Thursday, October 4, 2012

[Review] Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas


(#1, Throne of Glass)
Throne of Glass | Untitled


Author:
Sarah J. Maas
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 02/08/2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Pages: 404
Source: For review (thanks Bloomsbury!)


Violence Sexual ContentProfanity

My Rating:
Amazing!

Summary:
Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.


In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

My thoughts

I may not have been one of the thousands of Sarah's fans on Fiction Press back when this book was still in its early stages, but that does not mean that this book release was just like any other. I was bouncing-off-the-walls EXCITED for this. I generally only let myself get really pumped up for a couple of book releases per year, and Throne of Glass took the cake in the debuts department.


First off, and because I don't know how else I can possibly start off this review, I have to praise the
stunning cover! You can only TRULY appreciate the UK cover when you look at both the front and the back. This cover really sets the atmosphere of the story inside—and this one is sure to stand out in bookstores.


My reading of this book really began with the novellas and I’m not sure if I can possibly detach myself from those because they were GOOD. And if you’re interested in reading this book because of the assassin aspect of it, I’d definitely recommend you check those novellas out because there really isn’t too much assassin-ing to be done (on Celaena’s part, anyway) in Throne of Glass. And there’s good reason behind it.

Throne of Glass begins when Celaena Sardothien, an infamous and deadly assassin, who has been a slave at the Endovier salt mines for a full year, is released. She is brought to the glass castle at Rifthold—she must compete against the most fierce thieves and assassins, and if she doesn’t win and become the King’s Guard, she will return straight back to the salt mines for eternity. Only, what was once a competition for freedom quickly turns into a mystery with a body count. Celaena, always ready for adventure and danger, decides she must get to the bottom of it, before she too becomes a victim.

I like bold characters. Characters that give off the impression they don’t give a damn. There's something so refreshing about Celaena's character, however. She's so stubborn, brave and just badass. Despite being an assassin, she's so deeply compassionate with a kind heart. She has a soft side, despite the mask of stoicism that she wears. Furthermore, she's beautiful and she KNOWS it (which is one reason why she may rub some readers the wrong way). It does take some time to warm up to her, but to be honest, I’d already fallen for her in the first novella leading up to this book. She has a likeness to Katniss (The Hunger Games) and Katsa + Fire (The Seven Kingdoms).

Before I get to the love interests, I want to touch on the foreboding nature of many of the characters you’ll find in both the novellas and Throne of Glass. We don’t find out a lot more about the contenders in the competition, which makes them unsympathetic when one of them does die. They become numbers rather than people. Like many books of this nature (The Hunger Games, Divergent, maybe The Selection—you know, books with some kind of contest in them), there are those contenders that are there so the author can kill them off. Then there are the frontrunners, as well as the underdogs. Throne of Glass follows this trend, in that Celaena is an underdog, and almost every other character is big and tough and… well, male.

Speaking of male… Celaena doesn’t have trouble attracting them. I’ll only talk about the romances in Throne of Glass, not the novellas. I have a love-hate relationship with love triangles. Yes, I said the dreaded phrase. This book has a love triangle in it. BUT, I liked how it worked. I can’t really justify my liking it, other than the fact that I liked her interactions with both guys, as well as the guys themselves. I think that makes all the difference when an author tries to write in a love triangle. For anyone wondering, I am most definitely Team Chaol. He’s captain of the Royal Guard, and he thinks of Celaena as nothing but an assassin... for a good length of time. All the while, Prince Dorian treats her like a guest or royalty rather than a prisoner. Like I said, I like both guys, but the interactions between Celaena and Chaol just get to me, left me smiling to myself every single time. (However, I do have to say I preferred the one in the novellas.)

There is a big mystery aspect to Throne of Glass, and unlike in the novellas there is an unpredictable nature to it. I had no idea exactly who-dunnit until the very end. I loved reading all the clues and just following along with the story. I could not put this book down! On top of that there is quite a bit of action, and I personally feel like there was a good balance between action, character development and plot. I really hope that there is more world building in the next book, and I feel like the plot will allow more of that exploration, since in this book Celaena was contained and therefore did not have much opportunity to go sight-seeing or anything like that.

Throne of Glass is written in third person. I know lots of people aren’t a fan of third person narration, especially in YA fiction, but I was able to connect with the characters easily. I don’t have much else to say about the writing style. If you’re familiar with the high-fantasy (or historical fiction) genre then I don’t think you’ll have much of a problem with it.

Sarah J. Maas' debut novel Throne of Glass is a whirlwind of excitement and intrigue where danger lurks around every corner.  In Celaena Sardothien's latest adventure you'll either be shuddering in fear or swooning or laughing out loud every step of the way. I simply cannot wait to find out what happens next in Book 2!

- US HC cover -
Aside: I haven't read Game of Thrones, but I'd reckon that they don't have much in common at all. Don't be a victim of marketing deception! This is YA--meaning that since this book was written with a younger audience in mind; there will be different focuses than in Game of Thrones, an adult novel.



Quotes


First lines: 
"After a year of slavery in the Salt Mines of Endovier, Celaena Sardothien was accustomed to be escorted everywhere in shackles and at sword-point. Most of the thousands of slaves in Endovier received similar treatment--though an extra half-dozen guards always walked Celaena to and from the mines. That was expected by Adarlan's most notorious assassin. What she did not usually expect, however, was a hooded man in black at her side--as there was now."

Favourites:

"Over a million? A million books?" Her heart leapt and danced, and she cracked a smile. "I'd die before I even got through half of that!"
"You like to read?"
She raised an eyebrow. "Don't you?" Not waiting for an answer, she moved farther into the library, the train of her gown sweeping across the floor....
Grinning, she whirled and moved through the main floor, running a hand across the dusty books. "I didn't know assassins liked to read," Chaol called. If she were to die now, it would be in complete bliss.
(p. 55)

"I like music," she said slowly, "because when I hear it, I . . . I lose myself within myself, if that makes sense. I become empty and full all at once, and I can feel the whole earth roiling around me. When I play, I'm not . . . for once, I'm not destroying. I'm creating."
(pp. 230)
"Names are not important. It's what lies inside of you that matters. I know what you went through in Endovier. I know what my people endure there, day after day. But you did not let the mines harden you; you did not let it shame you into cruelty."


(p. 321)

* my favourite part is in the paragraph following that.
Trailer

UK book trailer



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I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.


Just as an aside, I would TOTALLY not mind if Sarah J. Maas were ever to come here, to Australia. Here, Australia. Yeah. Not hating the idea of meeting her, getting my book signed and maybe gushing a little bit about (probably incoherent babbling) Celaena and Chaol and Dorian and what happened in the novellas and all that stuff.



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