Book Review: Throne of Glass & Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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When magic has gone from the world, and a vicious king rules from his throne of glass, an assassin comes to the castle. She does not come to kill, but to win her freedom. If she can defeat twenty-three killers, thieves and warriors in a competition to find the greatest assassin in the land, she will become the King’s Champion and be released from her prison.

Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard with protect her. And a princess from a foreign land will become to one thing Celaena never thought she’d have again: a friend.

But something evil dwells within the castle – and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying, horribly, one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival – and a desperate quest to root out the source of evil before it destroys her world.

***

These books have a bit of everything: action, fantasy, mystery, romance, all accompanied by a reasonable amount of blood and gore. But then, what do you expect when the main character is an assassin?

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Throne of Glass tells the story of Celaena’s fight for freedom, as it introduces us to our arrogant, sassy, strong, yet nonetheless flawed main character. Celaena travels to Rifthold to fight for her freedom, only to find herself caught up in the lives of those around her. Yes, there is a love triangle, but no, it does not become the focal point of the novel. Not at all. Instead, mystery enfolds Celaena shortly after she arrives. Just who is killing all of the competitors? What exactly does Elena want from her? And who can Celaena really trust? All this set against a brilliant fantasy backdrop!

Crown of Midnight continues Celaena’s story where the first book leaves off. Celaena is still in Rifthold and she treads a fine line between life and death, danger always surrounding her. It is in this book that we truly learn more about Celaena and her hidden past. It is in Crown of Midnight where we really witness the danger this deadly assassin poses to the country, and to those around her.

It took me some time to properly get into Throne of Glass – I liked the characters, but something about the story didn’t really grab me until I was half way through… After that, I tore through the novels. And I can honestly say that I really liked them!

Throne of Glass Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Crown of Midnight Rating: 4 out of 5

Celaena was awesome, and I liked her from the very beginning. She is a very strong character, though she definitely has certain weaknesses, her arrogance possibly the worst of them. I liked that she has been through so much, yet none of it has truly broken her spirit. She is strong, determined, sassy, ruthless, compassionate, and loving, all rolled up into one sharp and dangerous bundle. (In fact, she strongly reminded me of Alanna the Lionness from Tamora Pierce’s books: deadly, determined, and yet, still girly underneath all that ferociousness…) And she is still so secretive. Even after two books, we still don’t know everything there is to know about Celaena, and I look forward to finding out more! Dangerous as that may be…

I really liked Chaol, but his utter devotion, honour and loyalty (all parts of what makes him a great character), really got on my nerves at times. I thought he was a really great, well developed character, but I just couldn’t quite understand how he could still be so loyal to the king, when everyone knows that the King of Adarlan is a ruthless monster. The end of Crown of Midnight sees Chaol truly conflicted, torn between his loyalty to the king and his feelings for Celaena – it will be interesting to find out which side he chooses in the later novels!

I enjoyed Dorian’s characterisation as well. He is by no means a typical prince. Yes, he’s quite the handsome womanizer, but I liked that Maas didn’t leave him there. He has a softer side, a jealous side, and a mysterious side as well. Just like Celaena and Chaol, it is in Crown of Midnight that he is really allowed to develop as a character, and I really enjoy where Maas is taking him.

Nehemia was also a pretty great character, and similar to Dorian, she is not your typical princess. I really enjoyed her passion, and her compassion, as well as her determination to see her country free again. Hopefully, she will continue to be a good influence on Celaena, and inspire our assassin to take a stand for what is right.

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German book cover illustration for Throne of Glass… I like it! (Much better than the US one!)

A lot of what I’ve read about these books implies that people will either love them or hate them. I really enjoyed both books, though I definitely preferred Crown of Midnight, which I read in one sitting. Partly because I could, but mostly because I was completely captivated, drawn into the world of Celaena, Chaol and Dorian. It may have taken some time, but Sarah J. Maas does know how to keep an audience enthralled.

These books won’t be for everyone. And don’t go into them thinking they are the ‘teenage girls’ version of Game of Thrones’, which they were apparently marketed as. But if you like a good fantasy setting, with a strong (thought flawed) main female character, then this might just be a book for you! Game of Thrones this is not, but it is still one hell of a ride!

On another note, I’ve seen people argue that the books don’t really make sense unless you’ve read the prequels, but I didn’t read them before starting Throne of Glass and found that I enjoyed the mystery of not knowing everything about Celaena and having her story unfold as those around her learnt more about this mysterious assassin.

I did feel a little bit cheated, in that I worked out most of the ‘surprises’ long before they were revealed. It came as no surprise to me who was behind the gruesome murders in Throne of Glass, and the big reveal at the end of Crown of Midnight I had worked out about a third of the way through the earlier novel. BUT… I still really enjoyed the journey. Some aspects of the novels may have been a bit see-through, and yes the main characters did all annoy me at one point or another, but the journey was fantastic! I can’t emphasise enough how rare it is for me to read a book in one sitting these days, but I did not want to put either of these books down. I am already eagerly awaiting the next novel, and I might just read the prequels while I’m waiting!

Sarah J. Maas plans on making Throne of Glass into a six or seven part series. Hopefully each of the following novels will be as intriguing and captivating as the first two! And now, the long wait for the rest of the series begins…

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Books for adults, Fantasy, Reading, YA Books

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