Like every Young Adult Fantasy novel these days, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas has it all: a swashbuckling teen heroine who’s lived through more travesties in her eighteen years of existence than most people have in one lifetime; a creepy male antagonist who is hell-bent on world domination; and the quintessential duo of (male) best friends vying for the main character’s affection (of course, one of which is grumpy and stand-offish while the other is a lovable playboy). All this, along with a “healthy” dose of female competition, adorable animals, names that cannot be pronounced, and magic.
Published in 2012, Throne of Glass was not an instant success. Sure it had raving reviews, but unlike Maas’s books nowadays, it did not debut on the New York Times Bestsellers List. What made it a classic in the ever growing and fast-paced industry of YA fantasy are the characters and the world that Maas expands upon throughout the series.
However, I plan on only discussing the first book, so here we go.
The main character is named Celaena Sardothien, a first-rate has-been assassin, fighting in a competition to become the King’s Champion. She’s a bit self-centered, a bit egotistical, and only on occasion willing to play nice (as befitting a true eighteen-year-old). So, along with her new friends, Prince Dorian Havilliard and Chaol Westfall, Captain of the Royal Guard, Celaena must figure out a way to stay alive in the tournament to buy her freedom, keep her head down in the castle of her arch enemy and catch the castle murderer before she becomes the next victim. Piece of cake.
All in all, Throne of Glass is good, but not a great first book. The pacing isn’t too fast nor is it too slow. It checks off all of the boxes necessary for YA fantasy: court intrigue, a shadowy presence, snappy comebacks, minimal romance (compared to the series presently) and innocent friendship; not to mention a dedicated fan base who will love the series till their last breath. What makes the book truly worth your time is the well-articulated and beautiful style of writing that Sarah J. Maas has. I mean, just the way she describes a forest gives way for pause.
“The forest had gone silent. The ebony hounds’ ears were erect, though they didn’t seem to be bothered by the stillness. Even the soldiers quieted. Her heart skipped a beat. The forest was different here. The leaves dangled like jewels-tiny droplets of ruby, pearl, topaz, amethyst, emerald, and garnet; and a carpet of such riches coated the forest floor around them. Despite the ravages of conquest, this part of Oakwald Forest remained untouched. It still echoed with the remnants of the power that had once given these trees such unnatural beauty.”
Maas’s words flow naturally in such a way that many authors struggle with, and it is due to her ability to write images, characters, dialogue, and action that could entice someone to pick up the next book. Sarah J. Maas does a remarkable job of pulling you in just enough with the characters, plot, and storyline. But it is her gift as a storyteller that ensnares a reader that leaves you with wanting more.
If you’ve spent any amount of time with me in the past couple of weeks, I’ve