. From what appears to be historical fiction at first, it goes on to blend seamlessly into the fantasy genre. And suddenly, it's not just assassins, brutes, thieves and gladiators that the protagonist has to contend with - it's also runes, magic, the forgotten royalty, a chamber-of-secrets and all manner of creative insanity in between. Sarah J. Maas leaves no room for the suspension of disbelief, really. The world is as real and immersive on the first page as it is on the last. And it's all but impossible to enjoy and wish to be a part of.

As for the famed love triangle, it brings forth yet another unconventional possibility: rather than to root for one or the other of the guys, many of the readers - myself included - are neutral. (The horror!) Which isn't to say that the following books won't sway the fans of the series one way or the other. But for the present, I felt like both Dorian and Chaol were merely being set up as characters - like their time to truly shine is yet to come. The Dorian and Chaol of Throne of Glass feel like a solid foundation upon which their true, intricate characters are yet to be built. It's okay to not take sides right off the bat. I imagine Sarah J. Maas has a lot more twists, shocks and surprises in store for us.

I for one can't wait to be twisted, shocked and surprised.






If you've heard of, read, enjoyed, written a poem about, vaguely contemplated reading, or admired the cover of Throne of Glass, we'd love to hear from you. Share your thoughts (or poems, those would be swell!) in the comments below, or find us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook for a daily dose of book-appreciation. (And feel free to fangirl with us there.)



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BOOK REVIEW: THRONE OF GLASS BY SARAH J. MAAS
4/ 5
Oleh

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