February 6, 2015

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

"My name is Celaena Sardothien. But it makes no difference if my name's Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I'd still beat you, no matter what you call me."

The Book Rest: Book Review for Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre:Young Adult Fantasy
Rating: A+
Recommended For: Fans of The Young Elites, Graceling and The Winner's Curse
Source: Library hardback (although I'll definitely buy!)
One-sentence review: This story of infamous assassin Celaena Sardothien's quest for freedom by working for an evil king is non-stop rollercoaster ride of action, adventure, romance and magic that will immediately have you in its grip and won't let go, not even when the book ends.
TBR It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon

Where do I even begin when it comes to my new favorite series of all time? Throne of Glass is the story of Celaena Sardothien, the most notorious assassin of Adarlin, and her journey toward freedom. When we meet Celaena, she is working in the salt mines at a death camp called Endovier. But when the Crown Prince of Adarlan plucks Celaena out of her hell and gives her an opportunity for freedom, she must decide if her freedom is worth working with the tyrant king who destroyed her life and everyone she loves. The opportunity is to be the King's Champion, or personal assassin, for a few years in return for her freedom. However, there's also a catch: Celaena must win a competition against twenty-three other ruthless assassins and criminals for the position. We follow Celaena on her journey through the contest where she struggles to come to terms with her past, her present, and her would-be future.

I admit I didn't read this book initially because of the cartoonish covers (not the one I have pictured). Please forgive me as I'm a somewhat new fantasy reader (other than commercial dystopian), but the books looked rather anime-high-fantasy to me. I don't even know what that means, but sufficed to say, I judged a book by its cover- and I regret it! Thank goodness I caught the buzz for Heir of Fire (book 3 in the series) on Instagram thanks to all of you zealous book lovers!

What sets this book on fire is that it's instantly entertaining, no matter what you're looking for when you open it. If you like adventure, your need is instantly satiated as Celaena is plucked from captivity and meets with Prince Dorian. If you love dystopian or Game-of-Thrones style government corruption, you get an instant taste of a world ensnared by evil and a sense for a heroine with the capacity to save the day. If you like strong, sassy female figures, Celaena Sardothien shows right off the bat that she will crush any other strong lady protagonist with her hilarious banter and quick wit. And if it's romance you came to see, the first chapters already allude to one of the most heart aching love triangles in YA history. This book has got it all; and that's just the first two chapters.

Not only does Throne of Glass bring so much to the table, but it does it well. Sarah J. Maas delivers an excellent story, but just as importantly, she is an excellent story teller. When I began this series I had no idea the depth it would go and how many layers would be added to this foundation. Looking back at this first book I really appreciate how Maas lays the groundwork for so much more to come. From the excellent vocabulary to the vivid world building to the laugh-out-loud banter that makes the characters so multi-dimensional, Maas is a talented and smart writer.

The characters, as is the case in most stories, are what really bring this book to life. While we may have seen the bold heroine, the surprisingly sweet Prince and the evil King in other stories, there's some magic recipe Maas uses to set her characters apart. Celaena is one of the most complex, entertaining and fierce female protagonists I've ever come across in YA. Honestly, if I could convince my husband to name one of our future kids Celaena, I would! Being the most notorious assassin in her land, she is obviously dark. But she also has a strong conscience and struggles with her sense of self. She's an exaggerated version of any 16-year old girl and I enjoy seeing her work through things with her brazen attitude and sharp tongue.

Similarly multi-dimensional are Prince Dorian and Chaol, the Captain of the Guard. Without giving away too much, both of these characters also have layers upon layers that the reader peels away as they read. Consequently, this makes for an excellent love-triangle that really peaks in the following book. I usually roll my eyes at love triangles and a lot of this book is spent on the development of these relationships, but overall I think it's done well and, as mentioned before, really lays the foundation for the action in the following books.

One thing I didn't think I liked is the element of magic in this book because it's so light until the end that it kind of surprised me. Toward the end the magical component really takes over but, after reading the sequel, I think it was appropriate and sets the reader up for the strong magical story lines in the future books of this series. I don't care for magical stories mostly because it's difficult to develop expectations and a realistic framework; essentially anything can happen. But ultimately I trust Maas and the increasing level of magic did not affect my enjoyment. If anything it helped me to be more open-minded about high fantasy, magic and my expectations in general.

I could talk about this novel for much longer! I don't even feel like I've scratched the surface with this review! With elements of all my favorite stories yet maintaining its own identity, it's no wonder Throne of Glass is one of my new favorite stories. It's dark, it's complex, it's highly entertaining and it will keep you wanting more.

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