The books of the Throne of Glass saga with their newest covers
(Bloomsbury)

Your Complete Reading Guide to the ‘Throne of Glass’ Book Series

One of the entry points into the Sarah J. Maas-verse

*** This article contains minor spoilers for the entire Throne of Glass series. Be warned.***

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If you have ever spent some time around the bookish side of the Internet then you are bound to have heard of Sarah J. Maas and her fantasy novels. Her three series, Throne of Glass, A Court of Thorns and Roses and Crescent City are very much everywhere, with their impossibly beautiful fae characters, heaps of witty comebacks, infamous steamy scenes, and expansive (but somewhat wobbly) worldbuilding.

While there is definitely much to critique in Maas’ works, both in terms of themes and representation, her books continue to remain extremely popular. And I, as a Certified Fantasy Girlie™, have read two out of three of her series—so I feel like I can speak from experience.

If you’re looking to start your journey into the world of Sarah J. Maas novels and want to start with the most high fantasy one of them all, here’s the best order to read the seven—plus one—instalments of the Throne of Glass series.

Throne of Glass (2012)

I would argue that the best place to start is Throne of Glass itself, which was published back in 2012. While there is another work that takes place before Throne of Glass in the in-universe timeline, Throne of Glass serves as the introduction of everything, from the world this story is set in—the continent of Erilea and the kingdom of Adarlan, to be precise—to its main characters. And that means first and foremost Celaena Sardothien, the most infamous assassin in all of the land—even though she’s barely more than a teenager—who gets freed from a year of forced labor to participate in a deadly competition to become the King’s Champion.

The tourney—and her sponsors in it, the handsome Crown Prince Dorian Havilliard and the captain of his guards, Chaol Westfall—is just the beginning of the adventure. While Celaena tries to find out why the bodies of her opponents in the tourney are being found dead left and right, she begins to unravel a deep and ancient mystery that will lead her to face truths about herself she’s very much trying to avoid.

Crown of Midnight (2013)

The second instalment opens with Celaena busy with her work as the King’s Champion, murdering people as the King sees fit. Or at least that’s what she tells him. In the meantime, the love triangle between her, Dorian and Chaol must come to an end with Celaena making a decision—she does end up choosing Chaol, but only briefly. 

And that’s because the mystery Celaena began to unravel in the first book only grows deeper and darker, more entangled with the country’s past as well as her own personal one—with no more room to run from it, Celaena has to learn how to stop and face it.

Heir of Fire (2014)

Heir of Fire is when the story takes a sharp turn, taking on what wants to be more grandiose and epic storytelling—which doesn’t always succeed, it has to be said. And it all hinges on Celaena confronting her past. She does so by travelling to the continent of Wendlyn to train in combat and magic with a fae warrior, Rowan Whitethorn. The two, of course, bicker like nobody’s business, but Celaena does learn how to accept her past and the name she was born with—which is obviously not Celaena Sardothien.

Meanwhile, back in Adarlan Dorian and Chaol work to mount up a rebellion against the evil King by enlisting the help of Aedion Ashryver, one of Adarlan’s generals who comes from one of the kingdoms destroyed in the King’s quest for power—the northern kingdom of Terrasen.  

We also get introduced to other people that populate the continent of Erilea, namely the Ironteeth witches—who were my absolute favourite parts of the books. Three clans of powerful immortal witches with sharp iron nails and teeth are training on how to fight on wyverns by order of their ally, the King of Adarlan. Our main character in the Ironteeth plot is Manon Blackbeak, heir of the leader of the Blackbeak clan and vying for a spot as its Wing Leader.

The Assassin’s Blade (2014)

The Assassin’s Blade is actually a collection of five novellas, namely The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Desert, The Assassin and the Underworld, The Assassin and the Empire, and The Assassin and the Healer. The stories, which are set five years before the events of Throne of Glass, follow Celaena Sardothien in her adventures around Erilea while on various assassin missions during which she encounters a varied cast of characters. Among them is Sam Cortland, Celaena’s fellow assassin and first love.

While these novellas could also be read at the very beginning, before Throne of Glass, I would argue that this is the best spot for them. For starters, you need the worldbuilding elements laid down in Throne of Glass to get your bearings because The Assassin’s Blade simply doesn’t provide as many. You also get to learn more about Celaena and her past just as she’s about to accept her true identity, so the novellas feel like a sort of farewell to her. And finally, you meet a whole bunch of characters that will come into play later, and you’ll remember them more easily because they’ll be fresher in your mind.

Queen of Shadows (2015)

Aelin Galathynius, the person who used to be Celaena Sardothien, returns to Adarlan as powerful and as strong as she has ever been. Aelin joins Chaol’s team of rebels and the two together hatch a plan to free magic all across Adarlan since it had been previously ensnared by the King. Of course, things aren’t as easy as they are on paper—in between all of this Aedion Ashryver is captured and Dorian is possessed by a Valg Prince, a demon-like race which is the true power behind the throne of Adarlan.

Meanwhile, Manon is struggling with her duties to her clan—which is very much allied with the Valg—and her morals, unsure of where to lead her Thirteen, the group of witches she’s the leader of. In the Ironteeth fortress of Morath, Manon also befriends the human Elide Lochan, who is the rightful lady of one of the lands in the kingdom of Terrasen.

Empire of Storms (2016)

Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn could be considered twin books of sorts—they both take place during the same period of time, focusing on two different sets of characters as they move across two different continents. In Empire of Storms, Aelin has by now identified her enemy, Lord Erawan of the Valg, and tries to gather allies to fight. Still, everyone is out for her head. That includes the Fae Queen Maeve, who kidnaps and imprisons Aelin—all while she’s still rattling with the realization that several events in her life have been decided long before she was born to put her in the exact position she now finds herself in.

Tower of Dawn (2017)

As the Erilea group struggles against Valg and evil Fae, Chaol Westfall travels to the Southern Continent with one of the members of his guard, Nesryn Faliq. His mission is persuading the ruler of the Southern Continent to join the war on Aelin’s side—but he also hopes that the country’s talented healers will be able to treat the wound he has received at the end of Queen of Shadows.

In the end, it will be Nesryn who does all the political work, especially by kindling a relationship with one of the Southern Continent’s Princes, Sartaq. Chaol on the other hand will get involved with the powerful healer Yrene Towers, who had already crossed paths with Celaena Sardothien some years before.

As stated above, Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn take place in the same period of time. They can be read separately, of course, but several readers like to tandem read them—meaning switching between the two books to read the events on both Erilea and the Southern Continent in the chronological sequence in which they happen. There are several fan guides available on the Internet, which list the exact order of chapters in which you should proceed.

Kingdom of Ash (2018)

The grand finale of the series starts with Rowan looking desperately for Aelin, still held prisoner by Maeve. In the meantime, her allies gather and hold strong, doing their best to push Erawan and his Valg armies while trying to put together all the missing puzzle pieces that would ensure his defeat. New alliances and romances are forged, and when Aelin is finally back that’s when the last battle can begin—and you know that of course we got to have a happy ending, so you can definitely expect that by the time you reach the final pages of this book.

(featured image: Bloomsbury)


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Author
Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.