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Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

T;LDR: The first book of the series, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is good enough to entice me to read the next book.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐3/4

Celaena Sardothien is offered a deal she can’t refuse: fight and win to become the King’s Champion or remain a slave in the salt mines until she dies. If she doesn’t win, she goes back to the mines. With that as an option, is it obvious the assassin vows to win?

My stepkid loves this book. It’s their favorite series, so much so they brought a hardback copy of this book with them while visiting from Australia. Having already read the first of her other series – A Court of Thorn and Roses (ACOTAR review here) – and finding it not great, but not horrible, I gave it a shot, if for nothing else than seeing what my stepkid loves about it.

I liked it. It was better than ACOTAR, since I didn’t hate the protagonist for most of the book. It has intrigue, a likeable protagonist with some room for growth, an obvious love triangle, an equally obvious bad guy, but seems like a good base for a series. For all that and more, I gave this 3.75 stars.

The Plot

Celaena Sardothien is an assassin who was betrayed, captured, and sentenced to work to the death at the salt mines. She’s managed to survive a year of brutality, but only just, when she’s brought before the Crown Prince. He offers her a choice, which isn’t really a choice: fight to become the King’s Champion and in four years, earn her freedom.

She has to survive the training, the Tests, and defeat twenty-three other candidates – thieves, killers, and warriors all. Along the way, she also has to survive the one who is killing off the candidates one by one in a gruesome death, a provoking Crown Prince, and an enigmatic Captain of the Guard.

Will Celaena prevail and become the Champion? Or will the evil stalking the halls of the castle win against them all?

What I liked & liked less

As mentioned, I didn’t hate ACOTAR but I didn’t love it either, so I went into this book expecting to come out along the same lines. However, I actually liked this one enough to put the second book and the prequel of the series on hold at the library. It could be that it’s good enough for a light read or because I’d love to talk to my stepkid about it in a fuller way than we currently can because of spoilers. Either way, it’s better than ACOTAR.

Here’s why: the protagonist. Yes, she has motives and agendas all over the place, but she has a heart. She cares about the people around her and soon cares to figure out what’s happening in the halls. She even risks her own success at the trials to save a fellow competitor. While she’s never had many friends, she seems to accumulate them easily enough and it’s not all based on plot necessity. She’s funny, warm, and brave – what’s not to like?

Well, I was not a fan of these two flaws: her vanity and her pride. I get the pride piece since it feels like a character growth moment, but her vanity just felt superficial and unnecessary. She can like nice things and not be completely stuck on her own appearance. The author spent a lot of time describing her beauty, her clothing, her preening, which I skimmed in the end. It was too much.

Also, for most of the book, Celaena’s behavior is consistent with the character presented on the page. But the character we meet at the start is too edgy, too jarringly different from who she becomes as soon as she enters the castle walls. And then there’s something that happens at the end which also doesn’t fit with how’s she’s been the entire book.

It felt like the author had a different idea in mind and kept it for the first and last part, but smoothed it out in the middle. It’s not horrific, but it was noticeable and I definitely had a WTF moment near the end of the book. I can’t say more, because spoilers. It didn’t make me dislike her or the book, though, but I did wonder what happened there.

I liked the characters of the Captain of the Guard, Chaol, and the Crown Prince, Dorian. Dorian is a bit of a lightweight character, although the author hinted at some growth moments in store for him, which I’d be interested to read. Chaol feels like your standard tough guy soldier until he does something I would’ve expected him to have done before and he struggles to accept it. This makes him a lot more well-rounded than he first appears.

The two men were different, nuanced, but were presented in a way that their friendship made sense. You can also see that they’ll have their own paths and trials to face further in the series.

Of course, there’s love triangle – how could there not be with three gorgeous main characters? It was telegraphed from the beginning, but it wasn’t shoved down our throats the entire book, so I didn’t mind it.

I was a bit bored during the scenes with Kaltain. I get it. She’s there for a larger purpose – at least I hope so, but that didn’t make her scenes enjoyable. They slowed the pace of the story just a little bit and pulled us from the main sequence of events more than they should have done.

The bad guys in the story are pretty obvious. I knew who the killer in the halls was way before it was revealed and wanted to shake Celaena for not seeing it. She wasn’t stupid, far from it, so it was only plot convenience that she failed to put it together and went down other red herring trails.

Did I see it all coming? No, of course not. I look forward to seeing the culmination of the threads presented in this book as the series goes forward. And that I didn’t see coming at all.

To Sum Up (Too Late!)

Better than ACOTAR, with more threads, subplots, and mythology, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is a good start to the seven-book series. I liked the characters and the world building enough to see where it leads. It’s a nice light read for a second world fantasy book and has enough intrigue to, well, keep me intrigued enough to read the next book. For all that and more, I give it 3.75 stars.

About the Author

Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the Crescent City, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and the Throne of Glass series. Her books have sold more than twelve million copies and are published in thirty-seven languages. A New York native, Sarah lives in Philadelphia with her husband, son, and dog. To find out more, visit or follow @therealsjmaas on Instagram.

If you wish to purchase this book, pick your vendor of choice here, or just cave to the man and get it from Amazon here.

Originally published on Feedium.