(What a gorgeous cover! My only complaint is that this cover shows none of the historicity of the book; Celaena wears a corset & long dress quite often, and only puts on trousers to fight duels.)
I've been reading tons and tons and tons of hype and praise for the Throne of Glass series for nearly two years now, but I just never got around to picking up the books. Then I participated in a bookish Secret Santa exchange this past Christmas, and I was gifted Throne of Glass. So of course I had to read it! And I loved it! And I will definitely be reading the rest of the series soon!
As I was saying, Throne of Glass definitely lived up to all the hype! Sarah J. Maas delivers 3D characters, an intense competition that involves dueling and swordplay and archery, a murder mystery, and magic. And she does it all without ever leaving the reader overwhelmed or confused.
The characters themselves are definitely the strongest win of the book. I was cheering for Celaena from page one! She's a world-famous assassin, who's been interred in a death camp for the past year. Somehow, she's managed to survive and has been handpicked by the Crown Prince Dorian to fight in a competition to become the king's personal assassin. If she wins, she'll only have to serve the king four years to earn her total freedom. She's only 18, but she's fierce. She's witnessed the horrific murder of her parents and become a killer for hire. She's survived over a year in a death camp where others only live a few months. And now she's the lone female in a competition to become the king's personal assassin. Total badass. And she's not the only character with a past and a story and all. Chaol, the head of security, is also very well fleshed out, as is Dorian. Unfortunately, I was able to see the love triangle coming a mile away. I so wanted this book to break the mold and leave Celaena in only platonic relationships, or in a relationship with only one, but alas...
But in good news, there's TONS of action that way overshadows the romance. Celaena is living at the castle for four months while she competes in a series of tests against 11 other rough guys to determine who will be the king's champion. She's the only girl, but she definitely holds her own! In fact, Chaol has to warn her against showing too much of her prowess to her competitors too early! Even knowing that there's more books to the series, I was still so nervous for Celaena during many of the tests. I could never put down the book in the middle of reading any of the test or duel scenes! And just in case that's not suspenseful enough for you, there's also something in the castle murdering potential champions one by one. Who will be next? Will the mystery man/woman/beast come for Celaena some night? As the number of champions dwindle (some are eliminated during tests; some are murdered), the odds look better and better for Celaena to be attacked. So you can see why this book would be hard to put down!
There is magic in Celaena's world too. Not a lot; in fact, I feel like I was nearly halfway through the book before it's even mentioned. But it is there and it plays a part in the end. I get the impression that it'll play a much larger role in books to come. I love how Sarah J. Maas explains the magic to the reader: Celaena herself doesn't know much, so she goes to the library and researches. We learn about the magic right alongside Celaena. (Also, as someone who works in a library, I loved loved loved that Celaena prefers to read in her free time, and goes to a library when she needs answers!)
Overall: a fantastic fantasy with tons of actions and a little bit of magic and a heroine that you can't help rooting for. Looking forward to reading Crown of Midnight!
*I received Throne of Glass from Beauty and the Bookshelf as part of a Secret Santa exchange. Thank you!