Thursday, June 12, 2014

Book Review: THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas

At age seventeen, Celaena Sardothien was the world’s deadliest assassin. Until, that is, she was captured and sent to a death camp where she was forced to work in a salt mine and endure abuse from the overseers. One year later, she is summoned from the mines by Prince Dorian, the son of the land’s ruthless king. Dorian wants Celaena to represent him in the king’s tournament, where she has the chance to win her freedom by becoming the King’s Champion (which is a nice way of saying “the king’s personal assassin”). She has to live in the Glass Castle, defeat twenty-three other competitors and serve the king for four years, and then she will be free.

But when a dark force begins attacking the competitors, Celaena realizes the other potential champions are not her only enemies. She has to figure out what sort of entity is lurking in the castle, especially when it looks like she may be its next victim.

I hemmed and hawed and watched review after review on YouTube about this book for the longest time. At first, I thought it wasn’t for me at all. (And I hate to be that person, but the cover intimidated me at first, fantasy newbie that I am.) But the more buzz I heard about it, the more I warmed up to it, and I’m so happy I finally read it. Guys, this book is SO COOL! Don’t let the fantasy aspect scare you. Yes, it’s in a kingdom/land/world created by Sarah J. Maas. Yes, it comes with a map at the beginning to avoid confusion (which usually means there’s a lot of weird kingdom names I never remember). But you catch onto this world so quickly and it sucks you in. My only other experiences with entirely new fantasy worlds have been Harry Potter and Narnia (and even they had one foot in the “real” world), but I love this THRONE OF GLASS world so much more than I expected. Sarah J. Maas originally came up with the idea as a spin on Cinderella (what if Cinderella came to the ball to kill the prince?) but it quickly took on a life of its own. If I didn’t know about the Cinderella origins, I wouldn’t have even noticed the slight traces of it while reading.

It’s advertised as GAME OF THRONES meets THE HUNGER GAMES. I’ve never read or seen GOT, but there definitely is a Hunger Games-esque aspect with the competition to become the king’s champion. One important difference: killing is not a part of the competition. It’s more like the Triwizard Tournament in GOBLET OF FIRE, where there are a series of tasks. Celaena is the only girl competing, and she more than holds her own amongst these other thieves and killers.

Celaena is sarcastic, no nonsense, and insanely strong, but she’s also very girly. She LOVES gorgeous dresses and cares about her appearance, like when she’s dragged from the salt mines to meet the prince looking like a mess. I didn’t expect to find her so likeable, but I did. We only get traces of her backstory in this first book, but Sarah J. Maas has written a series of prequel novellas that were recently published in a bind-up called THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE, so I think that’s where much of her history lies, as well as in the sequel, CROWN OF MIDNIGHT.

The two other important characters are Prince Dorian, whom Celaena is representing in the completion, and Chaol Westfall, the Captain of the Guard. An obvious love triangle begins to form in this book (NOT A SPOILER…the back cover of the book gives this plot point away), and as of right now, I’m not taking sides. Chaol is a soldier-type who helps Celaena train for the tasks and guards her, making sure her assassin claws don’t come out and kill the prince or another member of the court. He’s pretty serious, and Celaena enjoys teasing him. Dorian is more playful and artsy; he loans Celaena books from his own collection to read, banters with her, and insists he does not want to be a ruthless leader like his father. I really enjoy both characters and can’t wait to see where the sequel takes these relationships!

If you like well-developed and surprising characters, lots of action and kick-butt heroines, THRONE OF GLASS is for you! I just bought CROWN OF MIDNIGHT and the novella bind-up, THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE, and am anxiously waiting for fall when HEIR OF FIRE is released!

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