“We all bear scars,… Mine just happen to be more visible than most.”
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. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s 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.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
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
It’s been more than a week and I’m still trapped in the world of Throne of Glass series. I’ve read all four prequel novellas consecutively and read twice this full length novel but I still can’t detached myself in Celaena Sardothien’s world. The last time I experienced this situation is from a series I dearly love and certainly obsessing.
Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s assassin, sentenced by Adarlan’s King to spent the rest of her life in Endovier – a place of slavery and death. After more than a year of stay in the miserable place of Endovier, Celaena was surprised to have a visitors, Adarlan’s Captain of the Guard and the crown Prince of Adarlan. The prince offered her a proposal to work for the King as his Champion, but in order to do this she needs to enter and win a competition first, where she needs to beat twenty-three other opponents for the title of King’s Champion. If she won the competition the King will grant her freedom after four years of servitude as his Champion. Celeana take the offer since the only choices she got is either to compete or spent the rest of her life in Endovier.
Joining the competition means going back to Rifthold, a place that holds a lot of memories for her, both good and bad. She still don’t know who betrayed her and Sam, that cost Sam’s life and her freedom. She got few guesses but she don’t want to really deal with it for now, so she decided to just focus to the competition. But the competition isn’t all about fighting and strength, when some of the fighters starts turning up dead it’s up to Celaena to find out the mystery behind it all, and to make sure she won’t be the next victim.
Sarah J. Maas took her time in developing Celaena’s character from the four prequel novellas up to this first full length novel of Throne of Glass series. (If you haven’t read the novellas yet I encourage you to do so, because you will understand and fully appreciate Celaena’s character if you are aware of the things she went through before she was sent to Endovier, of what she lost and what is trying to regain.) Maas made Celaena grow one step at a time, taking her experiences with her as lessons learned. You may not instantly like Celaena but she will surely grow in you as you read. She is not all good and glory, afterall she is an assassin, but she is also the best out there and the one with a heart. If anything else being an assassin just show more of her depth than taint her persona. Endovier changed her in a way that Celaena alone can describe. She is still fiercely, strong and competitive but she isn’t fearless anymore. But her fears somehow make her smarter and less reckless than before. After her captive from the previous novella, she become more careful and thoughtful in what she do. There are times that she doubt herself so gone is the boastful and over confident assassin, but still she know her strength well enough and know how to use them well.
During the competition two gentlemen become close to Celaena, Chaol Westfall and Dorian Havilliard. Chaol is the Captain of the royal guard. He is all about his duty, and service to the Kingdom and to royal family, which makes him aloof to Celaena being an assassin that she is. He always keep his distance, always on guard giving way to the Prince. But Chaol carry depth in him too. He is jaded and mysterious, there so much history in him that you will definitely want to crack while reading. Maas really took her time to mold him and open him subtly, and when it happen – when Chaol finally soften, you’ll just be thankful than it was actually done well. His friendship with Celaena is lovely to follow, there so much respect between them and of course some longings too which we can only hope to be addressed in the next book. The thing he did for Celaena after the final battle of the competition hold so much promise for both of them, and simply triggered an exciting plot to follow to the next book.
“That man cares for you more than either of you realize.”
Dorian Havilliard, the Crown Prince of Adarlan is charming, witty and generous. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s handsome. For a prince he can always get what he want but Celaena is not one them and he is aware of it. He is so at ease with Celaena, in fact too much comfortable for a prince like him to be with an Assassin like her. Their relationship gradually develop and something that adds more spice to the story.
“He was done with politics and intrigue. He loved her, and no empire, no king, no early fear would keep him from her. No, if they tried to take her from him, he’d rip the world apart with his bare hands. And for some reason, that didn’t terrify him.”
Having two gentlemen and one lady in the story obviously leads to a little romance conflict. Though in here, I won’t call it a love triangle since it’s not really a fight for love or for a girl. It’s not about getting Celaena’s attention or love. It’s more on fighting for Celaena’s safety and making sure that she is happy. Chaol and Dorian were both deserving, but if I’ll be honest and chose one, I have to side with Chaol. But still I don’t mind Celaena choosing one over the other or not picking at all. With or without a partner she is still a great character, she doesn’t need anyone beside her to stand out and she definitely can take care of herself on her own.
The elimination of champions kinda remind me of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, but no need to compare the two books, since Throne of Glass is unique on its own. I can’t even classify it into one genre as it feels like it has it’s own classification. It is fantasy, mystery, romance, action rolled into one.
I’m surprised that the King of Assassin, Arobynn Hamel did not make an appearance in this book. After his last words, “Because I don’t like sharing my belongings.” in previous story, The Assassin and the Empire, I did expect him to return in Celaena’s life. I anticipated possible ways how he will manipulate Celaena once again since for sure it won’t be long till he find out that Celaena is back in Rifthold, working for the King. But Arobynn’s absence doesn’t make the story any less gritty or thrilling, because the author provide enough plot arcs, twist and turns that keeps the story exciting.
The world that Sarah J. Maas is building is intriguing and fascinating. It isn’t fully developed yet, after-all there are more books to follow, so we’ll just expect that Maas will build Celaena’s world as the story goes. So far, what we get in this first installment were enough to make us see not only the inside of the King’s palace or the Throne of Glass but also a hint about the political set-up and kingdom’s rivalries outside. After-all, why the King needs a champion to do his dirty bidding if he don’t have rivals inside or outside of his kingdom? Also, Maas descriptions of things and surrounding were rich and vivid. It so easy to imagine every details of her world and her characters. Even there are some vague areas, you can still easily imagine the feel of all of it. Celaena’s views of her surroundings were enough to create a vivid descriptions of things around her.
Throne of Glass is a gloriously stunning epic fantasy novel that showcase Sarah J. Maas writing talent. She easily weaved an intriguing and stunning new world with a strong kick-ass heroine, that makes this book absolutely compelling from start to finish.