Throne of Glass Series, Sarah J. Maas

As with everything I review, spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk. I’m in the process of re-reading the Throne of Glass series, so I’ll be updating this ongoing as I complete books.

Updated 30 Dec 2023: Updated to include Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms & Tower of Dawn.

Book 1: Throne of Glass

Review Rating (out of 5):

Spice Rating (out of 5):

These reviews are going to be short because I tend to think of these books as a part of the whole, rather than individual books, because they’re so intertwined. For a debut in the YA category, The Assassin’s Blade is pretty much iron clad. You’ve got a strong female lead with an immediate problem to survive as well as two other elements: a greater threat she’s starting to uncover, and mystery in her background that teases at the edges of the reader’s brain.

We’ve also got the two male characters, both vying for her attention: Chaol, and Dorian, and the female ride-or-die friend that comes into the picture as well.

The end of the book promises further investigation of the wider threat, and a more immediate, more adult relationship with Chaol.

Book 2: Crown of Midnight

Review Rating (out of 5):

Spice Rating (out of 5):

For me, this book falls into the sophomore follow-up curse. By it’s very nature as a series rather than duology, Crown of Midnight is in some ways a bit of a very long lore dump. We get visibility into more of Caelena’s history, and why it haunts her, same with Dorian.

We also see more exploration into Wyrdgates and Wyrdkeys as well as the creatures that are haunting and hunting the kingdom.

To me, the purpose of this book, while filling us in on our characters history and why and how it’s affecting their present, is to strip away all their buffers, strip away all the training wheels, because if those characters were still present, then there’d be no more series.

Book 3: The Assassin’s Blade

Review Rating (out of 5):

Spice Rating (out of 5):

This is a hard one for me to rate, because it’s a series of short stories. We meet a lot of tertiary characters here that come back later in the series, as well as learning more about Sam and Celaena and their relationship. We meet Rolfe, Yrene Towers, The Silent Assassins and Ansel, Lysandra, and other bits and bobs of history that play into how the end game of the series plays out.

None of these stories were particularly compelling to me, and none of them are required reads to finish the main arc of the series, they add a bit of colour and context to understanding how and why things play out the way they do, and all these threads that Aelin pulls on at the end.

Book 4: Heir of Fire

Review Rating (out of 5):

Spice Rating (out of 5):

So to me Heir of Fire feels like it could be an entirely new trilogy, and it could have originally been intended that way. Aelin is on a new continent, we meet Manon and get a lot from her point of view, there’s a big shift in the focus of the book: from dark things slithering around the kingdom to magic. There’s less research time in the library, and more fighting, as Aelin is forced to come to a reckoning with the magic she can finally access outside of the borders of Adarlan.

This is one of my personal favourites of the series, between the banter between her and Rowan and the information and activity we get with the Valg, all the pieces are starting to fall into place.

Book 5: Queen of Shadows

Review Rating (out of 5):

Spice Rating (out of 5):

All the players are starting to gather, meeting and getting to the right locations. Starting to. I really enjoy the interactions between Manon and Dorian in this book, because it draws both characters in shades of grey rather than strong blacks, muddying the waters of morality. I like this in fantasy books because it’s a more accurate reflection of real life – nobody is pure evil or pure good.

This is also the conclusion of the initial “small” problem, of Dorian’s father and the problem there, and continued dramas with Elide and Morath. This book very much ends with a bang, and a postscript of a few chapters that if the series hadn’t sold as well as it did, could have been a wrapping point, with everyone going off on their own adventures again.

Book 6: Empire of Storms

Review Rating (out of 5):

Spice Rating (out of 5):

I’ve added an extra chili for this book because it’s shifted from YA to NA – from winks and nods, kisses and heavy indications of more to explicit, open door scenes. I’ve used 4 of my angry stickers in this book, and I’ll share where later.

This book is a rollercoaster. Fast paced, lots of different events happening in different places, between Elide and Lorcan, Manon dealing with her grandmother and the concept of hope rather than destruction, Skull Bay and Aelin and Lysandra, the budding romance between Lysandra and Aedion, the rest of the cadre and their struggles, as well as the (finally explicit) revelations about how this was all originally meant to be “solved” – by sacrificing Aelin and her power.

And then the ending – jeeeeeez, folks. If there was ever a cliffhanger, Aelin being carted away in an iron coffin and then Lysandra having to actually do what they discussed, step up, and impersonate her…talk about breaking my heart (though you’d never catch it on my face, I’m one of those readers).

Book 7: Tower of Dawn

Review Rating (out of 5):

Spice Rating (out of 5):

So I entirely understand why, from a pacing perspective, this book happened when it did. This is a whiplash book though. It is essentially non-stop in Empire of Storms, and a much more leisurely pace in Tower of Dawn, much like it’s setting. It’s a lot like Crown of Midnight in that the focus is on learning and sharing more history and lore to understand the stakes and feed the universe, but it’s better done (in my opinion) than Crown of Midnight. More writing under her belt at that point, and editors with a better sense of the universe.

Because I read so quickly, I decided not to do a tandem read of Tower of Dawn and Empire of Storms, I’d get too tangled up switching between chapters (just the physical aspect of literally switching between books) that it just wasn’t worth it.

Book 8: Kingdom of Ash

Review Rating (out of 5):

Spice Rating (out of 5):

I’m gonna be honest: while there were a lot of heartbreaking moments in this book (hello, Manon), I had a lot more icks than I remembered. For me, those icks manifested in those moments I thought were really heavy-handed. When I come across them as I go through the theories article, I’ll update here.


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