Art by Ky Haney
By Reagan O’Farrell
A teenager tightly grips the hardbound pages of the book, opening up to the dog-eared spot from where she last left off. Flipping her hair from her face, she sinks her nose into the book, immediately becoming fully engrossed and incidentally ignoring the miffed stares of the people she nearly runs into.
Since the first installment of the Throne of Glass series was released in 2012, these books, written by bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, have become a hit among young adults all across the nation. The sixth book, Tower of Dawn, was released on Sept.5.
This series is set around notorious assassin Caelena Sardothien as she finds herself exonerated from slavery by boy prince Dorian Havilliard, only to be trained by Captain of the Guard Chaol Westfall with the intention of becoming a personal operative for the ruthless king. As she battles against fellow thieves and killers, she must also discover the forces that have been brutally killing her competitors before it finally attacks her while simultaneously feigning as a mild-mannered lady at the glass castle. Despite her initial intentions, Caelena finds herself befriending Dorian and Chaol alongside the mysterious yet clever princess Nehemia Ytger.
Throne of Glass is deep within the epic fantasy genre with Sarah J. Maas having built a world entirely of its own making littered with the minute details that make readers feel as though they live there themselves. Stabs at romance can be found throughout the series, though more often in its latter half, and all of the books contain several action sequences written in enough detail to seem as though the fights are taking place on the physical earth.
While the writing is extraordinarily done, many critics have risen to the front in objection to the series’ applauded nature. Many of these criticisms are founded upon the characteristics of the protagonist, Caelena. She is a typical anti-hero: parallels can be drawn between her and other radical characters such as Deadpool. Some people develop bad tastes in their mouths when they hear too much of Caelena’s snarky attitude and are forced to understand what she has done to earn her title as a famous assassin. However, a number of these critics fail to note her development as one book evolves to the next. Her cynical nature becomes far less biting and sour and instead turns into an odd form of affection, and she addresses her own behaviors with a critical eye.
Others find more objection in the narrative style itself. They are none too fond of Maas’s thorough explicitness of both violent and sensual scenes, balking at the idea that children in the fifth grade could be found engrossed in the novels despite the fact that the intended audience is people in their later teens.
Throne of Glass is not without its faults, but Maas exhibits her natural talent in regards to wielding prose with her profound descriptions of both individuals and scenery. She also manages to leave seemingly irrelevant pieces of information throughout the books only to bring those details up later and express their weighty significance. Her characters are compelling, and despite the various number of them, they each receive adequate attention and development, all of whom connect back to Caelena herself.
The next book, Tower of Dawn, differs from the rest of the books in the series. Originally intended to simply be a novella, Maas became so invested in the book that it became a crucial component to the series. It is to be told from a perspective unlike the previous, with Caelena no longer being the forefront of the novel, instead being replaced by a male lead and female secondary character. This could bring an interesting change in the dynamic of the plot, but most readers have enough faith in Maas’s abilities to eagerly anticipate the installment.
For readers already invested in the series, Maas recommended in one of her newsletters to read her previous novella collection, The Assassin’s Blade, before proceeding to read Tower of Dawn.
Throne of Glass has been revving up in popularity these past few years, enough so for HBO to decide to create a television show based upon these books known as Queen of Shadows. While the characters may not find their way on screen for a little while, fans can look forward to reading the original ink and paper.