Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Book #: 1st of Series
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Publish Date: August 7th 2012
Date Read: August 31st 2013
Rating: ★★★★½ / out of 5
She could do it. She just needed to clear the wall. She had come so close before...
"I'm listening," was all she said.
Being raised to be an assassin by the King of the Assassins, Celaena knows one thing true, above all: She is good, very good, at what she does. Though, after a year slaving away in the salt mines, she is surprised to find herself bargaining for her freedom with the Crown Prince, the son of the man who sentenced her.
The deal: to compete against twenty four notorious criminals and come out alive and victorious at the very end, to then serve the King for four years as his Champion. Only after will she be granted freedom.
But, by accepting this challenge and moving into the castle made of glass, Celaena discovers love and friendship, things she certainly never saw herself having again, and also a horrible evil that threatens to destroy them all.
I had refused to read this book- as I have so many others- because of the looming love triangle. I do not like them and don't ask me why, because I just don't know. I know that I don't, and that is all.
However, my love for fantasy and strong willed and talented female heroines (also, the non-stop hyping that I can't seem to escape from anywhere) really pushed me into finally giving this book a try. And, for what it is worth, though I am still waiting to see how that is sorted out in the future books, I am glad I did.
Here we have Celaena: an assassin, raised and trained by the best. She is strong of will and strength, beautiful and very, very witty. I loved her sarcasm and gotta-get-the-last-word comments. She has a dark past that I loved getting glimpses of and still want to know more about. Most importantly, though, she uses her experiences to better herself and doesn't spend too much time sulking or feeling bad for herself. If something happens and doesn't go her way, she fights to turn the tables.
However, I can't help but feel the same way as a friend of mine on Goodreads, Khanh, felt and expressed in her review. Even though she does have to work to regain her lost endurance and stamina, and does battle dark, emotional demons from her past, I didn't feel any real character growth. Now, most of the time I appreciate more a female character who we are introduced to from the beginning as being strong, and that is definitely the case with Celaena, it did start to bother me just how perfect she thought she was. Confidence is one thing, and a very good thing to have, but over-confidence and believing everyone around you is incompetent (though she does prove herself as being superior) is unattractive. I am looking forward to seeing what becomes of her in Crown of Midnight.
Dorian, the Crown Prince, finds himself completely enthralled by the assassin. While I eventually learned that there is more to him than meets the eye (Transformers, robots in disguise! Sorry, guys. Had to.), I really do feel that his relationship with Celaena is too physical and didn't require much effort on either end to develop. It is obvious from the start that they are both attracted to each other. I couldn't help but notice, too, that when reading from Dorian's POV he mostly takes note of her physical beauty. He toys with her with the purpose of making her furious and finds it entertaining:
He glanced down at her form. Average height aside, her curves were enticing (page 145).Dorian, in my opinion, looked at her like she was his latest conquest. Celaena catches on, too, and I was proud of her when she pointed out what I was beginning to feel was true:
Her cheeks were flushed, making her blue eyes even brighter. Did she know what he might have wanted to do with her is she wasn't an assassin (page 148)?
"I'm not some commodity that you can gawk at! I'm not some carnival exhibit, and you won't use me as part of some unfulfilled desire for adventure and excitement!" (page 147)While I have an idea that (view spoiler), I really hope that it doesn't open the door way for Dorian and Celaena's relationship to develop into something more. I like him, and it is true that he likes Celaena for her intelligence, too, but I want to see him with someone else.
Chaol, on the other hand, is intense. Just the way I like 'em. He is the Captain of the Guard and is very serious about what he does. Being that, his relationship with Celaena is very slow- if not non-existent in this first book- because she is a trained criminal. I appreciated these two much more as a couple because what bond they have between them takes time to develop and does so on a deeper level than just being attracted to a pretty face and witty comebacks. And I love the banter they partake in:
"The truth? You treated me like I'm a crazed criminal!"For the most part, they both don't even realize that they might actually have feelings for one another until they very end. From his POV chapters, we see the contrast between how he notices Celaena compared to how Dorian notices her. He comments more on her personality and character, and the deeper meaning behind her appearance and actions, than focusing on the beauty of her face and features:
"And you said that you hated me more than anyone alive."
"I meant every word of it." However, a smile began to tug at her lips- and she soon found it reflected on his face. He tossed a piece of bread at her, which she caught in one hand a threw back at him. He caught it with ease. "Idiot," she said, grinning now.
"Crazed criminal," he returned, grinning, too.
"I really do hate you."
"At least I didn't come in eighteenth place," he said. Celaena felt her nostrils flare, and it was all Chaol could do to duck the apple she chucked at his head (page 158).
She was was still in her clothes, and while she looked beautiful, that did nothing to mask the killing potential that lay beneath. It was present in her strong jaw, in the slope of her eyebrows, in the perfect stillness of her form. She was a honed blade made by the King of Assassins for his own profit. She was a sleeping animal- a mountain cat or dragon- and her markings of power were everywhere (page 180).He looks at her like she is a labyrinth; enticing him to come and explore, but dangerous enough for him to want to keep his distance. However, as the story progresses, it is more and more subtly shown that the possibility of a relationship is opening up between them. Especially so, when Celaena begins to notice her attraction for him, about 3/4 into the book:
"Are you mad? You're better than everyone in here. And you're- you're very handsome." There was beauty in Chaol's face- and strength, and honor, and loyalty. She stopped hearing the crowd, and her mouth became dry as he stared at her. How had she missed it for so long (page 293)?I honestly hope that their relationship grows and stays strong and real throughout the next 5 books. A lot can happen in those many pages, and I would really be disappointed if they didn't end up together.
Nehemia is my new favorite fictional best-friend. I have decided that she is Princess Leia herself, in disguise: a princess leading a group of rebels against a tyrant king. I loved how cunning and smart she was, as well as her passionate quest to protect and better the lives of her people:
"What is the point of being a princess of Eyllwe if I cannot help my people? How can I call myself their princess, when such things happen?" (page 252)She is also very observant, and I liked how she commented on the bond between Chaol and Celaena:
"That man cares for you more than either of you realize."I am so glad that she befriended Celaena, and I am looking forward to see where their paths lead in the next book.
Story & Writing Style:
The way the author writes made it easy for me to be pulled into the story, but I also enjoyed how the plot developed from being just Celaena trying to win her freedom, to her discovery of a darker evil lurking in the castle. I really hope that that is the focus the story takes as we continue on with this 6 book series. Because of how much of a Skyrim obsessed nerd I am, something about long-dead Kings and Queens, and evil magic really entices me.
Overall, this was a thrilling fantasy adventure that I would easily recommend to any and all.
She hadn't tasted fear in a while- hadn't let herself taste fear. When she awoke every morning, she repeated the same words: I will not be afraid.
Still, the image haunted his dreams throughout the night: a lonely girl gazing at the stars, and the stars who gazed back.
"Over a million? A million books?" Her heart leapt and danced, and she cracked a smile. "I'd die before I even got through have of that."
He should be hanging from the gallows. He had killed many more people than she- people undeserving and defenseless.
She glared. "I hate women like that. They're so desperate for the attention of men that they'd willingly betray and harm members of their own sex."
She practically threw the rapier into place, and drew the hunting knives without hesitation.
My dear old friends.
A wicked smile spread across her face.
But Nehemia just clicked her tongue. "That pretty boy? He grinned at me far too much- and you should only see how he winked at the other women in the court. I want a husband to warm my bed, and my bed alone."
"And what's wrong with headstrong girls? Other than the fact that they're not wooden-headed ninnies who can only open their mouths to give orders and gossip?"
He remained standing there for a moment longer, studying her. "I'll see you tomorrow morning," he said, and left. In the silence that followed his wake, she contemplated his story, and the paths that had made them so different, but so similar.
"We each survive in our own way."
Ardalan could take their freedom, it could destroy their lives and beat and break and whip them, it could force them into ridiculous contests, but, criminal or not, they were still human. Dying- rather than playing in the king's game- was the only choice left to him.
She didn't fear the night, though she found little comfort in it's dark hours. It was just the time when she slept, the time when she stalked and killed, the time when the stars emerged with glittering beauty and made her feel wonderfully small and insignificant.
While she might be used to darkness, she wasn't foolish enough to trust it.
Queen Elena put her hands on Celaena's shoulders and kissed her forehead. "Courage if the heart is very rare. Let it guide you."
Celaena's hand trembled. If she hit him... if she hit him, is she got into a brawl right here and the guards had to pull them apart, Chaol might not let her see Nehemia again, let alone leave her rooms after lessons, or stay late to practice with Nox. So Celaena smiled and rolled her shoulders as she said brightly: "Shove it up your ass, Cain."
"Do you feel that?" She asked Choal, who slowly, maliciously grinned. He held out his dagger and dragged it on the marble floor, creating the exact sound and feeling.
"Damned idiot," she snarled.
"Mock me again," she spat at Verin, "and I'll do that with my sword the next time."
"Life shouldn't be like this. And.. and the world shouldn't be like this."
There was good in people- deep down, there was always a shred of good. There had to be.
"We all bear scars, Dorian. Mine just happen to be more visible than most."
"You think I want to be here? It was either this or Endovier! I had no choice. Before you start lecturing me on my morality, or before you run away and hide behind your bodyguards, just know that there's not a moment that goes by when I don't wonder what it will be like to kill for him- the man who destroyed everything that I loved!"
Would she have laughed if she'd known that other things- other people- would come to mean as much as her freedom?
For a heartbeat, she saw the king with stark clarity. He was just a man- a man with too much power. And in that one heartbeat, she didn't fear him. I will not be afraid, she vowed, wrapping the familiar words around her heart.
Nehemia leaned to whisper in Celaena's ear. "Let it be with an Eyllwe weapon that you take them down. Let wood from the forests of Eyllwe defeat the steel from Adarlan. Let the king's Champion be someone who understands how the innocent suffer."
"No matter what happens," she said quietly, "I want to thank you."
Chaol tilted his head to the side. "For what?"
"For making my freedom worth something."
He didn't say anything; he just took the fingers of her right hand and held them in his, his thumb brushing the ring she wore.
Chaol squeezed her hand, his skin warm in the frigid air. "Give him hell," he said.
"My name is Celaena Sardothien. But it makes no difference if my name's Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I'd still beat you, no matter what you call me."
"There is nothing I wouldn't do for my country- no sacrifice too great to keep my people alive and out of slavery, to keep another massacre from happening."
"I have enough secrets. I don't need another one."
The sunlight warmed her skin, and the weight around her shoulders drifted away. "I'm saying that in four years, I'm going to be free, and I've never been free in my entire life." Her smile grew. "And I want to know what that feels like."
There was still something soft in her face. It gave him hope- hope that he had not lost his soul in the act of killing, hope that humanity could still be found, and honor could be regained... She had come out of Endovier and could still laugh.
"You could be different," Elena said quietly. "You could be great. Greater than me- than any of us. You could rattle the stars. you could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That's what scares you most."
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