Celaena is an assassin. That's right -- she's already kick-ass when the book begins, and this is more of a story of her trying to prove that she's a compassionate human, even though she's a trained killer.
Prince Dorian and his captain of the guard, Chaol, have come to get Celaena out of prison so that she can compete for the king's title of champion. If she wins, she will be the king's assassin for four year, then she will be free. If she loses, she will be returned to the salt mines of prison.
Celaena has been through hell. She's been beaten and has the scars to prove it. She's survived harsh winters in prison with little food and no medical attention. She shouldn't be alive. Of course she agrees to enter the competition and earn her freedom. She returns to the castle with the prince and is treated well. She begins to get back into shape with Chaol before the competition begins.
As the various competitors begin to train and take their various tests, some of them are being murdered in a most gruesome manner. Their insides are ripped out and it appears some wild beast has killed them and eaten their organs. Wyrdmarks are also present, written next to the bodies. These are ancient symbols that Celaena notices are also on the king's tower. No one seems to know what they mean, but Celaena is determined to find out before she is the next victim.
The characters are delightful. There's much court intrigue -- the prince needs to find a wife, the king is a brutal conqueror, there's a visiting princess that Celaena becomes friends with. Celaena finds secret passages and enjoys a vast library. All of these characters and situations make this a full, rich story to be savored.
Of course there's romance too. Prince Dorian enjoys Celaena's company, and can't seem to leave her alone, even though their relationship is totally inappropriate. Chaol appears to hate Celaena and cannot trust her, however, she's so confusing. She funny and loves to read and play the piano. She's a mystery to Chaol, and he can't seem to stay away either. The repartee between Celaena and her suitors is one of the best aspects of Throne of Glass.
A paranormal element exists too, in that Celaena sees the ghost of an ancient queen, who seems to want to help her solve the castle's mysteries. Some other magic is present, but I don't want to say too much. This is probably my least favorite part of the book -- I could have done without the visions and magical elements, but they end up an important part of Throne of Glass.
There's never a dull moment. We fall in love with Celaena, and want so badly for her to be champion and be happy...but that might not be possible -- I'm not going to tell you. The pace moves quickly, with something always happening -- a competition, a murder, a piece of the puzzle figured out, or a step ahead in the romance department. The evil in Throne of Glass is really evil, enough to truly frighten me at times. Maas never confuses the reader, but keeps us guessing and frantically turning pages.
Fans of kick-ass girl heroes and court intrigue with a hint of magic will enjoy Throne of Glass. I would compare it to Grave Mercy, which I loved, so I'll be recommending these widely to many of my teen readers.
Some information from Sarah J. Mass' website:
Before the release of THRONE OF GLASS, Bloomsbury will be publishing four e-novellas, all set before the events of the novel. The first three novellas, THE ASSASSIN AND THE PIRATE LORD, THE ASSASSIN AND THE DESERT, and THE ASSASSIN AND THE UNDERWORLD are available wherever Bloomsbury e-books are sold! The fourth (and final) novella, THE ASSASSIN AND THE EMPIRE, will release on July 20th!
I've heard these novellas are great too, so I'm putting them on my list!
Published by Bloomsbury, August 7, 2012
eARC obtained from NetGalley (warning: this is one of the worst formatted eARCs I've ever read.)
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