Blending elements of fairytale, folklore and fantasy, Sarah J. Maas’ debut, Throne of Glass, is a Cinderella story with a twist. A rather dark and deaBlending elements of fairytale, folklore and fantasy, Sarah J. Maas’ debut, Throne of Glass, is a Cinderella story with a twist. A rather dark and deadly one...
The Story Twelve months in the dreaded, deadly salt mines of Endovier have not been kind to Celaena Sardothien—but she has not been forgotten. Then again, few were likely to forget the land’s most lethal assassin. Celaena knows her death from the hard labour, freezing winters and brutal beatings won’t be long, but then she’s given an offer she can’t refuse, by none other than the Crown Prince himself: compete against two-dozen hired thugs, criminals, assassins and thieves. Compete and win, and become the King’s Champion. Be free.
Celaena joins the secretive competition, and quickly adjusts to a new life of luxury and comfort in the Palace. She forms unlikely friendships with Captain of the Guard, Chaol Westfall, and the Crown Prince himself, Dorian. But as fellow champions start turning up gruesomely mutilated, Celaena discovers the competition is not her only concern...
Beautiful and deadly, meet Celaena Sardothien: girl assassin. Beautiful, deadly, and remarkably girly, Celaena is Adarlan’s most feared assassin—and rather obsessed with clothes. She’s a strange, lovely mix of innocent and worldly, lethal and gentle, cultured and brash. She’s also alarmingly cocky, but it’s based in the sound knowledge she truly is as good as she believes. While much of Throne of Glass is dedicated to the maneuverings of court life, and the subtle, Celaena shines when she’s doing what she does best: kicking ass. A fabulous feminist role-model, Celaena shows that badassery doesn’t have to come at the cost of femininity. However, at times I wished she’d take her future and position more seriously than she did the stitching on her dress, or the state of her hair.
Those coming into Throne of Glass expecting the typically ‘epic’ from the epic fantasy—the Heroic Battles and Valiant Quests and Noble Companions—may be surprised. Instead we have glass castles, mysterious puzzles and cryptic Elvin ghosts. Not to mention a heroine who can kill you with her bare hands faster than you can blink. Perhaps the greatest key to appreciating Throne of Glass is acknowledging its origins. Though Maas grants it has come a long way since, she explains the idea for Throne of Glass came when she asked herself, “What if Cinderella was an assassin, and went to the ball not to dance with the prince, but to kill him?” While the resulting story bears little in mind with the fairytale now, the influence is there, from the beautiful dresses and balls, to the charming princes.
Charming as those princes are, and as lovely the gowns, it’s less the haberdashery and couture, but the action and the bigger picture that are Throne of Glass’ strongest draw. Maas’ world is magnificent, from the shining glass castle and its labyrinthine hallways, to Adarlan’s war-torn towns and forbidden forests still whispering memories of magic long since vanished. The world of Throne of Glass is rich, vivid, brimming with tales to be told. But... I longed for more action, more from Celaena, more of the mystery, and the players’ motivations; more of the magnificent world it all takes place in. Maas teases in Throne of Glass, showing glimpses of what will come to pass, what Celaena is truly capable of, but never so much that I felt truly satisfied.
The Verdict Throne of Glass was certainly not what I expected when confronted with the words ‘fantasy’, ‘assassin’ and talk of deadly competitions; but with a lethal girl-heroine, magnificent world building and deadly mysteries, it’s no less exciting. It boasts warm, layered characters, rich histories and remarkable detail, all of which promise a thrilling adventure as the series unfolds. Compelling, rich and beautifully detailed, I can’t wait to see what Celaena does next.