Book: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (releases August 7, 2012 from Bloomsbury Childrens USA)
Summary: Once the most feared assassin, Celaena has spent the last year as a slave in the mines at a death camp. But she's rescued by Prince Dorian and his Captain of the Guard, Chaol Westfall, and given a proposition. Compete as their champion to become the King's Assassin and, if she wins, she will be given her freedom after four years of service. Soon, she's living in the castle trying to navigate court life, deal with romance, and survive not only the competition, but a killer targeting her competition.
Characters: I loved these characters. Celaena is tough, because she has to be, but she also has this vulnerability that makes her easy to relate to. And I always love characters who are exceptionally skilled, even if their skill happens to be killing. Plus, she's funny and she likes to read. She's not the only awesome character, though. Chaol, who gave up his title to be Captain of the Guard, is falling for Celaena despite his distaste for her profession and the fact that his best friend, Prince Dorian, is showing interest in her. Prince Dorian, who is falling for Celaena because she challenges him intellectually, is finally learning to stand up to his father.
By far, my favorite character is the visiting Princess Nehemia, who befriends Celaena. She has her own agenda, but I loved seeing multiple strong female characters who could be friends and encourage one another. I didn't realize how rarely I see healthy female friendships in books until I read this. It was unbelievably refreshing.
And in case you think there aren't any villains... the King was insanely scary. What a fantastic character and the end hints that we will see a lot more of him in future books (yay for me as a reader, but probably bad news for Celaena). Lady Kaltain was also a love-to-hate character, but in a completely different way. I hope we see more of her, too.
Plot/Pacing: This book moved fast and had a number of story lines that came into play. The competition to become the King's Assassin drove the narrative forward and as a story, lived up to the premise and was very entertaining. I was surprised by how many other elements there were, though. Some were mostly explained in this book, like the answer to who is violently killing Celaena's competition. Others have whet my appetite for future books without leaving me feeling that the first book is missing something. I can't wait to find out more about Calaena's past (I have my guesses) and see what the (evil) King has been up to and what he plans for Celaena.
Moments I Loved: I loved all the scenes with Princess Nehemia. She was funny and tough and put everyone in their place. When she teamed up with Celaena, they were unstoppable and I can't wait to see how these two will work together in future books. But, I also really liked when Celaena and Chaol both fell asleep in church and when Celaena snuck into the ball.
WTF Moments: It is totally horrifying the way that the competitors are killed. Then, when we find out why and there is that big showdown... shudder. It's almost as bad as the last fight at the end of the competition where... no spoilers, but there was a character who I wanted to kill. But she got her just comeuppance.
Overall: Finally a book where friendship is just as important as love. For the first time in a long time I understood why the guys were in love with the main character, but I was relieved that she didn't start sacrificing her own goals for the love of a man. I can't wait to see what else Maas gives us! I am an official fan.
Reading Challenges: This book counts toward the following challenges: 416 pages toward the 15,000 page challenge, e-book challenge, and NetGalley Knockdown. Track all my progress on my 2012 Challenges page.
**I received an e-galley of Throne of Glass from the publisher through NetGalley. I was in no way compensated for my review and all opinions expressed here are my own. Feel free to check out my full FTC Disclaimer on my About This Blog page.**