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: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

It’s been a couple of months since I read Nevernight now, but I just downloaded the audiobook of Godsgrave and I’m so excited to dive back into this world!

I’d never read any of Jay Kristoff’s books before Nevernight, but I’ve heard good things about the Illuminae series, and Nevernight sounded right up my street. Luckily, it absolutely was! I haven’t read a new fantasy series this good in ages.

TL;DR At just eight years old, Mia Corvere watched her father die. Since then she has trained with her mentor in preparation for applying to enter the Red Church, a group of skilled assassins who live under a mountain. Her long term plan is revenge against the men who killed her dad. Her short term plan is surviving her training.

Nevernight Jay Kristoff Lyndsey's Book Blog

5 stars

I’m not sure what I expected from this book, but it definitely wasn’t what I got. The Red Church is basically Hogwarts for teen murderers, and I am here for it. Mia is a wonderfully conflicted mini murderess, whose pet is an undead sort of shadow cat called Mister Kindly. He’s a sarcastic bundle of not-fur. Have you run out to buy this book yet? Just go, you won’t regret it.

“’Never Flinch.’ A cold whisper in her ear. ‘Never fear. And never, ever forget.'”

The classes Mia takes sound utterly fascinating and also deadly, subjects like poisons, weapons training and the art of seduction (because every professional killer needs a few good chat up lines and a come-hither smile). The teachers are mysterious and ruthless, it’s a wonder any of the kids survive their first semester, let alone graduate to become fully-fledged assassins.

“You’ll be a rumor. A whisper. The thought that wakes the bastards of this world sweating in the nevernight. The last thing you will ever be, girl, is someone’s hero.”

Unfortunately, only two of the class can become Blades (super lethal assassin types) after graduation, the rest must stay under the mountain and basically become their servants. Is it any wonder someone is killing off Mia’s class mates one by one? But is it just a ploy to win one of the two coveted Blade positions, or is something bigger going on in the Red Church?

Review Nevernight Jay Kristoff

Kristoff’s world-building is crazy amazing in this series, which just adds to the other-worldliness and mystery of the plot and characters. Three suns rise and set over Godsgrave, the city built amongst the bones of a long-dead god, meaning it’s almost never night (hence the title). One of those suns is red, casting a bloody glow over everything every now and then. Kristoff actually got an astrophysicist friend to design a trinary solar system for him, so the whole concept is very accurate and well imagined. A day is called a turn, because the planet still turns even if the sun doesn’t set (I imagine it’s supposed to be at least somewhat similar to Earth, so a day is roughly 24 hours). I just loved the little details the author included, they really make the story feel fully formed.

“The brighter the light, the deeper the shadow.”

There’s a lot of Italian influence in the novel, which you might have guessed from Mia’s name. I wonder whether the strong themes of religion inspired the choice? Either way, it helps to anchor the stranger elements of the world and story in something/somewhere we can all imagine, even if you haven’t visited Italy or the Vatican.

You might have guessed by now, but this is a very graphic series, both violently and sexually. The characters are around sixteen, but this is definitely not YA. In the world of the story, children don’t seem to get much of a childhood, and they are much older and wiser than their years as a result of the environment they’re raised in, so 16 is more like 18, or even older, in the novel.

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“The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us.”

I can’t think of a single thing I didn’t like about Nevernight, it was gripping and twisty and stabby and I loved every minute of it. The ending was a surprise, and I’m desperate to get stuck into Godsgrave to see if everything we’re told at the end of book one is true, fingers crossed some of it was just a ruse (no spoilers!).

I’m giving Nevernight five stars because it’s probably my favourite book I’ve read so far this year, I honestly couldn’t get enough of it and must have listened to it every chance I got. I was devastated when it finished and I had to wait three months for the sequel to come out! Definitely read this if you like super dark fantasy with rich world building and plenty of stabbing and sexy times. If you’re not so cool with the graphic elements or swearing, maybe steer clear. But you’ll be missing out 😉

 

Lyndsey

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I am a member of the Book Depository affiliate program, so if you click through and buy any of the books mentioned in this blog I might make a little commission, but I am not paid to review books and all reviews are my own opinions!

Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

I’d heard The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware mentioned a few times before it popped up as the Audible Daily Deal, and it actually turned out my Mum read it on holiday last year! I love a good thriller/mystery so I downloaded it straight away for when I’d finished The Raven King and needed to dive straight into something easy-listening to stave off the book hangover. It definitely did the trick.

TL;DR Lo Blacklock is a travel journalist on a private, luxury cruise who thinks she witnesses a murder. The only problem is, cabin 10 was always supposed to be empty, and no one else saw the woman before she vanished. Is Lo losing her mind, or is something more sinister going on in the Fjords?

The Woman in Cabin 10 Ruth Ware

3.5 stars

As a big cruise fan I couldn’t wait to listen to this audio book and imagine myself on board the ship, cruising the Norwegian Fjords with the characters. I haven’t done a Fjords cruise yet, but my Mum’s been a few times and I’ve seen the photos, so I could picture the setting no problem. The ship was a little more difficult, as it’s only a ten cabin mini cruise ship, like a large yacht really, but with the same finery inside, just on a smaller scale. I don’t get claustrophobic on cruises, but I can imagine feeling really uncomfortable and panicky on a ship that small with the same ten other people every day, and that’s before the events of the story take place!

The overall feel of the story is very Agatha Christie – a small number of people in a remote location with nowhere to go and no escape from the murderer in their midst. Think And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express. There are also elements of The Girl on the Train, Lo is quite a heavy drinker to begin with and it’s her drinking that leads her to question what she saw and whether she imagined or dreamed the whole thing. It’s well paced and tense throughout, and there are a couple of really surprising twists that I didn’t see coming!

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At the beginning of the story, Lo’s flat is burgled while she’s sleeping, and when she gets up to see what’s going on the burglar slams the bedroom door in her face and locks her in. This encounter is pretty terrifying, especially for a woman who often sleeps alone when my husband is away with work (luckily we have a dog so I live in hope she’d scare off any potential attackers). I wanted the burglary at the beginning to have deeper implications than it did, but ultimately it served to put Lo on edge from the very beginning, seeing danger and threats everywhere and explaining some of her reactions later.

In addition, Lo suffers from anxiety and takes medication, which has no bearing on her state of mind at the time of the incident, but is used against her by some of the other characters when they find out. I think this is quite a good representation of the stigma mental health issues can suffer, as well as showing that her mental illness doesn’t impact on the plot or make her an unreliable narrator.

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The Woman in Cabin 10 is a pretty easy read, perfect for holiday reading and anyone who likes a good murder mystery a la Christie and Hawkins. Lo isn’t always a very likeable character, she’s quite standoffish and rude, and coupled with her heavy drinking she did remind me of Rachel from The Girl on the Train. Ultimately though, I did find myself rooting for her, as I wanted to know what was really going on onboard the cruise ship and whether she was going to be the next victim, or if it was all an elaborate hoax.

I gave the book 3.5 stars, because I did enjoy it and got through it quite quickly, and the twists towards the end were surprising to me, but it wasn’t quite up to the standard of Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train.

Have you read The Woman in Cabin 10? What did you think? Am I the only one who obsessed over Judah? Please tell me I’m not alone!

 

Lyndsey

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I am a member of the Book Depository affiliate program, so if you click through and buy any of the books mentioned in this blog I might make a little commission, but I am not paid to review books and all reviews are my own opinions!