Throne of Glass book covers

Chaol Westfall Stans Might Not Want To Read This

Sarah J. Maas shot to fame for her TikTok-famous series A Court of Thorns and Roses but we’re rolling it back to the start of her career.

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Maas has become the face of romantasy for her three fantasy series, marrying romance and spice to high fantasy. Her very first series, Throne of Glass, started when she was 26, spanning seven books and four novellas (eventually being bundled together into one collection called Assassin’s Blade).

Warning: spoilers ahead for the full Throne of Glass series.

Throne of Glass follows the story of Celaena Sardothian aka Aelin Galathynius (we warned you there would be spoilers) as she journeys from an assassin in Rifthold to a queen of Terrasen. Each book offers something new and different and there’s even disagreements on how you should read them for the full effect.

We’ve pulled all eight books (including the novella collection) into a ranking from worst to best. And no, we won’t be taking questions.

Tower of Dawn

Favorite quote: “A gift. A gift from a queen who had seen another woman in hell and thought to reach back a hand. With no thought of it ever being returned. A moment of kindness, a tug on a thread.”

Sorry Chaol apologists! Tower of Dawn comes at the wrong time for me to want to embark on a world journey with everyone’s least favourite captain. Spending more time with Nesryn and meeting the wonder that is Yrene Towers for the first time is undoubtedly welcome—along with the genuinely world-shattering revelations about Maeve—but all most people can do while reading it is scream, ‘WHERE IS MY WIFE?’

Leaving Aelin locked in an iron box for an entire book is truly sadistic—and it’s why Tower of Dawn ranks so low here.

Throne of Glass

Favorite quote: “You could rattle the stars,” she whispered. “You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you most.”

The very first book in the series will always hold a nostalgic place in fans’ hearts because it’s where it all started. We get sweet love triangle energy between Celaena, Dorian, and Chaol, the hijinks are relatively low stakes, and there are plenty of references dropped in that make for a rewarding reread.

However, it does suffer from the fate of being the first book in a series that hasn’t been picked up in its entirety, meaning it needs to be wrapped up with a neat bow. There are slight hints at a greater evil but it doesn’t have the same gripping plot that spans the rest of the books.

Assassin’s Blade

Favorite quote: “My name is Sam Cortland… and I will not be afraid.”

This quartet of short stories was never meant to be a full book but it works surprisingly well as one. It fills in the gaps ahead of Empire of Storms, when many of the clues dropped here are picked back up—as well adds some heart-wrenching pathos to the story of Sam and Celaena.

Considering this isn’t even a full book, it delivers a surprising amount of plot and depth to the characters in a short space of pages. However, it can’t quite compete with some of the better full books from the series—despite holding its own very well.

Crown of Midnight

Favorite quote: “Celaena Sardothien wasn’t in league with Aelin Ashryver Galathynius. Celaena Sardothien was Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, heir to the throne and rightful Queen of Terrasen.”

This second book in the series is where Throne of Glass starts to hit its stride. Celaena is a badass assassin in full and the wider world of Adarlan and beyond is starting to encroach on her life. The rebels, Archer, and the first real mentions of Aelin Galathynius start to clue the reader in to the future plotlines but it’s missing some of the real punchy scenes that Throne of Glass is known and loved for.

Nonetheless, the revelation about Aelin’s identity at the end is well worth powering through for and it’s pretty much the only book where you’re going to get any kind of Chaol/Celaena happiness (at least briefly), so one to watch for those shippers.

Heir of Fire

Favorite quote: “You would probably have been more useful to the world if you’d actually died ten years ago.”

Just kidding! “You cannot pick and choose what parts of her to love.”

Heir of Fire is many people’s favorite for one simple reason: Rowan Whitethorn. Meeting the ultimate partner for Aelin Galathynius is a momentous moment, slightly shadowed by the fact he laughs at her and punches in the face. But we move.

Aelin and Rowan slowly climbing their way out of darkness together ties this whole book together and lays important groundwork for one of Maas’ most popular couples. However, you get extra joy in this book with the introduction of Aedion Ashryver, Manon Blackbeak, and Elide Lochan.

Expanding the world of Throne of Glass to more characters allows us to immerse ourselves more fully in this fictional world and each one brings a new perspective, whether that’s Aedion’s view on living undercover in Adarlan, Manon’s villain era, or Elide’s powerlessness as a lowly human. It’s a rare case of a book being split across various locations where it doesn’t feel disjointed and is where the series tends to hook readers who might yet have been unconvinced.

Kingdom of Ash

Favorite quote: “‘There are no gods left to watch, I’m afraid. And there are no gods left to help you now, Aelin Galathynius.’ Aelin smiled, and Goldryn burned brighter. ‘I am a god.'”

Honestly, too many quotes to choose from in this masterpiece of a book, but I had to choose just one. Kingdom of Ash brings the entire series to a close and, similar to Throne of Glass, does suffer from its placement in the series. For a series of this length, it’s hard to wrap up every plot point and there are a few left open that bring it down slightly. (Ahem, Vaughn.)

Nonetheless, it’s an incredible book that balances heartache with satisfaction at a happily ever after (for most people). The tension of Aelin racing with her army to Orynth, the despair you feel alongside Manon, Aedion, Lysandra, and the rest—it’s the perfect cathartic end to a series full of highs and lows.

Empire of Storms

Favorite quote: “The sunlight gilded the balcony as Asterin whispered, so softly that only Manon could hear, ‘Bring my body back to the cabin.’ Something in Manon’s chest broke—broke so violently that she wondered if it was possible for no one to have heard it.”

As the quote might suggest, Empire of Storms is truly Manon Blackbeak’s book. Her journey and grappling with stepping out from the chains of her upbringing is beautiful to behold, as well as getting to see more of the personal bonds between the members of the Thirteen.

That’s paired with Aelin stepping fully into the role of queen, gathering her allies, and using her powers in ways that we’ve not yet seen. We’re not even going to discuss the ending because I don’t think anyone is emotionally ready for that—but safe to say, it’s a doozy.

Queen of Shadows

Favorite quote: “They joined hands. So the world ended. And the next one began.” / “Ten years of shadows, but no longer. Light up the darkness, Majesty.”

Okay, I cheated and picked two quotes. Ah well.

Queen of Shadows has everything that makes a Throne of Glass book great: badass fights, secret plans, romance, and heartache. It’s before we get to the truly heart-breaking moments of later books but the stakes are high enough that it’s incredibly tense, whether during Aedion’s rescue, below the city with Aedion and Rowan, or facing down the king with Aelin, Chaol, and Dorian.

It also feels like an Avengers: Endgame moment when lots of the characters from different books come together in one place, paving the way for the final battle in Orynth three books laters.

(featured image: Bloomsbury Publishing)

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