Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Photograph of a book pile of the new February 2023 Bloomsbury hardcover editions of Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas

In season 2 of Story Darlings, we hosted a series readalong of Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas! Tera came to the series as an SJM virgin, but I (Sandra) revisited as a seasoned veteran. In this post, I’ll provide you with information about:

Let’s get started!

But first, some information about the author…

Who is Sarah J Maas?

Put simply, Sarah J Maas is the reigning queen of the fantasy-romance subgenre. Her stories are equal parts epic fantasy and sweeping romance, with themes of friendship and found-family, overcoming adversity, good versus evil, and love.

Sarah J Maas began writing Throne of Glass when she was 16 years old, which is the crux of some of the criticism the earlier Throne of Glass books garnered, but Maas’s writing grows leaps and bounds from book to book. In an interview, Maas shared how she got the idea for Throne of Glass from a song in Disney’s Cinderella. But instead of trying to win the prince’s heart… what if the girl wanted to assassinate him?

While Throne of Glass is more YA, having less explicit romance scenes and a larger focus on epic fantasy, Maas’s second series, A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR), gained more popularity as New Adult Fantasy with its heavier romantic focus set in an epic fantasy world. Similarly to Throne of Glass, ACOTAR drew inspiration from Beauty and the Beast, exploring deeper themes of domestic violence, literacy, love, and family.

The tertiary Crescent City series is lauded as Maas’s first “official” adult fantasy work due to its strong language, drug use, and graphic content.

All about the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas

How many books are in Throne of Glass?

There are eight total books in Throne of Glass. I’ve linked the new US hardcover editions below, but by order of publication, they are:

What order should you read Throne of Glass?

The reading order for Throne of Glass is hotly debated, but ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. If you’re a purist, you might prefer option 1, which is to read the entire series in the publication order shared above.

If you want to read events by the marketed box set order, option 2 would be:

  • The Assassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass 0.5)
  • Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass 1)
  • Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass 2)
  • Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass 3)
  • Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass 4)
  • Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass 5)
  • Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass 6)
  • Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass 7)

Option 3: for high emotional payoff (and to keep characters and events really fresh in your mind), I recommend this Throne of Glass reading order:

  • Throne of Glass
  • Crown of Midnight
  • Heir of Fire
  • The Assassin’s Blade
  • Queen of Shadows
  • Empire of Storms
  • Tower of Dawn
  • Kingdom of Ash

But wait—there’s another option!

Option 4 is to read by chronological order of story events, which is the same as option 2, but tandem reading Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn (this is due to certain characters separating for a good chunk of time).

In my first read-through of the series, I didn’t follow any of these options and somehow ended up reading The Assassin’s Blade last. I was still deeply affected by everything that happened.

The choice is yours.

What is Throne of Glass about?

I’ll avoid spoilers in this section and instead give a broad overview of the Throne of Glass series as a whole. It follows assassin protégé, Celaena Sardothien, trained since the age of eight in the art of murder. She is thrust into a world of political intrigue, magic, and high-stakes fantasy peril when she’d rather not get involved. The series explores themes of loyalty, love, duty, and sacrifice as Celaena becomes embroiled in conflicts that threaten not only her own life, but the fate of entire kingdoms.

Along the way, she forms alliances and relationships with characters who bring complexity and ample humor to an otherwise tragic story. The series is about facing past trauma and taking revenge. Of sacrifice and shouldering the burden of one’s legacy to save the greater good.

If you’re keen to listen or watch in-depth discussions and commentary about what happens in Throne of Glass book 1, I’ve also shared those videos below this next section. Otherwise, keep reading for a super quick rundown of what happens in the first book!

Throne of Glass summary (book 1) — spoilers!

Throne of Glass begins with 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien being brought out of the salt mines of Endovier by Captain of the Guard Chaol Westfall. She’s been enslaved for a year and has been summoned by Crown Prince Dorian Havilliard to compete in his father’s competition to become the King’s Champion (the king’s personal assassin).

Celaena arrives in Rifthold and poses as “Lillian.” She meets the 24 other competitors, as well as Princess Nehemia from Eyllwe, and various members of the court including Kaltain Rompier. Chaol trains and conditions Celaena so that she can regain her strength and endurance and stand a chance in the contest.

The challenges include archery, a test of poisons, and climbing, among others—and Celaena befriends fellow contestant, Nox. Outside of training, she spends her time devouring books and flirting with Dorian. Grumpy Chaol is irritated by this and gets jealous. Celaena also befriends Nehemia.

As the weeks pass, someone starts murdering contestants. Celaena begins to suspect that there is something sinister going on in the glass palace, which may involve Perrington’s contestant, Cain. Perrington is also seemingly involved with Kaltain as a marriage prospect, but Kaltain has her entitled, snobby heart set on Dorian. As the months pass, Kaltain develops horrible headaches and becomes an opium addict to try and find relief.

Meanwhile, Celaena uncovers a secret door in her rooms leading down into the stone ruin part of the palace. It is here that she finds the sarcophagi of King Gavin and Queen Elena. She learns of a plot to destroy Adarlan and suspects someone at court is involved. She, along with Chaol and Dorian, work to stop the killings, while trying to navigate the love triangle blooming between them.

How does Throne of Glass end?

In the final four challenge, Celaena beats the ultra-violent Grave, and earns a glass of wine before her final duel with Cain. She drinks it not knowing that Perrington tasked Kaltain with poisoning it. Cain (who wears a black ring and has been getting bigger and faster), beats Celaena’s ass. Meanwhile, invisible otherworldly creatures are also attacking her. Eventually, Nehemia quietly intervenes by using wyrdmarks to summon the old queen Elena.

With Elena’s help, Celaena wins. But Cain tries to stab her in the back after she’s announced the winner. Chaol kills him, and we learn that was Chaol’s first kill. The book ends with the king informing Celaena that as his champion, she will be required to kill whoever he demands, otherwise people she cares about will start dying.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas discussion, part 1 (chapters 1–26)

Throne of Glass discussion, part 2 (chapters 27+)

If you’ve read the first book in the Throne of Glass series, what did you think?

As a protagonist, Celaena Sardothien gets a lot of criticism for her supposed arrogance—do you agree with that sentiment?

Looking for more Throne of Glass discussion?

I’ve shared all Throne of Glass discussion videos in this THRONE OF MAAS Spotify playlist.

You can also find our podcast on YouTube.

Happy reading!

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