Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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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. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her … but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

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.

Before I begin explaining this book, I need to explain something. I read a lot. When I mean a lot, I don’t mean that I read a book a week, I mean that today, since I woke up I have finished one book, and started and completed two more. It is highly likely that I will start a third before I go to sleep tonight. All of this means that my favorite book changes quite often. I loved Harry Potter for a while, then moved on to Megan Turner’s The Thief, then to Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. That makes it all the more significant when I say that the Throne of Glass series has been my favorite since I started it almost four years ago. There have been some books that caught my interest and moved up on my list of loves, but I always came back to Sarah Maas, because she is just that good.

The series starts out by introducing the heroine, Celaena Sardothien, who has just spent a year in a slave camp where the average life expectancy is only a month. She was put there because she was Adarlan’s assassin – the best in the land, never caught, and never seen. Until her trial, almost no one even knew that she was a 17 year old girl. She has always been the best, the prettiest, and she knows it. Even worse, she makes sure everyone else knows it too.

I love Celaena.

Throughout this book, she isn’t just an assassin who has killed too many people to count. She isn’t just the girl who became a woman in the depths of Hell. She is a woman who is scarred and a little broken, but loves pretty things, and sweets, and music. She is a woman who is scared sometimes, who loves and gets mad and is happy. She is a person, not just an assassin, and that is what I love about Sarah Maas’s work.

Too many book these days are all about the situations the main character is in. I cannot count the number of times I have read a dystopian novel in which we get to watch the heroine come to age because of the circumstances that force her to grow up. In this world we get to see a woman who already knows that the world is bad, who has already grown up inside of it, and watched her love and her innocence die, but still has the will to truly live. 

 

I rate this book 5 stars.

 

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Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

 

 

They came after the Diseray. Some were terrors ripped from our collective imaginations, remnants of every mythology across the world. And some were like nothing anyone had ever dreamed up, even in their worst nightmares.

Monsters.

Long ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were ripped open, and it’s taken centuries to bring back civilization in the wake of the catastrophe. Now, the luckiest Cits live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the hideous creatures fighting to break through. Others are not so lucky.

To Joyeaux Charmand, who has been a Hunter in her tight-knit mountain community since she was a child, every Cit without magic deserves her protection from dangerous Othersiders. Then she is called to Apex City, where the best Hunters are kept to protect the most important people.

Joy soon realizes that the city’s powerful leaders care more about luring Cits into a false sense of security than protecting them. More and more monsters are getting through the barriers, and the close calls are becoming too frequent to ignore. Yet the Cits have no sense of how much danger they’re in—to them, Joy and her corps of fellow Hunters are just action stars they watch on TV.

When an act of sabotage against Joy takes an unbearable toll, she uncovers a terrifying conspiracy in the city. There is something much worse than the usual monsters infiltrating Apex. And it may be too late to stop them…

     This book is one of the finest YA novels I have read to date. With plenty of action, a cool-headed and strong female lead, and the beginnings of a subtle love triangle, it has all the characteristics of a traditional dystopian novel, while remaining fresh and new.


     This book opens with Joy Charmand traveling from the little village in the Rockies where she grew up to the biggest city on the continent after the Diseray. Seems like a cliche right? Clueless village girl goes to the big sparkling city only to learn all is not as she thought …

     

       That is not what happens. Without giving away too many spoilers – Joy grew up not in a clueless village as everyone thinks, but in perhaps the greatest center for knowledge on the continent. While lacking some social skills, and city life experience, she knows enough to figure out the politics of the city, while still remaining innocent enough to not understand why the “Cits” – citizens or city dwellers – behave the  way they do.

“My Masters had explained to me in detail the difference between the way a solider thought, the way a Cit thought, and contrasted both with the way a Hunter thought. . . Cits – the city folk sort of Cits – they want victories. They want to win or cheer the winner. Soliders want things to end neatly, they want victories too, and win or lose, they want things ended. But up on the Mountain, we’re much more pragmatic. We know what seems to be an ending rarely is, that victories don’t last forever, and you take what you get and make the most of it for as long as you can.”


      She, however, catches on quickly, and is soon one of the best Hunters in the city.

       This book is a must-read for anyone tired of the classic clueless heroine dumped into a mess of political tangles cliche. Joy is a cool headed politically savvy heroine whom I loved.


I give this book 4.5 stars.