The Assassin’s Blade, Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms, Kingdom of Ash
This review is SPOILER FREE! What feels like many years ago, I kept seeing this book cover that looked super cool. It was green and had a girl who looked like a total badass on the cover. Little did I know that it was the third in a new series that had, until then, been flying under the radar. I made a very kind bookstore employee find the first book in the series, Throne of Glass, for me, and the rest is history.
Throne of Glass Synopsis
From the Inside Flap of the Hardcover:
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 int eh 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 the evil before it destroys her world.
Suggested Reading Order: Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, The Assassin’s Blade, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms, Kingdom of Ash, skipping Tower of Dawn unless you find yourself drawn to the particular character it is written about
I can’t claim to have been a fan of Sarah J. Maas from the absolute beginning, but after taking a job at my local bookstore, I realized I was pretty darn early to the bandwagon because I had the absolute delight of personally introducing about a hundred customers to the series. It’s the single book, and series, that convinced me I could be a book seller – it was so gratifying when customers came back to me and told me how much they loved the books.
Sarah J. Maas is now a YA literary force to be reckoned with, and this spring she is spreading her wings into the adult fantasy world (which her readers know she’s been flirting with for quite a few books now). She is directly responsible for a rise in book titles with Throne, Glass, Ash, Shadow, Fire, etc. all in the title (nearly EVERY YA fantasy book contains a word in one of her titles), and has influenced many other YA authors. Which is great. And terrible at the same time because she broke me. I can only read the YA authors I was already reading (on Tuesday I’ll be sharing who they are!) because no one else comes close to her quality in my eyes.
I’m now doing the one thing that drives me nuts – if you haven’t already read Throne of Glass, I’m sorry. I’m totally hyping it up and I find that when something is over hyped, I wind up hating it. So let me attempt here to do an actual review of the series without too much gushing about my favorite author of the 2010s and, hopefully, without any spoilers.
Magic. Assassin. Potential evil in the world. Book-boyfriend worthy princes & captains. A book-loving smart ass female heroine. All the things that drew me into Throne of Glass from the first few pages. It’s been about five years now since I first read the book, and I realized I hadn’t gone back to see what about it drew me in in the first place. Before reading, I’d been on a pretty solid WWII historical fiction bent, both adult and YA, and I was in the mood for something different.
Throne of Glass is crafted in a way that allows readers to learn about the world of Ardalan (the kingdom of the King on his throne of glass) in gradual steps. And just when you think you have a handle on how the world, and it’s magic works, Sarah blows the lid off your assumptions by opening the world up even further. By the third book, you can’t possibly imagine the world becoming even bigger and grander, but it does. While I am often more of a character reader than world-building reader (a book’s world building can be a bit sloppy so long as the characters are awesome I’ll love it), I love the fact that I feel like I could step into the world Sarah created and explore it for the rest of my life and still not see even a quarter of it.
Sarah started writing ToG at 16 and first published stories and excerpts through online fiction websites. Celaena has been living in her head for more than half her life at this point (she’s just a bit older than me in her early thirties) and it’s clear through her character development that she’s been ruminating on this cast for years. Which means that you get a strong sense of who they are from the very beginning, without Sarah giving you their entire backstories right up front. She knows their mannerisms, she knows how they react to each other, which combines to make ToG feel less like a debut novel and more like a book full of friends that you’ve already known your whole life. Even the characters who aren’t still with us at the beginning of the first book, you start to mourn yourself because of how the other characters react to their absence.
As the series progresses, the characters grow into their personalities and towards each other. The world becomes more and more fleshed out. The backstories of all the main characters become more apparent with visits from the characters who make said backstories more interesting. Sarah’s writing gets better and better as she goes. After powering through the first three books back to back, it was near torture to wait for the others to be released. But Tuesday, the paperback of Kingdom of Ash is released in the US, so if you’ve been waiting to power through the whole series and have the books all match in format (I have to have matching formats for series and have 3 full sets of ToG), now’s the time to finally dive in. And let me know what you think when you get a chance to come up for air at the end!
Rating: 9 out of 10 for Throne of Glass, 8 out of 10 for the series as a whole – Queen of Shadows, the fourth book in the series, is my favorite