All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Throne Of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

on July 31, 2012

Throne Of Glass
Sarah J. Maas
Bloomsbury Publishing
2012, 404p
Copy courtesy Bloomsbury ANZ

Celaena is known as Adarlan’s Assassin. She is just 18, orphaned young, left alone and then rescued by a master and trained in the art of killing. She was caught about a year ago and sentenced to work in the salt mines, something that is usually a death sentence. Somehow however, Celaena has managed to survive, despite the gruelling physical work, almost being starved to death and the regular beatings.

Now she has been chosen. Chaol Westfall, Captain of the Guard has offered her a deal: her freedom in exchange for a contract. She is to be the one who represents the Crown Prince Dorien in a tournament to the death – the most gifted thieves and assassin’s in the land will train and compete, going up against each other in a number of tests. If you are last, or fail to complete, you are eliminated. Win and you become the King’s Assassin for several years. After that, Celaena is assured of her freedom.

Celaena is the only female. She’s aware that they are underestimating her, dismissing her as a silly girl with ideas above her station. Her identity as Adarlan’s Assassin was always well concealed as the Crown didn’t want everyone to know that the Assassin had been just a young girl. Instead the other competitors think she is a jewel thief and Westfall counts on her flying low under the radar, finishing middle of the pack early on. Not low enough to consider being eliminated but definitely not high enough for her to be regarded with suspicion or targeted.

This goes against Celaena’s greater instincts – she is a fighter, she is skilled and she wants everyone to know that she has worked hard and trained hard to develop them. However when something gruesome seems to be picking the contestants off one by one within the castle, eviscerating them and devouring them, Celaena is drawn into something infinitely more greater and darker than the competition to impress the King.

Throne Of Glass had been on my buzz list for a while, being one of the most exciting YA fantasy novels due for release this year. It was first published on fictionpress.com, a website for aspiring authors to share their stories and where readers can comment and add stories to their favourites list, get updates when new chapters are posted, etc. I used to read fictionpress when I was at university and interested in finding new stories and I’m fascinated that this has become a platform, a way in which people can end up finding their way to a traditional publishing. I’m sure Maas’ story has given hope to thousands of people out there.

The book depicts a bleak world for most of the residents, the power-hungry King, forcing the population to accept his rule by way of his army and war. Celaena loathes him but she is forced to see the attractiveness of the offer being presented to her. She’s so young, she knows she can give the years required of her contract as the King’s Assassin and then disappear quietly into the woods to live the rest of her life peacefully and unmolested. However the rigors she will have to go through will be many. Although she has worked in the salt mines for the past year, she is still out of shape. She has to train extensively, put weight back on her starving body and focus on not getting killed. She knows she has the skills to stay in the competition, even to win.

She trains with Westfall, a man of few words who has made it clear from the beginning that he doesn’t trust her. She is guarded, men outside her door, men escorting her wherever she goes. Celaena can’t really blame Westfall for his lack of trust, she does ponder several ways to kill him and/or escape in the book but she sees quite quickly that it’s unlikely she would get anywhere. They’d hunt her down and she wants to earn her freedom properly. Slowly she and Westfall form a sort of comfortable relationship with each other, something that grows very slowly and tentatively. Celaena is prickly and Westfall taciturn and there are misunderstandings and even the odd small amount of jealousy as they attempt to find a way in which they can learn to trust each other.

By contrast, Crown Prince Dorien is flirtatious, a bit of a womaniser and he’s in no hurry to marry, despite his mother’s urging. In fact he’s determine to avoid that particular inevitability for as long as he can, until he’s sure he’s found the right woman to marry. He has some old fashioned ideas, wanting to marry not just for political advancement and strength, but actually for love. And as Celaena starts to regain some of her former physique due to good food, fresh air and exercise, he finds himself very attracted to her and sets about making that attraction known.

There’s a lot going on in this novel but if I had one criticism of it, I found that there were some sections of it that really dragged. The competition goes for a long time and there are long gaps of weeks between tests where Celaena does little more than train and wander around the Castle whereas other parts are packed full of action and plot development. The pace was a fraction uneven, but when it was cracking, it was really cracking! I found the writing to be top quality, the characters well fleshed out and established. I enjoyed the dynamics between Celaena, Westfall and Dorien – the men are two very different men, but firm friends and see Celaena in two different ways. I have to admit to a partiality to Westfall, I prefer his wariness to the Prince’s flirtatiousness as Dorien at times came off a little too smooth, even though Maas was careful to portray his life as not as idyllic as it seemed in his complicated relationship with his father.

Throne Of Glass is a fantastic debut, a story that really grabs a reader and sucks them in. Celaena is a tough protagonist, not afraid to stand up for herself and be counted. She’s exactly the sort of main character I enjoy reading, embracing hard work and trying to do the best she can in order to get what she wants: her freedom. Although her past is shady, with her being a paid assassin, the tragedy of her youth has obviously led her to survive anyway that she can. The final scenes of this novel were amazing, I couldn’t read fast enough to see what was going to happen and I cannot wait for the second novel to find out where Celaena’s journey will take her.

9/10

Book #143 of 2012


11 responses to “Throne Of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

  1. This sounds interesting but maybe too heavy on the Romance/YA for me

  2. Great review! My husband is reading this at the moment and enjoying it, I think I’ll read it after him

  3. This is the first i’ve heard of this book! Great review Bree- Celeana sounds like a great protagonist!

  4. VeganYANerds says:

    I’ve been hearing so much about this book and I’m torn because some reviews have said it’s annoying and others, like yours, say it’s great! I think I’m going to go with you because you and I usually agree on most books 🙂 Also, I laughed “but when it was cracking, it was really cracking!” love it!

  5. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    I have this to read on my stack, sounds like I will enjoy it. Great review!

  6. […] it’s been almost five years since I read Throne Of Glass – my first review is here. I was in a bookshop the other day just browsing and I saw the other books in this series and it […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: