Monday, 8 May 2017

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

 Series: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Page Count: 404
Published: May 7th, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
  4 Stars ★★★★

Celaena is an assassin, living in a nation where a king has taken over, banned magic, and enslaved criminals like herself. One day, she is summoned from her work in the salt mines of Endovier and brought to Dorian, Prince of Adarlan, where he asks her to be his Champion in a competition for the King. Thinking of escape and a life beyond the salt mines, and eventually the castle, she accepts. 

She is brought to the castle, where she trains and takes part in tests against other Champions, leading up to a final duel to determine the winner. Much is at stake, if she loses, she may be sent back to Endovier. But her opponents are turning up dead, horribly mutilated in the hallways of the castle. Chaol, the Captain of the Guard, trains and spends time with her, and along with Prince Dorian, he thinks he might be dealing with feelings for the assassin. But romance will only make things more complicated for Celaena, as she realizes that more is going on in this castle than it seems. 

So originally when I saw this book, I didn't have much interest. I'm more into urban fantasy, vampires, werewolves, all that good stuff. After constantly seeing praise for this series, I finally gave in and decided I'd give it a try. 

I actually really, really liked this! I'm so happy that I ended up buying a copy, because if I had borrowed this from the library, I'd just end up getting myself the book anyways because it's the kind of book that you have to own, you have to see it on your shelves, you have to buy the next in the series, not just borrow it. What I mean is, it's the kind of book that even if it's not perfect, I enjoyed it enough that I'll probably end up re-reading it at some point. 

So I absolutely loved the world of Adarlan. I hated what the king had done, but the descriptions of the setting, and the history, seemed so real and well thought out. I was captivated by the people of Adarlan, and the royals, and the castle! Everything just seemed to make perfect sense in context, I never had to re-read passages to understand why something was going on, or even what was happening in the first place, as I often do with fantasy stories. Overall the setting was just amazing. 

And then there are the characters. Celaena, the main character, Adarlan's Assassin, was interesting, and likeable, and while I didn't like everything that she did, I always liked her. She was extremely determined and strong. I also have to mention that she was fairly feminine, which I appreciated because I've noticed that a lot of the more bad-ass characters, even female ones, are portrayed as masculine, therefore frequently equating masculinity with true bad-ass-ery. Of course, there's nothing wrong with being masculine, but to have a character be a nice mix of masculine AND feminine, with the feminine side portrayed as just as important as the other sides of her.... it was a nice change. 

The love interests, Chaol and Dorian, were both likeable as well, just as they were different. I thought they both had their qualities and I could see why they liked Celaena, and why she might like them both in return. I also like that they weren't just "ornaments" on the sidelines....the narration gave the reader a look into their thoughts every now and then which helped me to understand them better! I really appreciated this as well.

The other Champions, and the mysterious deaths, brought some suspense and tension to the book. Cain, a particularly unlikeable Champion, really stood out from the others (for obvious reasons), however this wasn't always a good thing, in my opinion. I won't say much because I don't want to give it away, but the way that the author focused on Cain....I knew what was going on with him chapters before the truth was revealed. 

Nehemia, the princess of Eyllwe, happens to be visiting the castle when Celaena is taking part in the competition, and they develop a friendship. This friendship brought out the softer side of Celaena, in my opinion, because she had empathy for what Nehemia and her people were dealing with concerning the King and his army, and this connection brought them together in ways that I thought made the book even better. The mix of romance and the love triangle with this friendship made for a great balance between the two forces, so the level of romance wasn't overpowering, but it remained significant enough for me, as a romance lover. 

I had a bit of an issue with the pacing at times. Some of the scenes seemed a bit drawn out, which annoyed me, and dropped this book from a five star read to a four star rating. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this fantasy novel. I loved that the main character was bad-ass and feminine at the same time, I think that the love interests were well written, and I loved the friendship between Celaena and Nehemia. While the pacing was a bit too slow at times, the mystery behind the Champions' deaths kept me reading. I am excited to read the next book!

I recommend this to those looking for great young adult fantasy reads. Even if you're not a big fan of fantasy, you might change your mind after reading this book!

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