Published by Bloomsbury
Published on August 2nd 2012
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Love & Romance, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Young Adult
In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, 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. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.
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.
Both Kelly and I are not very big on fantasy. We tend to shy away from the genre, but we both happened to have trie the Throne of Glass series by Sarah Maas. We thought it would be interesting to do a joint review of the first three books in the series, to introduce a new perspective on a fantasy series from readers who generally don’t like fantasy at all.
I was rather shocked, Kelly. I am not a big fantasy reader, and I was not expecting to me blown away by it. I ended up loving Throne of Glass- the setting, the characters, all of it. What do you think really set this series apart from other fantasy reads that maybe didn’t get our attention?
I think it begins as a mild fantasy, but has the underlying feel of what we tend to find more so in dystopian. Rule of oppression, strong heroine, but slowly introduces the fantasy aspects once the reader is hooked. Brilliant really, as it appeals to a much wider audience and introduces fantasy to those who tend to shy away from the genre. I actually read Throne of Glass a year or so prior, and it was my first typical fantasy young adult that I’d read. At that time, I really didn’t like it. I was heavily into apocalyptic and dystopian and decided that fantasy wasn’t for me. But it was after I’d read Red Queen when I started to enjoy fantasy and went back and reread Throne of Glass, the second time around I absolutely loved it. It’s strange how our tastes change. I think the first thing we have to address is the love triangle. Usually they don’t work for me, but before I knew it, I found myself on team Chaol. Did you see any usual young adult tropes in there that worked for you too? And come on, which team are you rooting for?
I think you’re absolutely right about the fact that this book seems to be genre-defying in many ways. I think this book appealed to us because the fantasy aspect wasn’t as confusing and in-our-face as it always seems to be. It did play out very much like a dystopia (oppression, survival-based competition, suspense), in a slightly fantastical setting. I usually don’t like love triangles either, but I found this one to be effective. Initially I was torn; I didn’t really know whose team I was on. Halfway through the first book, I realized I was on team Chaol. Individually, what did you think about these characters? Why did you end up on the team that you did?
Chaol all the way! I think because Dorian reminded me of a combination of so many young adult hero type characters that we’re flooded with nowadays. The perfect, attractive, wealthy one that is created specifically for readers to swoon over. I liked him well enough, but nothing beats tall, dark and brooding. I think it’s more the mystery behind his character that drew me in. The main reason I fell in love with the series is Celaena. She’s the ultimate kick ass heroine. Sassy, smart mouthed and all business. She knows how to play the part and isn’t afraid of getting her hands dirty. But her character development is supurb. Among the best I’ve seen. She develops a much wider emotional range and even finds herself falling in love for only the second time. I loved how Sarah J Maas eased readers into the fantasy elements though, which was welcomed for me not being a fantasy reader, and I’m sure yourself as well. I’ve since read a few other fantasy young adult, but I can’t help but compare it to this series. What do you think the difference is?
I think it’s exactly what you mentioned- Maas, by making the fantasy elements more subdued and less in your face, was able to make the series appeal to all types of readers, even non-fantasy fans. The first book in the series was purely a story of survival and love, which I think suits every reader. I did feel like the fantasy elements got heavier as the series went on; especially in the third book, the magic and the fantasy became very important. I think that’s why it took me a really long time to read it. What did you feel about the second and third books?
I felt exactly the same, which is probably a good indication of how most typical non fantasy readers probably felt too. Even though I love the series so far, I would have been more than happy to stay within the same type of storyline as book one. From the series so far, what did and didn’t work you? I loved Celaena, without a doubt. Any lesser character would have had me switching off. She’s so much stronger than a Katniss, who was really a reluctant hero. She jumps in with both feet and even develops a conscious, considering most of her life, she’s been a trained assassin. I can’t think of anything that didn’t really work for me actually, perhaps just some of the fantasy elements in book one especially and the fight to the death to find the King’s Champion was a little too Hunger Games.
Yeah, a lot of things worked for me in this series. I loved Celaena too, which was strange- I don’t usually like character types like her. She’s arrogant, cocky, and well aware of her own beauty. I usually prefer the humble, shy type, but Celaena somehow appealed to me. There was just an inexplicable quality to her that really made me root for her during the series. I also didn’t mind the love triangle- I thought it was really well-executed, and the author did a really good job of making it hard for me to decide, since both guys are very charming and have their own qualities. I loved the plotline in book one: I actually enjoyed the Hunger Games-esque quality to it- it gave the book a lot of action and suspense. What didn’t work for me? The third book was probably the weakest to me; the fantasy was a lot heavier, and magic became a very important part of the book. It was also really long, and introduced a lot of characters that I had trouble warming up to. It took me a couple of weeks to get through it. Did the heavier magic affect your enjoyment of the book in any way?
It really did. I would have been happy if the series continued on without it. I think the intensity of the romance and Celaena’s own storyline was enough to keep readers interested. It took me forever to get through as well, I put that down to the high fantasy elements and not being my usual read. I liked the introduction of Manon in book three, but found her storyline quite boring. Same with Dorians too. His especially felt forced and like a consolation prize. Have you read the Assassin’s Blade novella series as yet, or do you plan to?
100% agreed about your thoughts regarding the third book. No, I don’t think I’m going to read the novella series, even though I heard it’s good. I have never read a novella, I don’t think. It’s hard for me to pay attention when it’s not about the main story and the main characters I’ve come to love. I should really try a novella, but I can never convince myself. What are you hoping for the fourth novel, Kelly? I hope they bring back the elements of the story that made it so good initially (more subdued fantasy, Celaena’s relationship with Dorian and Chaol).
I’m not generally a big fan of novellas either, but seeing they’ve now been released in one title, I will before book four is released. I’d love to see it go back to the same format too. Book one and two were incredible, a touch of fantasy, but nothing to overwhelm the storyline and allowed for much more character development. It’s certainly going to be one of the biggest releases this year. Fans will go rabid leading up to it’s release. I have my fingers crossed that it won’t disappoint.
Yes, it is definitely going to be a hyped-up release. I’m cautiously optimistic about the book- I’m ok with little bits and pieces of the fae world, but I loved the castle drama and the political tussles way more. Hopefully the next book can strike a balance that appeals to readers who are not drawn in by the fae world as well. This series has so much potential, and I pray that Queen of Shadows will live up to all fans’ expectations.
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