Format: Paperback, 404 pages
Description from goodreads:
Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.
In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught.
Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?
I borrowed this one from a friend because I wanted to finally read it! I gave it back to her when we met the next day ^^' Great way to start off the year!
A note on the cover: It's perfect! I love the UK cover so much more than the US one. It's way badass, and it includes several small things that are important in the book, like her locket. Also: the back cover shows her from the back, but there she's wearing a ball gown, which makes sense once you've read the book.
I went into this book with some trepidation. When there was only the cover and no reviews yet, I thought this must be badass and totally awesome. Then the reviews came, and they were very mixed. They worried me. Some people found Celaena extremely arrogant, while others described her as sassy and a strong, kick-ass heroine.
After reading the book, I can see where both sides come from.
In the beginning, we meet Celaena as a slave in the salt mines of Endovier. She’s been in there for a year. The usual time of survival? A month. But Celaena was Adarlan’s best assassin at the age of only 16. She’s been trained by the king of assassins himself, and he didn't go easy on her. Still, life in the mines has scarred her, both physically and mentally, and that becomes clear once the story progresses. I grew to really like Celaena a lot and root for her, but it took a while. At the beginning, she really is as arrogant as everyone said. Full of her abilities. Full of her looks. However, over the course of the novel she grows as a character and changes for the better.
There’s another side to her: she’s lost it all. After a year in the mines, he body is skin and bones; she is no longer clothed in silks and jewels but in rags. She had everything, and she lost it all in one night. She cannot fully remember what happened, all that the reader knows is that she was betrayed by her own kind. Behind all her swagger, she is also vulnerable, and she tries her best not to be. She cannot afford mistakes if she is to survive what she’s been offered by Dorian, the crown prince of Adarlan: a chance to fight to be the king’s champion. If she beats her contestants, she will have to serve for four years. After that? Freedom. And Celaena’s desire for freedom, her joy at something as simple as sunlight on her skin and fresh clothes to wear, was among the parts that made me like her.
Another redeeming feature? Her thirst for knowledge. She’s not just some badass fighter, she also loves to read! I didn’t expect that. She is very angry at the king for outlawing magic in Adarlan, and for burning so many libraries and the thousands of years of knowledge and wisdom stored in them. She hates the very man she will have to serve if she wins, because he is responsible for the fall of her homeland and the death of her parents. She feels like a traitor. But she wants freedom no matter the cost. Once she arrives at the court of Adarlan and the first part with all the dresses etc. was over and her actual training for the fights began, I liked the whole book a lot better. Celaena can actually back up her big mouth, and I loved her in full assassin mode. She can be cruel, but she doesn’t necessarily like to be.
I feel like I’m rambling quite a bit here… the book just had a lot of layers and aspects, loads of backstory, and great world building! And it’s hard to talk about any one thing without including the others as they’re gradually revealed.
But let’s talk about guys for a bit… there’s a bit of a love triangle forming, and I can’t pick sides. On the one hand there’s Dorian: Prince, rich, pretty, desired by nearly every lady at court and aware of it. I didn’t expect to like him, but I did! I enjoyed his banter with Celaena and how they shared a passion for books. I didn’t expect him to be kind, to have vision for a different future for Adarlan than the one his father intended. I liked to see him and Celaena grow closer over time, yet thought it foolish.
Then there’s Chaol, captain of the guard. He’s Celaena’s mentor, he doesn’t take any of her bullshit. He trains her. He makes her go beyond her limits. He helps her regain her shape, try to reign in her temper and use her head. I really liked him too. He has the hardened edge of a fighter, but he’s still kind and caring. More realistic than Dorian, maybe a better fit? I’m not sure. All I can say is that I’m not usually a fan of love triangles, but I liked how it was done here. Oh, and of course I’m not going to tell how things pan out between the three of them ;)
I just have to mention a third boy, though he never was a love interest: Nox the thief! I really really liked him and the friendship he had with Celaena! I hope he makes an appearance in the sequel…
We meet many other characters in the book, some I loved, some I hated, but all more complex than they appear at first. There are quite a lot of subplots to the main one of Celaena having to beat the other candidates. There’s rebellion, slavery, friendship, jealousy, duty, betrayal, mystery, magic. The world building is fantastic, and I loved that there was a map at the beginning of the book! Places, dress, manner, customs… it was like mixture of medieval and Victorian. I liked that Celaena could be both a deadly weapon and a girl.
Oh, and another thing? There are so many YA books where there’s the heroine, and she’s fairly pretty and likeable, and any other female character is either a bitch or a non-threatening friend. Well, not here!! There’s princess Nehemia, and she’s just as strong and determined as Celaena! The two bond and I really loved their friendly relationship. They recognized each other as strong without making a rivalry out of it. Also, she’s a non-white person and I think she will play an important role in the sequel, so yay for some diversity! The issue of her ethnicity was dealt with well in the book, in my opinion.
So in the end, what’s my view of Throne of Glass? I enjoyed it a lot. It was complex, compelling, full of mystery and magic. Once some of the subplots are introduced, I was kept guessing. It was hard to put down. It had a heroine I eventually grew to like, root for and respect. It had two great love interests, amazing world building, and a nice mixture of blood and humor. I am definitely going to read the prequels (already read the first one) as well as impatiently waiting for the sequel, and I hope Sarah J. Maas will deliver! The set-up is in place, now let the big plot I’ve glimpsed come crashing down!
A few minor things: Celaena’s initial arrogance and the constant focus on her looks. I’m all for girls being confident in their bodies but I’m not sure this was the best way to handle the issue. Another point was that for a long time, we are simply told how awesome an assassin Celaena is or see her plotting stuff in her mind. I would have liked to actually see her in action sooner, but I understand that it would have been difficult to build a flashback like that into the book. I’m counting on the prequels.
Overall: a really enjoyable, hard to put down read with a unique world and great characters! I have so many theories I cannot talk about now and hope we’ll know a bit more about the sequel soon. Fans of High Fantasy, assassins, and kickass heroines will love this one! Those daunted by blood and action and more out for a fluffy romantic read with nice scenery and no political aspects should look elsewhere.
Have you read Throne of Glass? What was your take on it, and what do you think of my review? Sorry for making it so long >.< I just had so many thoughts...