This Ain’t No Run of the Mill Fantasy Series
If you are tired of sappy and romantic fantasy novels where the damsel in distress is saved from peril and everyone lives happily ever after, then have I got a series for you!! Sarah J. Mass’s Throne of Glass series is full of betrayals, gruesome deaths, ghastly secrets, assassins, grandiose plots, fascinating characters, an original world and everything in between. If you’re a fan of the Game of Throne or Hunger Games series, you will quickly fall under the spell of the world of Erilea and its inhabitants.
A Conquered World
The setting of the Throne of Glass series is the land of Erilea. Once a country full of magic, home to both humans and the mysterious race known simply as the Fae, Erllea is divided into various kingdoms, and its history has taken a turn for the worse. All forms of magic as well as the entire Fae race suddenly disappear, and ten years later, the majority of the country’s territories have been ruthlessly taken over by the King of Adarlan. The King is your textbook monarch; he is ruthless and crushes any form of resistance with sheer numbers, yet he is also clever enough to know when and how to manipulate situations to his advantage. This is a ruler who sends criminals, prisoners of war and traitors to terrible slave camps or salt mines known as Endovier which is actually where the first book begins.
Tournament to the death and a chance at freedom
Enter Celaena Sardothien, our protagonist, who is–at the beginning of Throne of Glass–slaving away in Endovier. Quid pro quo for most heroes/heroines in fantasy novels, Celaena is not your every day gal. She has survived in the Endovier salt mines for an entire year when most people die in about two or three months, and she is infamous for being Adarlan’s best assassin; to top it all off she is eighteen years old. After a year of slaving away and living in horrendous living conditions, Celaena is offered a chance at freedom, her one true desire. She has been selected to be one of twenty four competitors in a tournament with the winner earning the title of the King’s Champion, but the catch is that Celaena can only secure her freedom if she wins; if she loses, she returns to Endovier. Each of the other twenty three competitors are warriors, assassins and thieves, so Celaena has her work cut out for her. If that wasn’t enough, some sort of supernatural “evil” begins killing the competitors one by one! Safe to say, this book has action, mystery, murder as well as-naturally-a pinch of romance. More on that in good time.
Did someone say bad ass characters?
The cast of The Throne of Glass is quite vast and very colorful, but four specific characters stand out. Celaena is a witty, sarcastic, tough as nails assassin, and her past is shrouded in mystery. Celaena is a bit hot-headed and sharp-tongued, but she also has the skills to walk the walk. However Celaena isn’t just a ruthless assassin; she does have a softer side including a fiery passion for literature of all kinds. Celaena is a rather complex character, with loads of unknown back-story that is slowly comes to light and a desire to win the tournament no matter the challenge or opponent.
During the competition, Celaena comes into contact with three individuals. First is her backer, Prince Dorian, who is the suave and dashing young prince every girl dreams of, but there is more to Dorian than meets the eye. Dorian has a knack for strategy, which comes in handy navigating the conniving and backstabbing aristocrats. Second is Chaol (pronounced Cale), Captain of the Royal Guard, bodyguard to Dorian, and trainer for Celaena. Chaol’s strongest trait is his unswerving loyalty to the King and to Dorian; he appears very silent and stoic at first, but over time learns to understand Celaena and begins to see her as more than just “Adarlan’s Greatest Assassin”. Finally there is Nehemia, the princes of the Eyllwe territory. Like Celaena, Nehemia possesses the skills to take down anyone who dares to bad mouth her. Her reason for coming to the tournament is unknown, but she is a friend of Celaena to be sure. Despite having rather unusual names, these characters are unique, and each have their own vulnerabilities and secrets.
What Makes this Series Different?
The series incorporates the basic elements of a fantasy series: mythical creatures, forms of magic, and battles to be fought. However, the Throne of Glass series veers from most fantasy series cliches. For example: yes, there is a love triangle in this novel amongst Celeana, Dorian and Chaol, but throughout the entire novel, but the romance takes a back seat to the main issue: the tournament and the mysterious and brutal murders of some of the competitors. Celeana isn’t really bowled over by either Dorian or Chaol; yes she is interested in them both for different reasons, but she doesn’t fall head over heels with either of them and focuses on surviving and winning the tournament. What is interesting is how Sarah Mass came up with the idea of the series. In an interview, both online and featured in the paperback version of Throne of Glass, Mass states:
“One night I found myself listening to the Cinderella score. The music that accompanies Cinderella fleeing the ball is pretty dark and intense, and I wound up thinking that the music would be better suited if Cinderella had done something truly bad…like steal from the prince. Or worse: What if she was an assassin who had just tried to kill the prince…Thus, Celaena Sardothien and Throne of Glass was born”
The fact that a deadly, complex and all around epic assassin like Celaena was inspired by one of the beloved Disney classics just blew my mind. With four prequel novellas, two novels published (Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight), and a third coming out in September, just remember: if you enjoy main characters that kick ass and leave an impression and plots and assassinations most foul, look no further than the Throne of Glass.