Review: Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

It’s been almost a year since I finished Kingdom of Ash, the final book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, and one of my all time favourite book series. I think that means it’s about time I wrote a review, right?

I wanted to wait until I’d read the entire series before I reviewed it. It’s a long one, with seven increasingly wordy books (the final book is over 1000 pages!). Sometimes it’s nice to know whether it’s going to be worth your time investing in a long series before you start book one. And honestly, when I read Throne of Glass I had absolutely no idea the story would end up where it did in Kingdom of Ash, a lot happens between books one and seven (A LOT) , so even if you read the first book and weren’t all that enthralled, you might end up loving the series overall. Let me give you a tiny taste of what to expect from this behemoth of a series, so you know whether to invest your valuable reading time in it…

TL;DR Ex-assassin and slave, Celaena Sardothien is plucked from the salt mines by Prince Dorian to be his contestant in a deadly game to choose the King’s new royal assassin. Spanning a year in her life, the series follows the sassy and silver-tongued trained killer as she rediscovers who she is underneath all the layers of shame, secrecy and tragedy. Only by facing her past head on and accepting the path she’s been forced to take in order to survive, can she uncover the truth about her heritage and become who she was always destined to be.

5 stars

Rather than review each book individually, which has the potential to be incredibly spoilerific – and nobody wants that – I thought I’d give you a brief overview of the series as a whole. If you prefer to go into a new series without knowing anything though, stop reading right here and go pick up Throne of Glass, because I’m not going to be able to write this review without giving certain things away. You have been warned!

In Throne of Glass, we meet our downtrodden heroine, Celaena Sardothien,  who has been imprisoned for murder (what with her being an assassin and all) and sentenced to a life of slavery in the salt mines of Adarlan. Until one day a handsome prince arrives to whisk her away – oh wait, no, that’s a different story. He’s actually come to drag the notorious assassin out of one kind of imprisonment and into another, as his champion in a competition to become the king’s new royal assassin. Better than slavery though, right? Well no, not to Celaena, who hates the king with a passion and is not thrilled to compromise her own personal (very morally grey) code to kill for him.

We’re thrown into a classic competition trope, with a terrifying bunch of brawlers, hard-men and nimble-fingered thieves all hoping to escape their respective prison sentences and legitimise their criminal ways. No judgement here. When people start turning up dead – outside the confines of the highly dangerous competition – Celaena realises there’s something darker going on underneath the surface at the glass castle.

Along the way, Celaena gathers a tight-knit group of friends – from Fae warriors and magic-wielding royals, to skilled soldiers and even a pup named Fleetfoot – building a band of brothers (and badass sisters) to rival any army.

Throw in a coven of wyvern-riding witches, a pirate king with a supernatural knowledge of the waves, and hordes of dark demonic parasites that can possess human hosts to wreak their own special brand of chaos, and you’ve pretty much got ToG in a nutshell.

I can’t say much more without potentially spoiling a lo for you (if I haven’t already!), so if any of that sounds like your cup of tea, please go and pick up Throne of Glass and see what all the fuss is about. You (probably) won’t regret it!

If I can give you one tip on picking up this series, it would be to get the audio books. Not only does it make reading such a long series a much less daunting task, it also means you get the perfect pronunciation of all the crazy names and places – and if you’ve ready any Maas books you’ll know how much she loves a difficult-to-pronounce name! You’re on your own with the spelling though…

Oh, one last thing, this is more New Adult than Young Adult and there are a few somewhat steamy scenes in the later books, so it’s definitely one for the older teens and up.

Enjoy, and let me know what you thought of the series if you’ve already read it!

Lyndsey

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Review Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas Lyndsey's Book Blog

Review: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

As epic fantasy novels go, it doesn’t get much better than The City of Brass! Set partly in ancient Cairo, it’s a richly diverse and beautifully descriptive novel, and even better, it’s the first in a series! The Kingdom of Copper is out now and The Empire of Gold is due in 2020!

TL;DR An Aladdin-esque fantasy with djinn warriors, elemental spirits and a smart, sassy con-woman. Nahri accidentally conjures a mysterious djinn warrior during a supposedly fake exorcism, and ends up being hunted by fire spirits across the Egyptian desert. When they escape into the legendary city of brass, Daevabad, Nahri discovers a history she never knew existed. One in which she and her ancestors are deeply entangled…

The City of Brass S A Chakraborty`
5 stars

Trying to make a living as a woman alone on the streets of Cairo isn’t easy, but Nahri has always survived on her wits. She uses her ability to read people, and a sort of ‘sixth sense’ for what ails them, to pray on the gullible, weak and desperate.

Nahri cons rich Ottoman nobles on the streets of Cairo, performing fake palm readings, healings and exorcisms. It’s all an elaborate performance to make money, until one day Nahri accidentally conjures a real djinn, who drags her across Egypt to a hidden, magical city. Her abilities make her a target and a spectacle, but her arrival in Daevabad, the city of brass, sparks more than just intrigue. Unrest has been building between the residents for centuries, and Nahri’s appearance might just light the fire of rebellion in them.

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The City of Brass focuses on three main characters whose lives and stories weave together to create a captivating and shocking depiction of life in Daevabad:

  • Nahri, the courageous, sceptical and self-sufficient con-woman, fighting for survival in the human world;
  • Dara, the centuries-old djinn warrior who is conjured by Nahri and escorts her to Daevabad to face her true destiny (and his own); and
  • Alizayd (Ali), the youngest son of the king, in training to be his elder brother’s ‘Qaid’ (captain of the royal guard).

By following these three through the novel, we get to see events from every angle and understand the actions and motivations of both the ruling class and the rebellious civilians, which is crucial in a novel of such rich culture and history. If we only saw Nahri’s perspective – as with many portal fantasies where we experience the new, thrilling world alongside the protagonist – we’d miss out on a lot of the finer details and political intricacies of Chakraborty’s world.

I absolutely loved being immersed in the Middle Eastern culture that inspired the story, I haven’t read many novels set in Africa or Arabia and it was really refreshing to find a fantasy story that wasn’t based in Europe or America. I’ve recently read An Ember in the Ashes, and have Children of Blood and Bone and Rebel of the Sands on my TBR, so it’s amazing to see more diverse characters and stories from different cultures being published. Chakraborty does a phenomenal job of creating an imaginative and stunning backdrop, mingling history and fantasy, and a compelling story that combines themes of family, loyalty, politics, love and revenge.

If you’re bored of the usual fantasy settings (dark forests and magic schools still have their place, but it’s nice to try something new every now and then) then you can’t go wrong with The City of Brass. Pick it up if you love a brave, morally-grey female protagonist and a lush magical world with more history than you could shake a wand at.

I’m currently listening to The Kingdom of Copper on audio book, and loving it. Can’t wait for the third and final book to come out next year!

Lyndsey

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Review: The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Any other giant Mackenzi Lee fans in the house? If you haven’t read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, where have you been? Get thyself to a reputable book store immediately! The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (winner of the best book title of the year award) is a companion novel that follows Monty’s sister Felicity in the aftermath of Gent’s Guide.

Spoiler warning – if you haven’t read TGGTVAV then read on at your own peril!

TL;DR Badass feminist Felicity Montague wants to study medicine, but no medical school will so much as interview her, simply because she is a woman. When she hears that an old friend is getting married to her idol, the infamous Doctor Alexander Platt, she heads off on a wild adventure in the hopes of joining him on his next expedition.

After getting into all kinds of shenanigans in book one, thanks to her brother Monty, Felicity is back to show us she’s an independent woman who doesn’t need a man to help her get into trouble – or out of it!

Everyone has heard stories of women like us, and now we will make more of them.

Felicity Montague

Since her return from Europe, Felicity has been living in Edinburgh and working at a bakery, hoping to attend the medical school there. After months of rejection, she returns to London to visit her brother and Percy, feeling completely dejected and demoralised.

As a last ditch attempt, she decides to send a letter to the London medical school suggesting she’d like to make a donation (after all, she is still a Lord’s daughter, they don’t need to know she’s been cut off by her father…). Once inside the door, she pitches her application to study at the school, demonstrating her intelligence, strength of character and proficiency in the medical sciences. Unfortunately, they still can’t see past her gender, and send her packing.

“You’re trying to play a game designed by men. You’ll never win, because the deck is stacked and marked, and also you’ve been blindfolded and set on fire.”

Simmaa Aldajah

When she hears that a childhood friend is getting married to her idol, eccentric scientist Doctor Alexander Platt, she concocts a hare-brained plan to travel to Germany and gatecrash the wedding in order to convince Platt to take her on as an apprentice on his upcoming expedition. And, in classic Felicity style, she does just that.

Almost.

With the help of a female pirate named Sim, and her oldest friend Joanna, Felicity sets out on an adventure that could lead to her discovering more than she ever imagined.

“In the company of women like this— sharp-edged as raw diamonds but with soft hands and hearts, not strong in spite of anything but powerful because of everything— I feel invincible.”

Felicity Montague

I loved this book. Felicity might not be quite as entertaining as Monty, but she’s smart and brave and sassy as hell. I absolutely loved all the feminist elements and quotes throughout, Mackenzi Lee put exactly what I’ve been thinking and feeling into much better words than I ever could, and I found myself nodding along and saying “Yes, girl!” out loud, alone in my car…

I gave Lady’s Guide 4 stars, it was such an enjoyable read and I flew through it. Seeing Felicity grow and realise that her version of being a strong, independent woman isn’t superior to Joanna’s, or any other woman’s, was really heartening. I’m glad Felicity ended up staying true to herself as well, rather than being forced to fit some romantic ideal. The cameos from Monty and Percy were really fun, and it was great (and also heartbreaking) to see what they’ve been up to since Gent’s Guide.

It only wasn’t a 5 star read simply because I loved Gent’s Guide just that little bit more, and I felt at times that Monty swept in and saved the day rather than Felicity getting herself out of predicaments. (Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of instances where she does, it was a tiny niggle really).

Have you read Lady’s Guide yet? If you love petticoated swashbucklers and mostly accurate historical fiction, with just a pinch of the supernatural thrown in, you’ll adore this book. Go read it and let me know what you think!

Lyndsey

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Review: The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee