#REVIEW: The THRONE OF GLASS series, by Sarah J. Maas

Right around exactly a year ago, Kingdom of Ash, the final novel of Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series released in hardcover, and I found that a bunch of my friends were reading it and talking about it, and talking about it with the sort of reverence only due to the end of a major, major series. And I’d … never heard of it. I eventually bought the first book, though– any time more than a couple of my friends start talking about a book at the same time I’m going to check it out; I’m predictable that way– although I didn’t get around to actually reading Throne of Glass until February.

That was seven books and five thousand and eight pages ago. The final book came out in paperback a couple of weeks ago; I’d been spacing out my reads so that I didn’t finish the series too far away from the last book’s release, but if you click through my Monthly Reads you’ll notice I’ve read a book or two from this series most months since reading the first one in February. And I finished the final book, the thousand-page Kingdom of Ash, perhaps fifteen minutes ago.

I need y’all to understand something.

Fantasy literature is in my damn blood, kids. I first read The Lord of the Rings— the entire trilogy, plus The Hobbit— in second grade. I have been reading epic fantasy for my entire life. I am fully and entirely qualified to make the statement that I am about to make.

The fact that Sarah J. Maas’ name is not spoken among the fantasy literature community with the same reverence as Tolkien, or Eddings, or Brooks, or Sanderson, or Jordan, or Rothfuss, or Martin, or any of those motherfuckers is a Goddamned crime, and I can attribute said omission to nothing other than the purest sexism.

In fact, I would go farther: Throne of Glass is better than a lot of these men’s magnum opus megaseries are. It is, for example, undeniably better than Wheel of Time or A Song of Ice and Fire, although I admit no individual book is as good as A Game of Thrones. It is better than Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive. Better than, if not, perhaps, as beautifully written as Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind.

And because Sarah Maas is a woman, and because the series was (criminally, incorrectly) slotted into YA, a designation that I think probably hurt a couple of the early books until she was selling enough to be able to write whatever she wanted, I had never heard of the Goddamned series until my (entirely, incidentally, female) friends told me about it.

George Martin is taking literal entire generations to produce individual books. Rothfuss’ The Wise Man’s Fear released in 2011, four years after The Name of the Wind, and the third book has no release date. Sarah J. Maas released the first book of Throne of Glass in 2012 and it is 2019 and the series is done. Or, to put it another way, the entire five thousand page series has been released since A Dance With Dragons or Wise Man’s Fear came out.

When these long series come out, the tendency is to go to filler early and painfully. The entire second book of the Wheel of Time series could have been reduced to a prologue chapter of the third book. Martin’s tendency to pad out his work until it is completely out of control is legendary. And a certain other series that just launched recently managed to feature unnecessary filler material in its first book.

The series comprises six main books, a three-novella prequel novel, The Assassin’s Blade, that should be read second, and a “side novel,” Tower of Dawn, that should be read in between the fifth and sixth main-sequence books, and in that entire time the only time I felt like the series was spinning its wheels was in Heir of Fire, which spends a lot of time doing plot work before blowing a hole in the entire series and upending everything you thought you knew in the last hundred and fifty pages or so. There’s no fucking filler.

I am prone to hyperbole, I say that all the time, and I nonetheless cannot overstate what an amazing achievement this series is, and how grateful I am that so many people made sure I had seen it. If you’ve ever read a fantasy megaseries in your life, you owe it to yourself to read these. They are a highlight of an extraordinary year of reading. Go get started; it’ll take you a while.

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.

6 thoughts on “#REVIEW: The THRONE OF GLASS series, by Sarah J. Maas

  1. AHHHHHHHHH!!!! I’ve been waiting for this review. I am SO GLAD you picked this series up and enjoyed it just as much as me. Thank you for the incredible write up, she absolutely deserves every word. I will continue to shout her from the rooftops until everyone else in this world listens!

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  2. Ok, I’ll buy it! Also, i think Martin just gets sidetracked by side plots. I don’t mind it. I think his mind is clearly a what if mind, where he thinks “ooh, what if Tyrion goes on a BOAT?” And then gets entirely sidetracked by that story. It just takes him a while to get back to what he was thinking about before the boat story, and then you can just tell he has gotten bored by the original story. Anyway, I’ll buy the Sarah Maas series.


      1. My comment is a lie. I have enjoyed several fantasy series – Jade Bone, Dominion of the Fallen, anything by NK Jemison – but none of them fits the traditional fantasy mold of adventure, swordfights, dragons, etc so they don’t pop into my head when I think of fantasy. Traditional fantasy tends toward relentless masculinity or else a level of adolescence I can’t stomach. Ken Liu imagined a vivid Asian-inspired world, but couldn’t imagine powerful women as anything but an exception. Kate Elliot built a rich steampunk-ish magical universe, then used it mainly as a backdrop for by-the-numbers teenage romance.

        That’s where it sounds like this series could stand out: swords and sorcery and destiny, but also good writing and maybe some solid female-led storylines. Too much to hope for? Goodreads reviews are mixed at best. But the first book is on my shelf now, so we’ll see.

        BTW I loved Children of Time and The Outside, so thanks for that! 😉

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        1. You will find this to be a very satisfying series as far as female characters go, definitely. And for whatever it’s worth, I thought the second Dandelion Dynasty book went a long way to fix the problems of the first.

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