During the past couple of months a fellow bookclub enthusiast and I have been hosting a readalong of the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas. We are by no means finished, because there are 7 books after all – 8 if you count the novellas. We started in February and have scheduled one book for each month, with the novellas spread out over the first couple of months.
So far we have concluded the novellas in The Assassin’s Blade and the first 2 books in the series; Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight. In the following I will try to give my unbiassed opinion of the books – which will be difficult because I already love them, and am a massive Maas-addict.
I have read the books previously but it has been roughly seven years since I read the first book for the first time. Since then it has been somewhat a yearly gap between each book, and there were many other great books in between, that I never got around to a re-read. Until now.
From Debut Novel to the Glass Throne
Throne of Glass was Sarah J Maas’ debut novel and after reading pretty much everything she has written to the date (with the exception of Catwoman – is it any good?), this shows. Not necessarily in a bad way, but in a way that Maas has come a long way since she started her story of Celaena Sardothien, the Ardalan Assassin. But then again, upon reading it for the second time, knowing what I know of what is to come, it is still incredible to find and pick out all the small clues for things to come. Clearly Maas has the ability to foreshadow strongly in her arsenal.
The series is set in a fantasy world and there is a massive amount of world building going on. So much so, that the first books is sometimes followed by a pronunciation guide, which helps with some of the more nuanced names. The amount of world building is incredible and it just continues with each book, but not in the way where it seems like Maas is just adding things for her own pleasure.
Especially as I’m reading it for the second time, it clearly stands out, that this world has been well thought out and planned for a long time, before the story could take shape. There are so many clues and titbits that are given along the way, which one would miss entirely upon reading it the first time. But with a reread it makes so much more sense.
The Reader-Considered Pre-Quels
Many people consider the first two books as an extended prequel to the rest of the series, and I get why many would think this. I don’t know if I completely agree, but I can certainly grasp the perspective of this. Because in the first two books we hear the story of Celaena Sardothien and the painful life she’s led thus far. With the ending of the second book, there’s a major plot twist and the story takes on a completely new life.
Throne of Glass deals mostly with the competition to be the King’s Champion, a title we know Celaena will win, but there’s more to it. Because in the land of Ardalan, there is not magic, and there hasn’t been for nearly ten years, but suddenly a magical beast roams the halls of the castle and things become very mysterious.
Crown of Midnight deals with Celaena’s new position as the King’s Champion (duh) and the repercussions of all her actions. Suddenly there are spies everywhere and magic might not be as closed as it should be. Bonds are forged and bonds are broken. Trust and friendships are put to test after test and Celaena must face her past and the consequences thereof.
It is no secret that I love these books, and even more so upon reading them a second time. I love the world building and the enormous amount of thought that goes into every part of this story. I love the sass of these characters, especially Celaena. Her quick banters are the highlights of any part of the series. The first few books may be categorized as young adult, but as the series continues I would remove that label. Because the books grow darker and more sinister creatures appear. There’s definitely blood and gore and enough killings to go around. If it’s still considered to be YA, then it is not for the faint of heart. I would also say that the personal relationships develop in a more mature and adult way, that some people would say are inappropriate for some young people to read. If you have read any of Maas’ latest books, you will know that she is not one to shy away from writing smut into her books. This does not overflow in the ToG series, but it is present to a certain degree, so much so that the fifth book even got a warning for younger readers about adult content.
But that’s not why you should read these books. You should read these book because they are a great testament to a fantasy world that has been thought out explicitly, and a story that has been planned to the smallest of details. It’s a multicharacter story with so many layers, that it is impossible not to find at least one character you will grow to like, even if you’re not the biggest fan of Celaena.
I cannot recommend this series enough.