If you’ve been to a bookstore in the last couple years, you’ve definitely seen Sarah J. Maas‘s breakout series, Throne of Glass. It’s everywhere, has thousands of reviews, and is one of the most talked about YA series in a long time. And for good reason. If you’re a regular to my website, you know how much I raved Maas in my review of A Court of Thorns and Roses. Throne of Glass is just as spectacular, for many of the same reasons (stellar lead protagonist, beautifully built world, mystery and intrigue, and one killer ending), but also for different ones. I can’t recall the last time I read about a character like Celaena, and Maas begins an epic story that takes you to a fantasy world unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s impossible not to be addicted to these books, and trust me that once you finish this one, you’ll be scrambling for the next!
Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.
In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, Celaena, an assassin, is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion.
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass—and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.
I’d already read the prequel novellas in The Assassin’s Blade, so I was familiar with certain characters and the world. But The Assassin’s Blade is just a taste of the world, history, and characters Maas introduces in Throne of Glass with a story that may seem familiar to many YA fans, especially if you’ve read The Hunger Games. But she takes her own twist on it, bringing in a rich, detailed fantasy world with distinct territories and practices. I loved how the competition wove into the mysteries going on behind the scenes, and how everything led to an explosive climax that literally had me on the edge of my seat.
As excellent as the story is, it’s the characters who stand out the most: Celaena, Chaol, and Dorian. Each one is memorable and unique, and while there is a slight romantic triangle between them (this is a YA book, remember), it never felt contrived. They become close and each carry their own burdens and stories, many of which are unfolding wildly as I continue with the series. Dorian is a fantastic prince who carries a mysterious power with him. Chaol is a brutally loyal soldier who finds himself enraptured by a stunning assassin. And Celaena… Wow. There is no one in YA fiction like her. She is one of a kind. Beautiful, strong, a little snarky, loyal, and lethal in combat, but with secrets and scars of her own. She’s a mystery I’m continuing to learn about as I read through the other books, and I can honestly say that as a reader, I’m totally in love with her. She’s a character who captures your attention, and who you want to cheer for when she faces her various physical and emotional trials.
Like A Court of Thorns and Roses, Throne of Glass doesn’t need my help in the review department. It has earned its spotlight, and without spoiling too much, I can promise you that the series has only been getting better. Maas is a master storyteller and I couldn’t be more excited to experience Celaena’s journey. This book is not overrated. It’s not a mashup of common YA tropes. It’s distinctive and breathtaking in its own right, and like it’s main character, has fought and earned its way to the top spot of all those bestseller lists. It’s set a new standard for YA fiction, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.