Monday, August 13, 2012

Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas


Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury 
Pages: 416
Received: ARC from publisher, via NetGalley AND from RUBY who growled at BEA people for me
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Special Shelf


Summary

From Goodreads:

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.



Review

It's like all of my favorite books wrapped into one package of awesome

Sarah J. Maas must love every book *I* love, because reading Throne of Glass was like taking all the best bits of all my favorite books ever and rolling them all together to create a gigantic homage of love to such epically awesome series like The Banned and the Banished, The Queen's Thief, and The Black Jewels.

Yet it STILL felt totally original and not at all like a rip off. It was like, when you read a fairy tale retelling and you get to spot all of the little references back to the original. Like that, but it was like a personal scavenger hunt of all my favorite books.

Usually, for me, it's all about the book. But every once in a while an author gives me such a spectacular gift that my feelings go beyond the text and I want to bestow the author with lots of hugs and thank yous. If I ever meet Sarah J. Maas in person, lord help me, the squees will be epically, embarrassingly loud.

Apparently, I'm a total sexist

It took me a little while to warm up to Celaena. I read the first novella and I thought, with no small degree of horror and shame, that, "Oh my, I'm not sure if I can like her." She was brash, arrogant, lazy, crude and, really, arrogant needs to be mentioned again.

It wasn't until a few chapters into Throne of Glass that I had a light bulb moment: If Celaena was a guy, I would be completely in love with her.

And then it clicked. Celaena is Eugenides. Celaena is Lucivar. Celaena is Han freaking Solo! I may not be able to swoon over her the same way, and she may not be the typical sleepover party friend, but, you know what? I can totally get on board with a female Han. I mean, can you imagine the sleepover hijinks possibilities with the Millennium Falcon?! 

Plus, on second thought, Celaena also kind of IS a typical sleepover party friend. She might be a tough as nails assassin, but she thankfully doesn't shun girly things. You know in the sleepover party movies how they have the fashion montage where they all try on lots of pretty clothes and make funny faces? Celaena would totally do that. She appreciates important things in life like sparkly dresses and candy, and that's a girl I can get along with.

The love triangle I actually didn't hate

Yes, there is a love triangle. But NOOO, I didn't hate it! It's not really a triangle in the sense that Celaena has two equally awesome stereotypical guys and she's too indecisive to choose between them. If it were like that, then I would have hated it.

It's more like, she has two different relationships with two very different guys (neither of which fall into the "good guy/bad guy" mold) and her feelings for them progress in logical ways given the circumstances throughout the book. Vague? I know, I'm sorry. I don't want to spoil it.

Plus, I'm TOTALLY biased. There's one guy I'm rooting for and he'd BETTER WIN IN THE END. He's just, oh swoon. He's stoic and has a strong sense of responsibility. He has Sherlockian powers of observation, and he's also steadfast, loyal, and he has a soft spot the size of an elephant (even though he'd be aghast to admit that). His awkward attempts to show he cared about Celaena were heart-meltingly aww-inducing and fit in perfectly with their combative hate-turning-to-love relationship. I spent the better part of the book twisted up in *THAT* kiss anticipation.

I'll tolerate the other guy because he's nice and all, but he's so young and he has a lot of growing up to do. BUT, that growth will happen and I'm curious to see how he develops (and he may very well become a real contender for my heart then). His path and position make him more than just a pretty face and I'm looking forward to seeing how his character develops across the series—not just as a love interest for Celaena, but as a full character in his own right.

And that's what I love about this series. The secondary characters could all easily become main characters themselves (like the warrior princess? SO cool!) They have history and arcs and secrets and growth and personality that are all detailed and strong enough to command Main Character status. Their paths intertwine now, but they each have journeys they need to take separately as well, and I'm very curious to see how Sarah J. Maas develops them in the sequels. 

But what about the plot?

Oh, right, the plot. I'm a character girl, and clearly I'm in love with these characters enough that the plot doesn't really matter to me much. But, I was still pretty invested.

First off, there's a contest between the assassins to see who is the assassiniest assassin of them all. Is there any question who will win? Erm, no, not really. But that doesn't matter. It was still fun watching the contestants compete and, for me, the competition plotline never gets old even though it's always pretty darn predictable. Also, that fight scene at the end? Talk about nail-biting!

THEN there's the mystery of what or who is killing the contestants, because, yeah, something is turning them into pretty grotesque corpses and while this is great from the whittle-down-the-competition angle, the fact that something is killing contestants and Celaena IS a contestant is a little troubling.

So she sleuths, and I love her for it. She utilizes both the library AND secret passageways, two things that are near and dear to my heart. And, in this case, both lead her to buried secrets from the past, which pretty much makes the whole scenario explode with win. There are also red herrings and side reveals that were fun and definitely had me barking up the wrong tree once or twice.

And, while I wasn't totally in love with the Big Reveal and the eventual villain reveal was a little, erm, deflating, it also didn't really matter much because the journey was so much fun. Plus, this is only part one of a series, so I know there's more to it all than I'm learning right now so I'm ok with suspending judgement for now. (Also, honestly, I don't really care because I'm a character girl).

Bottom line

Throne of Glass is not a perfect book. But it IS a perfect book for me. The characters make me smile, the romance gives me that prickly anticipatory tension I love, and the 416 pages and promise of sequels makes me think, "Hm, I'm not sure if that's going to be enough for me." Because I want more. Now, please?

And that's not because the story ends mid-way through. Granted there are loose ends that need wrapping up and there is now the entire chapter of Celaena's new life that's been opened wide, and, most importantly, I still need to witness *THAT* kiss, but I'm not dangling from any cliffs here.  I want more simply because I love these people and this world and the fact that everything is dripping with vibes of all my favorite books.

Simply put, Sarah J. Maas is now one of my very few auto-buy authors.



Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 


Do you have any questions about Throne of Glass that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!

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38 comments:

  1. Wow, it's obvious with your gushy review that you loved this one, Small. I've read several lackluster reviews about this book which made me decide it wasn't for me, but your review has me reconsidering. I'm going to put it on my "maybe" list because I did adore Eugenides.

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    1. I did love it! I've seen VERY mixed reviews for the book, and I can understand why. The writing isn't perfect and it has more of an adult fantasy genre vibe than a YA vibe (to the writing style, not the content).

      The characters are also very influenced by the Black Jewels characters, who are bombastic and sort of "larger than life." If that makes any sense. It works in the Black Jewels series and because I'm familiar with that series I appreciated the influence here, but it is definitely a style to get used to and I can see how it might rub some people wrong.

      Celaena is more like Eugenides as he presents himself (complaining loudly over every little thing, arrogant, pouty, that kind of thing), but she's not nearly as clever as he actually is. Still, she's lovable in her own way.

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  2. Oh ay, so glad you enjoyed this one! I have this in my TBR so it gives me hope. And a love triangle that is actually OK?! I'm shocked - that definitely makes me intrigued!

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    1. I think the love triangle was ok because she's not so much triangling as she is moving from one to the next. That sounds floozier than it is, I promise :P

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  3. *giggles* Ahhhh! I can't wait to read my copy when it comes in. I feel especially more excited since I know everything that basically happens in this trilogy/quadrology and can't wait to relive old moments. Fictionpress, ftw!

    So glad to hear you liked it! But of the two guys you mentioned I totally prefer a different male lead that hasn't appeared in the series yet. ;). *swoons*

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    1. I SO wish I had read it on FP! I only heard about it *right* after it was taken off. So I've been pining for soooo long and didn't even have the first early taste :P I'm very curious to see what you think and how much it was/wasn't changed.

      A THIRD guy?! I'm intrigued...

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  4. ooh, this book got very mixed reviews & now your telling me you loved it. Oh my, what should I do? Just decided I'm going to give this book a try. I may be one of the readers that totally adores this book! :) Great review!

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    1. Yes, VERY mixed reviews. I can understand the negative reviews, but for ME, I loved it. I hope you fall on the side that loves it too :)

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  5. I'm so excited you liked it! I just got it and i plan to read it in the week ;D

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  6. Oh my gosh, you are so right about Celaena being Han Solo—great connection. I'm glad you liked this book!

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  7. Another "Special Shelf" book? Wow! This year has really been rockin'. I'm not sure if this type of book is for me or not? I've heard it good from lots of reviewers though. Its slightly long (over 400 pages), but now that you've special shelved it I'm very inclined to go out on a limb and give it a shot. It does sound more historiallly fictionesche than fantasy though, so that's why I'm a little leary.... however, I've been totally surprised by how many HF books I try and end up enjoying...

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    1. I know, seriously, this year has been incredibly amazing. Usually I'm lucky if I find even ONE special shelf book in an entire year. I don't know what it is about this year, though I did read a few books I KNEW I'd probably like and had been saving (like the Queen's Thief series).

      I'm not sure if you'd like this book. It does have a good bit of action, but Celaena is a type that people will probably love or hate. Did you ever read Grave Mercy? It's more historical fantasy like that where I'd call it "Court fantasy" though it doesn't have nearly as much historical backdrop as GM.

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    2. I have Grave Mercy on my kindle - still unread. If this book is anything like the series we are reading right now, then wow I'm all in!

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    3. It's a little different, but very similar. Given how much you're enjoying the Sullivan book, I think you'll love this series!

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  8. I'm so glad you loved this! I've really been looking forward to it, and it sounds as if it will live up to my expectations! And I'm glad the love triangle actually works!

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  9. Wow, despite all the up and down reviews I've seen for this, I've really got to give it a try now. At least I'll be prepared for Celaena.

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    1. She's definitely a character. Think Gen, but more just how he presents himself to the world. I'm very curious to see what you'll think of this one.

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  10. I can't wait to read this! Trying to decide if I really want to wait for it at the library (I'm first in line) or just buy it straight up. I don't like to buy unles I KNOW it will be good, and I'm starting to think I should just buy; it sounds freaking awesome.

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    1. I'm always a proponent of getting a book from the library first, though I'm sure authors won't want to hear me say that! :P I hope you love it either way!

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  11. This makes me very, very excited to read this now. I trust you in all things swoony and exciting and fantasy, Small. And my heart skipped a beat when you said one of the love interests has "Sherlockian powers of observation." DONE. GAME OVER. SWOON.

    I'm still breathless.

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    1. Oh Logan, I don't know what you'll think of it, but I think you will at the very least like the Sherlockian guy. He's awkward in that way that's so swoony and adorable.

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  12. I loved this one too, so so much! I bought a copy as well. Sittin' on the special shelf as I write. I read the book first and am now reading the prequels. Gotta say The Assassin and the Empire made me cry. Maybe because I already like Celaena so much. Glad you enjoyed it, too.

    Heather

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    1. EEpp I'm so happy you loved it too!!! *HUGS* oh no, is The Assassin and the Empire where THAT EVENT happens? The one she told Dorian about at the piano? I've only read the first novella so far...

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  13. Loved this review. It made me laugh. Loved the book too!

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    1. Yay! I'm so glad you loved the book too!

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  14. Oh, dude, you went there.
    Female Han Solo
    How can I say no to that?
    I freaking love Han!!!!
    *sigh*
    Also, loved your review! :D So awesome.

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    1. hehehe I know, you can't say no to Han. :)

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  15. You have me intrigued at female Han Solo, but arrogant? I don't like arrogant heroines. They put me off, way off. BUT. Now you owe me, like whoa. *grins, with teeth*

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    1. She is totally arrogant. Like, BEYOND arrogant. But it all sort of feels a little tongue in cheek.

      And of course I owe you. I owe you for a lot of things :)

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  16. So many bloggers had me utterly worried about this book, but, honestly, Small, I trust your judgement a lot more than most, so I've decided to be only HALF worried and do my best to just go with the flow. :)

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    1. It's a totally polarizing book and people I normally agree with didn't like it. BUT, other people I normally agree with loved it as much as I did, so I don't know how to predict if you'll like it or not. I just hope you do :)

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  17. Aaah, I want to read this now! And I think I know which of the two guy's you're rooting for, and even before reading the book, I'm rooting for him too!

    Awesome review!

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  18. Heh, I could tell before I even read this book that you were going to love it! It really does seem like a Small book, in every way. I was a little surprised with how much I ended up loving this one, but I truly did! I just enjoyed myself while reading it so much. So fun.

    I disliked Celaena a bit in the beginning, but once I was able to accept that that arrogance was just part of the package, I got over it pretty quickly. She had a lot of good things going for her, as well - I thought she was very kind and loyal. I think she would make an excellent friend!

    Team Chaol, all the way! I never noticed before you said it, but you are so right in saying that all of those side characters had Main Character Potential. They were all just so engaging and interesting! Looking forward to the sequels (and prequels, which I have yet to read)!

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  19. I just won this one in a contest - yippee!!!! Its a hard copy though and not a kindle file. Hope I can find the time to read it - darn it!

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  20. I loved this book just as well!! Fell in love with the characters, especially Celaena...and Chaol. *__* And yes, this was one of those special books where I had to read the whole book in one sitting and dreaded getting to the last page.

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    1. I'm so glad you liked it! I think Crown of Midnight is even better, so I hope you get to read it soon :)

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