review: throne of glass by sarah j. maas

Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publication Date: 08/07/2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 406
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>
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.
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.


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.

guest post: resa nelson and female heroes


note from kaye: While I haven't had a chance to yet read Resa's books, I was instantly taken in by her description of a strong female MC in a world where it's difficult for them to step forward and take charge. I'd also like to note that perhaps this post may include trigger warnings for some with regards to sexual harassment, so please take that into consideration before reading.



How I Chose the Journey for Astrid, the Female Blacksmith Hero of the Dragonslayer Series:
     My first fantasy series is the 4-book Dragonslayer series, and it revolves around the adventures of a female blacksmith who makes swords for dragonslayers. I’ve always loved the Viking culture, especially because of the rights women had in that culture. So I created a world that’s parallel to ours, and I decided to choose an easily recognizable Scandinavian name for my hero, Astrid. But the real story behind the story is how I chose her journey. It began many years ago when I worked as a receptionist at the corporate headquarters of a big company. As the receptionist, I was the least powerful person in the company. So when I was propositioned by a vice president (who had a wife and two young children), I felt shocked and disappointed. I thought we had a good working relationship, and his advances made me feel betrayed. At the same time, I knew speaking up could put my job at risk. There had been an earlier incident where I’d made a complaint about another man who had a recorded history of stalking women, and the company had let me down by failing to take appropriate action and treating me as if my concerns weren’t legitimate. The company I worked for had already proved that it couldn’t be trusted. I knew if I complained about the vice president, he’d probably lie, and I’d probably get fired. So I had to figure out how to protect myself at work while keeping my job. 

     That’s how Astrid’s journey began. I wondered what it would be like if I had a job where people depended on me to have a good working relationship with a man who protected them from harm. If I’d written a mystery story, I might have written a story about a female beat cop being propositioned by an important detective or district attorney or judge. If I’d written a science fiction story, I might have written about a lowly lab assistant being propositioned by a scientist who held the answer for keeping the planet from being destroyed by an incoming asteroid.  Because I decided to write a fantasy story, it made perfect sense for me to write about a female blacksmith who provides weapons to the dragonslayer who keeps her village safe. To raise the stakes, the village has always been protected by a dragonslayer who is her friend and sweetheart. But when he vanishes without a trace, the village hires a stranger to replace him – it’s this stranger who propositions Astrid. And she has to figure out what to do about it without putting everyone she cares about in danger. After all, if the new dragonslayer decides to stop protecting the village, they’re all at risk of being killed by a dragon.
     
     Many years ago, being propositioned at work was one of the most horrible things I’d ever experienced. That vice president had no respect for his wife or his family or me.  He only wanted what he wanted with no regard for how his actions would hurt other people. The funny thing is that while I have no desire to ever see or speak with him again, I’m grateful for what happened because otherwise Astrid wouldn’t exist, much less the entire Dragonslayer series!

(If you’d like to sample my work for free, you can download a free “mini” ebook called “Dragonslayer Stories” from my website at http://www.resanelson.com/files.  No cost, no obligation, nothing to sign up for, no information gathering.  I like giving away samples of my work so you can decide for yourself whether you like it or not.  Also, you can enter to win signed copies of the first three novels in my Dragonslayer series on GoodReads at this link:  http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/27323-the-stone-of-darkness.  You can get 10% off my books (ebooks and paperbacks) when you buy them from my publisher (www.mundania.com).  Enter this code at checkout:  MP10.)


Resa Nelson has been selling fiction professionally since 1988. She is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and is a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop.

Resa was also the TV/Movie Columnist for Realms of Fantasy magazine for 13 years and was a contributor to SCI FI magazine. She has sold over 200 articles to magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom. Her first novel, The Dragonslayer's Sword, was nominated for the Nebula Award and was also a Finalist for the EPPIE Award. This medieval fantasy novel is based on a short story first published in the premiere issue of Science Fiction Age magazine and ranked 2nd in that magazine's first Readers Top Ten Poll. The Dragonslayer's Sword is Book 1 in her 4-book Dragonslayer series. Book 2, The Iron Maiden, was published last December, Book 3 was published in May, and the final book in the series is scheduled for publication in November. Resa's standalone novel, Our Lady of the Absolute, is a fantasy/mystery/thriller about a modern-day society based on ancient Egypt. Midwest Book Review gave this book a 5-star review, calling it "a riveting fantasy, very highly recommended." Resa lives in Massachusetts.



and when you need a break...?

It's a scorchingly hot summer across the United States. I can't speak for anyone else but hot summer days make me slightly lackadaisical. The heat just seeps into your bones and slows your brain. Up until this past week I have been fervently reading and scheduling reviews for posts to come starting August up until October.

And then my brain kind of had enough. I burned myself out.

So currently I'm on a novel-reading hiatus. There are two great things about this, for me:

  • When I next pick up a novel I will be excited again for the calming structure of literary fiction, for a story that I can more or less read from start to end, reading love for the writing or character or place between every line. It will be marvelous.
  • I get to branch out into other things that I love but have been neglecting because sometimes I feel that I have to read only YA to keep up with everything, including my very large TBR pile. Currently I'm reading heaps of Marvel graphic novels and it's truly refreshing to read a different type of story, but a story nonetheless. I can get lost in the artwork of words and pictures. I used to read graphic novels quite a lot, but life interfered, and I'm honestly happy to be doing so again. (I'm just about finished with The Invincible Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 and I'm falling in love with Tony Stark, my favorite Marvel character, all over again. What Matt Fraction does with this character [so far] is amazing, though my heart is shattering continuously.)
What do you guys do when you need a break? Blogging, reading - there's always a lot of pressure, even if most of it is self-imposed. I'd love to know what else you read when you take a bit of a hiatus from YA.

Never fear, friends, I haven't stopped completely. I had also found myself stuck in my WIP and I love to immerse myself in different story types to craft a personality, so that's part of what I'm doing. 

Keep cool, everyone. Ice cubes and tall glasses of water are your friend.

review: the fault in our stars by john green

Author: John Green:
Publication Date: 01/10/2012
Publisher: Dutton
Pages: 318
Source: Purchased

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
"My thoughts are stars I can't fathom into constellations." (Augustus Waters) 
This book is John Green at his best, which is a difficult thing, because all of John Green's books are John Green at a pretty damn high level. (I may have broken the record for repeating an author's name in a twenty-eight word sentence just here, but we'll set that aside for now.)

This is not really a review, but I'm not sure, like Augustus, that I can order my thoughts enough to put them into a mass of words that would just seem anything other than quaint and not-quite-there.

I laughed. I cried. (I cried a lot.) I nodded and gesticulated wildly on public transportation. (Sorry to the people sitting next to me on the subway.)

Even though I saw what was going to happen from miles ahead, my heart didn't care. My heart was so invested in these characters and their steadfast will to live that it just didn't care - it needed an outlet and my tear ducts were it.

This book will wrench your heart, then make you laugh inappropriately just to make you cry and smile again. Books should never have messages, but I think The Fault In Our Stars will leave you with a feeling one way or the other whether it be happy, sad, or that weird mix of bittersweet. Whatever it is, and whatever it may be, there's something for everyone.

cover time: the casual vacancy

It's my blog and I'll JKR if I want to.


I love the vivid primary colors. I love the two different fonts, but hers best of all. I love the check for voting, but an X for Barry's death. I love that there is nothing casual about the vacancy. I love her words and that this book is a delicious 500+ pages long.

Welcome back, Jo.

Welcome!

I am presently on hiatus into the foreseeable future. You can find me on twitter, tumblr, or my writing website, wooordsea.com

See you there!

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