I recently read (and loved) A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J.Maas so much that I decided to go ahead and try some of her backlog, and so started on the Throne of Glass series, which everyone told me was super-awesome.
Another incentive to just get started on this series already was when I received the fourth book – Queen of Shadows for review from Bloomsbury Publishing. After all, how can I review the fourth book when I haven’t read the first three right?
So, I immediately downloaded the Kindle versions and got started.
And you know what, all those awesome reviews on the web? They were all right. I just haven’t been able to put down these books. They are just so addictive.
Throne of Glass
The first book starts with a bang. A famous assassin who is in prison – Celaena Sardothien is asked by the Crown Prince Dorian to be his champion in a series of duels. If she wins, she gets to be the King’s assassin, and can win freedom after 4 years.
Soon, she is in the palace and sharpening her skills with Captain Chaol Westfall, and a nice little love triangle is developing between Chaol, Dorian, and her.
A lot of the book is devoted to this triangle, a bit too much for my taste, I admit. But it didn’t all feel like a tired cliché, and it helps that the main storyline about who will win the competition keeps chugging right along.
And then some strange creatures seem to be killing off the participants one by one in the most brutal. Will Celaena find out who it is, and will she be able to win the competition in spite of the odds against her?
I liked this book overall. Liked it enough to immediately start off the next book in the series. But not yet utterly convinced about the series as such. While the themes are strong, it’s handled in a very Cinderella-ish kind of way, and I wasn’t sure I could actually take an entire series in this style. Celaena – the main character is terribly off veering from a psychologically damaged killer to a flirty, frivolous teenager in minutes. It just doesn’t work well at all.
But then Crown of Midnight hit, and boy oh boy, it was like Maas understood where she had stumbled in the first book and corrected all these issues. This sequel just hit the sweet spot.
Crown of Midnight
I think you can make out just by the difference between the two covers that the cheesy assassin from Throne of Glass is gone to become some more harder, badass, and more like my image of what an assassin would be like.
The second book starts right where the first leaves off. Celaena is the King’s assassin following all his commands, however, she is also working against the king on the sly. She has made a firm decision on her love life as well, and things are going well, or as well as life can go on when an assassin is secretly plotting against the king.
However, a tragedy occurs in the middle of the book, shattering Celaena’s well-ordered life, and pushing her to take risks that she’d rather not take.
This is also the book where we get to find out a lot more about Celaena’s past and who she is.
Things get really serious in this book, and the book takes the series away from the standard YA mode to epic high-fantasy. There is tons of intrigue, romance, and bloodshed.
There is also a lot of confusion. The book is fast-paced, extremely so, and many times I found myself a little lost. It is probably because I was reading so fast, but I missed connecting the dots through much of the book. Not the fault of the book, but just saying that you might want to slow down the reading pace and actually focus on the small stuff even if you are tempted to speed-read.
Heir of Fire
After the action of the earlier book, the calm start to this one is a breath of fresh air.
Celaena is in a new place dispatched by the king to assassinate the King and Crown Prince of Wendlyn. However, seeing how well-loved they are she loses all motivation to complete her assignment, and spends all her time lounging on roof-tops guzzling wine.
This slow start is pretty deceptive, because the action ratchets up quickly and how, when three new characters Rowan, Manon, and Aedion are introduced into the story. Rowan and Aedion fit nicely into the main story integrating well into the overall plot, but as of now, the chapters from Manon’s point of view just seem like an overlong introduction to her. I found myself speed-reading through those parts of the story, and am just not very interested in what happens to this character. She does seem like someone who is going to be awfully important in the books to come (based on the amount of time invested in her), so hopefully Maas will change my mind about her in books to come.
The rest of the book though is awesome. It really lives up to the promise of an epic story and builds on the intriguing plot points from Crown of Midnight quite nicely.
If I have a gripe with the book, it’s just that the original main leads introduced at the start of the series just seem to fall by the wayside here.
Dorian‘s raw magic doesn’t exactly set the book on fire (except perhaps at the end), and Chaol‘s story just seems all over the place. I can see where Maas is going with their stories, and in the long-run, it seems like the best direction for the series, but in this book, they don’t have an awful lot to do until the very fag-end of the book when things start to heat up.
I do so hope though that these lovable characters don’t get relegated to the background with the introduction of all these new characters who I like but don’t yet love.
Another gripe is the battle scenes, the battle between the Faes and the Valgs was good, but when you have been spoiled by all the fantastic battle scenes in A Song of Ice and Fire as I have, it’s hard not to feel a little letdown by the lack of battle detail.
But those are my only gripes. I am neck-deep now in Queen of Shadows, and just racing along with its breakneck plot, and am already depressed as I know there are two more books to go to end the series, and that I have to wait a very long time to get to the next book.
Oh well! That’s the problem with highly addictive fantasy series. When the books are this good, I don’t mind waiting a little.
Have you read this series? What were your thoughts? Though not perfect, I found it highly addictive and very exciting.