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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Throne Of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website
Order “Throne Of GlassHERE
Read the first two chapters HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Sarah J. Maas was born and brought up in New York City, since her childhood she was partial to stories and began writing at age of sixteen. Throne of Glass was born out of a writing experiment wherein Sarah rethought the Cinderella fairy tale. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College with a degree in Creative Writing, and a minor in Religious Studies. She currently lives with her husband in Southern California. This is her debut.

OFFICIAL BLURB: When magic has gone from the world, and a vicious king rules from his throne of glass, an assassin comes to the castle. She does not come to kill, but to win her freedom. If she can defeat twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition to find the greatest assassin in the land, she will become the King’s Champion and be released from prison.

Her name is Celaena Sardothien. The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. And a princess from a foreign land will become the one thing Celaena never thought she’d have again: a friend.

But something evil dwells in the castle–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying, horribly, one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival–and a desperate quest to root out the source of evil before it destroys her world.

FORMAT/INFO: Throne Of Glass is 406 pages long divided over fifty-five numbered chapters. Narration is in the third-person via Celaena Sardothien, Prince Dorian, Lady Kaltain and Chaol Westfall. There is also a map of Erilea provided along with an acknowledgements section. This is book one in the Throne Of Glass series.

August 7, 2012 marks the US Hardback and e-book publication of Throne Of Glass by Bloomsbury. It was also released in the UK on August 2, 2012 by the same publisher (see below). 

ANALYSIS: I was intrigued by this book especially since the author mentioned that she had juxtaposed the Cinderella fairytale with a story of an assassin. So when given the opportunity for reviewing this book, I immediately agreed to it. I wanted to see how the author developed the story and so while doing some background searches about the book, I also found that there are four prequel novellas that were released previously:
 1) The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
 2) The Assassin and the Desert
 3) The Assassin and the Underworld
 4) The Assassin and the Empire

These four novellas provide the crucial background information about the protagonist as well as give the reader a clear cut idea as to how the protagonist came to be in the situation she is described in the book blurb. The author suggests that reading them beforehand will be helpful however I wasn’t able to and while they do reveal a lot about the background. This book can be easily understood without reading them at all. I will of course be reviewing them at a later period.

This story is set in a Young Adult setting and so I have to alter my perception for it as often I find myself disliking YA novels if they haven’t been marked or marketed as such. YA books have a different style to them and it’s the rare YA novel that transcends its genre and makes adult readers besotted fans as well. I was wondering how this book would stand. The story opens with the protagonist Celaena Sardothien languishing in a horrid prison called the Salt mines of Endovier. She has spent a year over there and has all the mental and physical scars to show for her time there. The reason for her presence there is the focus of the last prequel novella The Assassin and the Empire. She is surprised to know that there are people who are seeking her and her deadly talents. Chiefly Prince Dorian Havilliard who has brought a whole contingent of guards to force/entice her with an offer for her services and if everything goes smoothly, her freedom as well. She will however have to showcase her skills in a tournament and prove herself worthy to be called the best and bequeath upon herself the title of the King’s Champion. The biggest drawback being that this very king was the one to decimate her homeland and put her in her current predicament.

The book has a refreshing charm to it that kept me turning pages to see how the story would unfold. The story opens up quickly and introduces the main characters and the situation. The story is a very simplistic one and for most YA readers should be a fun one to follow. The pace of the story is such that it entices to reader to turn the pages to see what happens next and never truly bogs down the plot. The characterization isn’t of the level which will earn the author accolades but for a Young Adult book, it is very competently done. The main protagonist however is a bit of a Mary Sue and some readers might not be too enthralled by all her excellence at almost every skill.

The romantic angle added to the story is something which is all too predictable and for adult readers will be completely ho-hum however for a YA reader it might not be so predictable. There are some truly fun twists inserted by the author into the main story and this of course helps in setting up the climax of the story as well set pointers for the future books. I enjoyed this aspect of the book and of course with the huge dollop of back-story that’s seems to exist between the King and Celaena, it will be fun to read about their interactions in the sequels to come.

Overall this book is very much a good read and should be remembered for the genre and public it has been written for. One thing I need to point out is that I have seen many reader claims about this series being comparable to A Song Of Ice And Fire by G.R.R. Martin, this is very funny and absolutely untrue. ASOIAF cannot be truly written for a YA audience as it will lose its complexity and moral ambivalence, a more reasonable option would be to think of this series as a YA version of Robin Hobb’s Fitz Chivalry series but without its moral complexity and vivid characterizations. This is a decent debut and I’m sure the book will find its fans.

CONCLUSION: Sarah J. Maas’ debut gives us a rather pleasant read and also manages to give the audience a heroine that is neither insipid nor constantly pining for her true love (a la Twilight). It was fun to read about a strong female protagonist who can take care of herself and also provide retribution against those who wish her ill. Throne of Glass is a fun debut that might appeal heavily to its Young Adult readers however for the adult readers it might not set the same high standards.


Leo said...

I am an adult looking for a good YA series after reading divergent. Heir of fire has good reviews but reviews say not goodstand alone book one should read first two books for background. Thx for review.
Also if there are some YA looking for a good adult read you might want to explore these authors: R.A Salvatore, Robert Jordan, Ann McCafree just to name a few. McCaffrey has strong woman but if you like good stories read them all.

Jamie said...

^ Yes, you absolutely have to read them in order!
1: Throne of Glass
2: Crown of Midnight
3: Heir of Fire
4: Queen of Shadows
5: Untitled, released September 6, 2016
6: Untitled, released September 2017
And of course there is The Assassin's Blade, the collection of prequel novellas.
A ToG adult colouring book will be released on September 6 along with ToG 5.
SJMaas is also the author of the ACOTAR series.
1: A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR)
2: A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOMAF) released May 3, 2016
3: A Court of __ and __ (Untitled), released early May 2017

Anonymous said...

I am a teen who read this book and I truly enjoyed it, and although the names were a bit difficult to pronounce without turning to the pronunciation guide, I thought they were interesting and really added to the world-building. The only complaint I would really have is the same as stated in this review; Celaena is very much a Mary Sue- her combat throughout the book seemed much too easy for her and I had wished to see her fail a little bit more, to make her more relatable. I also thought that for an assassin she seemed very... I don't know, light-hearted and girly, and while a darker edge does come out very rarely, I saw her assassin side sort of shadowed by her apparent girly-ness. I like to think that this may be a way of detaching herself from the horrors of her career, a facade she puts on to maintain some normality, but I would have liked to see a little darker edge to her character, as she was an assassin. Overall I enjoyed this book a lot and read it in two days!!

Nikoleta said...

<> book 1
I just finished reading this book and I have to admit that, it was fascinating and incredibly well written . I loved the fact that Celaena,, was a dynamic character and not some girl who did not know how to defend herself. In general it was quite good,
and to be honest I was not sure if I would like it, but it proved me wrong. I recommend it, to all book readers who are fond of fantasy series.


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