Last month I hate-read the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, and once I finished, I had to know if the Throne of Glass series (written by the same author, Sarah J Maas) was worth the hype--or if it was a love-to-hate series as well.
The good news is that the Throne of Glass series is way better than ACOTAR. There isn't actually bad news, unless you count the fact that I threw my July TBR list out the window so that I could race through the series.
I'm not sure how, but Sarah J Maas managed to mostly avoid the stylistic issues that I had with ACOTAR--her use of dashes and ellipses seem restrained in comparison, and I felt like the plot has better pacing in TOG as well.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. He offers her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead ... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
Although I loved it in the end, I found that the first 80% of the book dragged a lot. There was a lot of clunky world-building and plot setup that can befall even the most beloved fantasy series (Hi, Tolkein and GRRM), but once SJM stopped shoving the rules of the world down my throat, and got to the duel, I fell in love with the characters and was totally on board with reading the next book.
Rating: 3 Stars
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas
Celaena Sardothien, royal assassin, is the King of Adarlan's deadliest weapon. She must win her freedom through his enemies' blood - but she cannot bear to kill for the crown. And every death Celaena fakes, every lie she tells, put those she loves at risk.
Torn between her two protectors - a captain and a prince - and battling a dark force far greater than the king, Celaena must decide what she will fight for: her liberty, her heart or the fate of a kingdom.
True to form for Sarah J Maas, the second book in the series was much better than the first; the biggest reason for this is because the world has been set up already, so there is no need for info dumps, and the reader is already familiar with the characters. Story-wise, Crown of Midnight is fast-paced and introduces (what I thought was) my OTP of the series, plus has a few twists that I didn't actually see coming! By the end of Crown of Midnight I was 100% hooked on the series and couldn't wait to read the rest.
Rating: 4 Stars
Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas
Consumed by guilt and rage, Celaena can't bring herself to spill blood for the King of Adarlan. She must fight back...
The Immortal Queen will help her destroy the king - for a price. But as Celaena battles with her darkest memories and her heart breaks for a love that could never last, can she fulfil the bargain and head the almighty court of Terrasen? And who will stand with her?
I was really pumped for Heir of Fire because so many people were telling me that it was their favourite in the series. I don't know if it was the hype or what, but this definitely was NOT my favourite. I loved the introduction of the new characters, and I loved seeing more of the world outside of Adarlan, but this book is the first to have shifting viewpoints. I didn't expect it and I found it quite jarring and distracting. There were just SO MANY new people, places, and things introduced, and the POV changed quite abruptly and quickly. So I would just get interested in a character and storyline when BAM new chapter and new POV.
My Rating: Immediately after reading -- 3.5 Stars. Looking back (now that I know how it fits into the series) 4 Stars.
Queen of Shadows by sarah j maas
Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .
She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.
Lord have mercy, THIS BOOK. Queen of Shadows took the action and suspense from previous books and ratcheted it up 500%. There is SO MUCH that is going on, but it's plotted and paced really well so the excitement never lets up. I really love the development of the characters and how they interact with each other and this book sold me on my actual OTP for this series.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Empire of storms by sarah j maas
The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don't.
With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.
Ok let's start with this warning: this is NOT a YA book. The rest of the series? Sure. There were a few intimate scenes, but they were tastefully written. I would let my teenager read the first four books. But Empire of Storms is NOT YA. Sarah J Maas took the ACOTAR route and included smutty, over-the-top sex scenes that do nothing to further the plot and seem gratuitous at their best, and downright awful at their worst.
That being said, once you remove the unnecessary sex scenes, Empire of Storms becomes my favourite book in the series. Some of the long-term plots find resolution, and there are so many reveals that my head spun a little (in a good way!). I feel like this was a really great bridging book that tied up loose ends from the first five books, but also sets the stage for the upcoming books. I can't wait for October when Kingdom of Ash is released!
My Rating: 4 Stars