Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Will Not Be Afraid • Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass book cover
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Source: BEA 2012 || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the contents of my review.]

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. 

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.


[This was the book chosen for the August edition of the BEA Book Club that I'm a part of. Check out reviews from my friends Pixie, Amanda & Shanella! There's also going to be a post featuring our discussion coming up soon.]

Though I read many types of books, one of my favorite genres has always been fantasy. I feel so fortunate that a splendid example of fantasy done right fell into my hands at BEA - THRONE OF GLASS is certainly a magnificent novel, and definitely one of my newest favorite fantasy books.

Initially, I had difficulties adjusting to the writing style and the names used for characters. I think this primarily had to do with the fact that I was reading mostly contemporary right before this, so to get thrust into an entirely different world was a complete shock. Once I started getting used to it though (which was about two or three chapters in), everything just clicked into place and... well, I fell in love.

THRONE OF GLASS is a superbly written fantasy debut. Honestly, I don't know where to even begin when trying to talk about how much I love this book and how it is now a favorite for me. There are so many things that bring it all together, and I think SARAH J. MAAS did a brilliant job.

I've always been a fan of character-driven books; this one is certainly no exception. Though Celaena Sardothien's name is certainly a mouthful, I think it suits her character. She's a complex, complicated bundle of emotions and memories and talents - and it shows throughout the book. The reader is allowed glimpses of her personality through various situations that she has to endure, and I personally felt like I was closer to her for it. The one thing I admire most about Celaena is that she's strong-willed - and that is pretty much what gets her through everything that comes her way. And, as a bonus, she loves books - how cool is that in a heroine?

The story of the book kind of reminded me of something the along the lines of a Tamora Pierce book, which I would consider high praise indeed. A girl assassin is chosen to compete in a competition to be the King's Champion, during which she discovers there's evil in the castle and she has to be the one to get rid of it - yup, that's epic enough to be like a Pierce story. I think the biggest similarity, for me, is the fact that Celaena is up against all these men in the competition - which is something that Alanna, heroine of the Song of the Lioness quartet, had to do as well during her training to be a knight.

There are certainly a few things that I believe could use more elaboration. For instance, the competition; I personally would have adored seeing more "stages" and more demonstrations of Celaena's skills. Though we do get a few moments during the competition, I felt like there could be even more of those scenes thrown into the novel to make it even more exciting and well, even more of a challenge to Celaena.

And then, there's the magic. While it is certainly an important element of this story in particular, I felt like there was a lack of explanation about it and the history and the reason why it's banned. I am definitely hoping to get the details about this in the next book.

Still, SARAH J. MAAS has certainly created a kingdom and a lore all her own - the deep-rooted magic, the fine line between darkness and light, an evil king who scares even me a little and a castle made of glass. I loved these elements that she came up with to make her story unique, and I believe they were well-placed to help move the story further along. 

My favorite thing of all about THRONE OF GLASS is how SARAH J. MAAS managed to leave me and many other readers confused about which guy we're pulling for in this little love triangle. Take note writers, that is how you do a love triangle effectively - make it difficult for us to actually decide who we want her to end up with! 

I started out really liking Chaol Westfall, the captain of the guard, who's gruff, tough and always thinking of his duty - but who really hides a secretly empathetic heart underneath. But then Dorian Havilliard proved to me he's more than some shallow, good-looking, princely mouthpiece and I was convinced he was a perfectly wonderful person. For now, and I stress that part, I *think* I'm pulling for Team Chaol (although that could probably change in an instant).

Fantastic story, multi-dimensional characters, an intriguing lore, a love triangle well done - these elements have made THRONE OF GLASS such a success to me. I have fallen in love with this world that SARAH J. MAAS has created, and I can only keep wishing that next year and the next book come faster!

17 comments:

  1. Contemporary is always my go-to genre. But I've been reading more fantasies and thrillers, and this sounds pretty dang awesome. I'll have to keep in mind that the beginning may require a bit of a transition after having read some contemps. So glad you pointed that out, because if I'd otherwise gotten around to this, I may have discarded it right at the beginning!

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  2. Love your review. I agree with you on so much. Haha. It was also one of my favorites for the year. I'm glad that as a group, we were pretty diverse, but at the same time agreed on a lot of the major points discussed. :) You're thinking you're Team Chaol. I'm thinking I'm Team Dorian. Although Chaol and Calaena seem better suited. I liked Dorian as a character better. He just seemed more my "style". LOL. :P But really...I just loved the book and can't wait for the next! :)
    Great review!
    P.S. I haven't told you yet, but you have a gorgeous blog. I love purple. :D

    Pixie
    http://the-bookaholic.blogspot.com

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  3. I'm a "tad" weary of this one. Unlike you, fantasy and me don't always get along mostly bc I get overwhelmed with the complicated politics and names and kingdoms etc etc. Though I have enjoyed like Shadow and Bone and Smoke and Bone, so some are really great hits too so I like to give them a try. I love that it's character-driven since I'm a huge character oriented reader. I also love the premise which sounds so good with plenty of magic and badassery! :D Also, I've been wanting to read a Tamora Pierce book for so long! O_O Great review, Alexa!

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  4. Oh and you changed your blog design!! Right? I love it!!

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  5. Oh, I love this book. So, so much! I officially ordered a copy from Books of Wonder. I can't wait to hold the final copy and do a re-read. There were a few things, the magic and the competition, that I didn't even think about wanting to know more about until you said in your review. For me, I want to know more about her history and background - her training and why she became an assassin. She has so many secrets.

    Loved chatting with you and Elena about this! We'll have to keep it up for the rest of the series! :)

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  6. Love the review! :)
    I agree with Pixie's comment, we all think so differently of the book, but we agree on the main points.

    I don't have a team, because I'm un-romantic. LOL, but, I do love Dorian as a character, he seems complex and I'd like to know why he's not like his father.

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  7. Ok, we were talking about kingdoms and castles on twitter the other day and you told me that I needed to read this one - I'm reading it super soon. I'm so excited to be doing the blog tour and I really need to get started reading it! This review kind of pumps me up for it even though I sort of skimmed it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE fantasy - it's just my absolute favorite.

    "Fantastic story, multi-dimensional characters, an intriguing lore, a love triangle well done..." --> I'm thrilled about this one! It sounds PERFECT for me. Perfect.

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  8. I think that the names in fantasy novel sometimes make people afraid to read them, but you are right, they really fit the characters in this case. I thought this was a very strong debut and I love it!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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  9. Love the review! I felt the same way. It's definitely one of the best fantasy books I've read. I just loved Celaena and her personality - from her love of books to her snarkiness. Such a great character. Then as a far as the boys go.. I have to admit, I was loving Dorian from the start. But then I started to like Chaol too as the book went on. I can't wait for the next one!

    Rachel @ hello, chelly

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  10. Yay! As you know, I feel the same way about this book and can't wait for the next! It's so hard to choose a boy for sure in this love triangle, ahh.

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  11. I am seeing so many reviews for this book and I really enjoyed yours! It's great that you got to return to reading fantasy with one you really enjoyed :)

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  12. Great review, Alexa! Even if we vastly disagreed on this one. Like I said on Twitter, I think we saw some of the same weaknesses and strengths, but alas, the weaknesses bugged me a lot more than the strengths were able to save. I DID enjoy it enough to read the whole thing, which does say something.

    I actually NEVER liked Dorian even a little, which was part of my problem. He seemed like such a shallow playboy, and I didn't feel like we really got to see him turning around and developing genuine emotions for Celaena, so I just couldn't take him seriously. Clearly (even though I probably won't read the rest of this series) I'm shipping for her to end up with Chaol. Also, I read two of the prequels and REALLY liked Sam, so I was pretty sad to see in this one he was gone. =(

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  13. Fabulous review! I loved loved LOVED this book oh so much it makes me excited just thinking about it! I agree that I would've liked to see more of the competition and get some better explanation of the magic, but at the same time I felt completely satisfied not getting to see the competition and sort of in the dark about the magic... I think the magic part adds some mystery to be discovered later on! Also, can I take a moment to talk about the love triangle? THIS is an epic love triangle. They're both perfectly written characters, each suited for Celaena and with their own super characteristics. I've never been more confused over who I want the main character to pick!

    Cannot wait for this one to come out!

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  14. It sounds like an EPIC win. Can't wait to get a hold of. I'm jonesing for a good fantasy after Bitterblue. Sounds like the author gave us an awesome Love Trisngle. I totally agree with you. If it's obvious, it's not a love triangle. Love it when the women challenge the men in these fantasy novels and aren't relegated to "women's work".

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  15. Gah, yes, I'm in total agreement! I think I'll be giving this a re-read as soon as I get a shiny finished copy in my hands. I'm eager for book two - I wonder if we WILL be swayed with that love triangle again, haha. Still...CHAOL!

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  16. I'm so, SO glad you loved it!! I just know that this series will be among my all time favourites :) Celaena is such an amazing character and I'm with you on not really being able to decide between the boys, I love Dorian and Chaol both so much... *sigh*
    Oh, and the evil king scares me too ;)

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  17. I CANNOT WAIT to read this book. I've been dying to read it for ages! I, too, was lucky enough to get an ARC at BEA, and this one is coming up soon for me! The novellas that I read that are meant to be prequels to this book were all good, too, so I've got high hopes. And it sounds like it's pretty legit! YAY!

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