This is the first book in the young adult fantasy series Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. There are five prequel novellas published together in The Assassin’s Blade which you can read my review for here. After the prequels there are seven main works including this one, and the 7th and final book was just published. This is my first read through of the series and I’m excited to see what all the fuss is about – and that I don’t have to wait for any new releases and can binge through them all!
In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.
After reading this, I’m definitely glad that I put some space between the prequel novellas and this one. I wasn’t so emotionally raw going in and I could actually bare it when Celaena mentions or thinks of Sam, and I felt more committed to this new story.
The biggest thing I noticed with this first book and really appreciated was that it was definitely a much more enjoyable ride than the prequels. It was much less grim and felt more exciting like the beginning of an adventure. Unfortunately it didn’t wow me as much as I was hoping, perhaps due to the hype or Maas using this book to set up the rest of the series but the whole competition felt like a means to an end and it felt pretty obvious who was going to win.
The setting of the castle was pretty cool and I enjoyed how it gave people the heeby jeebies being made of glass. The best part of the setting was definitely the secret passages – I’m a sucker for secret passages.
I really like Celaena’s character. She can be so hard, calculated, and vicious but she can also just as easily be vulnerable, extra feminine, and relishing in luxury and creature comforts. Also as a reader I’m always a softy for a character that likes to read. Despite some predictability I still thought the competition was fun to read about and I like how Celaena’s morals and ethics drive her decisions despite her profession.
I like both Dorian and Chaol. Even though I’ve read from other readers and bloggers that they hate Chaol (probably due to something from later in series) I really liked him in this book and more so than Dorian. Dorian felt a bit two dimensional to me and more like just a fun flirty distraction for Celaena.
I love her friend princess Nehemia and how there was more to her than met the eye. I’m excited to hopefully see more from her in the series.
The mystery of who was killing the other competitors was far more interesting than the actual competition but I was way more into the bigger mystery a la secret passages and magic that has yet to pan out completely. One thing that did surprise me was that there wasn’t much fantasy in this first book. We learn magic has disappeared from the land which explains why we aren’t seeing it in the story, though there are some fantasy elements revealed more towards the end, but at times I forgot this even was a fantasy as it didn’t dominate the plot.
I’m very curious to see how Celaena’s journey continues in the next book, particularly how she’ll navigate doing what’s expected of her but also continuing to follow her moral compass.
While I wouldn’t say I was blown away by this individual book I liked the setting and story telling and it’s definitely a good set up for more books. I’m intrigued to see where the rest of it is going, especially as there are so many books and everyone RAVES about this series.
Recommend to fans of fantasy, mystery, corrupt royalty, and badass female leads.