Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publication Date: 08/07/2012
Source: Publisher (ARC)
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.<br>Note: The third paragraph was removed from the Goodreads summary, as I think it's unnecessary to know before reading and drags the synopsis down.
Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.<br>
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
Celaena Sardothien has many names: she is Adarlan's Assassin, Queen of the Underworld, but in the end Celaena is really a young girl who's made do in an otherwise lethal set of situations. Having been trained as an assassin from the age of eight, Celaena did what she had to in order to survive. The law caught up with her at seventeen, and she was tossed into the prisoner camp of Endovier where people are placed to die. A year later she's given an offer she can't refuse - freedom in exchange for a series of tests and the next four years of her life. Never one to pass up a good opportunity, Celaena jumps straight into the lion's den where things even she can't expect await her.
Somehow I hadn't heard of Throne of Glass before I snagged a copy at BEA, but when it was described to me as a mashup of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones I was immediately sold. I don't really care for book marketing that relies on the success of other books, but I can see where there are definitely some elements of each in this book. In any case, it was enough for me to pick one up and want to read it fairly immediately. And I'm really glad that I did - I absolutely adore a good fantasy, and Throne of Glass is just that, a good fantasy.
The worldbuilding was complete enough to have a working grasp of why things are happening in Erilea without being bogged down as is want to happen in many fantasy series. In fact, there's just enough there to make me really interested in what happens outside the capital city of Rifthold. (Maas is releasing backstory e-novellas to flesh things out leading up to the book's release.) The juxtaposition of the beauty of a glass castle with the horrific concept upon which it had been built was weaved in nicely. This is also done with the characters of the king, and Prince Dorian's brother (a real meance), who were absent for the most part, but felt like haunting spectres throughout the majority of the story. I was able to imagine every step of this book from the moments in Endovier to the tests Celaena had to undergo, to the multiplicity of characters.
One issue that presented itself, although occasionally, was with Celaena herself. While I know that she was raised as an assassin, the extent to which she believes the world revolves around her was slightly bothersome. I believed in her strength, and in her intelligence (she loves to read!), and I really enjoyed reading about a woman who could take care of herself. But every so often there was peppered in a statement where Celaena conflated lack of interest in her aesthetic to be a lack of interest in her as a person. She was similarly offended when people didn't think that she was the best. For the majority of the story I enjoyed her as a character, but a woman doesn't need to be superhuman in order to be interesting. I hope this gets toned down somewhat over the rest of the series. In any case, I loved how there was a vast cast of characters who each had their own developed personality and didn't exist solely as someone for the main character to interact with. Choal, Nox, and Nehemia were some of the most interesting for me, and I hope we get to see more of them over the course of the plot.
Though I'm not sure how the finished copy will be, the back of the ARC says: "Two men lover her. The whole land fears her. Only she can save them all." Many of you are interested in whether or not there is instashipping or love triangles in a book, so I'll say here that I don't really feel that there is a love triangle, though I was slightly disappointed in the way the romance developed, perhaps because I would have chosen the other guy. Neither is there instashipping, though I wish the relationship would have been better expounded upon on the male's part (not mentioning names due to spoilers).
I won't be surprised if this book gets optioned for film, or if it has been already. It's a fantastic fantasy that is well-developed and easily imagined as you read featuring strong female characters and mysterious palace intrigue that will keep you turning the page well beyond the chapter you promised you'd put it down. I think it's important to say that though there is more to the story than just this one book, it would work fine as a stand-alone.