By Sarah J. Maas
Available August 7 from Bloomsbury
Review copy courtesy of Lyndsey of Strangemore
You've probably already heard the story behind THRONE OF GLASS. The first draft was posted on FictionPress as QUEEN OF GLASS by S.J. Maas. I read that version, although it's been a long time now. It was taken off the net in December 2008, when I was eighteen, but I never reread it after the last chapter was posted in April 2007, shortly after I turned seventeen. I do remember loving QUEEN OF GLASS. But do I like it as much now that I'm not sixteen?
It's hard to compare the two. Sarah J. Maas revised quite a bit between the first draft and the published version. I remember there being less of a love triangle since QUEEN OF GLASS was a high fantasy retelling of Cinderella and Celaena Sardothien, the heroine, was clearly going to end up with Prince Dorian Havilland of Adarlan. All that's left of the Cinderella plotline are lots of fancy dresses. There was a tournament of assassins in the original, for those decrying THRONE OF GLASS as a HUNGER GAMES clone. But I suspect there is a difference in how I read Celaena.
Celaena seems very young. Her stated age is eighteen, and she went to the salt mines as a slave when she was seventeen - not like she learned any social graces there. But she is very, very bad at subtlety, a trait you would think went hand-in-hand with being the best assassin in the land. Celaena is arrogant and vain. The prince retrieves her from the salt mines to serve as his champion in a tourney to become the King's Champion. To compete, Celaena must hide her true identity and skills. It is almost beyond her not to be recognized as the greatest assassin ever, despite the fact assassins aren't known for their braggadacio. I did love that Celaena is a girly-girl. She's tough but still loves frilly dresses, which isn't a type represented in books much.
The aforementioned Dorian is a bit of a playboy, but he longs to escape his father's control. Somehow, Celaena winning the tournament will allow him to do so. Chaol Westfall, the Captain of the Guard, is in charge of keeping her under control and in the palace. As he helps her train and regain her strength, respect and romance blossom. Also key is Nehemia Ytger, Princess of Eyllwe, a country conquered by Adarlan. She's rumored to be part of her country's resistance and quickly becomes friends with Celaena when she's sent to the palace. She might be an ally or an enemy, but she's definitely a forceful, clever woman. (Celaena could take some lessons in deception from her.)
As far as the plot goes, there is a lot to take in. In addition to the tournament, the champions are being gruesomely murdered. In addition to the mystery plot, Celaena is discovering some of the magic thought to be banished from Adarlan. And of course there are hints that all of the characters are pawns in a bigger plot involving the fate of their countries. All the action kept me reading; I finished THRONE OF GLASS in a single evening.
I've heard mixed things about THRONE OF GLASS, which truly worried me since I was a fan of the original. (My taste at sixteen was more questionable than it is now.) But I thought Maas's debut was a good read. I'm eager to find out what happens next for Celaena, Nehemia, Dorian, and Chaol. And okay, okay, since I love fairytales I'm a little disappointed the Cinderella aspect is gone.