Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Publishes August 7th 2012
1st in series, no word on the release of the 2nd, though there are 4 novellas set before Throne of Glass
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.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
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.
Sarah J. Maas has written an intricate world with a layered plot and a strong and witty main character that I found myself rooting for.
Since I don't read a lot of fantasy it took a bit to get accustomed to the names, places and such, but once I did, it became more enjoyable. Though I admit, I skimmed over some of the backstory about the land because that is not what interests me. I also had a bit of a hard time with the third person just because I am not used to reading that style, it's been awhile. But all in all I think that it works for this book because we do get glimpses into the lives of other characters besides Celaena and that provides neat insights into the story and the other characters.
The characters are what kept my attention. The book begins with a master assassin Celaena being asked to participate in a contest of champions for the king, and I immediately liked her voice and thoughts. She is sarcastic, has something to say about everything, and toes the line but manages to have the good sense not to leap over it most of the time. I love her interactions with Chaol. In fact I pretty much enjoyed his character overall, the gruffness with the soft spot for her that he manages to hide most of the time. There's a love triangle going on because she also flirts with Dorian, the prince who chose her as his champion. I pulled for Chaol overall, but I don't really know where story is taking us.
I loved the friendship between Chelaena and Nehemia. Nehemia is mysterious, powerful and from a country who the king is currently attacking, so that leaves intrigue always wondering what her motives are. But it also forms a bond between the two, that is very well written.
I loved the challenges that Chelaena faces, and watching her train. It is quite an experience for me to read about a main character going through these things, because I am pretty weak myself, so it just makes me admire her. I do wish that some of the trials were detailed instead of just being told about them, but I suppose that would have been way too much, adding to an already long book. As it is, there is plenty of action and layers that keeps the story moving.
Bottom line: action packed, page-turning fantasy with a kick butt heroine that I fell for.
Could you kill for your freedom?