Throne of Glass

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Sarah J Maas
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pub Date: Aug. 2012 (first read May 2016)
Series: Throne of Glass Book #1

I am so into this series! I wondered if time might diminish my enjoyment, but Maas has totally sucked me right back into Erilea. I’m already 100 pages into Crown of Midnight and I can now confirm that these books make so much more sense having read The Assassin’s Blade first.

I can’t believe this first book was ever passed off as a Cinderella retelling. I didn’t know it was a loose Cinderella retelling when I first read it and upon the second reading I can say it had a ball that Celaena was forbidden to go to and went to anyways, and that’s about where the parallels end. But no matter because in my opinion this is classic YA fantasy. It’s an overdone trope, but I love that there’s a competition in the first book that poses as the main thread to the story, but is really only a introduction to the world building. It is obvious that there is something way more sinister at work in the castle than just the King’s Champion competition and I loved the mystery element of Celaena trying to uncover the truth.

Celaena bugged me a bit in my first read of Throne of Glass because she’s so obsessed with both her beauty and the beauty of others, but I’ve kind of accepted now that beauty is important to Celaena and that’s okay too, so I was able to let go of that hang up in my re-read. I struggled with how quickly she became interested in Dorian and Chaol though. After the traumatic ending of TAB, I thought she would be a little more hung up on Sam and I was sad to see that none of the drama from TAB was addressed in this book. (fortunately it seems it’s going to be addressed in Crown of Midnight though, so that’s good).

Celaena’s ego has always bothered me. We’re constantly told she’s the best at literally everything, yet it doesn’t really seem that way the number of times she’s gotten herself into scrapes. Now though, I kind of see how her ego is really her major character flaw. I appreciated the final showdown between her and Cain when she finally had to rely on other people – Elena, Nehemia, Chaol – to get her through the duel.

What I like most of Throne of Glass is that you can tell the story is just getting started and that there’s so much more to this world than what is presented in the first book. I love books with scope and depth and I think that’s one of the reasons why this series stands out among other YA fantasy series.

I also love the secondary characters. Nehemia, Dorian, and Chaol are all fantastic secondary characters and I love the depth that Maas brings to their characters. I was totally surprised by my second read through of this book though because I used to be a huge Chaol fan in the first few books and always kind of dismissed Dorian as a wealthy, spoiled, womanizer. But I loved Dorian in this re-read! He has been raised by a crazy, brutal, tyrant, yet he has so much empathy and kindness. He genuinely loves his kingdom and wants to work with other nations rather than rule them like his father.

It was a bit slow getting back into this book, but I totally flew through the second half and I know I am going to devour Crown of Midnight in a few days!

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August Summary

Okay, August was the best! Well, for books anyways. The wildfires in BC are totally out of control and the air quality was atrocious, so I didn’t do quite as much outdoor stuff, which is one of the reasons it was a great month for books! But also, my August monthly challenge just totally re-vitalized me and got me out of my reading slump!

I was getting a bit hung up with my monthly challenges and the pressure to read specific books, so in August I just set myself the challenge to read pretty much whatever I wanted by trying to read as many of my existing books as possible. I have a lot of un-read books, so it left me with lots of selection to choose from and I finally read some books that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while. Here’s my summary:

Books read: 11
Pages read: 4,208
Main genres: Young Adult
Favourite book: Nevermoor and Women Talking!

I started off the month with Leah on the Offbeat, Becky Albertalli’s newest book. I’ve heard really great things about this one and I’ve been meaning to get to it for a while, but unfortunately I didn’t love it. I’m really hit or miss with Albertalli’s books and I’m finding myself counter to popular opinion on her books. I liked but didn’t love Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda (but I LOVED the movie) and I really liked The Upside of Unrequited, which I would say is her least popular book. But I didn’t like this one either. Leah kind of rubbed with the wrong way and while I still loved all the diversity in this book, I found parts of it problematic.

After that, I decided to participate in the 25infive readathon, which challenges people to read for 25 hours over the span of 5 days. I didn’t quite finish the challenge (I read 23 hours over 4 days), but I read 4.5 books, so I was super pleased with myself. I started with Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend and Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. I totally flew through both books and I am not slightly obsessed with Nevermoor. Nevermoor is totally Middle Grade fantasy at it’s best and I confirm that the comparison’s to Harry Potter are valid and that everyone should read this book because it is just so much fun! I also loved Radio Silence, which is about the struggles of senior year and the pressure to go to University, and I will definitely be reading more of Alice Oseman.

I followed up those with Ten by Gretchen McNeil and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I pretty much hated Ten and found it problematic and kind of offensive, but I thought To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was really cute. I was only inspired to pick this one up because the new Netflix movie looked really cute (can now confirm – it is cute). Lara Jean seemed like the type of YA book that I gave up long ago, but I loved that this was more a story about sisters than it was about boys and I thought it was really cute. I also read the sequel this month though, P.S. I Still Love You, and unfortunately I thought it was no where near as strong as the first book and basically unnecessary.

While I did read P.S. I Still Love You in August, it wasn’t part of my 25infive reading challenge. The last book I tried to squeeze into the challenge was Uprooted (I got halfway through during the challenge). Uprooted was a challenge for me. It’s a well written, traditional fairytale type story, but I found it so slow moving that it was really hard for me to get into it.

I interspersed my reading of Uprooted with The Last Time I Lied, which was definitely the opposite in terms of pace. This was my first Riley Sager book and it wasn’t quite as scary as I was anticipating, but I really enjoyed it. It was a solid mystery thriller book about a girl name Emma whose 3 friends disappeared at summer camp when she was 13. She’s returned to the camp as an adult and 3 more girls disappear, forcing her into a race against time to figure out what really happened 15 years ago. I was convinced that I had the mystery figured out and I was thrilled to find out I got it totally wrong and didn’t see the twist coming at the end at all.

I had one book that I had to read in August, which was for my book club, was Circe by Madeline Miller, the new fantasy book that came out this year and has super good reviews. I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with this one, similar to Uprooted. I thought the story was really good, but it was a slow read for me and the reading experience overall wasn’t great, even though I did like the story.

I read Women Talking by Miriam Toews towards the end of this month and it was definitely one of the best books I read this year! It’s a fictional account of the true story of a community of Bolivian, Mennonite women who were attacked and raped in their sleep over the course of 4 years. After the crime is discovered, the women meet to discuss what to do about it and the whole book is basically a group of them talking about whether they should leave the community or stay and fight. The writing in this book is wonderful and the content is so thoughtful. I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone and everyone.

Finally, I finished the month with a re-read of The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas, which is the prequel to the Throne of Glass series. I am a bit obsessed with this series and with the final book coming out in October, I’ve decided to re-read the whole series! The Assassin’s Blade was just as good as I remembered and I can’t wait to jump into the rest of the books in September!

The Assassin’s Blade

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Sarah J Maas
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pub date: Mar. 2014 (first read Sept. 2016)
Series: Throne of Glass #0.5

I first picked up the Throne of Glass series about two years ago and flew through the first 4 books during the summer, before picking up Empire of Storms when it was released in Sept. 2016. I used to read a lot of fantasy when I was really young, like elementary school, and then moved on to reading a lot of young adult books in high school. I didn’t read a whole lot throughout University, because I was so busy with school, but I got more into historical fiction and general fiction when I graduated and started reading a lot again.

Throne of Glass was one of the first big fantasy series I picked up after graduating, but since reading this series, I have a read A LOT more fantasy series over the past two years. With the final book coming out in October, I decided I wanted to re-read this series again. Partly because I just really want to re-visit these characters, and partly because I’m curious if I will still like these books as much as I did on the first read through now that I’ve read so much other fantasy.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t get around to reading The Assassin’s Blade until after Empire of Storms, which is definitely not the ideal way to read the series as there are a ton of characters introduced in TAB that appear throughout the series. EoS definitely made a lot more sense once I finally read TAB.

So this time I decided to start with TAB since it is the prequel to the rest of the series. I was surprised I had rated this 4 stars originally because I was kind of remembering it as more of a 3-star read, but after re-reading it, I’m sticking with my 4 stars. The first 2 stories are probably 3 star reads, but the last 3 stories more than make up for it. (TAB is a compilation of 5 novellas set before ToG).

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord is a great introduction to the characters and the world of Erilea, but I do find Celaena pretty annoying in this novella. She has the biggest ego for someone who repeatedly makes mistakes and Sam picks up ALL of the slack for her in this story. I know most people don’t really like the Assassin and the Healer, but I think it’s actually a solid short story about two women bonding and looking out for each other. It doesn’t really add a lot to the book overall, but Yrene goes on to become pretty important to the story in Tower of Dawn, so it’s cool to see this little origin story for her here.

I think the Assassin and the Desert may actually be my favourite novella of the lot. I love Ansel’s character so much and I really loved watching Celaena make a female friend and how the silent assassins challenged her thoughts on how an assassin’s guild could operate. Arobynn has always led his assassins through fear, competition, and intimidation, so it was nice to see a group of people who (while they’re still killers) looked out for each other and created a real sense of community. I really enjoyed the arc of this story and I think that as a stand-alone novella, this is the strongest of the book.

That said, the Assassin and the Underworld and the Assassin and the Empire are the two stories that really dragged me into this world, set the stage for the rest of the series, and broke my freaking heart. I’ll say up front, I’m not a Sam groupie. I know a lot of people love Sam in this book, but I find him a little controlling. Arobynn is obviously all kinds of abusive and manipulative (like seriously, textbook abuser), and I know I’m supposed to love Sam because he threatens to kill Arobynn for hurting Celaena and made him promise not to hurt her again, but honestly Celaena can look out for herself and I didn’t like that Sam was emasculated by her money and wouldn’t let her help him on missions. He always wanted to be there for her, why couldn’t he let her be there for him too.

But I did really like the last two novellas because I thought they had some killer character development for Celaena and they provide SO MUCH context for later books. Not just for all the secondary characters, but for why she is able to be so ruthless and how much trauma she has been through. Knowing what I know from all the other books, there is just so much depth to her character. Celaena’s ego drives me nuts sometimes because in some of the later books it’s like she can do no wrong, but I would say in this book her cockiness is her character flaw and it’s what gets her into so much trouble, and ultimately destroys her.

The ending is brutal. If you read the books in the publication order, you know what’s coming at the end of this book, but it doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking. I’m not sure if I would recommend reading this book first if you were reading the series for the first time, but having already read the series once, I think reading TAB first is the only way to read this series. I can’t wait to jump into Throne of Glass and just immerse myself in this series over the next 2 months!