WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
I first came across this series because I was researching Sarah J. Maas’ other series – A Court of Thorns and Roses, because I was in dire need of a fairy tale retelling. But that’s another blog entry. I did read that her inspiration for this book, though, was a scene in Disney’s Cinderella.
I really enjoyed the first book, Throne of Glass. The premise was very Hunger Games-y. I’ve seen it described as Hunger Games-meets-Game of Thrones, but you don’t really get too much into that until book 3 and 4. It’s entertaining. It has Fae, magic, witches, dragons, assassins, fight-to-the-death competitions, and barriers between worlds. When you’re reading, you can tell the author was influenced heavily by other authors and media sources, and it’s kind of fun to pick out where the influence is (I was able to spot blatant swipes from Neil Gaiman and the film Ever After). It was an easy, fun read. I made it through it in two days.
First book premise: Celaena Sardothien is the world’s deadliest assassin who has been imprisoned in a slave camp and is given the chance at freedom by competing in a tournament against a number of other well-known assassins.
The first book gives you a few clues and leaves you with a few questions to leave you reaching for the second in the series, but also provides enough of a conclusion that if you wished to leave the series, you’d be satisfied. Some people love the character of Celaena, others hate her. She’s very cocky, a bit of a brat, and (as a friend and I were discussing) she thinks she is much tougher than she actually is.
She befriends Dorian, the crown prince, and Chaol, his best friend and head of the guard. They get chummy. She tries not to get chummy because she’s an *assassin* and she needs to hate the palace and everything it stands for and everything that’s in it. She makes a friend, Nehemia. She makes an enemy, Kaltain Rompier, who thinks that Celaena is too chummy with the prince and wants to get rid of her. As you can see, Celaena has a lot going on.
On to the next book!
Second book premise: Celaena is now the King’s Assassin but is keeping up a charade of doing her job while also trying to discover the King’s secret power over everyone.
So, Celaena is sent out on missions by the king to kill his adversaries, however, this tips her off as to his intentions. He wants her to eliminate harmless men and women, and she feels very uncomfortable doing that. So, she’s bribing her victims into disappearing and making it appear as though she has completed her task. Meanwhile, she is trying to figure out what exactly is roaming the castle at night…
The book series dropped off a little here for me. I was fine until Nehemia’s death. I felt the Celaena’s reaction was way out of proportion for the amount of “bonding” we have seen between the two women. I even re-skimmed the first book to be sure that I didn’t miss anything. I didn’t feel that they were that connected at all, especially as they had gotten into an argument before Nehemia’s death. There’s no efficient build-up of a relationship for her to be so affected. Celaena has just been so intent on keeping to herself and caring for herself that it was difficult to think that she could be that attached to another. I get that it’s supposed to show that she is vulnerable, but… hm.
Celaena also gets chummy with Chaol. REALLY chummy.
On to the next book. Only two more to go!
Third Book Premise: Celaena travels to a new land in order to carry out the King’s orders, but she discovers her past, and the power that lies within her instead.
I have to admit that part of this book was a chore to get through. The narratives begin to really split here. There are storylines to show what’s going on back in the Glass Castle, other chapters devoted to a coven of witches, and then there are Celaena’s chapters. Some chapters I found incredibly boring but I muddled through so that I wouldn’t miss anything.
Celaena is on her third love interest in three books, lucky girl! Not that there’s anything wrong with that – but be prepared, Celaena leaves a string of broken hearts in her wake. She is a sought after woman, and she knows it.
Fourth book premise: Celaena finally shreds herself of the identity she created over the past ten years and becomes Aelin Galathynius
I felt this book drag. However, I found out that this is a planned 6 book series, and don’t they often drag in the middle? I mean, the story is gripping, but some parts of it were just… meh. I was pleased to see storylines begin to come together, though. Celaena loses some of her charm for me. There are points where she is just conveniently adept enough for the challenges she faces, and the human side that the author allows her to have (her love of shopping, chocolate, books, and other little luxuries) seem a little out of place at points. At this point, Celaena is just too special of a snowflake for me to be a likeable character.
In this book, I was completely swept away by the witch storyline. I couldn’t wait to get to the next chapter concerning them – I didn’t care about Celaena at all!
However, I made it this far, I feel the need to stick through the next two books. Whether that will actually happen remains to be seen. The fifth (as-yet-untitled) will be released September 2016, with the last book in the series expected to follow in 2017. There are also 5 novellas that accompany the series and take place before Celaena’s incarceration in the first book, but I haven’t bothered to read them.
The author has stated that this series has been optioned for a television show, which I am actually happy to hear about. I think that it will translate well on screen.
If you’re interested, Sarah J. Maas does have a lovely website. I especially enjoy the playlists that she used to inspire her scene writing.
Have you read the series? What did you think of it? Do you agree or disagree?