Throne of Glass follows the heroine
Bloomsbury published for e-book novellas written by Maas to be published before Throne of Glass was published in August 2012.
I purchased these e-books with the intent to read them all before Throne of Glass was published and thus would be caught up with Celaena and her world before I delved into the novel.
I really wish I had actually accomplished this task before reading the novel. I believe it would have made the novel a much better experience for me as the novellas really told a history not really broached by the novel.
I'll review the novel separately, but before I can do that I felt I should review the novellas first.
Celaena Sardothien is 16-17 years old in the novellas. Her homeland was destroyed by the King of Adarlan who also outlawed magic and set about destroying and conquering as much of the world as possible. For Celaena this meant that her family and past were destroyed, and that she was picked up and raised by the King of the Assassians, Arobynn Hammel. She has been trained and raised to be the best, and she has always wanted everyone to know it. In The Assassin and the Pirate Lord Celaena has been sent to collect a debt owed by the Lord of the Pirates for Arobynn Hammel. Celaena is accompanied by Sam Cortland, and once both assassin's have arrived they realize that the debt they are here to collect involves slaves from a war torn country. This causes Celaena to start a chain of events that will eventually reverberate throughout the rest of the novellas and lead her to the beginning of the first novel, Throne of Glass.
Up until I hit the final novella, The Assassin and the Underworld, I was a little underwhelmed with Celaena. She is very self involved, but there is reason behind it. In the world she has grown up in she has been taught to be competitive beyond measure. She has to be the best, and to be the best she must believe she is the best. However, this egotistic nature is hard to read and feel like your nose isn't being rubbed into how wonderful a character is. Throughout the second and third novellas Celaena falls in love with Sam Cortland. When she does finally realize that she has fallen in love with Sam she allows herself the luxury of dropping her need to be the best and just enjoy her love for Sam. She would do anything for him, and their relationship is well fought for. She does all that she can to ensure that she and Sam will have a life without the Assassin's Guild and without Arobynn Hammel. By the time I finished the last novella I found myself turning digital pages as fast as I possibly could just to know what happens next.
Now, if you ask me these novellas should have been the first novel in the Throne of Glass series. While I will review Throne of Glass the novel I just feel that Bloomsbury made a mistake in not taking these novellas and publishing them in as the first novel. Although I had planned to read these novellas before Throne of Glass I hadn't read novella four before I read Throne of Glass. All throughout the novel I kept wondering what the heck happened that landed Celaena in Endovier, what happened to her great love, and why did the king hate her so much? I felt like the novel didn't answer these questions, and you were expected to read the novellas to find out. BUT, at the same time you're told you don't HAVE to read the novellas to understand Throne of Glass. I felt that keeping these important elements to Celaena's past a secret, quite possibly because the publishers and author wanted you to buy and read the novellas, left huge holes in Throne of Glass. Okay, not gigantic holes, but enough to bother me.
I felt that reading the novellas would have greatly enhanced reading the first novel. The novellas left me with a connection to Celaena, and the love she and Sam held together. I would have walked into the first novel with a connection to her and that would have really helped me understand Throne of Glass and Celaena better. The novellas, and especially The Assassin and the Empire, left me with a real connection to Celaena, the world she lives in, and her hatred for the King of Adarlan. Sarah J. Maas's writing is great, and her world building is fairly seamless. Not surprisingly I didn't learn or understand the king's hatred for magic. Magic, although Maas stated that in the world of Throne of Glass magic does play a part and the king has set out to outlaw and destroy it completely, isn't a huge factor in the novellas. Most of the novellas are set in places and times were Celaena doesn't encounter much of it. I'd say the most magic is seen in novella two, The Assassin and the Desert. I'd really love to see how magic does pay out in the rest of the series.
Over all I enjoyed the novellas. I will definitely read the second novel in the Throne of Glass series, Crown of Midnight, that will be out in fall of 2013. However if you really want to walk into Throne of Glass with a better understanding of Celaena and the world that Sarah J. Maas has created for her it would be best to read all four novellas first. I really, really hope that Bloomsbury will publish the novellas together in one bound book so that more people can be introduced to the series in a better way. Not everyone will have read the novellas before the first novel, and not everyone will have an e-reader to do so. Plus, having the novellas in bound form on my bookshelves will really round out my collection, and help me re-visit Celaena's world whenever I want.