Already when I read the blurb for the first time I know that Throne of Glass is my kind of books. I love epic fantasy and this book is more than epic with a kick-ass heroine. I also adore the UK cover; it's gorgeous and so appropriate.
The main character of Throne of Glass is the 18-year old assassin Celaene, who was sold out to the authorities one year before and since then had to work in the salt mines, where the average life expectancy is no more then 1 month. Though she is no more then a skeleton her spirit is unbroken. That's quite obvious when she is brought in front of the Crown Prince Dorian. She is hardly able to stand properly but would still taunt all the present fighters. One of them is the Chaol, the captain of the guard and a close friend of Dorian. He strongly disagrees with his friend about Celaena and doesn't want anything more than throwing her back into the mines. For lack of alternatives and maybe to spite Chaol, Celaena agrees to become the Prince's champion. That's the beginning of this amazing book and it only get's better.
Celaena is full of contradictions. On one side she is a fierce fighter and almost completely ruthless assassin but on the other side she is emotionally still very vulnerable. She is worrying about her future and she terrified by the king. She is also very inexperienced when it comes to love and friendship as she is unsettled and flattered at the same time by Prince Dorian's interest in her though she is well aware of her own beauty. What made me love her even more was her love of books and reading. It was so endearing to see her joy when she got a bunch of books from Dorian and later when she discovered the library. It seemed so contradictory that the most feared assassin of the country preferred staying in her room reading the whole time. However she is determined to win the competition and is training hard to achieve her former fitness and endurance. This is one of her main character traits; she won't give up, ever. I also really liked how her mostly hidden inner female would come out occasionally. e.g. she wants to go to balls and enjoys wearing pretty dresses.
Then there are the two main male characters, Dorian and Chaol, who on the first glimpse don't seem to share a lot of traits. Dorian is the Crown Prince; he is the darling of all women at court and is bored by pretty much everything. But at a closer look you realise that there is more to him. In contrast to his father, the King, he has a consciousness and tries to influence politic in a positive way. He also shares the love for books with Celaena and overall has his heart on the right place, even if he is spoiled. Chaol in contrast is the personification of honour and duty. He is still very young but already got the post of the head of the guards. Of course he has to clash with Celaene, whose profession betrays Chaol's values. Nevertheless both have to work together as Chaol is training Celaena and over time the mutual antipathy gives away to respect and a shaky friendship. That was one of my favourite parts of the book. How they get to know each other and realised that they actual are very much alike.
The beginning of the book is very fast paced and you get easily sucked into the fantasy kingdom of Ardalan. Sarah J. Mass is very descriptive in her writing, which makes imagining this strange world effortless. The middle part when Celaena is training and going through the challenges is slower and sometimes I wished more would happen, but I was more than compensated with the highly dramatic end. The plot is captivating and incorporates also magical elements and a creepy murder mystery. There are still plenty of things I want to know about this world and especially Celaena's past, but I didn't feel as if anything was missing in this book. Also, after reading plenty of books with cliffhangers, I appreciated the closure at the end of Throne of Glass and the inevitable and exciting promise of more great adventures.