Continuing on our countdown to ACOWAR (A Court of Wings and Ruin), we are now at 7 Mondays til we have a new SJM book! Last week we looked at The Assassin’s Blade, which is a set of novellas that precede the Throne of Glass series.
If you haven’t read Throne of Glass yet, please note this review/musings/rambling will have spoilers. So turn away now if you don’t wish to see as it is not really a typical review.
“Nothing is a coincidence. Everything has a purpose. You were meant to come to this castle, just as you were meant to be an assassin.”
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 prison.
Her name is Celaena Sardothien.
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her.
And a princess from a foreign land will become the one thing Celaena never thought she’d have again: a friend.
But something evil dwells in 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 the evil before it destroys her world.
So the quick summary is:
Celaena is taken out of prison to be a contestant in a set of games devised by the King. The winner will be required to spend a few years as his champion (aka hired assassin) and then have their freedom restored to them. Celaena is the only female competitor, and has to disguise herself with the name Lady Lillian because she is notorious for her past deeds. (See all detail in the Assassin’s Blade and her title as Adarlan’s Assassin to understand said notoriety.)
Celaena is trained and watched over night and day by Chaol Westfall, captain of the guard, and the many other guards of the castle.
She wants to go to parties and fancy dinners and no one will let her. Eventually she goes to one.
Celaena defeats all the other competitors in dramatic fashion, and over the course of the book, she discovers the use of and power of Wyrdmarks. It’s this whole ancient magic thing. She has several visits with a dead fae queen. (Okay, it’s like THEE dead fae queen. Elena.) There are some monsters. Dark corners. Starry nights. And lots of murders. (Not by her hand.)
The couple of this book? See above… Celaena and Dorian. Celaena is still getting over Sam, and the pain of his loss is stinging her something horrible in this book. It’s only been about a year and a half since the tales of the novellas where she was supposed to run away and live happily ever after with Sam. And then through everything that happened there, end up in Endovier.
Dorian can see the pain in her, and see’s her as someone of strength and beauty who is deeply emotional and yet blocked. She has trouble letting people in, understandably so. Their romance is fairly light and, to me, helps rebuild some of Celaena’s trust in others. Ultimately their romance ends because Celaena doesn’t see it working while she is the King’s Champion, which hurts Dorian, but they remain friends. There is also a slight love triangle thing going on as Dorian and Chaol both have feelings for Celaena.
The best moments of the book for me?
- All the challenges in the contest.
- The candy scene. I laugh every single time. Literally, outloud. Not just internally.
- The books and letters sent between Celaena and Dorian.
- The day that Celaena refuses to train due to female issues. And embarasses Chaol in the explanation of said issues.
- The real moments of training where she is feeling ill or stronger and ultimately more like herself.
- Celaena’s friendship with Nehemia.
- How Nehemia looks like one of the bad guys for awhile.
- The final battle in the competition with the world split and the dead Fae Queen and all of that. It was one of those nights where I couldn’t stop reading and HAD to know what happened. Thrilling and horrifying. And if you didn’t hate and pity Kaltain at the end, I don’t know that we read the same book.
This first book is not my favorite of the series, honestly, as it basically all takes place in the Glass Castle of Adarlan. It feels confining. Especially compared to the world we get to see in the rest of the books. But, it is a fun and super fast read. I appreciated it more once I had read the full series. I understand that there are some critical opinions about Celaena in this first book… she’s a bit polarizing. But I loved her.
Side note: I’ve also listened to the audiobook, and I’m NOT a fan. It doesn’t read at all like I thought it should. The narrator makes Dorian and Chaol sound like jerks. Way too harsh in tone. Some of Dorian’s lines are so lyrical, breezy and playful, but she turned them into snide/snappy/ugh. I guess maybe that’s how they should be (?) but I didn’t read their voices that way at all. This is one of my huge criticisms with audiobooks as it takes that factor out of building the world in your mind.
Some of my favorite quotes from Throne of Glass:
“Didn’t I give you three pounds of candy?”
She smiled impishly.
“You ate half the bag!”
“Was I supposed to save it?”
“I would have liked some!”
“You never told me that.”
“Because I didn’t expect you to consume all of it before breakfast!”
She snatched the bag from him and put it on the table. “Well, that just shows poor judgement on your part, doesn’t it?”
“You could rattle the stars,” she whispered. “You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you most.”
“We all bear scars,… Mine just happen to be more visible than most.”
“Still, the image haunted his dreams throughout the night: a lovely girl gazing at the stars, and the stars who gazed back.”
“I like music,” she said slowly, “because when I hear it, I . . . I lose myself within myself, if that makes any sense. I become empty and full all at once, and I can feel the whole earth roiling around me. When I play. I’m not . . . for once, I’m not destroying, I’m creating.”
Anyway… I can’t wait to get into the next book. Crown of Midnight was full of surprises. And then comes Heir of Fire which is probably my favorite book of the whole series, followed by Empire of Storms.
What book are you looking forward to re-reading some day? (ToG or not.)