Let me tell you about this book series I got really into over the holidays. I was bored over the weekend of Christmas – that is, until I stumbled across the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I have a habit of getting really obsessed with books for a really short period of time. (Except Harry Potter. That love is everlasting. Even after all this time? Always.) My newest obsession is this series, even though I’m only partway through the second book.
The first book, Throne of Glass, came out in 2012. So far there are three main books and a bunch of novellas. There are going to be six books in all, I believe.
So, how do I describe this series? It’s, like, if you combined the fantasy genre and political intrigue of Game of Thrones with the young adult perspective and badass heroine of Hunger Games, you would get this series.
The story takes place in the kingdom of Adarlan, which is being ruled by a corrupt king intent on taking over all of the surrounding territories and eliminating magic from the world. It’s told primarily from the perspective of Celaena Sardothien, who, at 18, is the most notorious and deadly assassin in the kingdom. After getting captured and spending a year in slavery at the mines in Endovier, Celaena is brought to Adarlan to compete to become the King’s Champion – aka his personal assassin to do his bidding – in exchange for her freedom in four years.
Having a morally ambiguous protagonist is really interesting. You root for her to succeed, but at the same time…she murders people for a living. Celaena is super tough but also really into fancy clothes and food. She’s stubborn and guarded but has a really tragic back-story (that I cannot wait to learn more about). It’s almost like she’s a real, well-rounded human person. You don’t always get that in these “young adult” books.
Not only is Celaena well-rounded, but the other characters are too! There’s Chaol Westfall, Captain of the King’s Guard, who is loyal, dedicated, and very wary of having an infamous assassin wandering around the castle. Then there’s Dorian Havilliard, son of the king and heir to the throne. Dorian has to deal with what his role as the future king will entail and what type of throne he will be inheriting. Then there’s Nehemia, the mysterious and snarky princess of Eyllwe with a hidden agenda. Of course, then there’s the king and Cain and Duke Perrington and Kaltain and Arobynn Hamel and a whole cast of intriguing and complex characters.
Even though there is a bit of the clichéd love triangle nonsense, it’s not annoying. And both of the men are actually really interesting characters in their own right – not everything they do or think is in reaction to her. They have backstories and we even get some sections told from their perspectives (as well as from some other random characters’). The main characters are in their late teens and early 20s, so it makes sense that there is some romance, but that’s not the central plot.
I decided to start with reading the novellas, which take place before the main series starts. I really like this trend of authors writing novellas to accompany their stories, by the way. More world-building is always a good thing. Anyway, the novellas explain where Celaena was before the start of Throne of Glass – her training as an assassin under Arobynn, her relationships with the other assassins, and how she got captured. I really think you need to read the novellas to get a true appreciation for the later books and how Celaena got to where she is.
I’m trying really hard not to actually mention any major plot points, so I’m going to stop talking about it now. As I said, I just started reading the second book, Crown of Midnight, and I have the third book Heir of Fire ready to go. I can already tell you that I am going to be unhappy when I finish the third one and have to wait all the way until September for the next book. Not patient.
If you like fantasy novels, you should totally check this out. It’s not nearly as heavy or arduous as Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. It’s fun and entertaining and will definitely keep you flipping the pages. So, please, someone else read this with me so I have someone to talk about it with.