Throne of Glass breaks “princess” mould

Writer Meagan Secord read Throne of Glass at home. Photo credit: Valentina Acosta

“You could rattle the stars,” she whispered. “You could do anything if you only dared. and deep down, you know it too. That’s what scares you the most.”

Throne of Glass, Sarah J. Maas, Bloomsbury Publishing, Aug. 2, 2012, 406 pp.

Sarah J. Maas’ series, Throne of Glass, shatters expectations for a fantasy novel with a captivating and powerful heroine.

Throne of Glass is the first of seven books and four novellas published between 2012 and 2018. The series is a New York Times best-seller with the most recent installment, Kingdom of Ash, published in the fall of last year.

Maas creates a fantasy world entwined with shapeshifters, witches, humans, warlocks, valg and faye. They all exist together in the country of Ardalan where magic has been outlawed and a spell has been cast to bind it. Anyone caught outside of human form after the binding is killed.

The main protagonist, Celaena, is faye, a supernatural being with human-like features. Celaena shifted into her human form before magic was bound by the king of Ardalan.

Her parents are killed by the king when she is a child and Celaena is found by the king of assassins who trains her to be the best assassin in Ardalan.

In her portrayal of Celaena, Maas strikes a careful balance between caution and arrogance that makes her main character stand out. Celaena Sardothien (later known as Aelin Galathynius), is the ultimate heroine, without being cheesy or overdone.

Although Celaena is described as stunning multiple times throughout the book, it is her personality which makes people fall in love with her.

Celaena tipped back her head and laughed. “Your father wants me to be his champion? what-don’t tell me that he’s managed to eliminate every noble soul out there! Surely there’s one chivalrous knight, one lord of steadfast heart and courage.

Celaena shuts down gender stereotypes by kicking butt as an assassin but loves fine clothes and jewelry, which she steals. She isn’t afraid to show her rough side and proves she is the best at what she does. She sticks up for what she believes in and never gives up on what she is passionate about.

For example, she is dedicated to taking the king of Ardalan down. In the end, she does kill him and frees magic in Ardalan.

She consistently defies the classic “save the princess” mold that is present in many books, even today. Celaena is capable of handling her own matters but unafraid to ask her male companions to assist her if she needs it.

Fan art of main character Celaena Sardothien by York University student, Valentina Acosta. Photo credit: Courtesy of Valentina Acosta

This is not to say the heroine doesn’t have her own faults. Like many women, she is terrible at admitting she is wrong and often downright refuses to do so throughout the entire series.

Celaena is also not good at talking about her feelings, which gets her into trouble in all of the novels. Her flaws make her personable and her story is all the more compelling because of this.

At the age of 17, she is betrayed by the king of assassins and put into the salt mines of Endovier – a slave camp where, despite the fact that no one makes it through the first month, she lasts a year and almost escapes.

To earn back her freedom, she is entered into a competition to become the king’s champion.

The competition wraps up the first book and the series goes on to explore the main character’s background and the royal family she was born into.

If you liked Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa, then add Throne of Glass to your 2019 reading list.

Writers dream cast for Throne of Glass. Photo credit: Meagan Secord